The Outdoors Await: Al Fresco Dining in Suzhou

The Outdoors Await: Al Fresco Dining in Suzhou
By Bryce Roberts ,

I am reminded nearly every day by new Chinese acquaintances that Suzhou is a “paradise on Earth”. Indeed, Suzhou is blessed with picturesque scenery that other metropolises lack. Dining outdoors is no exception to this fact, as many restaurants are careful to cash in on Suzhou’s natural beauty as a backdrop to their offerings. Let’s take a look at the best places to dine outdoors and enjoy Suzhou’s splendor.

Suzhou’s bustling downtown area puts a premium on space, and that is reflected in the relative lack of good outdoor dining options. There are several locations, but development and subway construction have put the kibosh on a number of green areas that would otherwise lend themselves to great restaurant locations. Southern Cross offers a great vantage point for people watching at its location next to teeming Guan Qian Street. The Tex Mex restaurant and bar has a faithful following among diners and poker players alike. Pingjiang Road, just east of the downtown shopping street and located off the main thoroughfare, Ganjiang Road, is home to several cafés in remodeled, traditional houses. A burgeoning tourist destination, this area is great for afternoon tea or a light lunch. For heavier fare, one must branch out towards newer, less crowded environs.

Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP)  
One cannot talk about al fresco dining in Suzhou without mentioning Singha Plaza.  A full 7 years ago (what seems like a century in “SIP-time”) the likes of Mr. Pizza, Simon’s and Ebony began offering seating outside their restaurants’ doors. To this day it is still one of the busiest lunchtime destinations for Westerners when the weather is right. Casa Zoe, just around the corner from Simon’s, is following the trend with an outdoor patio next to a small canal. Elsewhere, there has been a concerted effort to make the best of the SIP’s less crowded environment, and provide restaurants with wonderful vistas. 

No place is more suitable than the shores of Jin Ji Lake. In order of when they were completed, here are the developments that are cashing in on this scenic highlight. Rainbow Walk is home to Lowenburg and Zapata’s, as well as restaurants featuring Chinese cuisine. If home-brewed beer is your thing, give the former a try. For great Mexican food and a better view of the adjacent fountain and laser show that lights up the skies every weekend, Zapata’s is for you. Li Gong Di is down the road from Rainbow Walk, and is host to a number of great restaurants. Hofbräu Suzhou has some of the best views of the Science and Cultural Arts Center and Ferris Wheel Park (both on the east shore of Jin Ji Lake). German cuisine fans and beer lovers will both find this hotspot to their liking. Mario’s Pizza is in the middle of the development, and its ample outdoor seating is offset by modest views of canals and bridges. Finally, Moon Harbor, next to the Arts Center, is a brand-new development with great views of downtown SIP. Ophelie, a French restaurant, occupies a prime location facing west. Adjacent to Ophelie, Ganesh Indian Restaurant and Jazz Bar offers customers a second-story terrace from which to ogle at the impressive lights around the lake.

Suzhou New District (SND)
Much more of a concrete jungle than its park-minded cousin SIP, the SND seems to almost have outlawed outdoor dining. In the few areas where large spaces intervene between storefronts and the street, parking spots have been scribbled on would-be dining patios. While the district’s “downtown street” – a row of Japanese restaurants and bars – dominates the foreign dining scene, al fresco options are nearly nil. Blue Marlin is an exception, and has seen solid business as its New District location mirrors its SIP’s outdoor offerings. The restaurant chain has been a mainstay in Suzhou for its consistent menu and reasonable prices. Sadly, apart from this restaurant, one has better luck bringing a picnic basket to a nearby park than finding inspiring al fresco options in Suzhou’s western regions.

Mario’s Pizza意大利马里奥比萨 View In Map
Add: 4322 B18 Outlets Shopping Center (Li Gong Di), SIP (Suzhou Industrial Park), Suzhou
地址: 苏州工业园区奥特莱斯购物中心B18号
Tel: 0512 6770 4322
Opening hours: 10:30-14:00; 17:00-22:00 

Lowenburg乐文堡 View In Map
Add: Rainbow Walk, SIP, Suzhou
地址: 苏州湖滨大道湖滨楼首层
Tel: 0512 6762 8777
Opening hours: 11:00-00:00
Hofbräu Suzhou 豪夫堡 View In Map
Add: 50-52, Li Gong Di, SIP, Suzhou
地址: 苏州工业园区李公堤50/52号
Tel: 0512 6295 0988
Opening hours: 09:30-00:30

Blue Marlin蓝枪鱼 View In Map
Add: 168 Xinghai Jie, SIP, Suzhou / 98 Shishan Lu,SND, Suzhou
地址: 苏州工业园区星海街168号 /新区狮山路98号
Tel: 0512 6288 9679/6808 7316
Opening hours: 10:30-22:00

Zapata’sView In Map
Add: A1 Rainbow Walk, 158 Xinggang Jie, SIP, Suzhou
地址: 苏州星港街158号湖滨新天地A1
Tel: 0512 6767 2780
Opening hours: 11:30-00:00

Southern CrossView In Map
Add: 72 Luoguaqiao Xiatang, Suzhou
地址: 苏州落瓜桥下塘72号
Tel: 0512 6581 0067
Opening hours: 10:00-00:00

Casa ZoeView In Map
Add: Block 22 Singha Plaza, 38 Xinghan Jie, SIP, Suzhou
地址: 苏州园区星汉街38号馨都广场22幢
Tel: 0512 6253 4118
Opening hours: 11:00 - 22:00

GaneshView In Map
Add: Building C3 Moon Harbor, SIP, Suzhou
地址: 苏州工业园区月光码头 C3幢 苏州园区
Tel: 0512 6956 9808
Opening hours: 10:00-00:00

Simon’s, Mr. Pizza / EbonyView In Map
Add: Singha Plaza, SIP. Jinjihu Lu. and Xinghan Jie
地址: 金鸡湖路和星汉街, 馨都广场
Tel: 0512 6761 1718/6288 3677
Opening hours: 10:00-22:00

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Keywords: al fresco restaurants Suzhou Al fresco dining Suzhou outdoor restaurants Suzhou outdoor dining Suzhou


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