Best Patios

Austin's best patios for drinking, dining and hanging out

Austin's best patios for drinking, dining and hanging out

We're entering that wonderful time of year where we can lounge around for an entire afternoon without sweating profusely, and sometimes you even need a light sweatshirt to enjoy an evening under the stars. It's springtime, y'all, and since these mild temperatures are short-lived, it's important to soak them up — ideally with a drink in hand.

To help you out, we put together a guide to some of the best patios around town for eating, drinking and hanging out.

Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden
Ping pong. All of the cold beers. Gourmet beef jerky. Need we say more? Easy Tiger is tucked away at the end of Dirty Sixth, and it’s always buzzing at a chill, low-grade frequency. It’s hip without being pretentious, and long picnic tables make it ideal for bringing all of your friends — or for meeting new ones. The bake shop above is an added bonus, because everything is a little more magical with the scent of freshly baked bread in the air.

The new East Austin restaurant from chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki is already a hit, and while the inside space is beautiful, our favorite seat in the house might actually be on the patio. Long wooden benches with pillows wrap around the front exterior, and vast windows make the patio a perfectly subdued spot for looking in on the bustling bar. While you're there, enjoy some “snacky bits” — our current favorites include the potato chips and chicken liver pate.

Second Bar + Kitchen
There might be no better spot for downtown people watching than Second. Between the busy Second Street shops and the newly opened JW Marriott across the street, an afternoon or evening meal at Chef David Bull’s casual dining concept feels very urban-chic, in the best Austin kind of way. With a kitchen that’s open late, SBK’s patio is where we head when we find ourselves downtown in gorgeous weather, and we just can’t imagine heading home without some truffle pomme frites and a nightcap.

Okay, technically Contigo has more of a yard than a patio, but we can’t let a technicality keep it off this list. Tucked away behind Mueller with community-style picnic tables and strings of lights, sitting outside at Contigo feels like a homey escape. It doesn’t hurt that Contigo serves a damn fine Old Fashioned and some of the best charcuterie in town. And while there are plenty of dog-friendly spots in Austin, we think that the pups lounging around Contigo always look extra cute and content.

Weather Up
Always a go-to spot for high-quality, well-mixed drinks, Weather Up is quickly becoming one of our favorite spots for snacking, too. Dishes like Texas poached peaches (burata, greens, almonds, vanilla honey vinaigrette) and blackened eggplant crostini (sun gold tomato, preserved lemon, shallot) taste great with a white negroni or Creole cocktail (rye, benedictine, amaro Cio Ciaro, sweet vermouth, angostura bitters) on the sprawling, relaxing patio. It’s a hard patio to leave.

Jacoby's Restaurant & Mercantile
Rustic meets urban at charming Jacoby’s, where blue mason jars and candles line wooden tables on a multi-level patio that overlooks the Colorado River. It’s the kind of backyard scene that encourages you to hang for awhile and wander around. Visit your friends' table (you’re bound to see someone you know), or head to the patio railing for a sweeping river view, cocktail in hand. Speaking of cocktails, they’re excellent. And so is the menu, which features humanely raised beef from the Jacoby family ranch.

There’s something especially exciting and serene about dining outside at Sway, where you can order a house brew Kosmic Kombucha (lemongrass, kaffir lime, young coconut water) under a canopy of hanging plants. Don’t skip the chicken wings (chili tamarind caramel, fish sauce, ginger, cilantro) or the jungle curry (Texas Wagyu beef, red chili, baby corn, eggplant, peppercorn, coconut cream). And definitely order dessert — it’s too pretty out there not to have something sweet.

Dozen Street
We hesitated to include Dozen Street because we kind of wanted to keep it our little secret. Walk through the dark and wonderfully new divey bar at 12th and Chicon streets to the bright back patio and take a seat in one of the surprisingly comfortable white wire chars (which, by the way, look great in Instagram photos). There’s no food, but that’s part of the charm — Dozen Street is an understated, quirky, no-frills patio meant for settling in and drinking whiskey, neat, at 5 pm sharp.

Blue Dahlia
Blue Dahlia is meant to emulate a “European countryside,” and the spot pretty much nails it. It’s so easy to feel like we’re somewhere else entirely when we’re eating a fresh and simple salade niçoise on Blue Dahlia’s patio that we’ve been known to order a glass of white wine and turn a “working” lunch into a two-hour, leisurely affair. When in Europe, do as the Europeans do, right?

Perla's Seafood & Oyster Bar
Like a lot of places in Austin, the scene at Perla’s falls in that sweet spot of fancy and totally comfortable. It’s a go-to spot for taking out-of-town guests or treating yourself after an afternoon shopping on SoCo or out on Lady Bird Lake. The raw bar offers some of the freshest options in town; we recommend doing it up with a platter, which gives you a little bit of everything. Between the huge, beautiful oak tree and the misters, Perla’s patio stays remarkably pleasant on even the hottest of Austin afternoons.

The boozy, tasty cocktails and the way Whisler’s open-air bar spills out onto the back patio make it a pretty lovely spot. But then you add Thai Kun, the East Side King Thai truck that’s parked out back, and Whisler’s is elevated to a whole other level. Try the waterfall pork, and make sure to order something from the bar to wash down the spiciness. A Moscow mule, maybe?

Olive & June
There are three different levels of outdoor dining at Olive & June, and all of them are ridiculously enchanting. Chef Shawn Cirkiel’s menu is just as magical as the setting, whether you’re there for nibbles like zucchini involtini (mushroom, pine hut, golden raisin) or a full-blown pasta meal. Careful, though: Sip enough from the nicely curated wine list and you might find yourself making bedroom eyes with someone. What can we say, it’s a romantic sort of place.

Perlas Patio
Perla's patio is fancy and totally comfortable. Courtesy of Perla's / Facebook
Austin Photo Set: dupuy_sway restaurant opening_dec 2012_exterior
Sway's serene patio.  Photo by Jessica Dupuy
Austin photo: Places_Food_Contigo_Exterior
Contigo's homey patio is dog-friendly. Photo by Contigo
Perlas Patio
Austin Photo Set: dupuy_sway restaurant opening_dec 2012_exterior
Austin photo: Places_Food_Contigo_Exterior