Last spring, I pointed out that Paris has sidewalk tables, DC has rooftop dining and country inns nestle you in gardens. But Howard County has it's own indigenous experience for al fresco dining: The parking lot cafe.
Victoria Gastropub offers a perfect example of the parking lot cafe. A patio seat to enjoy dinner on warm, breezy night -- and a view of your car. This isn't a view of the street. This is a restauranteur that knows we like their food, but we love our cars. So we want to be close. Close enough that the key fob can unlock your car from your seat. This is le cuisine voiture.
The May 2009 post introduced the term and listed a half dozen places where you could dine and watch the waves of automobiles crest upon the parking lot. Maiwand Kabob's two tables overlook cars to the horizon. Mad City Coffee almost lets you put your feet up on your bumper as you sip your brew. Another year of observation has turned up new examples to show our dominance of this oh-so-American way to dine:
- Strapazza in Columbia had seats last year that looked across the parking lot at Rte 108. The view was free as was the live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights.
- The new Sidamo coffee shop in Fulton just put out tables and chairs. A few are, unfortunately, aimed at Maple Lawn Boulevard, so the parking that you see is uncomfortable far away on the other side of the development. But the tables near the front door cover the Looney's lot where you can park.
- Facci mirrored La Palapa Too in their shopping center on Johns Hopkins Road. We can disagree whether that neighborhood should be called Laurel, Scaggsville or Fulton. But you have to admit that it's exciting to be able to choose which part of the parking lot you want to watch. (Plus, the new patio offers a few extra seats in a crowded restaurant, and Facci did it up in style with landscaping.)
But the revelation of the "parking lot cafe" post was that other people joined in the fun. They proposed their own places, and many got in on the joke. Rdonoghue talked up Donna's on Rte 108 and notes that "on a clear day" you can see all the way to Eggspectations. BillZ noted that River Hill Grille let you eat, watch your car, and see the Columbia Gym where you should be working out.
So what others can you suggest? A place where you can sit outside and see the parking lot. Extra points if you can touch a car. Funny comments are always appreciated.