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Good Outdoor, Al Fresco, and/or Patio Dining Experiences?

The weather in Austin is so lovely for most of the year, I thought it would be useful for the CH community to compile a list of places(restaurants, bars, coffee shops) with outdoor seating. The food should, of course, be good (if not great!), but the focus here is really on the outdoor experience. If you are so inclined, details about the outdoor setting (casual, classy? plastic chairs? covered? live music? heat lamps?) and why you particularly like the place, as well as tips on the food, would be greatly appreciated!

I'll start:

-Vivo: Beautiful patio with lush landscaping and waterfall. Known for their puffy tacos; my meal was forgettable, however - so not bad, not great.

-El Chile: Casual covered outdoor patio; plastic chairs, each draped with a Mexican blanket (which I appreciated when the night got breezy). Solid Tex-Mex fare.

-Shady Grove: Large and largely uncovered patio area with lovely oak trees; nice and shady ;-) If I remember right, they have live music outside at times as well. Decent burgers and American food with a southwest twist.

-Maudie's Milagro in Westlake: Lovely second-floor covered wooden deck seating with wood-burning fireplace (I doubt they light it in the summer months.) Decent Tex-Mex.

-Bess Bistro: Haven't actually eaten on the patio, but met a friend at the bar and saw the patio on the way in. Wooden deck, heat lamps, strings of tiny white lights - the effect was very pleasant. Hope to go back soon and experience it fully.

I know there are tons more out there, so please, fellow 'hounds - fill in the blanks! :-)

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  1. Mansion at Judges Hill has a great front porch for coffee and dessert. Trio at the 4 Seasons has without a doubt the best view in the from their patio(BTW, their hamburger is a real winner). Billy's on Burnet has a deck but not too interesting , Russel's bakery next to Andersons coffee (forget the street name) has an outdooor with a canopy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: singlemalt

      Ooh yeah the newish Russell's location on Kerbey Lane! I drove by it the other day and thought the patio looked really nice, but it was closed. Is there food any good, or should I stick to coffee/baked goods there?

      1. re: Aloo0628

        The lunch menu is limited to soup, sandwiches and salads. We stopped there for lunch on Saturday. The soups of the day were tomato bisque and chicken enchildada. I had the bisque and enjoyed it, along with half a sandwich. Everything was nice and fresh. I don't know if the lunch and dinner menus are the same.

    2. Freddie's - casual, but oh so much fun. The food is pretty blah, but their queso and ice cold Lone Stars stand out.

      Sampaio's on 45th has a nice quaint patio. Reviews on the food vary here, but i like the coffee crusted pork tenderloin, their salads, and anything with chimichurri on it.

      1. I keep a list handy for those beautiful temperate days:

        1886 Café
        Dog and Duck
        Hickory Street
        Hula Hut
        Mansion on Judges Hill
        Mother Egans
        Shoal Creek Saloon
        Sweetish Hill
        Thai Tara
        Trattoria Lisina
        Whole Foods

        4 Replies
        1. re: Paul Silver

          Nice list! Some places not mentioned....

          El Taquito
          El Mercado
          Juan in a Million
          Baby A's in North Austin
          East Side Pies
          Green Mesquite

          1. re: Paul Silver

            Santa Rita Mexican Restaurant on 35th has very nice front and back patios. They're opening a new location near 360 down south fairly soon and I understand it will also have a nice patio.

            1. re: Paul Silver

              Though a little far, I would add the Iguana Grill, 2900 Ranch Road 620 N, Austin, TX‎ - (512) 266-8439‎. What a view! Very relaxing place to be.

              1. re: Paul Silver

                I'm reviving this thread as it is just what I've been looking for. Thanks for the list!

                Shoreline Grill has a deck that's supposed to be pretty good. Their site says you can watch the bats from there.

                Shoreline Grill
                98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701

              2. Iron Cactus in the Galleria Mall
                McCormick & Schmicks in the Domain
                Waterloo Ice House
                Little Woodrow's

                1. I'd add
                  Manuel's (Jollyville)
                  San Francisco Bakery
                  to the list!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: peddani

                    manuel's jollyville is a really great al fresco spot, but for the past year the food has really gone downhill.

                    1. re: peddani

                      Also North, in The Domain, Peddani - when they roll up the windows in nice weather, it's a great open air dining experience. Cru, just across from North, also has outside tables....

                    2. I'll add:
                      Buenos Aires Cafe
                      Cafe Medici
                      Central Market (the Central location)
                      Dog Almighty
                      El Arroyo
                      Fliphappy Crepes
                      Food Heads
                      The Grove
                      Mighty Fine
                      P. Terry's
                      Phil's Icehouse
                      Salvation Pizza
                      Torchy's Tacos

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nyc_girl13

                        I would add Z Tejas both the central location and the one in the Arboretum area (great views)

                      2. Add Matt's El Rancho. I've only eaten there once though. Chuy's on Research has nice outdoor seating as well.

                        1. i'm shocked nobody's mentioned blue dahlia, on e. 11th. it's definitely one of the most pleasant outdoor eating experiences in austin.
                          another is fino. delicious, upscale food, nice outdoor area.
                          and casa de luz, if you're down with hippie cuisine.

                          1. Lunch out back on the patio at Triumph Cafe (on Spicewood Springs Road between Mesa and Mopac) is always an absolute delight on a lovely Austin Spring day...

                            1. Goodness! I shouldn't be surprised that Austin has so many outdoor gems, but this really is quite a response. Thank you everyone! And I hope this thread will stay alive as the restaurant scene in Austin keeps growing and changing! :-)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Aloo0628

                                Thanks for starting this - I'll definitely use it. It is funny that the list was started in Feb and no one posted about it since April. A little too caliente for al Fresco was this summer!

                                1. re: rudeboy

                                  Paggi House is supposed to have a really nice patio, too.

                                  Paggi House
                                  200 Lee Barton Drive, Austin, TX 78704