We only have a few weeks before the temperatures climb to Texas’ usual sweltering summer — but in the meantime, while the weather is nice, we can sit outside at our favorite local bar or restaurant, sipping a cold one with some friends.
Rest assured that outdoor-loving Austin is full of those places, proper patio spots where we can indulge in al fresco dining and drinking all year round, if we can handle the heat. Here are some of our favorites.
Easy Tiger, 709 E. Sixth St.
There’s no doubt this bakery and beer garden gets busy on weekends and during happy hour. But there’s a reason for that. Secure a few seats for your and your besties at one of the outdoor picnic tables, order St. Elmo Brewing’s Carl Kolsch and a pretzel with beer cheese, and you’ve found yourself a pristine outdoor oasis just off Waller Creek. Oh, and did we mention the ping-pong tables?
Lenoir, 1807 S. First St.
Nestled in the sun-dappled shade provided by a few hardy 300-year-old live oaks is the wine garden at Lenoir, regularly one of Austin’s best restaurants. A little more casual than the interior dining space — with no reservations necessary and a seat-yourself policy — the wine garden is the perfect happy hour spot, offering shareable plates and a small but solid list of wine, cider and beer.
Red’s Porch, 3508 S. Lamar Blvd. and 4200 B Braker Ln.
The aptly named local restaurant first opened in South Austin with two levels of both indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Now, there’s a location farther north, and it also doesn’t disappoint with the views, this time of the serene Quarry Lake. Both serve Southern and Tex-Mex fare, as well as a disarmingly good, locally focused craft beer list.
The Little Darlin’, 6507 Circle S Rd.
There are a couple far South Austin bars with large outdoor areas, but this welcoming dive is the place to go. You’ll feel like you’re almost hanging out in your own backyard, thanks to a relaxed vibe, a variety of local beers on hand, washer and horseshoe pits, and a dog-friendly policy ensuring that cute canines are often hanging out, too. The menu of comfort food is memorably delicious.
Live Oak Brewing, 1615 Crozier Ln., Del Valle
It’s almost poetic that the longtime East Austin brewery made a move to a much bigger facility on land covered in large live oak trees, which were preserved for the beer garden just outside the taproom. They create a relaxed oasis where locals — or visitors who have just flown into the nearby Austin airport — can enjoy pints of Old World-style brews like the smoky Grodziskie.
Ski Shores Waterfront Cafe, 2905 Pearce Rd.
A bar accessible by boat and car alike, Ski Shores is located on the banks of Lake Austin and serves as an ideal laid-back spot for families thanks to the playground for kids and the drinks, including local canned brews, for adults. If you sit at one of the picnic tables just off the water, you might also find yourself surrounded by turtles that have swam up for some bites of your lunch, casual fare like burgers and tacos.
Kitty Cohen’s, 2211 Webberville Rd.
This retro-inspired hangout might trump all other patio bars thanks to one central feature: an outdoor wading pool where you can soak your feet. Along with turquoise umbrellas shading matching blue tables, that raised pool establishes a vibe of 1970s cool that’s hard to beat. Take a dip while enjoying a glass of frosé — frozen rosé, that is. Or, if you’re with a group, order a boozy punch.
Irene’s, 506 West Ave.
Don’t be fooled by the laid-back ambiance of this downtown bar and restaurant. At the service-focused Irene’s, no detail has been left unconsidered, especially in the expansive patio with plenty of long benched seating and strategically placed fans that whir to life on hot days. Order one of the Blue Plate specials to go along with the stiff drinks Irene’s specializes in. Say, the Goodnight Irene, with mostly vodka?
Deck Nine Observatory Bar, 800 W. Cesar Chavez St.
The open-air hangout above Boiler Nine Bar & Grill in the Seaholm Power Plant was literally created to be enjoyed in good weather. Pick a refreshing cocktail from the choose-your-own-booze-adventure menu — such as the sparkling rosé or white wine-based Deck Wine Spritzer — and sit back to enjoy the downtown views. Deck Nine also offers a small menu of snacks.
Pool Burger, 2315 Lake Austin Blvd.
Austin was lacking a tropical-tinged place all about tiki until this McGuire Moorman burger stand and tiki bar opened behind Deep Eddy Cabaret. The super casual stop, which includes a walk-up bar with indoor and outdoor seating and an accompanying burger trailer, will make you feel like the beach is just around the corner. Especially once you sip on a mai tai garnished with a pretty flower. Feel transported yet?
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