No matter how hot the summer sun’s rays, we’re a patio kind of town. After all, outdoor dining is a great way to commune with nature—and a frosty margarita—while getting your daily dose of Vitamin D. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite spots for unwinding under an umbrella.
A stay in Dallas wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Dallas Arts District, the largest in the nation. Home to world-class museums and architecturally stunning performance spaces, it’s a culture lover’s paradise. But no one can soak in all that creativity on an empty stomach, so a visit to Jorge’s Tex-Mex (1722 Routh St., 214.720.2211, www.jorgestexmex.com) in One Arts Plaza is a great way to begin. Spacious and comfortable, the patio never feels crowded, even when it’s packed. Happy-hour prices Monday through Friday (2-6 pm) and $1 Mimosas during weekend brunch only sweeten the deal.
Just down the street, Three Sheets' (3113 Ross Ave., 214.823.3113, www.threesheetsdallas.com) covered patio keeps things cool while billiards, foosball and beer pong keep drinkers active.
Next door at 3121 Ross Ave., the new upscale Ku De Ta and Southern Comforts feature a neon-lit pool (so bring a suit), several cabanas for lounging, and an indoor/outdoor space for private parties. During the day, visitors must have a membership to lap in this luxury, but in the evenings the lounge and nightclub are open to members and patrons savvy enough to get on the guest list.
In the bustling Henderson Avenue district, two notable patios co-exist a mere three blocks apart. At Capitol Pub (2401 N. Henderson Ave., 214.887.9330, www.capitolpubdallas.com), the dog-friendly, wrap-around patio features both a covered section and one with nothing but open sky. Start with an artisan cheese plate or head straight for the Capitol Burger with Cotswold cheese.
Nearby Greenville Avenue is home to dozens of patios, but one of the best is Sundown at Granada (3520 Greenville Ave., 214.823.8305, www.sundownatgranada.com). Attached to a theater-turned-concert venue, it’s the largest patio on the street and a popular hangout whether folks are there to see an indie rock band or just chill for a few hours. Grab a cocktail made with house-infused vodka, gin or tequila and feast on smoked-bacon flatbread or one of many inventive vegetarian dishes.
Few malls can brag about their dining establishments because they usually involve the words “food” and “court.” But leave it to NorthPark Center (8687 N. Central Expy.) to raise the bar on outdoor enjoyment. A large park nestled between high-end stores provides an oasis of green where kids can frolic in the grass while diners enjoy Italian specialties at Cibus (214.692- 0001, www.cibusdallas.com) or Latin entrées and pastries at La Duni Latin Kitchen & Coffee Studio (214.987.2260, www.laduni.com).
In Uptown at the West Village shopping center, Malai Kitchen (3699 McKinney Ave., Ste. 319, 214.599.7857, www.malaikitchen.com) serves up tasty Banh Mi and other Vietnamese and Thai delights on a small patio with air-conditioning and a special louvered roof that helps them get the sun exactly where patrons want it—or don’t. Over in the Design District, The Meddlesome Moth (1621 Oak Lawn Ave., 214.628.7900, www.mothinthe.net) has a spacious patio with large picnic-style common tables, ideal for sharing with friends, or meeting new ones.
While there are several outposts of local favorite Gloria’s (600 N. Bishop Ave., 214.942.1831, www.gloriasrestaurants.com), it’s the Bishop Arts location in Oak Cliff that has the most charm. Situated in an old firehouse, the two-story restaurant is certified gigantic with a patio to match. Enjoy complimentary black bean dip and house-made salsa, but make sure to get one of their authentic Salvadoran pupusas. (Tip: Sunday through Thursday, patrons can enjoy house margaritas, sangria or mojitos for only $5, all day.)
Heading west, Mi Dia From Scratch (1295 S. Main St., 817.421.4747, www.midiafromscratch.com) in Grapevine has a patio where imbibers can sip on one of more than 100 available tequilas, while the food is a seamless blend of the flavors of both Old and New Mexico.
And perhaps saving the best area patio for last, Joe T. Garcia’s (2201 N. Commerce St., 817.626.4356, www.joets.com) in Fort Worth is a North Texas institution. People drive for miles to enjoy their family-style dinners on one of a series of interconnected outdoor dining spaces that transport them to another place and time, the sounds of pools and fountains mixing with the music and laughter of diners to joyous effect. It’s like a vacation within a vacation, with pitchers of margaritas instead of souvenirs.