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.
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.
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, so you can order off their menu as well. Right now all seating is on their patio, 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.
This enormous, funky patio is a flagbearer for Keep Austin Weird. Spider House is covered with a colorful hodgepodge of steampunky yard furniture that feels like it was created by Tom Waits in a secret side career as a metalworker. Even though it’s in the crosshairs of UT’s campus area, the crowd is always a good mix of people. They serve food, brew coffee, and have plenty of quality local beer on tap, as well as a full bar with affordable prices. Spider House’s patio is never not an enjoyable place to be.
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.
You’re probably familiar with Easy Tiger’s wizard-like baking skills, as their bread is served everywhere in town. But go beneath the bakery and you’ll find their beer garden with a patio beside Waller Creek. And while that creek itself basically just an even-more-disappointing version of the San Antonio Riverwalk, it does give the patio a feeling of being hidden away in a concrete jungle. Easy Tiger is a cool place to impress an out-of-towner, and definitely our favorite downtown patio. Come for drinks (they have a full bar in addition to beer and wine), and snack on pretzels and sausages when you get hungry (they serve food until 2am).
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.
These two veteran bars/music venues have cemented themselves as East 6th fixtures. Part of the reason for their continued success is their enormous shared patio complete with cheap drinks and picnic tables. The interiors are small, hot, and inhospitable for conversation due to very loud music. But once you get outside - especially at night - you’ll have a hard time convincing yourself to go back to the music when there’s so much action (and so much more space available) on the patio.
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.
Hidden under a bunch of trees in front of some train tracks on a side street, you’d probably never know Yellow Jacket Social Club was here. This divey spot isn’t just a great place for a low-key hang in the shade - they serve a surprisingly good brunch, with out-of-this-world shrimp and grits. Get the frozen mimosas if you’re looking to start the day off right.
Skylark’s recent patio addition is a wonderful place to get some fresh air after dancing to the best live soul music in Austin. It feels like a spacious backyard - nothing especially distinct, but a really comfortable place to hang.
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.
This is a far better bar than it is a patio. But when a bar makes some of the best cocktails in town, then you don’t need fancy furniture or twinkly lights. Whisler’s is basically a glorified cement parking lot with tables and chairs within 10 yards of the bar (which is most important here).
This patio’s claim to fame is their small pool for Brooklyn transplants who are just happy to be out of the highly variable Northeastern climate. Otherwise, Kitty Cohen is designed to feel like a Palm Springs house in the 1970s, complete with beachy cocktails and bright blue umbrellas. If you want to feel like you’ve left Austin for a few drinks, come to this spot.
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.