It's that glorious time of year when the weather is neither too cold nor too hot — it's just right. As we welcome patio season, we wanted to find the best new outdoor dining destinations in Austin and, if we're lucky, a happy hour or two.
We're guessing you already have a few favorites, or maybe you've been working your way through our 2015 selections. Either way, here's a list of worthy patios that have popped up over the last year for eating and drinking al fresco.
El Chile Group owner Carlos Rivero is the main brain behind Alcomar, a "Latin Coastal Kitchen" located on South First Street. A small patio is tucked away from the busy thoroughfare, and happy hour, 3 to 7 pm every day, boasts plenty of discounted cocktails and eats — not to mention half-off bottles of wine.
Backbeat is a stylish new South Austin spot from drink.well. owners Jessica and Michael Sanders. Head to the rooftop bar for great views of downtown and the craft cocktails this team is known for.
Bullfight is the latest restaurant from Chef Shawn Cirkiel of Parkside Projects, specializing in modern Spanish classics. The relaxing, covered patio on Airport Boulevard is a great post-work respite. Bonus: Happy hour makes Bullfight's prices more palatable.
Burn Pizza + Bar
Burn — named as such because its main focus, pizza, is thin with burned edges — rests on the east side with a nice little patio. Its happy hour is every day from 4 to 7 pm and features drink specials and 25 percent off pizza.
Earlier this spring, Contigo's Ben Edgerton and Andrew Wiseheart flipped Gardner into Chicon, an East Austin neighborhood bar and restaurant that focuses on Texas-style fare. The patio is rustic yet charming, serving as a perfect escape on a sunny day. Drop in for happy hour, Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 pm, and we bet you won't want to leave.
Emmer & Rye
If you find yourself on Rainey Street and want to try something new, check out the dim-sum carts at Emmer & Rye. The patio is a great place to dine before heading out to enjoy the area's buzzing nightlife. It's not a cheap option, but it's worth it. At happy hour from 5 to 7 pm, you can snag $1 off draft beer, $2 off wine by the glass, and $2 off specialty cocktails.
There are a lot of great patios on Barton Springs Road, and the newest addition is Juliet. Housed in the former Romeo's space, this new Italian restaurant boasts a large, shaded patio for a comfortable meal outdoors. Happy hour is every day from 3 to 7 pm and features $7 cocktails, $5 house wine, $4 draft beer, and half-off rosé.
Pinthouse Pizza — South
The Pinthouse Pizza on Burnet Road is a big hit and is always packed, so it was great when the hot spot expanded to South Austin. Go get some pizza and beer and hang out on the patio, a highlight of the South Lamar location. The restaurant sports a regular happy hour (5 to 6 pm on weekdays) and a reverse happy hour (9 to 10 pm on weekdays) for night owls.
If you're on the hunt for a bit of European flair, look no further than Prelog's. Located in the heart of downtown, the upscale patio overlooks Shoal Creek. Happy hour is Tuesday through Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 pm and 10 to 11 pm, with snack and drink specials.
The words "salad bistro" may or may not excite you, but either way, Vinaigrette is a great place to unwind with a big patio that's settled around a large oak tree. The restaurant offers cocktails, beer, and wine, in addition to a stellar menu of fresh fare.