Guide

The Best Outdoor Dining in Austin

By Megan Giller
June 9, 2014

The great outdoors is a lifestyle for active Austinites, from running Lady Bird Lake to finding the best patio for the party. Here are 10 best bets across town.

  • Olive & June in Rosedale

    Chef Shawn Cirkiel keeps Italian comfortable but ups the cool quotient at this neighborhood restaurant with a chic, modern design and tiered, covered patios with impressive oak trees.

    Must-Order: Pork meatballs and arancini to start, rigatone with salumi ragout and cherries and ricotta cheesecake to round it out.
    Insider Tip: The Sunday dinner is quite the steal at $29 for three enormous family-style courses.

    3411 Glenview Ave.; 512-467-9898

  • Arro in the Downtown Area

    Whether you come for the homestyle French food or the über-chic decor, don't miss the intimate patio in the front of the restaurant, which offers primo West Sixth people-watching.

    Must-Order: Scallops with creamer peas and fresh pea shoots, boudin blanc with quail sausage and roasted romanesco, the smoked mushroom salad and croque monsieur.
    Insider Tip: Go for the $25 three-course dinner and get a little bit of everything for not much moolah.

    601 W. Sixth St.; 512-992-2776

  • Weather Up on East Cesar Chavez

    NY-based owner Kathryn Weatherup raised the bar for craft cocktails with her Austin location, and then upped the ante with chef Kristine Kittrell's impressive food menu. Admire the twinkly lights in the casual backyard and forget you’re near a busy intersection.

    Must-Order: Ricotta gnocchi, grilled peaches and burrata with a vanilla-honey vinaigrette, and mussels in a carrot-ham broth.
    Insider Tip: Hit the newly launched brunch (lamb chorizo with poached eggs and grilled avocado, sweet-potato waffles with duck confit).

    1808 E. Cesar Chavez St.; 512-524-0464

  • North by Northwest in the Arboretum 

    Upscale bar food gets rowdy at one of the oldest microbreweries in town. The expansive outdoor seating area means you probably won’t have to wait.

    Must-Order: Pizza with beef tri-tip and jalapeños, grilled duck breast in marsala sauce with polenta and seasonal veggies.
    Insider Tip: Take a break from beer with the solid cocktail list, featuring Mexican martinis, margaritas and more.

    10010 N. Capital of Texas Hwy.; 512-467-6969

  • Contigo in the Mueller Development

    Despite our snobbiness over driving “north,” chef Andrew Wiseheart’s open-air restaurant draws crowds from all over town for its convivial atmosphere and solid ranch food.

    Must-Order: Ox-tongue sliders, a killer burger on a housemade challah bun and rabbit-and-sage dumplings.
    Insider Tip: Stay tuned for Gardner, a new vegetable-focused restaurant from the same team.

    2027 Anchor Ln.; 512-614-2260

  • Photo by: Tyler Malone

    Banger’s on Rainey Street

    Rainey is to weekend fun as Banger’s is to outdoor dining: the main squeeze. A party of picnic tables, fenced-in dog area, big stage and calendar of fun events make this spot stand out.

    Must-Order: Sausage sandwiches like the duck, bacon and fig on a kolache bun and a dizzying selection of almost 100 craft beers, including dozens of local options.
    Insider Tip: Don’t miss the rest of the menu, like fried cheese curds, boiled peanuts and sautéed green beans with huge hunks of bacon.

    79 Rainey St.; 512-386-1656

  • ABGB on Oltorf

    A recent Saturday night visit proved that all of South Austin has found this spot and made it their personal hangout. The enormous backyard seats a couple hundred people; conversations with new friends and an insistent train schedule punctuate pitchers of craft brews.

    Must-Order: Craft beers like the Industry Pils and Hop Dead Gorgeous, plus solid pizza and the meatball sub.
    Insider Tip: Love the beer at Uncle Billy’s? The ABGB crew is all alumni of the Barton Springs microbrewery, and their new brews continue in the same tradition.

    1305 W. Oltorf St.; 512-298-2242

  • Photo by: Flickr/Kellie CA

    Perla’s on South Congress

    Chef Larry McGuire’s seafood spot on South Congress defines well-done outdoor dining in Austin. The misters and tent prove they know how to make patios comfortable in the summer.

    Must-Order: Oysters, the lobster roll and a lobster and egg white frittata with asparagus tips and roasted tomatoes.
    Insider Tip: Brunch is the most important meal of the day, and also a favorite at this locale.

    1400 S. Congress Ave.; 512-291-7300

  • Justine’s in East Austin

    Take in a view of the adorable refurbished house by dining outside at the wraparound patio while playing bocce ball between courses. Or sit at the cool kids’ table: an impressive, covered area for big parties.

    Must-Order: Start with escargot, then move to steak frites for classic French and bolognaise.
    Insider Tip: Though the food is tasty, we love the ambiance more than anything else.

    4710 E. Fifth St.; 512-385-2900

  • Fino near UT Campus  

    Though the Mediterranean-Spanish restaurant resides near many college kids, the grown-up crowd and menu make for an upscale outdoor atmosphere (with plenty of wine).

    Must-Order: Tapas like red-pepper muhammara dip with pita, the pork belly and octopus pintxo and scallop paella for the table.
    Insider Tip: Emmett and Lisa Fox also own Asti in Hyde Park and have mentored many local chefs and restaurateurs, including Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher of Lenoir.  

    2905 San Gabriel St.; 512-474-2905

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Places Mentioned

Weather Up

Cocktail Bar • East Austin

Atmo.24 Decor22 Service19 CostE
 
 
 
Fino Restaurant Patio & Bar

Spanish • West Campus

Food23 Decor25 Service23 Cost$41
 
 
 
Justine's

French • East Austin

Food25 Decor24 Service21 Cost$44
 
 
 
Perla's Seafood & Oyster Bar

Seafood • SoCo (South Congress)

Food25 Decor23 Service22 Cost$47
 
 
 
The ABGB

Brewpub • South Austin

Atmo.- Decor- Service- Cost 
 
 
 
Contigo

American • Mueller

Food23 Decor24 Service21 Cost$31
 
 
 
North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery

American • Great Hills

Food21 Decor21 Service21 Cost$27
 
 
 
Olive & June

Italian • Bryker Woods

Food24 Decor23 Service23 Cost$49
 
 
 
 
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