This article was written by Peggysue Wells and originally appeared in Input Fort Wayne.
Fresh food in the fresh air is a natural recipe for celebrating the warm summer months in northeast Indiana.
Whether you’re looking for a garden setting, sports patio, deck, or wraparound porch, the laketown of Warsaw, Ind., (about an hour northwest of Fort Wayne) offers sweeping views of Indiana scenery and serene waterfronts.
Here are 10 places to eat al fresco in and around town.
With year-round views of Winona Lake, Boathouse Restaurant is known for its award-winning food in an upscale, casual setting. The relatively new menu features fresh presentations of timeless favorites, including prime rib, steaks, seafood, and pasta. Be sure to check out the expanded variety of Boathouse’s popular taco selection, too.
Rated among the top restaurants in the state, Cerulean adds a Midwestern twist to Asian inspired dishes. Preparing ramen, sushi, bento boxes, cocktails, wine, and craft beer, the chefs combine ingredients from local farms, and serve coffee from the nearby Light Rail Café and Roasters. Artisan burgers, beer on tap, and live music are the summer fare in the restaurant’s outdoor beer garden, aptly named The Garden.
Address: 1101 East Canal Street, Winona Lake
Recently remodeled, Downtown Eatery and Spirits provides lunch, dinner, and cocktails in a casual vibe. In the midst of Warsaw commerce, the Eatery hosts outdoor seating on its patio. The menu lists robust Midwest fare from tenderloin and prime rib to pizza and subs. For live music, stop in on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Address: 205 W Center Street, Warsaw
Accessible by land, water, or sea plane, the Frog Tavern is located on a canal belonging to Indiana’s largest natural lake, Wawasee. Hosting diners inside and dockside (outside) for eight decades, the tavern was established in 1932 and added onto multiple times, creating the “Institution … of sorts.” The Frog Tavern features live music and an extensive menu, including selections for your “tadpoles” and—of course—a frog leg basket.
Address: 1116 South Harkless Drive, Syracuse
What tastes more like summer than a gourmet sandwich followed by a hand-dipped ice cream cone? Named for daughters, Kelsie and Lainey, Jim and Patti Thompson opened family-friendly Kelainey’s in 2004 in the picturesque Village of Winona Lake. The shop on the corner serves specialty salads and sandwiches, as well as 21 ice cream flavors, old fashioned sodas, malts, milkshakes, and espresso drinks. Dine on their covered, wraparound porch or get ice cream to go and stroll through the park and shops along Winona Lake.
Address: 904 Park Avenue, Winona Lake
Light Rail Café and Roaster serves their own micro-roasted coffee, baked goods, sandwiches on house-made bread, and oven-baked pizzas. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner indoors, on the screened-in and heated porch, or al fresco on the outdoor patio. Saturday brunch spotlights a new recipe each week along with coffee or endless mimosas.
Address: 1000 Park Avenue, Winona Lake
Noa Noa’s name was inspired by an entry in Paul Gauguin’s journal where the artist used the Tahitian phrase to describe an island as beautiful and fragrant. In addition to its fresh sushi, the island-themed restaurant relies on its recipes collected from around the globe, including conch fritters, Indonesian Vinaloo Curry Bowls, and entrees grilled with green hickory and fruit woods.
Address: 310 Eastlake Drive, Warsaw
The eclectic Rua offers full-flavored Portuguese and ethnic selections made from the best of local farms. Known for their beet cake with five spice frosting, candied ginger, and sliced almonds, Rua has a kid-pleasing, reasonably-priced menu for young guests. Dishes are colorfully presented, but not all the art is in the food. Rua’s Brennan Room displays local and regional talent in rotating fine art exhibits.
Address: 108 East Market Street, Warsaw
Though far from the coast, this landlocked beach bar is alive and well, and complete with a volleyball league. Sit courtside to watch volleyball played in sand recently trucked in from Michigan. Founded in 1991, Spikes is a seasonal bar and grill that features American, bar-b-que, and Caribbean menu items. Live music and outdoor dining give it that laid-back feel of being on island time.
Address: 310 Eastlake Drive, Warsaw
It all began when their three children gave their parents a winemaking kit for Christmas. The new interest led to the opening of family-run Tippy Creek Winery in 2016. With names like Tippy Zippy Red, Lake House Zin, Castaway Chardonnay, and Wawasee Weekender, the winemakers pair vintage flavors with specially selected meat and cheese trays. Tippy Creek hosts frequent events with food provided by a variety of food trucks.
Address: 5920 N 200 E, Leesburg, Indiana