Each week in Austin360, we offer a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: Our short spring season seems to be upon us. Enjoy some meals al fresco before the triple digits arrive. For more, visit austin360.com/thefeed and for more restaurants by category, head to austin360.com/austinrestaurants.
(*This is not a comprehensive list. Don’t see one of your favorites below? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add it to our online listings.)
Guide on the go
Take my 2014 Dining Guide — a list of my top 25 restaurants and 75 other places I like to eat — with you by bookmarking austin360.com/diningguide on your smartphone or tablet.
Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. 1305 W. Oltorf St. 512-298-2242, theabgb.com. A casual, straightforward pizza-and-beer joint with plenty of outdoor seating.
Bartlett’s. 2408 W. Anderson Lane. 512-451-7333, bartlettsaustin.com. This restaurant has changed little since its transition from Houston’s, and that’s not a bad thing.
Benji’s Cantina. 716 W. Sixth St. 512-476-8226, benjiscantina.com. This Tex-Mex spot offers fajita meat with a pedigree and great views of West Sixth Street from its roof-top patio.
Black Star Co-op. 7020 Easy Wind Drive. 512-452-2337, blackstar.coop. The cooperatively owned brewpub offers a robust roster of house and guest beers, as well as a menu of thoughtfully crafted pub food, and outdoor seats near the Crestview Metro Rail station.
Blue Dahlia Bistro. 1115 E. 11th St. 512-542-9542, bluedahliabistro.com. The shady back patio is something of a secret garden; the menu, an ode to light French cuisine.
Bouldin Creek Cafe. 1900 S. First St. 512-416-1601, bouldincreek.com. One of Austin’s true temples to vegetarian and vegan fare has a bustling patio out front that offers great people (and dog) watching.
Botticelli’s. 1321 S. Congress Ave. 512-916-1315, botticellissouthcongress.com. Intimate Italian dining on bustling South Congress, with a patio out back for a relaxing glass of wine and maybe some tunes.
Clark’s. 1200 W. Sixth St. 512-297-2525, clarksoysterbar.com. This jewel-box oyster bar looks like it was snatched up from the Hamptons, dusted of sand, and placed in West Austin. If you’re lucky you can snag one of the few outdoor tables lining the front windows.
Contigo. 2027 Anchor Lane. 512-614-2260, contigotexas.com/austin. All wood, leather and wrought iron, Contigo spills from its garage-sized interior bar to a massive outdoor seating area featuring long picnic tables.
County Line. 6500 W. Bee Cave Road. 5204 FM 2222, 512-346-3664. countyline.com. This local barbecue behemoth has been cranking the ‘cue for about 40 years at its original location. Both Austin locations offer excellent outdoor seating.
Crown & Anchor Pub. 2911 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-322-9168, crownandanchorpub.com. Cheeseburgers and beers on the patio are a campus-area tradition at this spot that’s been open since 1987.
Curra’s Grill. 614 E. Oltorf St. 512-444-0012, currasgrill.com. One of the early movers in Austin’s interior-Mexican cuisine scene, Curra’s has a wraparound outdoor seating area.
Easy Tiger. 709 E. Sixth St. 512-614-4972, easytigeraustin.com. A bake shop, beer garden and outdoor oasis just on the fringe of Sixth Street’s shot bars.
Elizabeth Street Café. 1501 S. First St. 512-291-2881, elizabethstreetcafe.com. This posh little spot dotted with outdoor tables serves Vietnamese classics made with quality ingredients.
Enoteca. 1610 S. Congress Ave. 512-441-7672, austinvespaio.com/enoteca. Vespaio’s cute little sister, Enoteca makes very good pizza, piping hot pastas and solid Italian desserts and offers patio seating just off South Congress Avenue.
Épicerie. 2307 Hancock Drive. 512-371-6840, epicerieaustin.com. Chef Sarah McIntosh’s French café and grocery delivers well-constructed sandwiches and bistro dishes and a tranquil shaded outdoor seating area.
Freedmen’s Bar. 2402 San Gabriel St. 512-220-0953, freedmensbar.com. Sophistication and smoke rub elbows at this barbecue joint in a rough-hewn historic building near campus.
Hillside Farmacy. 1209 E. 11th St. 512-628-0168, hillsidefarmacy.com. Pâtisserie and café in the morning, solid deli in the daytime and an evening menu full of bistro classics and oysters, this well-designed space has a little bit of something for everybody.
Hula Hut. 3825 Lake Austin Blvd. 512-476-4852, hulahut.com. A little taste of the tropics on Lake Austin. Sit out on the lakeside bar or dine inside on dishes like fajitas with a sweet Polynesian plum sauce.
Justine’s. 4710 E. Fifth St. 512-385-2900, justines1937.com. Left Bank jazz club meets urban garden party at this home to quality cocktails and French bistro fare.
LaV. 1501 E. 6th St. 512-720-8112, lavaustin.com. This elegant home of Provencal and Mediterranean-influenced cuisine boasts an impressive wine list and a tranquil patio, with haunting views of the Texas State Cemetery.
Licha’s Cantina. 1306 E. Sixth St. 512-480-5960, lichascantina.com. This venture from former Mettle general manager Daniel Brooks specializes in Mexican street-food such as huaraches and tacos and has outdoor seating in front and back.
Lucy’s Fried Chicken. 2218 College Ave., 512-297-2423; 5408 Burnet Road. 512-514-0664, lucysfriedchicken.com. Bucket of beer and a basket of fried chicken, and you’ll feel like you’re dining on the patio of an old friend’s house.
Maria’s Taco Xpress. 2529 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-444-0261, tacoxpress.com. This taco joint celebrates its 78704 pedigree by keeping it funky. Also, tacos! We like the chicken fajita taco the best.
Matt’s El Rancho. 2613 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-462-9333, mattselrancho.com. A 61-year-old Austin institution offering Mexican food in a sprawling but welcoming space with a huge courtyard for al fresco dining and drinks.
No Va Kitchen & Bar. 87 Rainey St. 512-382-5651, novaonrainey.com. This Rainey District restaurant serves hearty bistro dishes and offers multiple outdoor seating areas both upstairs and down.
Odd Duck. 1201 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-433-6521, oddduckaustin.com. Bryce Gilmore’s energized yet homey farm-to-table restaurant features a nice side patio that enjoys open-air treatment during good weather.
Olive & June. 3411 Glenview Ave. 512-467-9898, oliveandjune-austin.com. Excellent small plates, quality cocktails, very good pasta dishes and entrees at Shawn Cirkiel’s multi-tiered restaurant with multiple outdoor seating areas.
Perla’s. 1400 S. Congress Ave. 512-291-7300, perlasaustin.com. Oysters and steaks on a massive patio. Add in some excellent cocktails and people watching. What more could you want?
Pieous. 12005 U.S. 290 W. 512-394-7041, Family-owned and family-friendly pie place serves chewy Neapolitan pies and massive slices of pie, along with quality homemade pastrami.
Qui. 1600 E. Sixth St. 512-436-9626, quiaustin.com. Paul Qui’s eponymous restaurant features a large outdoor patio for cocktails and dining on Filipino-inspired small plates.
Salty Sow. 1917 Manor Road. 512-391-2337, saltysow.com. Ranch-style dining at this sprawling restaurant includes homemade charcuterie, crispy chicken thighs and green eggs and ham.
Salvation Pizza. 624 W. 34th St. 512-535-0076, salvationpizza.com. Thin, crunchy Connecticut-style pizzas at this restaurant that features a large deck out front.
Sazon. 1816 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-326-4395, sazonaustin.com. Sit on the patio enjoying mole and pipian enchiladas and you can almost watch South Lamar Boulevard evolving by the minute.
Second Bar + Kitchen. 200 Congress Ave. 512-827-2750, congressaustin.com/second. New American on Congress Avenue puts you right in the middle of downtown, and the patio is great for dining and people watching if the weather is decent. (Recommend: bleu cheese, pork belly and medjool date pizza.)
Shady Grove. 1624 Barton Springs Road. 512-474-9991, theshadygrove.com. The family-friendly restaurant amid a grove of pecan trees keeps the crowds coming in with green chile hamburgers, chicken fried steak and queso catfish.
Shoal Creek Saloon. 909 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-474-0805, shoalcreeksaloon.com. Who dat gonna serve you some Gulf oysters and a roast beef po’ boy on a creekside patio? You know who.
Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza. 13187 Fitzhugh Road. 512-900-9079, stanleysfarmhousepizza.com. Wood-fired pizzas in a natural setting on the edge of the Hill Country. Bonus points for being located at Jester King Brewery.
Sway. 1417 S. First St. 512-326-1999, swayaustin.com. The most peaceful place at this restaurant to enjoy its flavorful dishes like the son-in-law and blue crab fried rice? The picnic-bench lined courtyard.
Takoba. 1411 E. Seventh St. 512-628-4466, takobarestaurant.com. Great happy hour deals and well-executed favorites such as torta de carnitas and pozole rojo make this restaurant with multiple outdoor seating areas a popular East Austin destination.
Winebelly. 519 W. Oltorf St. 512-487-1569, austinwinebelly.com. This wine bar offers bar snacks as well as a menu of well-executed small plates such as fried quail and duck confit and a lovely back patio that can seat a few dozen.
Z’Tejas. Multiple locations. 512-478-5355, ztejas.com/locations. The original treehouse on West Sixth Street opened about 25 years ago and built its reputation with Southwestern favorites like green chile pork nachos, red chile and mango steak salad and pepita-crusted chicken.