Austin is a city that’s at its best outdoors. We have a world-famous swimming pool, we make up reasons to have music festivals (Eeyore’s Birthday Party should be on your radar), and we congregate anywhere there’s shade to sip cold drinks. And there’s no better way to combat the triple-digit heat and catastrophic traffic than by hanging out on a patio. But not all of them are created equal.
This guide highlights a few of our favorite bars and restaurants around town where you can eat on a patio, backyard, or any other open-air environment. If you’d rather check out a brewery, we’ve got a guide to that, too. Also see our guide to the best outdoor Happy Hours.
Perla’s has one of the most recognizable patios in Austin - in large part from being in the middle of South Congress, where it practically bleeds onto the sidewalk. Make a reservation or put your name on the waitlist, do some people-watching, and get ready to enjoy some of the best seafood in town. But also be ready to drop $38 on a lobster roll.
These two East Side dive bars often have live music, and they share one enormous backyard filled with picnic tables and cheap drinks. There’s a great Happy Hour, and there’s the Hotel Vegas Concession Stand serving good burgers and burritos.
Slightly hidden away in a relatively quiet section of downtown, the patio at the Spanish-inspired restaurant Kalimotxo is a welcome escape with some great food to match, like the Kali Burger, tortilla espanola, and other small plates. They’re accepting walk-ins for seating on their patio, but we recommend making a reservation to secure a nice spot outside.
The patio at Launderette is a great spot for a special occasion, a casual but not too casual date night, or any other reason you can think of to sit outside and drink a good cocktail. There are lots of tasty things to share at this Holly district spot, like the charred octopus, beet hummus, and brick chicken. And the birthday cake ice cream sandwich, with cake-like cookies, isn’t just pretty to look at - it really is great. While they do accept walk-ins, we recommend making a reservation (available here) to make sure you get a prime spot.
Arbor Food Park
While not strictly a patio, Arbor Food Park’s abundance of great food options, accompanied by a large, outdoor space filled with picnic tables, makes it a perfect spot for an outdoor meal over on the East Side. Home to Cuantos Tacos, Sammataro, and more, there’s something for just about everyone. And the food park is BYOB, so swing by Quickie Pickie down the street for a six-pack or some wine.
Lou’s on East Cesar Chavez almost feels like it was built for takeout, operating out of a small space with orders placed at an outdoor window. Of course, if you’d rather sit down and enjoy your rotisserie and frozen custard, all of their seating is outdoors on a well-spaced patio with plenty of picnic tables. And if you show up on a Tuesday, all bottles of wine are half-price.
Dining on Olive & June’s patio is probably the closest thing we’ve experienced to eating in an upscale treehouse, with three stories of spacious patio wrapping around a giant 200-year-old oak tree near 35th and MoPac. We enjoy just about all of their Italian specialties, but their house-made pasta and wine list are where they really shine.
Lolo’s is a natural wine bar located on the East Side with a spacious patio. In addition to wine, they have a small, but well-curated selection of snacks, with things like pretzels, tinned fish, and a baguette with some of the best butter we’ve ever had. Wines are available by the bottle, with a limited daily selection of wines by the glass.
Hidden under a bunch of trees between some new-ish condo buildings, Yellow Jacket Social Club continues to be one of our favorite East Side spots to sit, drink, and snack. They also serve a surprisingly great brunch, which will undoubtedly include some shrimp and grits, a frozen mimosa, and/or plenty of Champagne. Start the day off here and discuss with your friends how this place used to host mechanical bull tournaments. We miss those.
The Little Darlin’ is right off William Cannon and South Congress, and it’s a great place to unwind or spend a chill Sunday afternoon on the picnic tables in the huge patio out back. There are craft beer and cocktails, outdoor games like horseshoes, a covered patio with darts, pool tables inside, and a stage for live music. As far as food, stick with the basics, like the burger or the carnitas sliders.
While Lenoir is perhaps best-known for their very affordable tasting menu, and they’ve converted their large, outdoor wine garden into a charming dining area, complete with hanging lanterns and colorful tablecloths.
Hanging out with dogs is a whole lot cheaper and more fun than therapy, so here’s your chance to do so even if your landlord doesn’t allow pets. The entire “patio” at Yard Bar off Burnet is an enormous fenced-in dog park/playground, with a full bar inside. Sometimes you just need a cocktail after a long day at work - but most other times adding hounds into the mix cures all ails.
Kinda Tropical feels, as you might have guessed, kind of tropical, with pulled jackfruit sandwiches, yuca fries, and tamari-glazed chicken wings, alongside things like avocado toast. The back patio has bunch of spread out tables.
Not only do they serve good breakfast tacos, but Cherrywood also has a spacious, dog-friendly, tree-covered patio/music venue where you’ll sometimes see the gardener carefully nurturing his potted plants. If this wasn’t clear from our previous sentence, Cherrywood is a highly Austin-y place to have some laid-back time outside.
June’s All Day is consistently a great spot - at any time of day and with any person you can think of. Which makes it seem almost unfair to everywhere else when you add in their long wine list with red, white, rose, and orange options from around the world. Combined with its prime location at the corner of South Congress and Annie, June’s has a good amount of outdoor seating and one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in town.
As we mentioned above, Better Half Bar shares a patio with sister brewery, Holdout Brewing. And while they don’t serve the same smash burger as their spot across the lawn, they have an equally tasty cheeseburger as well as a full menu of sandwiches, pastas, and salads. If you’re there early, grab a chicken biscuit sandwich and the cauliflower tots with beet ketchup are great any time of day. They also have a great Happy Hour.
If your priorities are twinkly lights, striped straws, and the general feeling that you’re in the middle of an Instagram photo, you’ll want to be at Josephine House. This is the place to sip a fancy gin cocktail in a cozy outdoor booth while eating the kind of food that tastes as good as it looks in pictures.
Radio Coffee & Beer sells, as the name suggests, coffee and beer. The outside seating area is large and well spread out, but the best part might be the two food trucks parked alongside the patio. With Veracruz serving some of the best breakfast tacos in town, and Dee Dee dishing out excellent Thai food, you may find yourself in the tricky (and possibly sticky) situation of deciding between one more migas tacos or an order of mango sticky rice.
It might be called Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden, but there’s a lot more going on here than just what’s on the sign. Cosmic also has wine and cocktails (and even cocktail flights). And then there’s the extensive outdoor space, shaded by oak trees. It’s also home to some of the city’s best food trucks, including Pueblo Viejo for tacos, Leroy & Lewis, a super non-traditional barbecue truck that we really like, and an outpost of Tommy Want Wingy, serving lollipop-style chicken wings that can get very spicy (if you want).
This Rosedale brewpub is home to one of the best craft beer collections in Austin, a few of which they brew on-site. Their patio stretches around the building and takes up most of the parking lot, and there’s also a semi-permanent food truck, making it a great place to grab dinner as well.
Scholz Garten isn’t just the oldest bar in Austin, it’s the oldest operating business in Texas. Which also makes it the oldest operating patio in Texas (probably, don’t fact check us on that). And that just means that they’ve had more time to perfect things. With some of the best German food in town, a great beer list, and a central location right near UT, it’s a welcome escape from most of the campus-area bars.
This converted old house not only serves some of our favorite Mexican food in Austin - they also have one of the best outdoor areas in which to eat it. The front yard is covered by a giant string-light-covered tree, and lined with charming little tables for sharing bowls of queso fundido and fajitas. If it’s crowded, the mural-covered backyard patio is no slouch either.
Jester King is one of our favorite spots to grab excellent beer and food outdoors, with a sprawling property that feels more like a state park than a brewery. They’ve got brand new picnic grounds, hiking trails, and multiple stations to fill up on their ever-changing selection of wild-fermented farmhouse ales. Don’t be surprised if your walk is interrupted by a parade of goats.
The ABGB has one of the best patios in South Austin, live music, great pizza, and even better beer. Make sure to grab a glass of the Hell Yes helles or the Rocket 100 pilsner while you’re there.
If you’re going to Matt’s El Rancho, chances are you’re there for one of two things: margaritas or queso. Or, more likely, you’re there for both (and they do both exceptionally well). With a sprawling patio and nearly 70 years of practice, we’re comfortable crowning it a South Austin institution. And because this is Texas, you can even get a chicken fried steak, though we usually stick with the enchiladas or fajitas.
The French invented neighborhood bistros with prime sidewalk seating (we think), and Justine’s is the Austin version. Inside, this place feels like Paris in Austin; an intimate date night dinner spot. Step onto their patio and the vibe shifts into a see-and-be-seen backyard. Justine’s is located away from the hubbub of downtown, which makes the entire experience feel more exclusive and better suited for conversation with a group.
Over the years, Guero’s has become an Austin postcard-establishment - their solid Tex-Mex and strong margaritas have made it a favorite entry point for out-of-towners who have no idea what Austin is (and just as fun for people who live here). It does get rather crowded, which is when you’ll want to consider stepping outside onto their patio - the only spot in town where you can sip margaritas, eat queso, listen to live music, and people watch, all while sitting in an oak tree-shaded garden facing South Congress.
The South First location of Fresa’s has a great patio with beautiful trees providing shade, and a spread of brightly-colored picnic tables that will help you forget the boring beige walls of your living room. All of their wood-grilled meats are great, but we’re partial to the achiote and citrus chicken, served with charro beans, rice, grilled onions and jalapenos, and corn tortillas. And we’ve found that the aguas frescas really hit the spot, especially on the warm afternoons when we need to change shirts every five minutes.
This gourmet doughnut Airstream trailer turned brick-and-mortar is more than just a late-night donut shop. The well-designed ‘public house’ branch of the Gordough’s empire has a full bar and a fantastic backyard patio covered with picnic tables and yard games. This is the spot to hit if you’re with a giant crew that appreciates the finer things in life, like gigantic beer towers paired with donut burgers.
From day one, Contigo fully embraced the outdoor life, with an almost entirely open-air dining area. There is a small bit of cover, but you’re probably not coming here during one of Austin’s spontaneous rainstorms anyway. We’re big fans of the burger, and the crispy green beans with sambal aioli are a great way to start.
Lazarus has a great patio on the East Side, with lots of picnic tables in and around the bar. The tacos and tortas are surprisingly good, and the fried chickpeas are a nice snack while you’re waiting around. And of course, it’s a brewery, so the beers are all pretty solid.
Oasis Texas Brewing Company
The Oasis has one of the best views in the whole city, with some of the worst food. Thankfully, Oasis Brewing opened up right next door a few years ago, so now you can get the same great views of Lake Travis without having to stop somewhere else for lunch or dinner afterward. The sandwiches are solid, and the beers are great. But unless you live by the lake, you’re probably just here for the view.
If you don’t want to drive out to The Oasis, but still want to sit by a large body of water while you eat and drink, Hula Hut is where you should go. The patio is right on the lake, brightly painted, and covered in palm fronds that make it look like a very large cabana - and almost makes us feel like we’re on vacation. Almost. Split a pu pu platter and some tacos and order a drink with a tiny umbrella in it.
The patio at Salty Sow makes up more of the restaurant than the indoor dining room, and they’ve got a fantastic menu of upscale Southern staples that only gets better when the prices drop during Happy Hour. Try the chicken liver mousse and the honey-rosemary-dipped fried chicken, and pair it with the Blanche - their blood orange frozen margarita.
Doc's Backyard Bar & Grill
Doc’s in South Austin has multiple TVs inside and out for sports, but it’s the spacious dog-friendly patio where it really shines. There are tons of picnic tables shaded by multiple enormous oak trees and patio umbrellas, and it’s kept cool by misting fans. Do watch out for the very hungry grackles that will try to steal your french fries if you’re not looking. This is the kind of place that will give you a koozie to keep your tallboy of Lone Star cold.
Bar Peached is the bar-focused sister-restaurant of The Peached Tortilla, serving cocktails, tacos, and Asian-inspired comfort food. They have a nice, shaded patio, over in a fairly quiet part of Clarksville, near 5th and Lamar. They also have a pretty good Happy Hour.
Sour Duck is the more casual, sister-restaurant of Odd Duck, so you can expect the same level of quality and expertise, with a bit more of a focus on baked goods. Where they differ from Odd Duck is in the amount of outdoor space - most of the restaurant is open-air, on a well-spaced patio.
Easy Tiger has a large beer garden/patio at their Linc location, near I-35 and 290. Come for a few drinks, and order charcuterie, pastrami sandwiches, house-made sausages, and pretzels. They also have a great Happy Hour.
We appreciate any excuse to plan a day on South Congress, and brunch at this longtime Austin staple is a great one. The food is mostly American and it’s crowd-pleasing all around. Get there early or plan to wait - either way, you’ll find a way to use your time wisely.
Thicket South Austin Food Park
Tamale House is an Austin institution that’s existed in various forms and locations since 1958 - it’s been in its current home on East 6th Street since 2012. The charming Mexican tile-centric decor, full bar mini fridge packed with salsas, and lush green patio make Tamale House one of our favorite Tex-Mex spots in town.
Aviator Pizza & Drafthouse
Aviator Pizza & Drafthouse on Parmer Lane is a pizza restaurant with a huge dog-friendly outdoor beer garden (there’s even a playscape for kids). During the day it’s shaded by oak trees, and at night the patio is lit up by string lights.There are also locations on South Congress and in Kyle and Elgin.
Housed in a historic warehouse space, Central Machine Works is a massive beer hall, brewery, and live music venue in East Austin. There’s also an enormous outdoor kid-friendly beer garden and a full bar. The kitchen is turning out simple and solid beer-friendly food like pretzels, cheeseburgers, Reuben sandwiches, and pizza.