Mercer County is home to some of the best restaurants in the state, especially when it comes to outdoor dining.

The Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants 2023 list is out from Vinny Parisi of Best of NJ and four Mercer County eateries made it.

I absolutely love outdoor dining. I've only been to one of the four, so I'm hoping to make it to the others before the weather turns too cold to eat outside...I think I have a few more months, at least.

Let's go through them, so you can try them out.

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Rat's Restaurant

Parisi says in part, "The outdoor dining experience at Rat's Restaurant is truly unique; that's because this French eatery is nestled inside Grounds for Sculpture, a sprawling 42-acre sculpture park and museum. Equal parts exotic and peaceful, the view boasts gorgeous gardens, eye-catching sculptures, and impressive man-made ponds."

"The restaurant serves lunch, dinner and dessert, continued Parisi. Their lunch menu includes options like the French Dip Sandwich, while dinner boasts entrees such as Roasted Duck Breast. Check out the Apple Brown Butter Cake dessert." All sounds delicious, doesn't it? I'm anxious to dine there. I've wanted to for some time but I haven't made it there yet.

Rat's Restaurant is located at 16 Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton.

Erini Restaurant

Parisi says, "Erini offers lovely outdoor patio dining for lunch or dinner, which includes greenery, a tiki bar, and more. Both the laid-back atmosphere and top notch Mediterranean menu make Erini a favorite spot for locals. They have a dedicated Gluten-Free menu, in addition to limited multi-course menus for groups (ideal for social events). Dinnertime favorites include the Raspberry Brie appetizer, French Onion Soup Gratin, and Baked Stuffed Shrimp entree."

I've been to Erini several times and it's fabulous. I've even eaten outside there during the winter. They make it warm & cozy with holidays lights everywhere. It's spectacular. If you haven't been to Erini, definitely move it up on your dining bucket list.

Erini is located at 1140 River Road in Ewing Township.

Patriot's Crossing Tavern and Wine Shop

This is one of those restaurants that I've passed a million times but never thought to go in. I'm absolutely going to try it now.

Parisi says, "The name behind the Tavern and wine shop comes from its location, overlooking the Delaware River (The river General George Washington famously crossed during the Revolutionary War). Of course, the restaurant serves American food classics like burgers, wings, and loaded nachos. But they also offer unique specials like Lamb Gyro, Cajun Gumbo, and homemade fish sticks. Plus, their Liquor Store conveniently offers wine, beer and spirits."

Patriot's Crossing Tavern and Wine Shop is located at 1339 River Road, Titusville (Hopewell).

Witherspoon Grill

A popular spot in beautiful, bustling Princeton, especially when it's nice enough to dine outside.

Parisi says, "The Witherspoon Grill is one of the few entries on this list that offers pet-friendly outdoor dining. In particular, they allow well-bahaved dogs to join their human companions on the patio and surrounding plaza seating."

Parisi continues, "Chef Alejandro De Casenave prepares a classic American menu at this steakhouse, which also features poultry and seafood. The lunch menu includes their BBQ Short Rib Sandwich, but dinner features items like Jumbo Shrimp Scampi.

Whenever I see people dining outdoors here, I immediately want to stop what I'm doing and go. It has such a cool vibe.

Witherspoon Grill is located at 57 Witherspoon Street in Princeton.

To see the complete list of The Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in New Jersey, click here.

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