Now is the perfect time of year to explore Austin’s many outdoor dining venues. Linger over a cup of coffee at a sidewalk cafe or enjoy a long lunch on a tree-shaded patio. Plus in our laid-back Capitol City, almost anything goes — including bringing the kids just about everywhere. From the city center to destination restaurants just outside of town, we rounded up a few of our go-to family fun spots.
Ski Shores Cafe
Dock your Moomba at this Austin institution and get your land legs back while noshing on burgers (try the mushroom and Swiss or the spicy black bean) and tasty fries. When we're craving something a little different, we order the fish tacos with red cabbage and queso fresco. Corn dog bites are always a hit with the kids, as is the playscape. If they need a break from the sun, there are old-school video games and a jukebox inside. And don't worry if you don't have a boat — this laid-back lake spot is also accessible via car.
2905 Pearce Rd., 512-394-7511, skishoresaustin.com
We like to catch up with friends at this leisurely lunch spot that boasts a tree-shaded patio and a large space for kids to play. Try the Brazos (Canadian bacon, pepperoni, red onion, bell pepper, jalapeño and red peppers with feta and Parmesan) or build your own pie on whole wheat or white crust along with a choice of toppings (green olives, sun-dried tomatoes or grilled chicken to name a few) and sauces (think basil pesto and barbecue). Then treat yourself to a well-deserved nap.
3638 Bee Cave Rd., 512-795-8888, austinspizza.com
A civilized brunch can also be playful at this spot that overlooks Lady Bird Lake. Request a table outside on the terrace and let your children explore the expansive lawn while the adults sip on mimosas. Offerings include everything from smoked salmon and beef tenderloin to pastries and made-to-order omelets. The little ones will be smitten with fried chicken and waffles — and their very own dessert buffet.
98 San Jacinto Blvd, 512-685-8300, triorestaurantaustin.com
The new Triangle location is perfect for an early evening dinner with the family. While you sip on a deliciously refreshing skinny margarita, you can easily keep an eye on the kids as they maneuver the playscape next door. Then feast on cheese quesadillas, a Rockin’ Ruthann’s (pulled chicken burritos with chile con carne), or the Tio Chon Special (two cheese enchiladas with chili con carne, diced onion, ranchero sauce, chile con queso, lettuce and tomato). Afterward, play tag on the nearby grassy area before calling it a night.
4600 W. Guadalupe St., 512-381-5500, maudies.com
South Austin funk meets family fun at the grand dame of Austin outdoor dining venues. Be prepared for the wild and weird (kids and otherwise), and then sit back and relax with a cold beer. The menu is a hodgepodge of offerings — think sandwiches, burgers, pork chops, salads — and the vibe is ultra relaxed. The little ones like to believe they have free range here, and we agree. Pitch some washers and play a little yourself.
1703 S. First St., 512-445-9197, freddiesplaceaustin.com