7 Best Restaurants with Outdoor Dining in Rancho Cucamonga
While California is currently under a 4-tier process of reopening businesses and restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic, many restaurants in Rancho Cucamonga have adapted by expanding their dining rooms onto sidewalks, parking lots, and even streets. Thankfully, this increase in outdoor dining coincides with major air quality improvements in the city following this year’s ongoing wildfires.
To make the most of our city during these challenging times—and support our local restaurants—we’ve compiled a list of our 7 favorite restaurants currently open for outdoor dining.
Fall is the best time to eat outside
With the temperatures beginning to cool down, locals know that fall is one of the best seasons to be outside in Rancho Cucamonga. So get out and soak up the beautiful weather with a meal and drink safely served on one of our city’s many outdoor patios or sidewalks.
How safe is outdoor dining?
Since COVID is largely a respiratory disease, outdoor dining is much safer than indoor dining thanks to the abundance of fresh air. Restaurants are also required to follow state guidelines, including having their staff undergo health screenings prior to beginning work, wear masks while working, and perform additional sanitizing. Individual groups of guests are also spaced at least 6 feet apart from each other to ensure maximum safety.
These rules are layered on top of existing City of Rancho Cucamonga outdoor service requirements, which specify that all restaurants with outdoor dining areas must have a vehicle barrier, like a concrete wheelstop or a railing, and a visual barrier, such as a vinyl fence. Restaurants are also required to provide outdoor lighting if they serve food at night and create one-way entrances and exits to help maintain 6-foot distancing.
What sort of restrictions should I expect when dining outside?
Be prepared to pay with a debit card, credit card, or another option, such as Apple Pay™, as many restaurants aren’t accepting cash or checks during this time.
Also, some restaurants aren’t allowing the public to enter their indoor spaces, including their restrooms. Many of these restaurants have adapted by providing porta-potties and portable outdoor hand washing stations, but you may prefer to plan your bathroom trip ahead of time.
Check COVID guidelines before you go
Since COVID-19 restrictions in California are constantly changing, make sure you call these restaurants ahead of time to make sure they’re open and to ask about their COVID guidelines.
Top 7 Restaurants with Outdoor Dining in Rancho Cucamonga
Rancho Cucamonga has no shortage of delicious restaurants and bars, and thanks to the region’s mild climate, many offered outdoor dining even before the pandemic. Here’s our list of the top 7 restaurants with outdoor dining in Rancho Cucamonga:
- Brio Tuscan Grille in the Victoria Gardens Mall. This popular Italian restaurant has an extensive outdoor patio with large heaters to keep you comfortable during cooler nights. With weekly happy hours from 3-6pm and a vast wine list, Brio is the perfect place to go for your next date night or to celebrate your next anniversary or birthday. Try the Lobster and Shrimp Fettuccine with a delicate glass of Chardonnay.
- Lazy Dog Restaurant in the Ontario Mills Shopping Center. Inspired by the Rocky Mountains, this laid-back, farm-to-table restaurant is the perfect place to relax and enjoy some homestyle cooking with family and friends. The Lazy Dog prides itself on its seasonal menus, hand-picked ingredients, and wide selection of craft beers. Try the Lamb Shank Pot Pie—locally-sourced lamb slow-cooked in a housemade garlic and red wine sauce, served open face with mashed potatoes, marinated tomatoes, veggies and a salted-thyme pie crust. They also serve up an impressive weekend brunch from 9am-2pm.
- Yard House in the Victoria Gardens Mall. This high-end, classic rock-inspired sports bar offers unique twists on classic American dishes, from pizza and burgers to steaks and vegan options. The Yard House has a spacious outdoor patio and is open until 12am on weeknights and 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. Try the Poke Nachos layered with raw Ahi tuna, avocado, serrano peppers, crispy wontons, white truffle sauce, sweet soy ginger sauce, and sriracha aïoli—you won’t be disappointed. Oh, and did we mention the Yard House has the largest selection of draft beers in the world?
- Cara Mia Italian Restaurant on Vineyard Ave. After opening just a month before COVID restrictions began in Rancho Cucamonga, this delightful Italian eatery has proven incredibly resilient. Servers prepare meals in front of guests on carts brought out onto the patio for a safe and upscale dining experience. We recommend the Lobster Bisque and Baked Ravioli paired with a delicious craft cocktail.
- Fonda Don Chon in Covina. Though technically outside of Rancho Cucamonga, this authentic Mexican restaurant is well worth the drive. Enjoy tasty dishes like Steak and Shrimp and Enchiladas Rancheras, paired with house-made margaritas. What really sets this restaurant apart is their traditional Mexican breakfast; try their fresh Cafe de Olla (an authentic Mexican coffee drink) with Huevos con Chorizo, served all day, every day.
- Paul Martin’s American Grill in Victoria Gardens Mall. This upscale dinner destination has a small but robust menu, with dishes ranging from a quinoa bowl with seasonal veggies to a filet mignon with mashed potatoes. As an added bonus, your little ones will love their mac and cheese and chicken tenders. Paul Martin’s is a popular dinner spot, so be sure to make a reservation.
- Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que in Victoria Gardens Mall. You’ll feel right at home grabbing lunch outside at this casual barbeque joint. All of Lucille’s meats are hickory-smoked for 12 hours for tender, fall-off-the-bone deliciousness. Try the Baby Back Ribs or Smoked Half Chicken with an order of Southern Fried Dill Pickles. Yum!
Want more outdoor dining options?
This list will get you out enjoying the town and supporting local businesses in Rancho Cucamonga, but if you want to take advantage of all of the great outdoor dining that the Inland Empire has to offer, check out this extensive list compiled by the Press-Enterprise.
We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about our staff’s local dining favorites. Eat well and stay safe out there!