Summer is in the air. Flowers bloom, birds sing, warm breezes invite us to spend time outdoors, and there’s no better way to do it than with friends while enjoying a delicious meal on a patio. exterior. Austin, Texas has a plethora of incredible restaurants with outdoor dining. Here are six of my favorite restaurants, either in downtown Austin within walking distance, overlooking Lake Travis for spectacular sunsets, or for a special night out.
1. Ramen Tatsuya
Chefs / DJs Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto dreamed of showing people what well-prepared ramen really is, the soul food of Japan, and how different it is from the bland, freeze-dried packaging in stores. Tatsu and Takuya take pride in making the rich broth that is the basis of real ramen. It is important to know that there are rules for eating ramen well. One of the rules is to sip the broth as it helps aerate the broth, enhancing the flavor of the noodles.
Ramen Tatsuya’s outdoor dining space is relaxed and cozy with plenty of shade from the hot Texas sun with the sprawling canopy of a living Texas oak and pop-up awnings. I would highly recommend the pork bone broth, scallion, nori, chashu spiral, and Ajilama flavored shoyu ramen (a specially prepared boiled egg creating a custard-like yolk). Pair it with the Hibi-Gibi Punch with sake or matcha green iced tea.
2. Brasserie Lazare
Located in a cozy corner of East Austin, Lazarus Brewing is Christian’s dream come true, who has worn many hats over the years including software engineer, minister, founder of a nonprofit and now brewer. Lazarus Brewing is not only a craft brewery, but also a gourmet espresso bar and street taco restaurant. Christian and his team of creatives, Marilyn (master barista and roaster), Marcus (certified cicerone, professional beer lover) and Rebekah (head brewer), built a 10 barrel faucet room designed to encourage people to come out and relax with friends.
Lazarus’s outdoor dining area is great for dining out, with its mix of family-style picnic tables and small bistro-style tables. Large garage-style doors open to shade coverings and misting fans that help lower the temperature in the dining room by a few degrees. Lazarus’ patio is also very dog friendly if you plan to dine with your well behaved four legged friend. If by any chance you need another reason to stay and relax, there is a local band performing on stage most Friday nights.
Lazarus has 16 taps that alternate between seasonal beers and main flagships ranging from American IPAs, German pilsners, Belgian forts and sweet cask aged varieties. As an added treat for those who might not be big on hops, they also make their own root beer. I would recommend trying one of their wild beers aged in tequila or wild turkey casks. The First Noel, a farmhouse style wild fig beer, was also very enjoyable. The menu is a bit limited as they focus on serving some of the best tacos and street queso in the area. That being said, you can’t go wrong ordering the street al pastor tacos and the authentic queso fundido with chunks of chorizo. Absolutely amazing!
3. The oasis on Lake Travis
The Oasis is about 30 minutes from downtown Austin but definitely worth a visit. Located on a high cliff overlooking Lake Travis, the view is magnificent and one of the best places to enjoy a breathtaking sunset dinner. The Oasis, while offering a relaxed atmosphere and menu, is a great place for a romantic dinner with incredible sunset views and one of its fun traditions called Lovers’ Locks. Bring a lock with you or buy one from their gift shop, personalize it with your names, then snap the lock on the balcony overlooking the lake.
The menu is casual, showcasing burgers, tacos, salads, fajitas, and other favorites. Some of my favorites on this menu are the super nachos, which is rather misleading as it’s a huge platter of towering fries, refried beans, ground beef, pico de gallo, and other treats that it should really be called “Super Mountain of Nachos.” Uncle Jay’s Fireballs are also a great snack of breaded chicken bites with a tangy honey mustard dressing with just a light hit of horseradish. For something light, fresh and refreshing, I recommend Beau’s Plate, a selection of chilled shrimp, mango cubes, avocado slices and a small green salad topped with a citrus vinaigrette. The strawberry-lemon vinaigrette is also quite delicious.
4. Rosewood Gulf Coast Chop House
Specializing in flavors and dishes inspired by South Texas coastal cuisine, the Rosewood offers an upscale dining experience without being overwhelming. Located in a beautifully restored Victorian house built in 1890 on the east side of Austin, the Rosewood offers plenty of outdoor seating on its lanai or beautifully manicured lawn.
The Rosewood menu is exquisite and each plate is expertly prepared. Each item on the menu is created from local ingredients and homemade. Each morning, fresh seafood is delivered from the Gulf Coast for the daily menu. Vegetables, beef and other varieties of meat are supplied by the local ranchers and farmers of Hill Country.
Because their menu changes daily, it’s hard to say what will be available at any given time. What I really enjoyed and savored during my visit were the grilled watermelon, grilled octopus, tri-tip wagyu and crispy catfish on a bed of mashed chili and grilled zucchini and cucumber. If you see any of these dishes on the menu, I absolutely recommend ordering them.
5. Eastern Tavern
Conveniently located near downtown, Eastside Tavern offers alfresco dining on the rooftop and at street level. If you have a well-behaved four-legged friend with you, he is also welcome on the two terraces. This rustic-chic pub with a modern twist offers a variety of favorites with a barbecue twist, like the Brisket Patty Melt, Mac and Cheese with your choice of smoked meat, or the fried pie loaded with smoked ground beef. My favorite is the tacos. These are not your ordinary tacos. They’re loaded with great smoky bits like smoked chicken, pineapple habanero salsa, blackened mahi (instead of a few white fish), and braised pork. A perfect accompaniment is the fried pickles served in a cast iron frying pan which adds to the rustic-chic vibe.
I’ve found that most barbecues are good enough for creating smoked meats – that’s their specialty after all – but when it comes to salads, they’re not that good with greens. This is not the case with Eastside. They don’t have a huge selection (only four choices), but the greens are crisp and the ingredients are fresh.
If you are stopping in for brunch, I highly recommend trying the Banana Whiskey French Toast. It’s made with smoked banana bread and topped with Tullamore Dew Whipped Cream Cheese Whipped Cream. Oh, breakfast has never been so good. Another favorite of mine is the Turkey Avocado Toast, which they took to a new level with a slice of smoked turkey, tomato, and a hard-boiled egg instead of a fried egg. .
6. Restaurant Caroline
Serving casual, modern American-style meals, Caroline is located on 7th Street near downtown Austin, within walking distance. Caroline has a choice of two alfresco dining areas depending on the ambiance you are looking for that meal.
The upstairs patio (which they call “Upstairs at Caroline”) is an urban playground for those 21 and over. Upstairs is definitely a fun place to unwind after a day of exploring Austin, with themed happy hours like Chill Out Monday, Taco Tuesday (when tacos are just $ 2 each), and Sunday Yappy Hour. Sunday Yappy Hour is for the dogs, literally. If you bring your dog (or that of a friend), you get 25% off your ticket. Plus, on Sundays there’s a special dog menu with snacks provided by a small Austin-based business. Upstairs you will also find a variety of games such as cornhole, billiards, Jenga and table football. In addition, live shows are regularly scheduled during Yappy Hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The patio at street level is more like a cafe and is fabulous for people watching and relaxing with a cup of espresso. The full menu is only available at Caroline Street level, not upstairs at Caroline’s. They offer menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and desserts. All of their menus have delicious selections, but I’ll tell you about their brunch menu.
Their brunch is a mix of American and Mexican dishes with generous portions to keep you going all day. The Brush Creek Brunch Burger is unlike any other. You get peppery bacon, a fried egg, and a thick slice of aged cheddar stacked on top of a juicy wagyu beef burger with a side of seasoned country potatoes. Another delicious dish with a Mexican twist is huevos rancheros. Start with a crispy tortilla set on a dollop of mole sauce (to soak up that delicious flavor), black beans and grated cheddar cheese. Then, layer it with fried eggs, slices of ripe avocado, pieces of jalapeño, then drizzle with queso fresco. It’s the perfect combination of flavor and spice.
Austin is truly a unique and fun city with many independent restaurants to explore. I’m not sure there is enough bandwidth for me to tell you about each of them, but I encourage you to give them a try and find some that you might like as well. Enjoy your meal!