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 around town.
Sour Duck is the more casual, sister-restaurant of Odd Duck, so you can expect the same level of quality and expertise, with a bit more of a focus on baked goods. Where they differ from Odd Duck is in the amount of outdoor space—most of the restaurant is open-air, on a well-spaced patio.
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 $38 on a lobster roll.
These two East Side dive bars often have live music, and they share one enormous backyard filled with picnic tables and cheap drinks. There’s a great Happy Hour, and there’s the Hotel Vegas Concession Stand serving good burgers and burritos.
Austin Beerworks is one of the most popular breweries in Austin, with a huge variety of beer styles and an equally large taproom and shaded patio. Their mainstays are pretty widely distributed around town, but they also do a lot of experimental brewery-only releases. Austin Beerworks also runs a food truck serving tacos, Tex-Mex, and burgers.
LoLo is a natural wine bar located on the East Side with a spacious patio. In addition to wine, they have a small, but well-curated selection of snacks, with things like pretzels, tinned fish, and a baguette with some of the best butter we’ve ever had. Wines are available by the bottle, with a limited daily selection of wines by the glass.
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).
Hidden under a bunch of trees between some new-ish condo buildings, Yellow Jacket Social Club continues to be one of our favorite East Side spots to sit, drink, and snack. They also serve a surprisingly great brunch, which will undoubtedly include some shrimp and grits, a frozen mimosa, and/or plenty of Champagne. Start the day off here and discuss with your friends how this place used to host mechanical bull tournaments. We miss those.
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. As far as food, stick with the basics, like the burger or the carnitas sliders.
Loro is the brainchild of two Austin favorite institutions—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.
photo credit: Whitney Arostegui
Ani's Day & Night
Ani’s on East Riverside is an all-day cafe, with coffee, cocktails, beer and natural wines available by the bottle or by the glass. There’s a bar and a few tables inside of an old remodeled house, but the bulk of the space is on a large patio out front that also plays home to a few food trucks.
Better Half is an all-day operation with a big patio, tasty cheeseburgers, and cauliflower tots that'll make you reconsider your relationship with regular fries. They also have a great Happy Hour.
Celis Brewery in North Austin brews a variety of beer styles, including Celis White, a Belgian-style witbier. There’s a spacious taproom, a second indoor bar area, and an enormous beer garden/live music venue that’s home to Backdraft Pizza and the very good Con Todo trailer serving tremendous Rio Grande Valley-tacos.
Pinthouse Brewing is a side project from the folks behind Pinthouse Pizza, and while beer was always a large focus at the original locations, here it’s at the forefront. But one of our favorite things about this particular location is the large, sprawling semi-enclosed patio. It’s fully covered and shaded from the sun, but with breeze blocks and open walls that keep the air flowing freely. It’s difficult to tell if you’re indoors or outdoors when you’re here, but after a few Electric Jellyfishes, you won’t really care.
At Nixta, you can enjoy some of the best tacos in Austin plus a great selection of natural wines on a sprawling patio on East 12th. In earlier times their patio consisted of just a few small tables, but they’ve since built out a partially-covered bar and seating area on the back lawn that’s perfect when the weather is nice.
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.
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, Sammataro, and more, there’s something for just about everyone. And the food park is BYOB, so swing by Quickie Pickie down the street for a six-pack or some wine.
With over 200 beers on draft, Banger’s on Rainey St. boasts one of the largest tap lists in the state, and definitely the largest in Austin. There are multiple buildings with multiple levels and menus, making it almost feel more like a compound than a single restaurant these days. But with a large outdoor beer garden and live music on the weekends, it’s a great place to enjoy some house-made bratwurst and pretzels.
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.
Birdie’s is the type of cozy neighborhood cafe you’d expect to find in bigger cities—somewhere you could just as easily bring a date or pop in for a solo bite and a glass of wine—but somehow hasn’t really existed in Austin (until now). They don’t take reservations, so be ready to wait in line, then grab a glass of wine (or two) to keep you company. And while there are a few tables inside the East 12th cafe, Birdie’s is 90% patio, so there’s a good chance you’ll be seated there whether you like it or not. During the winter it’s covered and heated.
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.
Meanwhile Brewing is a large brewery off of Ben White that really takes the outdoors seriously. There’s a stage, a large patio, a playground, and even a soccer field. Stock up on coffee and beers inside, then head out to grab food from one of the excellent food trailers out back (Distant Relatives, Pueblo Viejo, and Besame).
Manuel’s Great Hills on Jollyville Road in the Arboretum in North Austin is a Mexican restaurant that’s perhaps best known for its mole enchiladas. It’s also known for its Sunday brunch and for having an epic, sprawling patio that’s shaded by enormous oak trees. There’s even a fountain.
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.
photo credit: Raphael Brion
The Far Out Lounge & Stage
Down in South Austin, The Far Out Lounge is a large music venue and bar that also plays host to a few great food trucks and trailers (Los Danzantes, Huckleberry, and The Forking Vegan). And with shows going on almost every night, it’s a great spot to listen to some live music and enjoy some great bites.
Saddle Up is a neighborhood beer garden and mini-grocer from the team behind Micklethwait and Taco Bronco (and located next door on Rosewood Ave). Grab some barbecue from one of the trailers then head into this shop to stock up on beer and wine for your meal. All the picnic tables on the patio are shared between the three businesses.
You wouldn’t be able to see it from the outside, but Tex Mex Joe’s on North Lamar has a great tree-lined deck out back (with decorations that change seasonally). They also have a full bar including frozen margaritas and an enormous menu of all the Tex-Mex hits and combo plates imaginable. We often come for brunch here because of the breakfast plates like chilaquiles and the huevos rancheros.
Over on East 12th Street, Camp East is a massive outdoor space featuring food from Fil N’ Viet and wine from Cork & Screw. It’s a large shared space with picnic tables, string lights, and a fire pit in the colder months. There are also a few other businesses there, including a bread shop and a stick-and-poke tattoo parlor.
Easy Tiger’s big covered outdoor beer garden, complete with ping pong tables, is both dog- and kid-friendly. Come for a few drinks, and order charcuterie, pastrami sandwiches, house-made sausages, and pretzels bigger than your head.
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.
While Lenoir is perhaps best-known for their very affordable tasting menu, and they’ve converted their large, outdoor wine garden into a charming dining area, complete with hanging lanterns and colorful tablecloths.
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. The back patio has bunch of spread out tables.
The ABGB has one of the best patios in South Austin, live music, great pizza, and even better beer. Make sure to grab a glass of the Hell Yes helles or the Rocket 100 pilsner while you’re there.
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.
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.
photo credit: Nicolai McCrary
Aba is an upscale Mediterranean restaurant located in the Music Lane development on South Congress. They also happen to have one of the prettiest patios in town, with multiple levels built around a 100+ year old oak tree. You’ll definitely want to grab a reservation here well in advance—spaces go quick.
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. 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). It does get rather 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 Fresa’s 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.
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.
If you don’t want to drive out to The Oasis, but still want to sit by a large body of water while you eat and drink, Hula Hut is where you should go. The patio is right on the lake, brightly painted, and covered in palm fronds that make it look like a very large cabana – and almost makes us feel like we’re on vacation. Almost. Split a pu pu platter and some tacos and order a drink with a tiny umbrella in it.
On the corner of South Lamar and Oltorf is Bouldin Acres, an enormous beer garden in what used to be a two-acre car dealership. It’s basically an adult amusement park with pickleball courts, corn hole, and loads of TV screens. Bouldin Acres is also home to the very good barbecue trailer CM Smokehouse.
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.
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 and Fat City Stacks serving White Castle-inspired sliders along with old school floats. Sometimes you just need a cocktail after a long day at work—but most other times adding hounds into the mix cures all ails.
photo credit: undefined
Doc's Backyard Bar & Grill
Doc’s in South Austin has multiple TVs inside and out for sports, but it’s the spacious dog-friendly patio where it really shines. There are tons of picnic tables shaded by multiple enormous oak trees and patio umbrellas, and it’s kept cool by misting fans. Do watch out for the very hungry grackles that will try to steal your french fries if you’re not looking. This is the kind of place that will give you a koozie to keep your tallboy of Lone Star cold.
Bar Peached is the bar-focused sister-restaurant of The Peached Tortilla, serving cocktails, tacos, and Asian-inspired comfort food. They have a nice, shaded patio, over in a fairly quiet part of Clarksville, near 5th and Lamar. They also have a pretty good Happy Hour.
Tamale House is an Austin institution that’s existed in various forms and locations since 1958—it’s been in its current home on East 6th Street since 2012. The charming Mexican tile-centric decor, full bar mini fridge packed with salsas, and lush green patio make Tamale House one of our favorite Tex-Mex spots in town.
The Brewtorium, the Central Austin brewery/restaurant, has an enormous indoor beer hall and two spacious beer gardens with picnic tables. They’re known for their German-style beers like pilsners, lagers, and Kölsch. There’s basic pub fare like burgers and reuben sandwiches, but then there’s also Flammkuchen and “Bratchos” (potato chips topped with crumbled bratwurst, beer cheese, curry pickled onions, and cilantro).
Housed in a historic warehouse space, Central Machine Works is a massive beer hall, brewery, and live music venue in East Austin. There’s also an enormous outdoor kid-friendly beer garden and a full bar. The kitchen is turning out simple and solid beer-friendly food like pretzels, cheeseburgers, Reuben sandwiches, and pizza.