This winter, Austin’s restaurants will need your support more than ever. Fortunately for those more comfortable with outdoor dining, there are a plethora of patios that allow residents to safely experience the full range of the city’s culinary creativity.
Whether you’re looking for chips and queso or fish and chips, here are some of Austin’s best patios to try this winter.
For a meat-centric dinner in East Austin: Dai Due
Dai Due draws its name from an Italian phrase meaning “from the two kingdoms of nature, choose food with care,” a sentiment that is embodied in the restaurant’s careful sourcing of local ingredients. As a butcher shop and supper club, meat is the main focus here. Grab a seat on the heated patio to go beyond beef with dishes such as antelope confit or fish and chips made with Gulf-caught seafood.
For a taste of Texas Hill Country in East Austin: Contigo
It’s hard to know where the outdoors stop and the indoors begin at Contigo, where a large patio area meets a dining room with glass garage doors that can be rolled up to almost double the open air dining space. The restaurant recreates the feel of its sibling ranch in Jim Wells County, cooking up steak frites, burgers, and chips and queso, which can all be enjoyed under heaters, twinkly lights, and big Texas skies.
For Asian comfort food in Clarksville: Bar Peached
This winter, Bar Peached will be serving its spin on Asian favorites such as chile crab toast and mapo bolognese on its casual, heated outdoor patio shaded by a heritage tree. To wash it all down, check out the cocktail list, featuring classics such as the Paloma on draft and creative made-to-order drinks like the Beetlejuice, which combines tequila, beet, lime, and cilantro.
For an al fresco tasting menu in Downtown: Emmer and Rye
New American fare is served at the award-winning Emmer and Rye in downtown Austin, where dishes frequently lean on locally grown ingredients and regional food traditions. Outside, the restaurant is serving both a la carte and prix fixe menu options on its heated patio, with dishes such as chicken thighs with pecan mole, okra and green tomatoes. Get excited for dessert, served by one of Food & Wines Best New Chefs of 2020.
For the coolest house party in downtown: Nightcap
The vibes are strong at Nightcap, where comfort food such as pork quesadillas or fried chicken sandwiches get served under heaters in a dreamy front yard that looks straight out of a design magazine.
For seafood on South Congress: Perla’s
Oysters are best enjoyed outdoors, where Perla’s serves them up under the Texas sky, oak trees, heaters, and twinkling lights along South Congress. Fish and oysters are flown in daily from both coasts, making anything from the raw bar, selection of seared fresh fish, or the lobster roll a must-order.
For handmade pasta in downtown: Olive & June
Take a trip to southern Italy in downtown Austin via Olive & June’s menu of seasonally influenced, handmade pastas. Current iterations include a baked rigatoni with layers of sweet sausage ragu, root vegetables, fontina, and parmesan — a wintery dish made more enjoyable when eaten on the restaurant’s heated, tented patio area.
For skyline views and cocktails downtown: P6
Skyline views of downtown Austin are supplemented by Mediterranean small plates on the rooftop of the Line Hotel, which has recently added heaters for the winter season. Patatas bravas, eggplant hummus, and cocktails are the order of the day once sunset hits.
For a taste of Texas downtown: Ranch 616 Pistol Patio
Ranch 616’s icehouse feel is uniquely Texan, bringing the century-old, open-air, tavern-style drinking to downtown Austin, with an arched roof and heaters to keep things comfortable year-round. The food here also draws heavily from the state’s culinary traditions, merging Gulf Coast and Tex-Mex flavors in award-winning dishes such as fried quail legs and fried oysters, alongside tons of mezcal.
For steak on a lake: Steiner Ranch Steakhouse
Score some Texas steak at Steiner Ranch in Northwest Austin, which has all the steakhouse favorites from ribeye to creamed spinach. The terrace views here offer a stunning lake vista, with heaters to keep you cozy when the evenings get cooler.