From Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, plenty of cities are still full of sad souls wishing they could get half the sun we bask in for most of the year. Sure, summers in Central Texas can fricasee your will to leave the house, but later, while everyone else is bundled up, Austinites can be found kicking back with a favorite cool drink and a new hot dish, watching the world go by. Here are a few of the absolute best places for outdoor dining fans to satisfy the al fresco attitude.
Stephen F’s Bar & Terrace
The Inter-Continental Stephen F. Austin Hotel Austin is a world away from Paris, London and Manhattan, but there’s still an amazing amount of city magic to be experienced one story above the street, especially with key components like truffle-stuffed brie, a Lady Bird Martini, and a striking view.
701 Congress Ave., 721-4227, austin.intercontinental.com/austin- dining-entertainment
Feeling adventurous? Scale the skyscraping steps to the upstairs porch. It might take a little effort, but by the time you make it to the top, you’ll have the appetite to tackle the burgers, luscious comfort-food apps, honest beer and wine selections, and all the other goodies Red has waiting up there.
3508 S. Lamar Blvd., 440-7337, redsporch.com
South-American flavors meet a midcentury modern aesthetic at El Arbol. Artful dishes and three floors of indoor/outdoor dining spaces surround the venue’s namesake tree. The styled dining rooms are chic, but the natural, roofless dining space is pretty spectacular, too.
3411 Glenview Ave., 323-5177, elarbolrestaurant.com
G’Raj Mahal Cafe
It’s hard not to fall in love with G’Raj Mahal Cafe. The inspired Indi- an fare is a delicious departure from everyday edibles, but a twinkling twilight feast of pakoras, curries, and brilliant Indian begneits are perfect accompaniments to the whimsical outdoor environs.
91 Red River St., 480-2255, grajmahalaustin.com
Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar
There’s nothing fishy about Perla’s. It’s completely aboveboard to say that the patio at Perla’s is simply one of the best places to address your desire for amazing seafood under familiar oaks. Brunch is bright and airy and absolutely perfect for people-watching, while an outdoor dinner date is as starry and full of possibilities as you want it to be. BeyondtheSouthCongressmainstay’sseafood and delectable oysters, it offeres a range of flavor-packed options for brunch, including a lobster omelette with creme fraiche, a steak ranchero with jalapeno butter and fried eggs and brioche french toast with maple syrup and fresh berries. After being seated at one of the wood tables on Perla’s patio, you and your friends (or your special someone) can take a deep breath, observe the local color and marvel at the beautiful possibilities in the Capital City.
1400 S. Congress Ave., 291-7300, perlasaustin.com
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a well-crafted cocktail under the stars on one of many gorgeous-weather nights in Austin. Luckily, Paggi House has you covered. Old-school charm blends seamlessly with modern flavors in this fancy- as-you-feel hideaway tucked near the edge of Butler Park. The signature drinks–including a Raspberry Lemonade, Elderflower Royale and French 76–are simply decadent, the noshes are natty, and the outdoor deck is opulence defined. Clink.
200 Lee Barton Dr., 473-3700, paggihouse.com