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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.

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  1. 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

    8 Replies
    1. re: El General

      Becks has shut down and is now an Italian joint.New owners.

      1. re: scrumptiouschef

        Cool. It was a good space, with a poorly executed concept. A little Italian joint there might do very well.

        1. re: El General

          I tried and tried to like the food there but it just wasn't getting it.Has anyone tried the new tenant?

          1. re: scrumptiouschef

            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).

            1. re: cousin dave

              If it is a family-style Italian place I think it could do well, but with the price of their location and lack of tables, I imagine it will need to have a pricey menu.

              1. 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.

        2. I love Azul on 1800 East Cesar Chavez, it has a great little menu of homemade items.

          1. 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.

            1. 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)?

              5 Replies
              1. re: ashes

                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!

                1. re: ashes

                  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)
                  County Line
                  Salt Lick 360 (more of a deck)
                  Baha Taco (where we get the nachos across from salt lick, kinda noisy)
                  Sam's Boat


                  Heading South:
                  Green Mesquite
                  Frank & Angies

                  Further South:
                  Alligator Grill

                  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.

                  1. re: amysuehere

                    Let's not leave out Crown and Anchor...two dozen taps and very fine Bacon Cheeseburgers...small patio overlooking a tree lined creek which shields you from UT's school of Engineering

                    1. re: scrumptiouschef

                      Not to mention the Cedar Door... totally Austin. I haven't been in a few months but they used to serve a good burger and freshly made potato chips with malt vinegar.

                      1. re: Rene

                        dangit. I keep trying to try the Cedar Door but they keep moving and I forget about them.

                2. 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.

                  1. Am I correct in assuming that there aren't any places on town or travis (lakes) with decent food? Travis would be nice because I'm close, but I guess I'm flexible.

                    If not, why hasn't someone taken advantage of either one? And I'm NOT referring to more watery margaritas and sad tex-mex, or a boring steak and fish place.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: ChristineR

                      I seem to rember some conversation about a nice place out in Volente called Azul? I rember something about a long walk down but a nice patio. anyone remember and have been recently?

                      1. re: amysuehere

                        I think maybe you mean Cafe Bleu? Right color, wrong language ;-) . I'm not sure if it's still open. I think we went last summer and it was definitely the most decent food on the lake, though not out of this world. I think they close in the winters and re-open in the spring or summer. I also enjoy Aunt Tilly's and Johnny Fin's patios, though more for the patio than the food!

                        1. re: texasgirly

                          yes! you're right. I went to Aunt Tilly's once and the service/food was horrible. I think there must have been a big blowout fight amungst the staff right before we arrived because you could feel the tension and they were very obviously short staffed. I guess I should give it another try. Have yet to try Johnny Fins - was gonna go for the big pirate party this spring but they changed the venue to (gasp) a hotel (dammit).

                          1. re: amysuehere

                            I had the worst dining experience of my Austin eating life ever EVER at Aunt Tilly's a couple years ago.Shan't bore you with the details but my friend wanted to woodshed ol Aunt Tilly over the experience.

                    2. Triumph cafe has a very nice patio.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: rudeboy

                        The new places up at the domain have patios. Jasper's includes great food. And, while Kona has a cool, wrap around patio... uh, not great with the food side of things (in my opinion).

                        Other patio ideas:
                        - Z Tejas (YUM)
                        - Enoteca (YUM)
                        - Chuy's on 183... ok food, great atmosphere and decent margaritas
                        - Trudy's up north
                        - Kerby Lane

                        1. re: Aggiegirl1998

                          Chuy's 183 is a lot of fun for the kids too. There's a big yard to run around in. Although they've recently posted signs asking you to keep your kids with you, mob rule prevails and the kids have a blast. The heaters are nice in fall and early spring.

                        2. re: rudeboy

                          I love Triumph. Absolutely the best. The patio is sweet.
                          The food is wonderful.

                        3. El Arroyo downtown
                          Triumph cafe (more for lunch than dinner, but great patio)
                          Gingerman (80+ beers on tap and pretty cool patio out back)
                          Shady Grove (a bit 'touristy' but beautiful pecan trees)
                          Is Paggi House still open? Great place, but lots of construction
                          Shoal Creek Saloon (pretty decent Cajun menu)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: gawain44

                            Galaxy West Lynn, great time in the Spring to relax with a glass of wine and some food