Published on March 30th, 2022 | by Jenna Mason


Patio Culture: Springtime in “God’s Country”

As second spring, also known as “The Pollening,” settles in the South, the drive to replenish our vitamin D reserves over a refreshing beverage or snack seems urgent, if not essential. While Oxford has lost some of the impromptu outdoor dining spaces that sprouted up during the worst of the pandemic, there are still a variety of spots to soak up the sun while you satisfy your taste buds. Stock up on those antihistamines, and check out the best patios, porches, balconies, and courtyards Oxford has to offer.

Choosing the perfect patio involves a number of considerations. Are you looking for a sophisticated cocktail in serene surroundings? On the Square, The Sipp on South Lamar boasts a creative seasonal cocktail menu, an extensive wine and spirits list, and a secluded patio that feels romantic and relaxing. Their menu is geared toward small plates and shared dishes, including charcuterie slates, beef empanadas with chipotle basil aioli and raspberry jam, and their legendary goat cheese and fig bruschetta. An added amenity for those fickle swings in spring temps: The Sipp provides cozy coverlets to combat any lingering late-night chills.

OPA!’s new courtyard patio is a perfect spot to enjoy some fresh air.

Right around the corner, OPA! is one of the newer additions to The Square. The newly renovated building boasts two bars and an outdoor seating area that would most accurately be described as a courtyard. Surrounded by privacy walls, fresh landscaping, and even a fountain, OPA!’s courtyard is a lovely space to enjoy some Greek cuisine like wraps, kabobs, or fresh salads alongside an exotic cocktail.

A few blocks away, the patio at Saint Leo offers an elegant vibe, and unlike most Oxford restaurants, Saint Leo is open on Sundays for both brunch and dinner. The restaurant earned instant acclaim—including a James Beard Award nomination—when it opened in its original location in the summer of 2016. Saint Leo has since relocated to a more spacious venue with permanent outdoor dining on the newly renovated stretch of Jackson Avenue East. Strings of lights and abundant greenery create a charming ambience, and inconspicuous heaters make the space comfortable even on those rare cool evenings that sneak up every spring. Stop by to enjoy an elevated happy hour, or to get the full experience, pace yourself, and bring a friend or two.

Lamar Yard boasts an impressive outdoor area.

Another perk of the Jackson Avenue renovation is the new patio at The Annex. It’s a perfect spot to people watch any time of the day or night, but especially on spring weekends when baseball is in full swing and the crowds are celebrating the Diamond Rebs! Sports fans will also appreciate Rafters on the Square, just adjacent to The Annex, which boasts a large patio and open-air area, as well as big screens to watch the games. Check out their bucket specials throughout the week and Sunday brunches with live music.

Off the Square, Tarasque Cucina also dazzles and delights. Chef John Stokes and wife Lauren started their thriving enterprise as a takeout and delivery spot only, then later moved into the current brick and mortar location on West Jackson Avenue. Much-loved standards like charred radicchio salad, butter bean hummus, and pappardelle bolognese underpin the menu, and John and Lauren create daily specials with whatever local vegetables are freshly in season (follow @the_tarasque on Instagram for the most up-to-date offerings). Enjoy their delicate mint iced tea, or bring your own beverage and mixers (Tarasque is located just behind Kiamie’s Package Store) to pair with your patio meal. You’ll feel so relaxed beneath the twinkling lights and lush greenery that you’ll feel right at home. Bonus: people-friendly pets are welcome, too.

The Sipp on South Lamar offers a stylish vibe to sample their cocktails and small plates.

If you’re seeking something more casual, The Growler has plenty to offer. Its location in the breezeway on North Lamar provides plenty of shade and a pleasant draft on warm days. Among the thirty taps, beer lovers will find unique local brews like Lazy Magnolia, Wiseacre, and 1817 alongside staples like Stone, Bell’s, and Sierra Nevada. Try four at a time with a beer flight, or pair your pint with a pour of high-end whiskey or scotch.

The pub-style menu features pretzel bites with beer cheese dip, sandwiches with fries, Chicago style hot dogs, and more. With stacks of board games and ample space outdoors, it’s the perfect place to while away an afternoon with family and pets. Take home a to-go growler of your favorite brew to enjoy in the comfort of home.

Obviously, you must experience Oxford’s long-running “Favorite Patio” at Volta Taverna, located on North Lamar about half a mile from the Square. The large, covered, pet-friendly deck circumvents the headache of searching for parking during busy daytime hours. Greek-inspired dishes like gyros, souvlaki, falafel, and hummus make up the bulk of the menu, along with soups and salads that won’t disappoint. Most notably, Volta’s frozen Margaritas alone are reason enough to block off an afternoon to relax and recharge outdoors. Add flavors like strawberry, peach, raspberry, or watermelon, or slurp into a minty frozen Mojito.

Whatever outdoor atmosphere you’re after, Oxford has something for you. Just remember to tip your server well if you choose to linger a while!

There are so many more amazing places with outdoor seating to add to your rotation: Boure, City Grocery, BBB & Snackbar, Fergndan’s, The Library, The Coop at The Graduate, Rockhouse Live, Proud Larrys, Harrison’s, South Depot, Spring Street Cigars. The list could go on but we are out of space! The moral of the story is: It’s spring time—get yourself outside and support your favorite local businesses!

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