If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space that can accommodate more than a patio chair or two, setting up an actual alfresco dining situation can go a long way toward transforming your backyard into something of a getaway. And because the pandemic has put a hold on a lot of summer travel plans, a staycation may be the only vacation you may be able to take. No, getting a dining table and a set of chairs won’t instantly turn your balcony into one overlooking the Aegean Sea, but it can make your outdoor setup a cozier place where you want to linger longer (like, say, a balcony overlooking the Aegean Sea).
To help you find an outdoor dining set for your space, we turned to nine interior designers for help. While many of their recommendations came in the form of bistro-style dining sets — a.k.a. smaller tables with two chairs — one of those may be all you need, given that social-distancing rules still apply in many places. Some of the sets include chairs that you can also purchase separately, though, in case you want to fit one or two more around the table (we’ve noted which throughout). But further down, the experts also recommend several larger dining sets, for those who need more seating or are looking to furnish bigger outdoor spaces.
Best bistro-style outdoor dining sets
Best overall bistro-style outdoor dining set
Three of our experts — Tiffany Thompson, an interior designer and the founder of Duett Interiors; Sarah Ramirez of Decorist and Found and Collected Design; and Neffi Walker, interior designer and the founder of the Black Home — all recommend this metal bistro-style set as one of the best you can get (at a relatively reasonable price) for dining outdoors. Made from powder-coated iron, the set is weather- and rust-resistant. Another reason they all like it is that it has an oval-shaped table, which sets it apart from the many other sets with round tables on this list. The table also features a nifty space-saving design that Thompson and Ramirez both told us about: The armchairs tuck right into the table when not in use. All three interior designers also note that it comes in festive colors; Walker calls the coral color shown “playful,” but the set also comes in a mint green that Thompson says “instantly reminds me of summer.”
Best less-expensive bistro-style outdoor dining set
Interior designer Nick Olsen calls this three-piece dining set classic, charming, and practical. Interior designer Natalie Kraiem also likes this set, which is a bit more compact than the one above, saying it may be all you need to get the most out of a smaller outdoor space. The table and two chairs are made of a powder-coated steel that’s resistant to rust, and everything folds up for easy storage. In addition to this cheery pink, the set is available in black, blue, white, yellow, and mint green.
More recommended bistro-style outdoor dining sets
This wicker set comes recommended by two of our experts, Decorist designer Tina MartinDelCampo and Walker, who owns it herself. She calls it “comfortable and stylish enough for any space,” and MartinDelCampo agrees, saying, “Wicker is really hot in the design world right now.” Slender hairpin legs made of steel add a modern touch, while the table’s glass top allows for drinks and other objects to lay flat. The set also includes seat cushions with weather-resistant, machine washable covers.