The Best Outdoor Dining in Austin

By Veronica Meewes  |  May 8, 2015
Credit: ABGB

Patio season in Central Texas is as glorious as it is short-lived. Check out our 10 favorite spots for dining and drinking alfresco...before the real summer heat sets in.

  • Credit: Veronica Meewes

    Eden East in East Austin

    It doesn't get more farm-to-table than dinner at Eden East, chef Sonya Cote's restaurant located on the grounds of Springdale Farm. When the sun goes down, lights twinkle from a "living chandelier" suspended from the 40-foot elm that spreads its branches protectively over the verdant dining room.

    Must-Order: While the venue is BYOB, each dinner begins with farm-fresh (and free!) cocktails designed to accompany the meal.

    Insider Tip: The menu changes weekly and restaurant is open by reservation only on Friday and Saturday nights.

    755 Springdale Rd.; 512-428-6500

  • Credit: James Goulden

    Olive & June in Rosedale

    Choose from three different levels of beautiful patio space at Olive & June, where the 150-year-old live oak tree is just as much a centerpiece as chef Shawn Cirkiel's ​family-style Southern Italian menu. Be sure to arrive early for one of the best happy hours in town: half-off all drinks and appetizers.

    Must-Order: Enjoy the house mozzarella, pork meatballs and striped bass crudo before moving onto the handmade pasta menu. 

    Insider Tip: Each Sunday they serve a three-course family-style dinner for only $29 in addition to the regular menu.

    3411 Glenview Ave.; 512-467-9898

  • Credit: Justine Gilcrease

    Justine’s in East Austin

    Justine's patio is just as good for people-watching as it is for languidly enjoying a bottle of rosé with friends between rounds of pétanque (French bocce ball) under shimmering disco balls suspended from the trees.

    Must-Order: While you can't go wrong with their juicy Royale with Cheese burger, their specials menu (which changes nightly) is where it's at.

    Insider Tip: Be sure to explore the entire property, which includes a tintype photo booth and the Infinity Room, a mirrored wonderland you need to see to believe.

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

  • Credit: Flickr/Kellie CA

    Perla’s on South Congress

    A sunny afternoon spent slurping oysters on the half shell on the nautical deck of Perla's will make you forget you're in Austin. But go on a weekend and the bustling thoroughfare of South Congress will bring you right back to reality.

    Must-Order: While their fresh seafood is great any time of day, their brunch is particularly special, with selections like breakfast bouillabaisse, bay scallop pozole verde and classic lobster rolls.

    Insider Tip: Enjoy oyster happy hour (50 cents off each oyster and $2 off drinks) Monday through Friday from 3-6 PM.

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

  • Credit: Natalie Seeboth

    Jacoby's Restaurant and Mercantile in East Austin

    Time your visit to Jacoby's around the setting sun, for their riverfront patio is the place to be when a magical golden hue is cast over the Colorado River. After dinner, peruse their beautifully curated mercantile, which is filled with all sorts of lovely things you didn't even realize you needed.

    Must-Order: All their meat is raised on the family ranch in Melvin, TX, so don't choose Meatless Monday for the date of your visit! You can't go wrong with any cut of their beef, and the stuffed Salisbury steak is not to be missed either.

    Insider Tip: Order the West Texas Shandy, a cocktail inspired by owner Adam Jacoby's grandmother's favorite combination of beer and Big Red.

    3235 E. Cesar Chavez St.; 512-366-5808

  • Credit: Veronica Meewes

    El Alma on Barton Springs Road

    Happy hour on the white stucco rooftop of El Alma is like taking an instant vacation. Check out the vivid local art as you climb the interior rock staircase to the rooftop, then perch under an umbrella, surrounded by trees, and enjoy the fantastic view of the Austin skyline.

    Must-Order: Start with a signature frozen Chilanga Margarita (fresh orange juice with a spicy chile salt rim) and ceviche before moving onto entrees like their duck enmoladas.

    Insider Tip: Chef Alma Alcocer just recently opened Alcomar, a new Latin seafood-based restaurant, located nearby on South First Street.

    1025 Barton Springs Rd.; 512-609-8923

  • Credit: M40 Photography

    Contigo in the Mueller Development

    Contigo's expansive patio is an ideal spot to meet groups for happy hour, dinner or brunch year-round (thanks to the addition of a tent, heaters and fire pits through the winter). The space is dog-friendly and a sand play area is perfect for kids, who can enjoy dishes like pigs in a blanket or grilled cheese, while adults nosh on face bacon and pork-liver pâté paired with rotating cocktail specials. 

    Must-Order: No matter what your age, the fresh ground Contigo burger and fries on housemade challah is a delicious choice.

    Insider Tip: Each Wednesday from 5-6 PM, guests can enjoy one free oxtail slider per person with purchase of a cocktail.

    2027 Anchor Ln.; 512-614-2260

  • Credit: Tyler Malone

    Banger’s on Rainey Street

    The already-huge beer garden at Banger's is undergoing an expansion that will create even more outdoor seating (and now covered by an awning, so you can enjoy their 100+ beers on tap rain or shine). Depending on the day, you might encounter anything from a goat roast to human foosball to a live band performing on their stage.

    Must-Order: Housemade sausages are their specialty and there are plenty to choose from: boudin, currywurst, andouille, bockwurst. Wash it all down with a 1-liter Manmosa or one (or more) of their many, many fine selections of beer.

    Insider Tip: Dogs are always welcome at Banger's, where they can play freely in a dog run and even feast on a special sausage dish made just for canines.

    79 Rainey St.; 512-386-1656

  • Credit: Easy Tiger

    Easy Tiger in Downtown

    Make your way east on Dirty Sixth toward I-35 and you will be rewarded with the oasis that is Easy Tiger. The beer garden and brewery tucked along Waller Creek features a covelike backyard and one of the few Ping-Pong patios around town.

    Must-Order: The homemade beer cheese with dipping pretzel is not of this earth and the housemade sausages do not disappoint either. For a little of everything, opt for a German board, which comes with all of the above, plus kraut and mustard.

    Insider Tip: Pick up one of their artisanal loaves of bread on your way out; it's used by most of the best restaurants in town.

    709 E. Sixth St.; 512-614-4972

  • Credit: ABGB

    ABGB on Oltorf

    Just because you've committed to an afternoon of beer drinking doesn't mean you need to settle for greasy bar snacks. The Austin Beer Garden Brewery's got you covered. Bring your pup and get comfy at one of their tree-covered picnic tables or a lawn chairs. Stay long enough and you're bound to catch a band or three on stage inside the brewery.

    Must-Order: Many go for the pizza, which ranges from the basic to the fancy, but starters like their fluffy deviled eggs and seasonal mozzarella caprese (currently guanciale, strawberry, pesto and Marcona almonds) should not be overlooked. Try the bright, sessionable Day Trip pale ale and the floral, slightly spicy Take a Little Trip tripel.

    Insider Tip: Ride your bike or catch an Uber because the parking lot here tends to fill up quickly, particularly on warm-weather weekends.

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