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Al Fresco Dining Ideas for Restaurants and Cafes

Restaurants offer al fresco dining to provide a refreshing experience to their diners—enjoying good food while savoring a lovely sunset, a garden of aromatic flowers, or a mountain view.

Outdoor dining is a perfect experience during the season when the temperature and weather are desirable. It is a good option for diners looking for a dining experience that is a breath of fresh air.

You can promote a better dining experience with the help of a QR code menu, as it allows diners to interact with the menu using only their smartphones.

This software can also automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks like upselling and it can receive orders and payments online.

This advanced technology will create a remarkable digital dining experience in addition to refreshing dining settings.

To get started, we’ve rounded up some ideas for dining al fresco menu and its benefits. Keep reading for more information.

What is Al Fresco restaurant dining?

“Al Fresco” is an Italian term that means “in the fresh air” or “in the shade.” The term refers to outdoor dining in restaurant and cafe settings.

It typically involves eating on a patio, rooftop, beachfront, or any other outdoor dining space.

And since it’s outdoors, restaurants are careful about offering al fresco. They must guarantee that their diners are safe from external factors such as weather changes or vehicles’ smoke.

This dining setting is a popular choice for friends, family, and vacationers in the spring, fall, and summer months when outdoor views are fascinating.

Al Fresco dining ideas

Technically, you could offer any item on your food and drink menu, but here’s the thing: Some presentations are perfect for dining al fresco. These include:

Garden-themed dining

There’s nothing quite more relaxing than enjoying a meal surrounded by greenery and the tranquility of nature. 

To incorporate beautiful garden-themed dining, consider the appropriate plants for the climate and match your theme. 

The proper lighting says everything about the ambiance you want to create for your guests. String lights, lanterns, and candles are excellent choices for creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.

And for aesthetic outdoor design ideas, remember to use only natural materials for furniture, such as rattan chairs, wooden tables, and rugs made with tough plant fiber.

These pieces’ earth tones will complement the greens, producing a wonderful natural theme.

Beachfront dining

What makes beachfront dining special is its location. Anyone can enjoy food while indulging in the breathtaking ocean view, the gently lulling waves, and the salt air.

For your outdoor dining decor, you can go for any theme; it could be a nautical theme, coastal-inspired decor, rustic wood accents, or incorporating blue and light green hues. 

Add live music if your customers prefer a festive, live, and fun atmosphere; this element will complete the experience. You can also go for subtle music like piano or harp for diners who like it romantic.

Afternoon tea

While afternoon tea is a traditional affair often enjoyed indoors, it would be relaxing to take a sip in an outdoor setting with the breeze of fresh air.

This is one of the best outdoor dining ideas and it requires parasols or pergolas for shade in case the sun gets too hot. And for your presentation, make it look as good as it tastes.

Instagram-worthy dishes will tempt young diners to take photos and share them on social media, which is beneficial for increasing customer engagement.

You can make guests’ dining experience extra special with a personal touch—offer homemade jams and spreads, champagne and sparkling wine, savory mini coconut cakes, and sandwiches and scones.

Candlelit dinners

Dining by candlelight is always romantic and classy, so why not take this as an opportunity to make your place a go-to-destination for anniversaries and special occasions?

Use white tablecloths, fresh red roses, and subtle lighting to project a simple yet romantic table setup. The flickering candlelight creates a warm, intimate atmosphere ideal for couples.

To enhance the mood, incorporate soft and romantic music; remember to make it subtle to allow for a smooth conversation.

What are the benefits of Al Fresco dining?

Offering an outdoor dining space when the weather is good drives people to dine al fresco.

It’s a good opportunity to take a break from the chaos, feel the refreshing blow of the wind, and enjoy a delicious meal.

But there’s more that this dining setup can bring to your restaurant. Here are some benefits:

Additional seating

Do you have limited space at your restaurant? You can maximize your area by using your outdoor patio or outdoor seating.

Since you have more available seats, you can serve more customers and reduce the possibility of long waiting times for seating.

Increased revenue

A bigger seating capacity means more profit, which sounds good for your business. Al fresco restaurant dining can also appeal to many people, which means more potential diners.

You can then offer a special menu with unique outdoor dining ideas for an opportunity to sell more food items.

Unique ambiance

Eating in an outdoor setting exudes a relaxing vibe. Diners will enjoy the leaves and flowers surrounding them and feel connected to nature. 

For many, it’s a break from the norm of dining in enclosed spaces, which allows them to experience a unique dining experience. 

The most beautifully designed outdoor dining experiences create a romantic, exciting, adventurous, celebratory, or festive ambiance.

Fresh Air

Eating outdoors lets customers savor fresh air as they enjoy your delicious meals. The laid-back dining atmosphere in a natural setting can soothe and refresh one’s mind and body.

This would be perfect for restaurants and cafes near the countryside or on high-altitude points like cliffsides and mountainous areas.

The pros and cons of Al Fresco dining

While al fresco dining has been a common setup for restaurants for years, it’s important to know its advantages and downsides for restaurant owners and diners. See the following:


It’s trendy 

Many love eating outdoors because it enhances the dining experience. According to an OpenTable survey, 82% of respondents want to see outdoor dining flourish. 

This implies this dining setup’s popularity, especially among young individuals looking for Instagram-worthy places with a festive atmosphere. 

Ideal for pets 

Offering outdoor dining is a great option, especially for fur parents; they can enjoy their meals with their furry friends. You can also provide a space for their pets and give them water bowls or treats. 

To ensure everything runs smoothly, you need to make restrictions such as limiting the number per table and ensuring pets have a leash.


There are different types of outdoor dining settings you could offer. It could be rooftop dining, garden patios, or beachfront dining. 

You have many choices about what outdoor area you will maximize and what vibe or mood you want to create for your guests.



Outdoor dining is subject to unpredictable weather. People would rather dine comfortably indoors when it’s windy, raining, or too hot or cold outside. 

That’s why it’s ideal to design your outdoor dining areas to be comfortable and weather-resistant.


Outdoor dining is susceptible to outdoor noise like traffic, construction, and other outdoor activities. This can ruin the atmosphere and cause distractions and interruptions for the customers.

For this reason, it’s always a good idea to check the area’s noise levels before setting up an outdoor dining space, especially if you aim for calm and peaceful vibes.

Food quality

The weather, insects, and other elements can impact the presentation and quality of the food. 

The breeze outside can quickly cool down the dish. Meanwhile, bugs and insects are drawn to bread and salad. 

And when such circumstances occur, it can ruin the whole dining experience. 


Outdoor dining settings may not always be accessible to everyone, especially those with mobility problems. 

The narrow path, uneven surfaces, and stairs can make it difficult for them to navigate the area. 

That’s why it is essential that you strategically design the outdoor dining area with consideration for those with disabilities. 

Incorporate QR code menu technology to make it more fun

Here’s one of the best al fresco dining ideas: you can incorporate modern technology to serve an excellent and convenient dining experience. 

For instance, you can use technology like a heat-resistant tablet menu that enables guests to browse and explore the menu at their convenience without worrying about damaging it.

Consider an interactive QR code menu such as MENU TIGER so customers don’t have to wait in long queues at the counter; they can scan, scroll, order, and pay right from their mobile devices.

This saves staff significant time and effort from going back and forth from the kitchen to the outside to bring the menu or the customer’s change from their bill.

MENU TIGER’s printer integration for restaurant menu streamlines the ordering process as it automatically prints customer ticket orders and receipts once they place orders online. 

Managing your menu is easier than ever because it will only take a few minutes to update the content—prices, item availability, allergen warnings, and modifier options. 

The interactive QR code menu software is a practical tool for any food service establishment as it streamlines overall operations.

Make your outdoor dining ideas more exciting with MENU TIGER

What is al fresco dining without technology, right? Taking advantage of the fine weather by offering al fresco menu as an option will immensely impact your profitability and set you apart from competitors.

If you make everything right, customers will stay longer and spend more. This also benefits your branding, especially when customers enjoy dining at your place.

To complete the unique experience, incorporating technology like MENU TIGER’s QR code menu software would be advantageous. 

MENU TIGER provides smoother kitchen operations and faster, more efficient services.

Get your freemium plan or enjoy a 14-day free trial upon subscribing to MENU TIGER’s paid plans.

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