Austin Restaurants: Dining outdoors

5/28/09 Mike Sutter/American-Statesman. For a review of Perla's Seafood & Oyster Bar on South Congress Avenue in Austin. 0604xldine. The dining area on the deck fronting South Congress Avenue. 1106xlnewcomer

It is finally starting to feel like the sun is not acting out some sort of cosmic vendetta against us. We can once again enjoy a dinner (or, gasp, even lunch) outside. Fortunately, there are dozens of Austin restaurants ready for all your al fresco dining needs. Top picks are designated with *.

Don’t see your favorite? Email me at modam@statesman.com. Now, get outside and eat.

*Apis. 23526 Texas 71, Spicewood. 512-436-8918, apisrestaurant.com. Not many of the Top 10 restaurants in the Austin area offer outdoor seating. And only one that does has a view of the Hill Country.

Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. 1305 W. Oltorf St. 512-298-2242, theabgb.com. A casual, straightforward pizza-and-beer joint with a South Austin soul and an abundance of outdoor seating.

*Barley Swine. 6555 Burnet Road. 512-394-8150, barleyswine.com. Not only is the patio at Barley Swine’s North Austin location perfect for dinner, it’s also a great place to get discounted plates and drinks during the exceptional restaurant’s weekday Swine Time, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

*Bartlett’s. 2408 W. Anderson Lane. 512-451-7333, bartlettsaustin.com. This restaurant hasn’t changed much since its transition from Houston’s, and that’s not a bad thing.

*Black Star Co-op. 7020 Easy Wind Drive. 512-452-2337, blackstar.coop. The cooperatively owned brewpub offers a robust roster of house and guest beers, as well as a menu of thoughtfully crafted pub food and outdoor seats overlooking the Crestview MetroRail station.

*Blue Dahlia Bistro. 1115 E. 11th St. 512-542-9542, bluedahliabistro.com. The shady back patio is something of a secret garden; the menu is an ode to light French cuisine.

*Boiler Nine. 800 W. Cesar Chavez St. 512-220-9990, boilernine.com. This modernist industrial-looking restaurant in the Seaholm development offers multiple seating areas, the most serene of which is the outdoor space, which also is the one with claim to the best views.

*Bouldin Creek Cafe. 1900 S. First St. 512-416-1601, bouldincreekcafe.com. One of Austin’s true temples to vegetarian and vegan fare has a bustling patio out front that offers great people (and dog) watching.

Botticelli’s. 1321 S. Congress Ave. 512-916-1315, botticellissouthcongress.com. Intimate Italian dining on South Congress Avenue, with a patio out back for a relaxing glass of wine and maybe some tunes.

*Bullfight. 4807 Airport Blvd. 512-474-2029, bullfight-austin.com. The dining room spills out to walled-in patio seating protected from the harshest elements at this restaurant that focuses on Spanish tapas, wine and paella.

*Café No Sé. 1603 S. Congress Ave. 512-942-2061, cafenoseaustin.com. The outdoor area at this restaurant that will remind you of Southern California is set just below street level for some furtive dining off Austin’s trademark avenue.

*Cantine. 1100 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-628-0348, cantineaustin.com. The outdoor area at Emmett and Lisa Fox’s Mediterranean restaurant give front-row opportunity to watch people as they flow in and out of the Lamar Union mixed-use complex.

*Clark’s Oyster Bar. 1200 W. Sixth St. 512-297-2525, clarksoysterbar.com. Snag an outdoor table along the front windows for some oysters and bubbles al fresco.

*Contigo. 2027 Anchor Lane. 512-614-2260, contigotexas.com/austin. All wood, leather and wrought iron, Contigo’s crowd flows from its garage-size interior bar to a massive outdoor seating area featuring long picnic tables that make for a great communal vibe.

County Line. 6500 W. Bee Cave Road, 512-327-1742; 5204 FM 2222, 512-346-3664; countyline.com. This local barbecue behemoth has been cranking the ’cue for about 40 years at its original location. Both Austin locations offer excellent outdoor seating.

*Crown & Anchor Pub. 2911 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-322-9168, crownandanchorpub.com. Cheeseburgers and beers on the patio are a campus-area tradition at this spot that’s been open since 1987.

*Dai Due. 2406 Manor Road. 512-524-0688, daidue.com. You can have a regular dinner outside and savor their world-class pork chop, or rent the outdoor space for a party and roast a whole hog.

*East Side King. 2310 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-383-8382, eskaustin.com. The South Lamar location from co-founder Paul Qui’s demi empire features a nice little courtyard out back to enjoy your caramelized fried Brussels sprouts salad with basil, cilantro, mint and jalapeño.

Easy Tiger. 709 E. Sixth St. 512-614-4972, easytigeraustin.com. A bake shop, beer garden and outdoor oasis just on the fringe of Sixth Street’s shot bars.

*El Alma. 1025 Barton Springs Road. 512-609-8923, elalmacafe.com. Order a plate of sweet, gooey and savory Gringas (quesadillas of cheese, árbol salsa and al pastor with pineapple) and a skinny margarita on the rooftop patio and thank me later.

*Elizabeth Street Café. 1501 S. First St. 512-291-2881, elizabethstreetcafe.com. This posh little spot dotted with outdoor tables serves Vietnamese classics and French pastries.

*Enoteca Vespaio. 1610 S. Congress Ave. 512-441-7672, austinvespaio.com/enoteca. Vespaio’s cute little sister, Enoteca makes very good pizza and piping hot pastas and offers patio seating just off South Congress Avenue.

*Épicerie. 2307 Hancock Drive. 512-371-6840, epicerieaustin.com. Chef Sarah McIntosh’s French café and grocery delivers well-constructed sandwiches and bistro dishes and a tranquil, shaded outdoor seating area.

*Freedmen’s. 2402 San Gabriel St. 512-220-0953, freedmensbar.com. Sophistication and smoke rub elbows at this barbecue joint in a rough-hewn historic building with a large courtyard near campus.

*Fresa’s. 1703 S. First St. 512-992–2946, fresaschicken.com. The addition of the South First Street location gives an opportunity for the kitchen to expand on its family-style service with chicken, steak and fish grilled over an open flame. Enjoy it at one of the many outdoor tables.

*Garbo’s. 14735 Bratton Lane. 512-350-9814, garboslobsteratx.com. A table full of lobster rolls on the deck will go a long way in convincing you you’re not in Wells Branch.

*The Hightower. 1209 E. Seventh St. 512-524-1448, thehightoweraustin.com. Let the cars rumble by on East Seventh Street while you enjoy flavorful dishes like mahi ceviche with scallion ash and fennel mojo.

Hillside Farmacy. 1209 E. 11th St. 512-628-0168, hillsidefarmacy.com. Pâtisserie and café in the morning, solid deli in the daytime and an evening menu full of bistro classics and oysters, this well-designed space has a little bit of something for everybody, including outdoor cafe tables.

*Home Slice Pizza. 1415 S. Congress Ave. 512-444-7437, homeslicepizza.com. Pizza party with pitchers of beer on the back patio at this South Austin staple.

Hula Hut. 3825 Lake Austin Blvd. 512-476-4852, hulahut.com. A little taste of the tropics on Lake Austin. Sit out on the lakeside bar or dine inside on dishes like fajitas with a sweet Polynesian plum sauce.

Juliet. 1500 Barton Springs Road. 512-479-1800, juliet-austin.com. Sure, you won’t be able to take in this stunner’s mid-century design if you sit outside, but you’ll be outside! And, there’s a really big bar out there, too, that makes you feel like you’re on vacation.

*Juniper. 2400 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-220-9421, juniperaustin.com. This elegant Italian restaurant will make you rethink what dining in East Austin can mean. Make sure to try the pasta.

*Justine’s. 4710 E. Fifth St. 512-385-2900, justines1937.com. Left Bank jazz club meets urban garden party at this super hip home to quality cocktails and French bistro fare.

*La Condesa. 400 W. Second St. 512-499-0300, lacondesa.com. This beautiful restaurant, with its walls of windows, perched bar area and colorful mural, feels plucked from the leafy streets of cosmopolitan Mexico City.

*Launderette. 2115 Holly St. 512-382-1599, launderetteaustin.com. With its wild eclecticism, chef Rene Ortiz’s East Austin restaurant feels like a dinner party, but you won’t feel left out of the fun even if you’re sitting on the front patio that runs the length of the dining room.

*Licha’s Cantina. 1306 E. Sixth St. 512-480-5960, lichascantina.com. Daniel Brooks’ restaurant specializes in Mexican street food such as huaraches and tacos and the kind of super laid-back vibe you’d find at a bungalow in an off-the-beaten-path Mexican village.

*Lucy’s Fried Chicken. 2218 College Ave., 512-297-2423; 5408 Burnet Road, 512-514-0664; 2900 FM 620 N., 512-297-2771; lucysfriedchicken.com. With a bucket of beer and a basket of fried chicken at the original location off Congress Avenue, you’ll feel like you’re dining on the patio of an old friend’s ranch. The latest location out west takes the party from ranch house to lake house.

Matt’s El Rancho. 2613 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-462-9333, mattselrancho.com. This beloved Austin institution, with its fountains and sprawling courtyard, has been around so long it’s almost old enough to collect Social Security checks.

No Va Kitchen & Bar. 87 Rainey St. 512-382-5651, novaonrainey.com. This Rainey District restaurant serves hearty bistro dishes and offers multiple outdoor seating areas both upstairs and down.

*Noble Sandwich Co. 12233 RM 620 North, 512-382-6248; 4805 Burnet Road, 512-666-5124; noblesandwiches.com. Artisan sandwiches at the picnic tables make for a refined picnic vibe.

*Odd Duck. 1201 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-433-6521, oddduckaustin.com. Bryce Gilmore’s energized yet homey farm-to-table restaurant features a nice side patio that enjoys open-air treatment during good weather.

Olive & June. 3411 Glenview Ave. 512-467-9898, oliveandjune-austin.com. Excellent small plates, quality cocktails and homemade pasta dishes at Shawn Cirkiel’s multi-tiered modernist treehouse restaurant with multiple outdoor seating areas.

*Perla’s. 1400 S. Congress Ave. 512-291-7300, perlasaustin.com. Oysters and steaks on a massive patio. Add in some excellent cocktails and people-watching — what more could you want?

*Pieous. 12005 U.S. 290 West. 512-394-7041; Facebook.com/pieous. Husband-and-wife team Josh and Paige Kaner of the pizza and pastrami-centric Pieous have pulled off quite the accomplishment: They created a restaurant equally loved by families and food-obsessives.

*Sa-Ten. 916 Springdale Road. 512-524-1544, sa-ten.com. There is something calming and cool about this glass-walled cafe in an industrial complex that is fittingly home to artists’ studios. If you eat your nori tama toast — topped with crumbled egg spread across the milky bread’s ivory expanse — outside, you’ll just have to admire the awesome wallpaper through the window.

Salty Sow. 1917 Manor Road. 512-391-2337, saltysow.com. Ranch-style dining at this sprawling restaurant includes homemade charcuterie, crispy chicken thighs and green eggs and ham.

*Salvation Pizza. 624 W. 34th St. 512-535-0076, salvationpizza.com. Enjoy thin, crunchy Connecticut-style pizzas at this restaurant that features a large deck out front.

Sazon. 1816 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-326-4395, sazonaustin.com. Sit on the patio enjoying mole and pipian enchiladas and you can almost watch South Lamar Boulevard evolving by the minute.

*Second Bar + Kitchen. 200 Congress Ave. 512-827-2750, secondbarkitchen.com. This New American spot on Congress Avenue puts you right in the middle of downtown, and the patio is great for dining and people-watching if the weather is decent.

Shady Grove. 1624 Barton Springs Road. 512-474-9991, theshadygrove.com. The family-friendly restaurant amid a grove of pecan trees keeps the crowds coming in with green chili hamburgers, chicken-fried steak and queso catfish.

Shoal Creek Saloon. 909 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-474-0805, shoalcreeksaloon.com. Who dat gonna serve you some Gulf oysters and a roast beef po’ boy on a creekside patio? You know who.

Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza. 13187 Fitzhugh Road. 512-900-9079, stanleysfarmhousepizza.com. Wood-fired pizzas in a natural setting on the edge of the Hill Country. Bonus points for being located at Jester King Brewery.

*Sway. 1417 S. First St. 512-326-1999, swayaustin.com. The most peaceful place at this restaurant to enjoy its flavorful dishes like the son-in-law and blue crab fried rice? The communal tables lining the interior courtyard.

*Tacodeli. 1500 Spyglass Drive, 512-732-0303; 4200 N. Lamar Blvd., 512-419-1900; 701 Loop 360, 512-347-8888; tacodeli.com. Tacodeli has survived and thrived since 1999 because of considered flavor layering, quality sourcing and smart growth. And, sure, there’s more inside seating now, but why would you sit inside if the weather’s nice?

Takoba. 1411 E. Seventh St. 512-628-4466, takobarestaurant.com. Great happy hour deals and well-executed favorites such as torta de carnitas and pozole rojo make this restaurant with multiple outdoor seating areas a popular East Austin destination.

*Vinaigrette. 2201 College Ave. 512-852-8791, vinaigretteonline.com. Tree House Grill left this location just off Congress Avenue, but the namesake tree remains, providing shade for the dozens of diners who sit outside eating well-dressed salads topped with an array of proteins.

Vox Table. 1100 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-375-4869, voxtableaustin.com. Share small plates with your dinner mates at the line of tables ringing the restaurant, as passersby shuffle to the Alamo Drafthouse for a movie or to Lick for some ice cream.

*Winebelly. 519 W. Oltorf St. 512-487-1569, austinwinebelly.com. This wine bar offers bar snacks as well as a menu of well-executed small plates such as fried quail and duck confit and a lovely back patio that seats a few dozen.

Winflo. 1315 W. Sixth St. 512-582-1027, winfloosteria.com. Partake of pasta and pizza beneath the umbrella of trees on this front patio that makes you think you’re out in West Austin, not just on West Sixth Street.

Z’Tejas. 1110 W. Sixth St. 512-478-5355, ztejas.com. The original treehouse on West Sixth Street opened about 30 years ago and built its reputation with Southwestern favorites like green chili pork nachos, red chili and mango steak salad and pepita-crusted chicken.

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