Ahh, spring. Now, we can go out to eat again.
The long snowy winter kept many of us from dining out as often. It was easier to scramble eggs or make a sandwich in a warm home kitchen than it was to venture out on icy streets and sidewalks.
Warmer days produce cravings for our favorite chef-prepared salmon or bacon-wrapped tenderloin.
Let's make up for those lost dinners by trying new places this spring, and supporting our local restaurateurs.
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It might not be short-sleeve weather just yet, but several Lexington restaurants with notable al fresco dining scenes have their patios open — or will open them soon. Here are some:
■ Azur Restaurant, 3070 Lakecrest Circle, will open its patio this weekend, and whenever the weather permits. Call (859) 296-1007 or go to Azurrestaurant.com.
■ Cheapside Bar & Grill, 131 Cheapside, is open when it is not snowing or raining. Call (859) 254-0046 or got to Cheapsidebarandgrill.com.
■ The patio at The Grey Goose, 170 Jefferson Street, officially opens Friday. Call (859) 233-1500.
■ Atomic Cafe, 265 North Limestone, will open on weekends beginning in April. Call (859) 254-1969 or go to Atomiccafeky.com.
■ Patios at Merrick Inn, 1074 Merrick Drive, and The Recipe on 68, 3955 Harrodsburg Road, are open this weekend, weather permitting, for drinks. Merrick's fire pit and fireplace will be going as well as the big TVs for all the games.
Farmers market report
You know it's spring when farmers markets open for the season.
■ Lexington Farmers Market at Cheapside Park is open all year with a limited number of vendors, but the spring market officially opens at 8 a.m. April 5. The Southland Drive market opens at 10 a.m. April 6.
■ Bluegrass Farmers Market, which sells only items produced by the farmers, will open at 9 a.m. April 12 at 3450 Richmond Road, in front of Pedal the Planet Bike Shop and FastSigns.
■ Wildside Winery, 5500 Troy Pike in Versailles, is having free music Friday. Open-mike starts at 7 p.m., and Lisa Raymond will perform at 8 p.m. Sandwiches will be provided by the food truck That's How We Roll. Call (859) 879-3982 or go to Wildsidewinery.com.
■ Nick Ryan's Saloon, 157 Jefferson Street, will have a Taste of Sweetwater dinner at 6 p.m. Thursday. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation.
The four-course dinner, for $35, includes beer from Sweetwater Brewing Co. of Atlanta. Guest chef Kristin Osbourne of Slightly North of Broad Restaurant in Charleston, S.C., is teaming with executive chef Joe Hall to create the menu.
Included are smoked salmon tartare crostini; herbed goat cheese crostini with red onion jam; skirt steak with Weisenberger Mill smoked gouda grits; pan-seared scallops with country ham butter and mustard barbecue sauce; banana bread pudding; and coconut macaroon petit fours.
Call (859) 233-7900 or go to Nickryans.com.
■ Food Trucks for a Cause will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday where West Main and West Vine Streets intersect. Among the food trucks scheduled to be at the event, which benefits Volunteers of America, are: Thai Orchid Cafe, Crank & Boom Craft Ice Cream, Bradford BBQ, Cluckin Burger, Crazy Bout Cajun, GastroGnomes and Rolling Oven.
Find out where food trucks are scheduled to be on any given day in Lexington by visiting the calendar at the Bluegrass Food Truck Association's website, Bluegrassfoodtrucks.org.
■ Natasha's Bistro, 112 Esplanade, has added a new sandwich menu to its lineup. Included are hot ham and Swiss; roasted mushrooms and Swiss; pulled barbecued chicken with bacon and blue cheese; beer-braised pork barbecue; Cantonese chicken salad; a grilled marinated vegetable wrap; and a hummus and tapanade wrap. Call (859) 259-2754 or go to Beetnik.com.