Eating out during the COVID-19 pandemic has always been difficult, but the one thing we could always count on was outdoor dining! In the summer of 2020, many local streets shut down to allow restaurants to create makeshift patios, giving us a place to enjoy our favorite restaurants while also social distancing. But now that winter is here and temperatures have dropped, outdoor dining has become a little trickier.
Thankfully, Ann Arbor area restaurants are just as innovative and determined as ever, creating brand new outdoor dining spaces with igloos, yurts, greenhouses and tents, looking like something out of a futuristic movie! We rounded up a few spots offering these interesting winter dining options, so that you can stay safe and warm while also supporting some of our amazing local businesses.
Please note: While these outdoor dining experiences are fun and exciting, the Michigan Department of Health urges individuals to stay cautious. Dining outside in a tent with many other people poses the same risk as dining inside. They recommend only dining with your household or only dining in spaces with three open walls and plenty of airflow.
Arbor Brewing Company’s Winter Beer Garden at their location in Ypsilanti is an absolute dream! They’ve outfitted it with several cozy igloos featuring picnic tables and atmospheric fairy lights. Each of their igloos can hold up to six people from the same household and can be enjoyed any time of day, as long as you have the proper outdoor gear. You can book a 90-minute slot in an Arbor Brewing Company igloo for $5, two weeks in advance on their website. For a full list of guidelines and to make your reservation, click here.
For fun, safe, outdoor dining in Plymouth, look no further than Bigalora! This wood-fired pizza joint has set up a temporary outdoor igloo garden, complete with picnic tables and plenty of lighting so you can enjoy them any time of day. They are currently serving menus featuring Bigalora and Arbor Brewery Company. You can book a 90-minute slot in one of Bigalora’s igloos online. There is a $5, nonrefundable booking fee. From 11 a.m.-4 p.m. there is a $25 food and beverage minimum and from 4-9 p.m. there is a $75 food and beverage minimum. You can reserve your spot for up to six people from your own household, here.
Black Diesel Coffee is one of our favorite spots in A2 for great coffee, conversation, card games and more. While we haven’t been able to enjoy all those things in person very often this year, their new outdoor domes make it possible once again! You can book an hour time slot in one of their heated igloos for $20. Open during any weather, we recommend checking them out on a gloomy, rainy day so you can stay dry while watching precipitation pile up on your very own snow globe! Click here for more information and to make a reservation.
Instead of igloos, Black Pearl has taken outdoor winter dining to a whole new level with tiny greenhouses! Each of things mini sheds features seating for four people and can be booked for 90-minute time slots for free. When you arrive, you’ll be asked to call a phone number to verify that your table is ready before entering the restaurant. At least 75% of your party must be present to be seated and masks are required when not in the greenhouses and when staff is present. Click here to make your reservation!
One of our favorite breweries in Ann Arbor, Bløm Meadworks, has also set up an outdoor mead and cider garden, featuring mini-greenhouses that are outfitted with picnic tables and heaters! These “Bløm Huts” are for members of one household and are ventilated and sanitized between groups. You don’t need a reservation to hang out in a Bløm Hut! Just stop by or call ahead to see if they have any open and they’ll make sure it’s clean and ready for you. Visit them on Instagram for a sneak peek of the inside and information on any updates they make to them over the season.
Bobcat Bonnie’s in Ypsilanti has gone all out with their winter dining spaces! Enjoy eating and drinking in a tiny globe inside a larger tent or book your very own large igloo outside. Each space has its own limited menu and each reservation comes with two complimentary drinks. You can book a 90-minute time slot for $35 on their website. Click here to read their current restrictions and guidelines and to make a reservation!
One of Ann Arbor’s newest coffee spots, Drip House Coffee Company, is an organic and vegan-friendly coffee shop and roaster providing tasty treats for all different kinds of diets! They’ve set up a handy outdoor patio dining space—complete with comfortable seating and heaters—so that you can enjoy their wonderful coffeehouse vibe while also social distancing. You don’t need a reservation, but masks are required when not seated. The patio may be closed on days with bad weather. Visit them on Instagram for information on specials and behind-the-scenes pictures of their amazing staff!
TAQ Taqueria, one of our favorite places in the area for great tacos and cocktails, has also come up with an innovative outdoor dining experience for your family! Enjoy digging in inside cozy, heated greenhouses on East Liberty. TAQ has set up five individual greenhouses outside. They also have five additional outdoor tables with gas heaters that are available depending on weather conditions. As always, TAQ does not take reservations, but they do have a waitlist that you can get on if you stop by. A deposit of $15 a person will be collected when you join the waitlist and will be applied toward your bill at the end of your visit. TAQ is currently closed to give their staff a much-needed break in the new year, but they plan to reopen on January 22nd for in-person dining, curbside pickup and delivery.
Have you ever wanted to drink beer in a heated yurt? If so, you’re in luck! Townies Brewery is now home to several new yurt-style snow domes in their beer garden. They also have a handful of the classic snow globe type pods and several tables available for outdoor seating when the weather is nice. You can make a reservation for a snow dome, which seat up to five people from your own household. While the domes are heated, Townies still recommends you dress for the weather and/or bring a blanket to keep you toasty while you eat and drink. Tickets cost $10 per dome and can be purchased here.
The Wooden Spoon Market in Brighton is a lovely bistro offering fresh seasonal ingredients from local growers all across Livingston County! Right now, the Wooden Spoon has set up hygge-style igloos outside complete with fairy lights, comfy poofs, stools, tables and large pillows. There is a minimum reservation of four people to a maximum of six people. While the igloos are heated, they still recommend that you dress for the elements. There is a time limit of 1.5 hours for lunch and 2 hours for dinner. You can get all the information on reserving your own Wooden Spoon igloo here!
These gorgeous outdoor dining options are snow joke!
Which of these igloos, greenhouses and tents are you planning to try first? Let us know in the comments below!
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