Eat on the Fly at The Patio Restaurant and Grill in Lake City

By:Libby Wiersema


Whether you fly hundreds of miles to get there or drive just a few by car, The Patio Restaurant/Grill in Lake City, SC, is an inviting destination for hungry travelers and locals alike. Located at Runway 19 at the Lake City Municipal Airport, this small, casual eatery offers a warm welcome and a menu teeming with a mix of family favorites, American grill classics and more than a few surprises created by Chef John Demars. It’s also a relaxing place to cool off after a day touring Moore Farms Botanical Garden or taking in the exhibits at ArtFields, the burgeoning spring art festival in Lake City.

Take a table in the dining room, appointed with aviation bric-a-brac and local memorabilia, or dine al fresco in the garden-like atmosphere on the patio. (They don’t call it The Patio for nothing!) Begin by sharing a plate of Jack Daniels Bites. These tender pieces of boneless chicken, wrapped in crispy bacon and slathered with Demars’ own version of Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, send the taste buds soaring.

A variety of sandwiches, burgers, wraps and salads tempt the lunchtime crowd. A favorite is the Runway Philly, a cheesesteak sandwich distinguished by its crusty, authentic French baguette – the perfect landing strip for slices of tender Angus steak, peppers, onions, mushrooms and gooey cheese.

Dinner covers all the carnivorous bases and changes according to availability of ingredients. On any given night, there might be shrimp or fresh fish in a variety of incarnations: fried, grilled or tossed into pasta dishes. Also making regular appearances are grilled chicken with tangy sauces and a ribeye steak grilled to order and smothered with onions and mushrooms. A standout is the spaghetti and meatballs, notable for its spicy tomato sauce ladled over a plate of al dente pasta – the perfect nest for two sizable, hand-rolled meatballs. Now, these might not be your mama’s meatballs, but they’re pretty darn close. Chef Demars’ Italian wife passed on the family recipe, so this is the real deal. Capisce?

There’s also a small selection of beer and wines by the glass to complement your meal. But dining at The Patio should not end with drinks and the main course. Demars, a former executive pastry chef and graduate of the Florida Culinary Institute, applies his expertise to take his house-made desserts to new altitudes. Envision thick wedges of creamy lemon torte dotted with fresh raspberries, tart Key lime pie, or perhaps a moist, generous slice of red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. The Bananas Foster Crème Brulee, topped with crunchy pecans, caramel bits and fresh sliced bananas, has a decidedly Southern flavor. Think ‘naner puddin’ with a bit of French flair.

The patio is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and for dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. It is located at 244 Clifton Road in Lake City, next to the airport runway. To reserve a table or inquire about daily specials, call (843) 699-9033.

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