This article was updated on March 25, 2021.
Last summer, when restaurants were allowed to reopen at limited capacity, we began venturing out to local outdoor patios, where we felt a bit more comfortable amid the pandemic. More than a year into life with Covid-19, plenty of incredible new spots have entered the al fresco game, so we decided to create a running list of some of the best outdoor bars and patios our editors have visited.
Nick Badovinus opened Desert Racer just before Covid-19 forced all dining establishments to close. Last week, the prolific Dallas restauranteur transformed the Lower Greenville spot, adding a pop-up patio concept, Vantina, with 8,000 square feet of — in true Badovinus style — thoughtfully appointment outdoor dining space. In addition to a menu of Baja California-style staples, Vantina is serving bites from the original restaurant like the Quality Cheeseburger, tacos, shrimp cocktail, and more, but the indoor space is completely closed off. All servers wear masks and, for an extra no-touch precaution, there is a QR code to access the menu with your phone (tip: you don’t need an app — just use your camera).
Paradiso’s charming courtyard patio transports you to a lush garden in Europe — one that just happens to be next to Bishop Arts favorites like Emporium Pies and Revelers Hall. The Mediterranean restaurant is currently taking reservations for inside and outside dining to make sure tables are properly socially distanced. (On a visit this weekend, cute printed masks were worn by all employees, and a QR code conjured a PDF version of their menu on your phone.)
New summer cocktails like Paloma Reina, as well as wood-fired pizzas, pasta, and salads are available on the patio.
Retro cocktail bar Toller Patio is a perfect place to socially distance — the entire bar and kitchen is outdoors. Opened last summer in East Dallas, the new spot is lauded as dog-friendly and a great al fresco spot for cocktails and bites. From the same minds behind HIDE, Toller currently has 10 cocktails on tap ranging from a spicy margarita to Old Fashioned. The house pimento cheese with tortilla chips is a must-try snack. As for COVID precautions, all servers are wearing masks, a PDF version of the menu is available via a QR code, hand sanitizer stations are available, and tables are properly spaced out.
Uptown’s The Rustic is one of the best bar and restaurants for al fresco dining, drinking, and live music. With one of the largest outdoor spaces in Dallas, the restaurant is a great spot to socially distance. Brunch and free live music (Thursday through Sunday) are now back since restaurants have been able to open up to 50 percent.
This classic Lower Greenville spot has been a go-to rooftop patio spot for awhile now. And for good reason. HG Sply Co. has one of the best rooftop bars out there. The bar has lots of colorful tables with strings of lights hanging above. It also has a covered, shady area if the sun becomes a bit much in the summer.
A 2016 restoration brought the storied building (originally opened in 1974) that houses Chelsea Corner back to life, and included the addition of a charming backyard patio. The restaurant has 2,500 square feet of dog-friendly space and serves wine, beer, and craft cocktails. Dishes include new Lavarock Fajitas, Firecracker Shrimp, and BBQ Pork Chimichanga.
The beer garden in downtown’s new AT&T Discovery District has an expansive outdoor patio to enjoy its craft cocktails, beer, wine, and Southern dishes. The restaurant is taking precautions to keep patrons safe, including spacing out their tables, implementing hand sanitation stations, and keeping contact as low as possible.
Popular brunch spot Oddfellows is utilizing its outdoor space in the Bishop Arts District. The restaurant has always had plenty of patio seating (order from their popular brunch menu and beyond at the walk-up window), and recently added a new outdoor market. You can enjoy dining al fresco and grab groceries like milk, produce, and bread during one trip. Servers are wearing masks and service is typically available daily until 9 pm.
The brick-and-mortar location of the popular gourmet slider food truck offers an excellent patio to grab a burger and beer in Dallas. Overlooking Main Street in Deep Ellum, the patio features covered seating and spaced out tables for social distancing. Easy Slider has set up hand sanitizer stations, everything is disposable, and servers are masked up.
Ferris Wheelers Backyard and BBQ
Located on a sprawling lot in the Design District, Ferris Wheelers Backyard and BBQ is known for their backyard party atmosphere with ample patio seating and a big ferris wheel. The barbecue spot has opened back up for beers, bites and live music.
One of the most highly anticipated new bar-restaurants in town, this throwback spot from Kim Finch (owner of Double Wide and a magic touch for Dallas dive bars) is housed in a historic gas station at the edge of Deep Ellum. The new restaurant offers a massive outdoor patio, cool cocktails, and classic bites.
Make sure to try The Peel Out drink, a twist on the classic orange Push-Pop, but with vodka. There’s also the RattleTrap, a peanut butter whiskey cocktail, and Fuzzy Dice, with lavender, botanical, and violet liqueurs topped with Crush Grape. On the food front, you can choose from throwbacks like the bologna sandwich (hot or cold), Sloppy Joe (or veggie Sloppy Jolene), or Frito Pie.
Dot’s Hop House & Cocktail Courtyard
Deep Ellum favorite, Dot’s Hop House & Cocktail Courtyard offers ample outdoor patio space underneath a show-stopping chandelier. The spacious beer garden and industrial-style bar recently re-opened with Covid-19 protocols in place. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant serves soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and more, along with their massive beer menu and hand-crafted cocktails.
Finally, one of our favorite outdoor haunts has re-opened in Lower Greenville. Known for its spacious beer garden, adult playground, and quirky signage, Truck Yard is now open from Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am to midnight. Besides draft beer, the restaurant offers craft draft cocktails like the Mother Trucker (Long Island spin) and Twisted Mule. The food menu includes a Philly cheesesteak, ribeye nachos, and a Chicago beef sandwich.
This brewery in Deep Ellum is also back open for dine-in and offers a great outdoor patio for brews and bites. They serve their own beers as well as offer several other local brews, along with wine. For food, make sure to order the crispy vegan barbecue cauliflower bites or Coma burger with a brisket and bacon house-ground patty. Several items are also Rick and Morty-themed, so if you’re a fan try out the the Thick and Morty burger or Pickle Rick Jar.
Newer to Dallas, this Spanish wine bar offers a nice little patio for sipping wine and tapas. Housed in a former tin factory, the space has a stylish and lively vibe to enjoy charcuterie, cheese, patatas bravas, and more. A favorite cocktail is the Guns & Rosés sangria, and the wine list is extensive. Don’t miss the Jamón Serrano, manchego, and drunken goat cheeses, as well as the grilled hanger steak. The restaurant also has chairs set out nearby in the parking lot for those who just want to enjoy a glass or two of wine.
This Knox-Henderson gem has the most charming outdoor patio for lunch, dinner, or brunch. One of Dallas restauranteur Stephan Courseau’s three Knox district spots (Up on Knox and Georgie are the other two), Le Bilboquet is known for its French wine, crab and avocado salad, and Cajun chicken. It’s easy to sit down at one of the bistro tables with a glass of champagne and pretend you’re in Europe for an afternoon.
American kitchen and wine bar Sixty Vines in Uptown also has a great outdoor, covered patio (The Greenhouse) for enjoying pastas, pizzas, and Californian and European wines. It’s perfect for an afternoon wine and cheese pairing, shared plates like bacon-wrapped dates and burrata, or sit-down dinner. And also provides ample shade on sunny days.
Brand new to East Dallas, this new bar and bistro is now open for dine-in service. It’s new outdoor cocktail garden is beautifully adorned with greenery, bistro tables, and flowers. The menu is Southern European-inspired with Italian, French, Spanish, and Mediterranean influences. Stand-out dishes include the squash ravioli, whipped feta dip, and steamed mussels. Pair with a craft cocktail like the signature Bend and Snap sugar snap pea drink.
Located at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, Fearing’s offers an incredible outdoor patio tucked underneath large oak trees for al fresco dining. Outside, there is a full-service bar and brick fireplace for when it’s chilly out. The patio has also been updated to include a stage for live music every Friday and Saturday.
At the brand new Thompson Hotel, Catbird is the newest hotspot for outdoor dining. Located on the 9th floor, the snazzy cocktail lounge offers plenty of space on their outdoor terrace and killer views of downtown Dallas. When it’s chillier out, they also have a massive fireplace for heat things up.