Austin is a city that’s at its best outdoors. We have a world-famous swimming pool, we make up reasons to have music festivals (Eeyore’s Birthday Party should be on your radar), and we congregate anywhere there’s shade to sip cold drinks. And there’s no better way to combat the triple-digit heat and catastrophic traffic than by hanging out on a patio. But not all of them are created equal.
This guide highlights a few of our favorite bars and restaurants around town where you can eat on a patio, backyard, or any other open-air environment. Many of these spots have indoor dining as well, so you may want to make a reservation or call ahead if eating outside is a priority. And if you’d rather check out a brewery, we’ve got a guide to that, too.
Perla’s has one of the most recognizable patios in Austin - in large part from being in the middle of South Congress, where it practically bleeds onto the sidewalk. Make a reservation or put your name on the waitlist, do some people-watching, and get ready to enjoy some of the best seafood in town. But also be ready to drop $36 on a lobster roll.
Tucked away in a relatively quiet section of downtown, the patio at the Spanish-inspired restaurant Kalimotxo is a welcome escape from the everyday bustle of the city, with some great food to match. They’re currently offering a limited menu, including their excellent ham sandwich, the Kali Burger, tortilla espanola, and other small plates. They’re accepting walk-ins for seating on their patio, but we recommend making a reservation to secure a nice spot outside.
While not strictly a patio, Arbor Food Park’s abundance of great food options accompanied by a large, outdoor space filled with picnic tables, makes it a perfect spot for an outdoor meal over on the East Side. Home to Cuantos Tacos, Rosarito Cevicheria, Casper Fermentables, and El Tigre Coffee, there’s something for most palates. And the food park is BYOB, so swing by Quickie Pickie down the street for a six-pack or some wine.
Lou’s on East Cesar Chavez almost feels like it was built for takeout, operating out of a small space with orders placed at an outdoor window. Of course, if you’d rather sit down and enjoy your rotisserie and frozen custard, all of their seating is outdoors on a well-spaced patio with plenty of picnic tables. And if you show up on a Tuesday, all bottles of wine are half-price.
Dining on Olive & June’s patio is probably the closest thing we’ve experienced to eating in an upscale treehouse, with three stories of spacious patio wrapping around a giant 200-year-old oak tree near 35th and MoPac. We enjoy just about all of their Italian specialties, but their house-made pasta and wine list are where they really shine.
The Little Darlin’ is right off William Cannon and South Congress, and it’s a great place to unwind or spend a chill Sunday afternoon on the picnic tables in the huge patio out back. There are craft beer and cocktails, outdoor games like horseshoes, a covered patio with darts, pool tables inside, and a stage for live music, though some of that is on pause for the time being. The food can be hit or miss, so just stick with the basics, like the burger or the carnitas sliders.
Loro is the brainchild of two Austin favorite institutiones - Franklin Barbecue and Uchi - resulting in an Asian/Texas smokehouse that provides some unique fusion flavors in a beautiful space. The patio is large and there’s a great happy hour on weekdays, with $4 frozen gin & tonics and mango sake slushees. They’re not doing reservations, but you can request a spot on their patio when you arrive.
While Lenoir is perhaps best-known for their very affordable tasting menu, under current circumstances they’re offering a pared-down “hot weather food menu” of dishes like cold summer canneloni and garam masala pork chops with watermelon curry. The inside is currently closed, but they’ve converted their large, outdoor wine garden into a charming dining area, complete with hanging lanterns and colorful tablecloths. You can reserve a table on their website.
Hanging out with dogs is a whole lot cheaper and more fun than therapy, so here’s your chance to do so even if your landlord doesn’t allow pets. The entire “patio” at Yard Bar off Burnet is an enormous fenced-in dog park/playground, with a full bar inside. Sometimes you just need a cocktail after a long day at work - but most other times adding hounds into the mix cures all ails.
Kinda Tropical feels, as you might have guessed, kind of tropical, with pulled jackfruit sandwiches, yuca fries, and tamari-glazed chicken wings, alongside things like avocado toast. Typically, the inside operates as a minimarket, selling beer, wine, and snacks, while the back patio houses a number of spread out tables. Currently, dine-in service is only available on the patio, but you can still snag most of the marketplace items for takeout on your way home.
Not only do they serve some of the best breakfast tacos in town, but Cherrywood also has a spacious, dog-friendly, tree-covered patio/music venue where you’ll sometimes see the gardener carefully nurturing his potted plants. If this wasn’t clear from our previous sentence, Cherrywood is a highly Austin-y place to have some laid-back time outside.
The latest project from the folks who brought you Better Half, Little Brother, and Brew & Brew, Holdout Brewing has a short menu of smash burgers, wings, and curly fries that made us reconsider our previous devotion to Arby’s. And of course, great beer. This Clarksville spot shares a patio with Better Half, and right now all seating is outside, by reservation only.
As we mentioned above, Better Half Bar shares a patio with sister brewery, Holdout Brewing. And while they don’t serve the same smash burger as their spot across the lawn, they have an equally tasty cheeseburger as well as a full menu of sandwiches, pastas, and salads. If you’re there early, grab a chicken biscuit sandwich and the cauliflower tots with beet ketchup are great any time of day. They also have a great Happy Hour daily from 1-4pm with $5 burgers and $1 Pearl beers.
If your priorities are twinkly lights and striped straws and the general feeling that you’re in the middle of an Instagram photo, you’ll want to be at Josephine House. This is the place to sip a fancy gin cocktail in a cozy outdoor both while eating the kind of food that tastes as good as it looks in pictures.
Radio Coffee & Beer sells, as the name suggests, coffee and beer. The outside seating area is large and well spread out, but the best part might be the two food trucks parked alongside the patio. With Veracruz serving some of the best breakfast tacos in town, and Dee Dee dishing out excellent Thai food, you may find yourself in the tricky (and possibly sticky) situation of deciding between one more migas tacos or an order of mango sticky rice.
It might be called Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden, but there’s a lot more going on here than just what’s on the sign. Cosmic also has wine and cocktails (and even cocktail flights). And then there’s the extensive outdoor space, shaded by oak trees. It’s also home to some of the city’s best food trucks, including Pueblo Viejo for tacos, Leroy & Lewis, a super non-traditional barbecue truck that we really like, and an outpost of Tommy Want Wingy, serving lollipop-style chicken wings that can get very spicy (if you want).
This Rosedale brewpub is home to one of the best craft beer collections in Austin, a few of which they brew on-site. Their patio stretches around the building and takes up most of the parking lot, and there’s also a semi-permanent food truck, making it a great place to grab dinner as well. Get some fish and chips along with your favorite brew and ask your friends how many days they went without wearing pants during the lockdown.
Scholz Garten isn’t just the oldest bar in Austin, it’s the oldest operating business in Texas. Which also makes it the oldest operating patio in Texas (probably, don’t fact check us on that). And that just means that they’ve had more time to perfect things. With some of the best German food in town, a great beer list, and a central location right near UT, it’s a welcome escape from most of the campus-area bars.
This converted old house not only serves some of our favorite Mexican food in Austin - they also have one of the best outdoor areas in which to eat it. The front yard is covered by a giant string-light-covered tree, and lined with charming little tables for sharing bowls of queso fundido and fajitas. If it’s crowded, the mural-covered backyard patio is no slouch either.
Jester King is one of our favorite spots to grab excellent beer and food outdoors, with a sprawling property that feels more like a state park than a brewery. And they’ve come back from a brief dine-in hiatus stronger than ever, with brand new picnic grounds, hiking trails, and multiple stations to fill up on their ever-changing selection of wild-fermented farmhouse ales. Don’t be surprised if your walk is interrupted by a parade of goats. Right now, spots are available by reservation only.
The ABGB has a large outdoor space, live music, great pizza, and even better beer. You’ll need a reservation right now to snag one of their spaced-out picnic tables, but since it’s one of the best patios in South Austin, we’re OK with putting in a little extra effort. And make sure to grab a glass of the Hell Yes helles or the Rocket 100 pilsner while you’re there.
If you’re going to Matt’s El Rancho, chances are you’re there for one of two things: margaritas or queso. Or, more likely, you’re there for both (and they do both exceptionally well). With a sprawling patio and nearly 70 years of practice, we’re comfortable crowning it a South Austin institution. And because this is Texas, you can even get a chicken fried steak, though we usually stick with the enchiladas or fajitas.
The French invented neighborhood bistros with prime sidewalk seating (we think), and Justine’s is the Austin version. Inside, this place feels like Paris in Austin; an intimate date night dinner spot. Step onto their patio and the vibe shifts into a see-and-be-seen backyard covered with string lights and picnic tables perfect for having some frites with your Bordeaux. Justine’s is located away from the hubbub of downtown, which makes the entire experience feel more exclusive and better suited for conversation with a group.
Over the years, Guero’s has become an Austin postcard-establishment - their solid Tex-Mex and strong margaritas have made it a favorite entry point for out-of-towners who have no idea what Austin is (and just as fun for people who live here). The spot does get crowded, which is when you’ll want to consider stepping outside onto their patio - the only spot in town where you can sip margaritas, eat queso, listen to live music, and people watch, all while sitting in an oak tree-shaded garden facing South Congress.
The South First location of Fresas has a great patio with beautiful trees providing shade, and a spread of brightly-colored picnic tables that will help you forget the boring beige walls of your living room. All of their wood-grilled meats are great, but we’re partial to the achiote and citrus chicken, served with charro beans, rice, grilled onions and jalapenos, and corn tortillas. And we’ve found that the aguas frescas really hit the spot, especially on the warm afternoons when we need to change shirts every five minutes.
This gourmet doughnut Airstream trailer turned brick-and-mortar is more than just a late-night donut shop. The well-designed ‘public house’ branch of the Gordough’s empire has a full bar and a fantastic backyard patio covered with picnic tables and yard games. This is the spot to hit if you’re with a giant crew that appreciates the finer things in life, like gigantic beer towers paired with donut burgers.
From day one, Contigo fully embraced the outdoor life, with an almost entirely open-air dining area. There is a small bit of cover, but you’re probably not coming here during one of Austin’s spontaneous rainstorms anyway. We’re big fans of the burger, and the crispy green beans with sambal aioli are a great way to start.
Lazarus has a great patio on the East Side, with lots of picnic tables in and around the bar. The tacos and tortas are surprisingly good, and the fried chickpeas are a nice snack while you’re waiting around. And of course, it’s a brewery, so the beers are all pretty solid. They’re keeping the inside closed for the time being, but the patio is currently open seven days a week.
The Oasis has one of the best views in the whole city, with some of the worst food. Thankfully, Oasis Brewing opened up right next door a few years ago, so now you can get the same great views of Lake Travis without having to stop somewhere else for lunch or dinner afterward. The sandwiches are solid, and the beers are great. But unless you live by the lake, you’re probably just here for the view.
The patio at Salty Sow makes up more of the restaurant than the indoor dining room, and they’ve got a fantastic menu of upscale Southern staples that only gets better when the prices drop during Happy Hour. Try the chicken liver mousse and the honey-rosemary-dipped fried chicken, and pair it with the Blanche, their blood orange frozen margarita.