Thanks to mild temperatures and plenty of riverfront restaurants, finding alfresco dining opportunities isn’t hard in the Texas capital. Better yet, Austin’s emphasis on local community has cultivated a rich local dining scene that blows chain restaurants away. Here are the best outdoor dining spots in Austin for visitors looking for terraces with great views.
Loro (2115 S Lamar Blvd.; 512-916-4858) Zilker
One of the hottest places in Austin’s Zilker neighborhood comes from James Beard award-winning chefs Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin. They have joined forces to create an Asian smokehouse with one of the most welcoming patios in the city. One recent TripAdvisor reports having a “perfect night” in the outdoor dining area. “Lots of people spread around at picnic tables outside with twinkle lights above,” describes an OpenTable reviewer. Diners especially enjoy the brisket and smoked prime bavette steaks. One Yelp user raves about the crispy tofu rice bowl “that is to die for.” “Everything about this place is over the top,” she declares.
Perla’s (1400 S Congress Ave.; 512-291-7300) Bouldin Creek
Boasting what it calls Austin’s “prettiest oak-shaded patio,” seafood specialist Perla’s is a local favorite just across the Congress Avenue Bridge from downtown. “I absolutely love the patio with lights, fans, umbrellas, plenty of seating while still allowing for social distancing, and great music,” says one Yelp reviewer. The menu is worth the splurge for fresh offerings like surf and turf prime steak combos, lobster and oysters on the half shell. “Love to eat outside under the trees, you could not ask for a more perfect place to eat, drink and relax,” a TripAdvisor user raves.
Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill (303 Red River St., 512-236-9599) Downtown
With a huge, partially-covered patio area, Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill is a retreat from the bustling city in a mid-1800s site once called the Waterloo Compound. The menu plays up the charming atmosphere with Southern comfort foods like chicken and waffles and chicken fried steak. TripAdvisor reviewers loved the “very tasty” and “delicious” food. “Hands down the best creole shrimp and grits I ever tasted,” one TripAdvisor diner proclaims. In fact, several diners say that Moonshine serves up some of the best food they’ve ever tasted. “I was craving for chicken fried steak and this was the best I’ve ever had!” raves one Yelp user.
Hula Hut (3825 Lake Austin Blvd.; 512-476-4852) Westfield
Hula Hut’s tiki umbrella-dotted riverfront patio will make you think you’re in Hawaii for a minute—that is, until your platter of fish tacos shows up. The restaurant, which describes its vibe as “traditional Tex-Mex with a Hawaiian twist,” is one of the most popular spots to dine outside for its great views and fun menu. “The location is perfect, right by the lake,” says one Yelper who recommends the deep-fried avocados filled with shredded chicken. “You can’t beat the view with this beach-like feel,” adds a local Google guide.
Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden (79 Rainey St., 512-386-1656) Rainey St. Historic District
Named by Eater Austin as one of the city’s 38 essential restaurants, Banger’s “makes for the perfect alfresco dining and drinking experience right in the middle of the bustling downtown entertainment district,” according to the influential food website. This restaurant boasts a gigantic beer garden full of wooden tables, providing diners plenty of space to stretch out and enjoy more than 200 beers on tap and 20 types of homemade sausages. “Banger’s is one of the fantastic beer gardens in the city,” one local Google guide says. Be sure to check the restaurant’s website to see the current menu, as it may be more limited due to the pandemic.
Cedar Door Patio Bar & Grill (201 Brazos St., Bldg A; 512-473-3712) Downtown
Cedar Door Patio Bar & Grill boasts one of the most centrally-located outdoor dining spots in Austin. It’s within walking distance to the downtown hotels and Austin Convention Center. “Loved the atmosphere, staff and drinks,” a local Google guide says. The menu mixes dressed-up pub fare like burgers featuring bourbon-bacon jam with southwest favorites like smoked brisket. But it’s the outdoor seating area that steals the show. “Thanks to outdoor seating it’s a pretty perfect place to go right now!” says one Yelp user.