Local's Top 16 Spots For Outdoor Dining at Lake Oconee | Updated June 2019
Spring and summer are a fantastic time for outdoor dining on Lake Oconee—both for the views and for the famous lake breeze that makes it so much cooler by the water. Read on for the top 15 spots for great outdoor dining at Lake Oconee, listed in no particular order. Who could choose a favorite with options like these?
Oconee Brewing Company
Located in a renovated cotton mill warehouse, this Greensboro craft brewery serves up amazing farm to table style beer in a stunning 3,600-square foot event space featuring a tasting room for tours, and an 18-foot high, glass wall that opens onto an outdoor patio perfect for outdoor eating and drinking. Although they aren’t actually a restaurant, they do regularly bring in food trucks for special events from local favorite restaurants like Georgia Butts BBQ, Bone Island Grillhouse, and Gekko Sushi & Hibachi. Oconee Brewing Company was also voted “best special event venue” in the 2018 Lake Oconee Living Readers’ Choice Awards.
Jalisco Mexican Grill
Conveniently located across from the Parkside Main movie theatre, Jalisco Mexican Grill is an easy, delicious addition to your date night, movie night with friends, or family time. The outdoor tables are placed so you can easily spot and call over your neighbors to chat before they head in for a movie. Jalisco Mexican Grill is proud to serve authentic Mexican food of the highest quality, as well as generously-sized margaritas. There are even vegan and vegetarian options, ensuring that all kinds of palates will be pleased, as long as they like their food fresh, spicy, and authentic!
Visit this small, charming café in Eatonton’s Harmony Crossing, and you’ll be rewarded with a warm, casual atmosphere and unparalleled food and drink. The desserts at LaLore Café are spectacular, but so are the breakfast, lunch and dinner items, as well as the creative coffee drinks and handmade cocktails, served from a full bar, making it an ideal place to linger with friends. There are only a handful of outside tables at the restaurant, so you may not get to eat al fresco at especially busy times, but the food and drinks are so good, and the interior so charming, you probably won’t end up minding.
Sweet Kneads Bakery and Café
Famous for making the Lake Oconee area fall in love with quiche back when the community wasn’t totally sure what quiche was, Sweet Kneads offers amazing soups, sandwiches, salads, and all-day breakfast, as well as—of course—fantastic sweet treats, every bit of it “locally sourced and crafted with love.” You and someone you love can enjoy it all at one of the outdoor tables for two, and then order a box of bakery treats to take home for later, just don’t count on coming here for dinner—they close at 4:30, and the kitchen closes at 4!
The Pizza Place
The Pizza Place has managed to establish a reputation for having the best pizza in the Lake Oconee area in just two years—and pizza isn’t all they offer. This boat-up restaurant has also been serving up amazing salads, pasta, calzones, wings, and more since January 2017. The Pizza Place offers big portions at a reasonable price, and they can even prepare a gluten free pizza upon request. Just sit back and enjoy the beautiful lake view while the Pruetts do all the cooking. Voted best pizza at Lake Oconee!
Located in historic Madison beside the James Madison Inn, Town 220 has spacious beauty inside, and outside, a charming, relaxing patio surrounded by green trees. This elegant restaurant offers world class dining and a menu that has something for everyone. Their chef Franciso De La Torre has dedicated himself to creating simple but delectable entrees with one of a kind inspiration that people from all walks of life will enjoy, and the devoted Town 220 staff provides personalized service to ensure a fun, memorable, and delicious experience.
Madison ChopHouse Grille
Started by Avado Brands in 1996 and taken over by Pat Reams ten years later, Madison ChopHouse Grille is popular with locals and visiting tourists alike. From their signature Prime rib with special horseradish dip, to generous salads, to burgers grilled to perfection, this casual dining restaurant is sure to please, and the outdoor patio offers a lovely view of the streets and shops of Madison’s charming historic downtown. Madison ChopHouse Grille also has a full bar and a great complementary range of beer in the bottle and on tap.
Café 44 is one of Lake Country’s best places to get a delicious hot breakfast, yummy lunches, and a range of housemade fresh baked goods. Come enjoy the fluffy omelets, delectable sandwiches, sweet pastries and famously tasty coffee while enjoying the beautiful spring weather and the best in service and hospitality—but keep in mind that they’re only open from 7 to 4 on Monday through Friday, and 7 to 3 on Saturdays.
This family-friendly restaurant chain has been famous for its incredible, stone-baked pizza and its eclectic, art-filled atmosphere for decades. The Eatonton location at Harmony Crossing is one of Mellow Mushroom’s best—so say the locals, at least—and you’re sure to enjoy yourself eating fantastic food (they’re good at more than just pizza) at one of their umbrella-shaded tables on the patio. Then you can head over to one of the nearby boutiques for some window shopping!
Gaby’s by the Lake
Gaby’s by the Lake at the Ritz Carlton is a classy, but surprisingly laid-back experience. The website actually says, “No Shirt, No Shoes, Our Pleasure!” This poolside restaurant has stunning big water views of Lake Oconee, and you can travel over by boat if you don’t feel like driving. No reservations required, and they’re open daily from 11 am to approximately 10 pm (closing time may vary depending on the season). The food is casual, featuring sandwiches, salads, pizza, burgers, and other grilled favorites. There’s also a vegetarian menu. Gaby’s is family friendly, but it does offer a great wine, beer, and handcrafted cocktails menu, which includes a trio of adorable “Ritz Kid Mocktails,” such as Lake Water, a mix of apple juice, blueberry, and Swedish Fish.
Georgia Butts BBQ
For good southern barbeque in a fantastic location overlooking the lake, drive or boat on over to Georgia Butts BBQ, which is open an impressive seven days a week from 8 am to 8 pm. Highlights include the Brunswick stew, the fried gator bites, and sweet iced tea. Family-friendly and great for large groups, they also have live music on summertime weekends, but you can also call up for takeout or catering if you’d rather eat at home.
Bone Island Grillhouse
Bone Island Grill serves delicious American, Creole, and Cajun style seafood, as well as a variety of yummy meat and vegetarian options for those who aren’t so into seafood. Perfect for families, groups, or couples, this casual, comfortable restaurant has great service, great lakefront atmosphere, and plenty of big screen TVs—even outside on the patio. Be sure to try the shrimp grits and fried green tomatoes, and to check out the live music on Wednesdays! Open 4 pm to 9 pm Tuesday through Thursday, and 4pm to 10 pm on Friday and Saturday.
Iron Fork Café
This warm and welcoming restaurant in Harmony Crossing has great food and the cute sense of humor of its married owners, Chris and Katie Bragg (i.e., may the fork be with you). It’s open from 11 am to 9 pm on Thursday through Saturday, but closed on Mondays, and only open for lunch on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (11 am to 3 pm), so double check the hours before you drop by. And you really should drop by—the Iron Fork Steak Sandwich, superb sweet iced tea, and the Brew Pub Pretzel are not to be missed.
The Boathouse at Harbor Club
With a variety of hot, tasty food and cold beer, The Boathouse at Harbor Club is a local summertime favorite, with—you guessed it—boat parking as well as car parking. You can even fuel up your boat before you fuel up yourself. The restaurant is only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 9 pm, and Sundays from 11 am to 7 pm, from May to September, so it’s like a special occasion every time you go. The restaurant is great (try the southern fried catfish and fried okra), but there are also free concerts every Saturday night all summer long.
Linger Longer Steakhouse
Reservations are recommended for dinner at the Linger Longer Steakhouse at the Ritz Carlton, but you can usually drop by for lunch and for the happy hour five for five menu—a tapas-style selection of five appetizers and five signature cocktails for $5 each, available at the bar from 4 pm to 6 pm, Sunday to Thursday. Dine inside where you can watch the chef work in the open kitchen, or sit outside and enjoy views of the lush, green golf course. With a resort casual atmosphere and American classic dishes like Black Angus Steak and lobster bisque, this restaurant is sure to please. Open for lunch from 12 pm to 4 pm, Tuesday to Sunday, and for dinner every day from 6 pm to 10 pm.
The Deck at Safe Harbor Marina (Formally The Cove)
The Deck Lake Oconee is accessible by boat and by land. Check the black board for daily specials like grilled artichoke hearts and Australian Sea Bass or order off the daily menu of fresh seafood, gourmet sandwiches and amazing salads. The Deck is open Saturday and Sunday 11a-9p, Monday, Thursday and Friday 11a-5:30p, closed Tuesday and Wednesday,.
The Grill at Lake Oconee
The Grill at Lake Oconee serves up great burgers, sandwiches, soups and more—enjoy lunch or dinner there, then treat yourself to dessert at the built-in ice cream shop. Locals love the red and black, Go Dawgs décor. The restaurant is open Sunday-Thursday, 11a - 9p and Friday and Saturday 11a - 10p.
Thanks so much for reading! Perhaps you will find a new spot to dine with family or friends.
Now it's your turn, have we have missed your favorite patio or deck dining spot? Please let us know down in the comments. If you found this post helpful, please share this post with your friends and neighbors below using the share tools...they'll love you for it.
Holly, Lynward & Evan
PS: Check out our Local Guides here.