Great Patios in the Spring
I'm almost reluctant to post this, as the reason a patio's so nice is that it isn't packed to the gills on one of these nice spring days.
My favs right now (because I unfortunately live north) are Skishores, Manuels for happy hour, NxNW, Green Mesquite and Freddie's Place. Honorable mentions are Fliphappy (well sort of a patio), Polvo's.
It broke my heart when Eddie V's closed in their patio at the arbor. Now that front part is always empty. Yes, it was "in a parking lot" but it was always full when it was al fresco. I used to love to sit at a table out there and people watch.
underrated patio: Zax Pints and Plates on Riverside- secluded and small so even when it is full it isn't too loud.
overrated patio that I still like because they have Hefewiezen to drink in the sun: Doc's Motorworks
great patio because of giant oak tree shade: Brentwood Tavern on Burnet
Creekside patio: Shoal creek
Unfortunately the food is mediocre and the service is atrocious, but the patio is fantastic: Hula Hut
Cool Rear patio: Beck's on Congress
Yeah, I felt the same way -- I went multiple times over the years and they seemed uninterested in changing their menu to suit the neighborhood or to counter the lack of business (and clearly they needed too...they were often emply most nights). Now that area just needs a bodega (because that Cissi's place is freakishly expensive....who on EARTH can afford those prices).
re: cousin dave
Go to Cissi's for wine only. The selection rules and it's cheaper than Whole Foods. Otherwise, yeah, it's lame.
Botticelli's, both times I've been, I liked the wine selection and only one of our dishes. I think it's kind of uninspired. Sea bass with chunks of granny smith apples? I could make that. The mussels though? Awesome.
County Line on the lake seems like an obvious choice: average BBQ, but nice locale...Dare I even say the Oasis? Great views, mediocre food, mediocre margaritas. Tutto Gusto in Steiner Ranch has a playground for the kids, so I can enjoy my wine in (relative) peace...the food is, well, not hound-worthy.
I really like Opal Divines..although aside from drinks and fries there is nothing phenomenal on their menu. Billy's on Burnet is another fav for this reason...cheap happy hour, and decent bar fare.
Freddies Place is fun but sometimes to shi-shi or loud for my taste (damn hipsters)...although any place that offers velveeta as a cheese option is after a special place in my heart (try the patty melt!)
Austin Java on Barton Springs along with Shady Grove are always nice before it gets too hot.
Where are the good patios up north? I've always had half-assed experiences at NXNW that don't garner going back to spend that price on the food I get...plus service has always been dismal. I think I might be cursed by looking young....and therefore servers assume I won't tip well (they are highly mistaken) so slack on my service. I've been to Manuel's once and will have to go back. But where else can I dine al fresco close to home (live near Parmer/Metric)?
For patio ambience and acceptable (not great) chow, I like the Iron Cactus near Stonelake and 360, as well as the Iguana Grill. Actually, Iguana is my favorite patio... it's not as large and the menu is simpler than the Oasis... the queso and guacamole are workable and the fajitas, as well as a couple of other offerings that escape me at the moment, are just fine for snacking and watching an amazing sunset!
Since hubbers and I were going to sit out last night, this is the email I sent him:
Z Tejas (if you're lucky and it's loud)
Mood & Food (a bit on the pricey side)
Mesa Ranch (well, it's a deck)
Salt Lick 360 (more of a deck)
Baha Taco (where we get the nachos across from salt lick, kinda noisy)
Frank & Angies
I had forgotten about Alligator Grill (since I moved north and they stopped doing the wing/shrimp special), but they have a really nice deck, even though it is in a parking lot.
I repost: We just came back from River City Grill in Marble Falls. What a (covered) patio overlooking Lake Marble Falls and the Hwy 281bridge! Lovely unobstructured view, and today the weather was perfect to be outdoors. The food and service, BTW, weren't bad at all. Beth loved her flame broiled teriyaki ribeye and I cannot complain about the cfs (though small) accompanied by (double the sin) really huge onion rings. $37, including wine. A great place for groups IMHO.