I know a lot of Austinites are sick of hot weather by this point in the year, and I appreciate fall as much as the next person, but let’s be real. Being cold sucks, and after a few days of chilly weather we’ll all miss the sunshine and warm nights. You KNOW I’m going to start complaining about how “freezing” I am as soon as it dips under 70 on a regular basis.
Now that the worst of the heat and humidity is (probably) behind us and the colder weather has yet to settle in, take advantage of the last of our balmy evenings and party it up on some of Austin’s best patios! Here’s a list of some of my favorites – some new, some tried-and-true, but all ideal places to grab a drink in an open air environment. What more could you want?
It’s like a Pinterest board come to life! Jacoby’s boasts mason jars, lanterns, picnic tables, gorgeous views, etc. You’d never guess this little gem was off Cesar Chavez unless you knew to look for it. The fact that they have awesome steaks and good old fashioned Southern cocktails doesn’t hurt a bit, either.
What to order: STEAK! Their giant onion rings with buttermilk ranch (yes, in a mason jar). The firefly cocktail, basically an elevated whiskey sour.
The good people at El Sapo recently invited Rob and I to come in for dinner and drinks, and I’m glad they did. I can’t believe we live so close yet had never visited until this fall. Next time you’re in the mood for a big, juicy burger… this is your spot. Their patio is super cute and colorful, and especially good for pre or post UT football game drinking (since it’s on Manor, walking distance from the stadium).
What to order: I could drink their Skeleton Dance cocktail, made with fresh watermelon purée, all night. Snack on their thick, crispy chips with creamy salsas, or go with their queso fries if you’re feeling indulgent. And of course a big fat burger is a must – try the El Azul, topped with an onion ring.
If you’re looking for some good people watching on South Congress, Snack Bar is second to none. I love their cushy outdoor lounge, and the fact that their menu is full of both classic favorites and inventive dishes doesn’t hurt a bit. We recently celebrated an AFBAHH there, and after trying a full smörgåsbord of Snack Bar’s offerings, I can say with all certainty that their menu is solid no matter what you’re in the mood for.
What to order: Okonomiyaki (a savory Japanese “pancake” of sorts, absolutely packed with flavor and texture – bacon, shrimp, cabbage, sriracha, bonito flakes, and more). For vegetarians (or general quinoa lovers like me) the avocado quinoa salad with pineapple is A+.
A charming East Austin outdoor dream, right on Springdale Farm. I recently wrote about my dinner at Eden East – if you want to sit outside and relax with some fantastic super-local food, this is your spot.
What to order: It’s a fixed menu focused on whatever’s fresh, so sit back and enjoy! But also make sure to get the wine pairings – Eden East does an excellent job with that.
This is one of my favorite patio happy hours around. Salty Sow offers a great assortment of food and booze for very reasonable prices, given the quality and atmosphere. Going whole hog (get it?) for dinner is always a good call too, but I think happy hour is one of the best deals in town and a little more accessible on a busy night.
What to order: Their house signature “Blanche” frozen marg, made with blood orange! To snack on? Don’t miss the truffled deviled eggs and crispy brussels sprouts leaves. Staying for dinner, or looking for a more substantial, healthy(ish) option? Their brussels sprout caesar is to die for.
Austin could always use more wine bars, as far as I’m concerned. Winebelly is tucked into a funny little location off Oltorf in South Austin – it might not look like much from the front, but the interior is darling (even the bathrooms) and they have a huge, chill patio out back!
What to order: Well, WINE, for one. Ask your friendly server for recommendations, the staff here is great. What goes better with wine than cheese? Obviously you need to order a cheese board in this situation. I’m not going to discourage you from getting an accompanying meat plate, either.
Their little Eastside Frenchie courtyard is downright enchanting. Step into the backyard at Blue Dahlia and you feel like you’re tucked away in a secret garden while sipping your wine and snacking on open-faced sandwiches and fancy cheeses. One word to the wise, though: bring bug spray. Mosquitos love leisurely evenings at Blue Dahlia as much as humans do.
What to order: For starters, you will need a bottle of rosé. Pair with Blue Dahlia’s epic cheese board and a salad niçoise, complete with seared ahi tuna.