Pros / It's very reasonably priced.
Cons / Warming rack makes it difficult to utilize all the cooking area when the lid is open.
Verdict / This inexpensive grill is ideal for a backyard, patio or apartment balcony.
For the price, the Char-Broil Patio Bistro is hard to beat. It’s a classily designed model that has the look and feel of a charcoal grill but with a better grilling experience. Its size makes it great for a backyard or apartment balcony.
When we received this grill, we were able to put it together in less than an hour. Most of the other infrared grills we tested were tabletop models that required little to no assembly. But it’s worth pointing out that assembly is relatively fast and trouble free.
The Patio Bistro has a single burner that distributes heat consistently and evenly across its stainless steel cooking grates. But we do have a couple of gripes: First, food stuck too often to the stainless steel grates. Second, the warming rack, while convenient, covers about a quarter of the cooking area when the lid is open, making it difficult to place burger patties underneath it.
As for the cooking area itself, you can fit about five hamburger patties on its 240-square-inch grilling area. This represents the second largest cooking area among the infrared grills we reviewed. Only our top pick, the Char-Broil Performance, was larger.
The heat generated by the Patio Bistro is more than acceptable for a grill this size. Its burner can generate about 13,000 Btu. This is a little below average among the grills we reviewed, but it's still sufficient to cook burgers, chicken, steaks and fish. It also has remarkably good heat distribution and consistency. To test heat consistency, we measured how hot the cooking surface was at seven, 14 and 21 minutes after ignition, as well as timing how long it takes for the grill to return to its previous temperature after the lid has been open for one minute. When we compiled that data, only the Char-Broil Performance was better at retaining and maintaining heat, as well as quickly reheating.
This grill comes with the standard Char-Broil warranty – five years for the burner and one year for all other parts.
If value is your aim, the Char-Broil Patio Bistro is the infrared grill you want. It has a relatively large cooking area among the grills in this category and fits nicely on any back porch, yard or apartment balcony. It has great heat consistency and delivers a nice grilling experience. Aside from a couple of minor flaws, it’s an excellent grill.