Summer days and nights in Austin are best spent indulging in the city’s renowned dining and drinking scene. So go ahead and post up on a patio, seek out a popular food truck or pull up a bar stool and sample some of Austin’s best summer treats.
Courtesy of Fresa's.
At fun-loving Fresa's. the outdoor picnic tables are available for small groups with added spacing and the menu consists of eight takes on the classic margarita, flavorful bols and family-style entrees like the Yucatan spice chicken cooked on a wood grill.
Come for brunch, make it an all-afternoon affair at the new location of Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden at The Linc. Pair your corned beef-and-potato hash with a mimosa in the sprawling 150-seat beer garden sporting an outdoor stage, then take a swing at one of the ping-pong tables after your meal. Book a patio table in advance.
For stunning Lake Travis sunsets, head to The Oasis. This scenic lakeside restaurant features a massive multi-storied deck where you can dine on shrimp fajitas and toast the evening with a signature Oasis Sunset (a blend of rums, lemonade, orange juice and grenadine). Don’t be surprised when fellow diners applaud the dramatically setting sun.
The Picnic Food Truck Park at Barton Springs. Photo Credit Lars Frazer.
Veracruz All Natural, parked at the popular Radio Coffee & Beer, was founded by sisters Reyna and Maritza, who honed their cooking skills working in their mother’s restaurant in Veracruz, Mexico. Veracruz is famous for its migas breakfast tacos stuffed with eggs, tortilla chips, avocado, pico de gallo and Monterey jack cheese. Order online for take out & enjoy on the patio at Radio's.
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ combines the foods that Austinites love most: tacos and barbecue. Order online for take out, and choose from tempting taco fillings like smoked brisket topped with guacamole, tomato serrano salsa and sea salt, all rolled up in a freshly made flour tortilla. Valentina’s was recently visited by celebrity chef Guy Fieri and featured on an episode of his hit show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Try a variety of eats at food truck park The Picnic, where you’ll find plenty of well-spaced outdoor seating, crunchy chicken tenders served up by The Mighty Cone, authentic Italian gelato and creative combinations like pineapple jalapeno sorbet from Cannone Gelato and authentic Thai cuisine at Coat & Thai.
Lick Honest Ice Creams. Credit to Annie Ray.
ICE CREAM, GELATO & SNOW CONES
Vegans and folks with dietary restrictions will love Luv Fats Ice Cream in North Austin. This black women-owned spot is serving up delicious and healthy flavors with ingredients like coconut milk, avocados and raw cane sugar. For innovative and unusual flavors like Goat Cheese, Thyme & Honey and Texas Sheet Cake, you have to check out Lick Honest Ice Creams. In addition to their everyday flavors, the shop rotates special seasonal menus with unique flavors.
Gelato lovers have to check out, Dolce Neve, a charming family-owned gelato shop in South Austin. Not only will you find classic gelato, but also, granitas, sorbets, and other cold treats like gelato sandwiches and affogatos.
Open since 1996, the family-run Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs offers more than 70 homemade syrup flavors drizzled over ice and served in a cup. You’ll find traditional New Orleans-style chocolate and cream syrups, including customer favorites like Orchid Cream Vanilla and Boston Cream Pie. Order online in advance of pick up.
REFRESHING BOOZY BEVERAGES
The frozen hibiscus cosmo at Drop Kick is almost (almost!) too pretty to drink. The cocktail is mixed with vodka, hibiscus, lime, lemongrass and orange liqueur. If you want your cocktail to go, order the margarita kit along with an order of kimchi queso.
Have you even done Austin if you haven’t lingered over a Frosé at Hotel San José? The hip hotel mixes its famous, pretty pink frozen rosé with homemade lemonade. Kick back with one in the lush courtyard (limited capacity), where the people watching is just as delicious as your cocktail. Reservation information online.
Headed out for a day on the water? Whether you're relaxing on a boat or tubing down the nearby Guadalupe or Comal Rivers, Mighty Swell's locally made spritzers are a great companion to your adventure. Austin's Blue Norther hard seltzers are made with real fruit and agave, featuring flavors like wild blackberry and agave lime. Take an Austin favorite to-go with Ranch Rider Spirits' ready-to-drink cocktails. Try the Ranch Water, made with sparkling water, fresh lime juice & reposado tequila.
Boozy ice cream creations are the specialty of the house at part-ice cream shop, part-cocktail bar Prohibition Creamery. Small batch ice creams and vegan sorbets are blended with everything from bourbon to wine to create sweet combinations like Whiskey Chocolate and Sangria Sorbet.
Courtesy of Lucy's Fried Chicken.
Tumble 22 Chicken Joint offers a tasty Austin version of hot chicken. Order your fried chicken in a spice level ranging from Wimpy (mild) to Cluckin’ Hot (cayenne adds a kick to the secret blend of spices). Pair your chicken with deviled eggs or collard greens and cool things down with an Adult Lemonade mixed with Deep Eddy vodka. Order online to go, or enjoy on the limited patio.
Get a taste of Korean fried chicken at Charm BBQ Chicken. Order it straight-up fried or tossed in a sauce like spicy barbecue or honey garlic. While you’re there try some of the other Korean dishes on the menu, like dumplings or deep-fried squid. Indulge in the snow ice flake with fruit topping for dessert. Order online.
Austin original Lucy’s Fried Chicken serves up the bird in a variety of ways. Order a four-piece mixed basket (that comes with pickles and jalapeño peppers), boneless chicken tenders, a chicken sandwich or fried chicken spaghetti topped with cheddar cheese. Don’t miss a slice of homemade pie, like the Elvis (a layer of chocolate topped with peanut butter cheesecake and bananas). Order online and pick up at the location nearest to you.
Perla's. Credit Casey Dunn.
Seafood & Crawfish
Nestled on the banks of Shoal Creek, the popular Shoal Creek Saloon offers a crawfish boil seven days a week (Mon.-Fri. beginning at 5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. from noon to close). During crawfish season, enjoy crawfish by the pound on their patio and add on corn, potatoes and Andouille sausage links. Or, order to go online.
Big Easy Bar and Grill is known for its authentic Cajun cuisine. Go for the traditional crawfish boil served with smoked sausage, or sample other specialties like the crawfish cakes or crawfish etouffee. Sides include gumbo or red beans and rice with sausage.
Throw back some freshly shucked oysters on the beachy wooden deck at Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar. A must for any seafood fan, this upscale South Congress seafood spot offers an amazing selection of oysters on the half-shell, appetizers like ahi tuna tartare and main courses that include crispy Texas Gulf Snapper.
Garbo’s serves up New England cuisine with an Austin drawl. Try the fresh lobster roll, prepared Maine-style (chilled with homemade mayo, celery and a blend of special seasonings) or Connecticut-style (warm, brushed with lemon-tarragon butter and sprinkled with scallions). Side it with homemade New England clam chowder and a Maine Root soda and you’re good to go. Catch the food trucks around town or order online for contact-less pickup from the restaurant.
Hotel San Jose image credit Alison Marlborough.