When it’s nice out, Austinites dust off their flip-flops, pull on their shorts, and everyone heads outside to enjoy the weather. Outdoor drinking and dining is a mainstay for Austinites when it gets hot, and we’ve developed some favorites along the way, all of which are a guaranteed good time. So, grab your cheap sunglasses and wrap your hands around a margarita. It’s time to get out to one of our 10 favorite Austin patio bars!
The Grove (Lakeway Location)
The Grove is a wine bar and restaurant with multiple locations including Lakeway and West Lake Hills. If you want to enjoy a fantastic view, head out to the Lakeway location. In addition to their wide selection of wines and awesome menu, the Lakeway location offers panoramic views of the hilly neighborhoods between RM 620 and Austin proper. If the weather isn’t cooperating, their dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows with the same views.
For an appetizer, try their bruschetta with tempting topping combinations like gorgonzola/walnuts/Asian pear/local honey, goat cheese/strawberry/arugula/balsamic and avocado-bacon aioli/roasted tomato/arugula/balsamic. Their pizzas are killer, too.
Z’Tejas (Arboretum Location)
Even though Z’Tejas sits on the north side of Highway 360 near its interchange with Highway 183, you’d hardly know it sitting on their back patio surrounded by trees and overlooking a downward sloping terrain. The menu is distinctly southwestern, and the food is always delicious. Match that with a great view, and you’re living it up in Austin!
Mozart’s Coffee Roasters
Mozart’s is a coffee shop with amazing desserts. Its multi-level deck with picnic tables on Lake Austin provides a great spot to sip and chat, read, study or relax. Once night falls, the water, soft lighting and breezes make this place a perfect last stop on a date.
Shady Grove serves up comfort food beneath the canopy of a pecan grove. Its heart-of-Austin location makes it packed on weekends. In the spring and summer, it hosts the Unplugged at The Grove music series on Thursday nights.
Red’s Porch is a great gathering spot for people to unwind with some drinks, appetizers, and friendly games. Their outdoor seating areas overlook the Barton Creek greenbelt. Their weekend brunch will leave you satisfied until — or perhaps past — dinner time.
Waterloo Ice House (Highway 360 Location)
Waterloo Ice House has several locations around town, but if you want to experience the best outdoor dining this local chain has to offer, head to the location on Highway 360 and RM 2222. The patio has shade trees for the adults and a playscape for the kids. Don’t miss out on the migas!
Eden East is a place for foodies and others who dig the farm-to-table scene. Gourmet five-course meals are served only on weekends and special occasions. It is the perfect place to enjoy a breezy Austin night.
Here’s how local blogger Stephanie Keller described her experience: “By the end of the meal, the three of us practically floated off the farm and while the food was excellent, it was the 360 experience of delight that made it truly memorable. The whole unfussy evening felt like a portal to an Austin of 10 years ago and a wonderful offering routed in the magic of simple pleasures.”
Sadly, Freddy’s Place once held a spot on this list, but closed a few years ago. Thankfully since then Fresa’s has taken over the spot, and the patio that sits next to Bouldin Creek in south Austin is back and just as beautiful. This location allows Fresa’s to combine their incredible food and drink menu with some real ambiance, giving diners a relaxing place to hang out and sip a cucumber margarita under a canopy of stately trees. We’re more than happy to add them to our list of favorite Austin patio bars.
Olive & June
You can’t go wrong in Austin when you have a massive oak tree as the centerpiece of your restaurant’s patio. But not only does Olive & June have seating around the base of the tree, this restaurant can seat you among its branches on covered balconies looking down on the wood-planked patio. This place is only open for dinner, so plan your visit to watch day turn to dusk.
The Midway Food Park
Midway is a carnival-themed food trailer park with ample outdoor seating and playscape. Located a little north of Barton Creek Square Mall on South Capitol of Texas Highway, food trailers are situated around the perimeter of the property. You can stroll past the eight or so trucks to see what tempts your tastebuds. Once you settled on what you’ll eat, you plant yourself at one of the tables to enjoy the food and atmosphere. No alcohol is served here, but there’s no rule that says you can’t bring a few cold ones along for the meal.
Feature photo courtesy, Shady Grove on Facebook.