The Secret Patios of Austin

Megan Aune

Patios, in case you haven’t noticed, are the place to be during this pandemic–and lucky for those of us in Austin, the city is well stocked with them. But with so many people rushing to occupy a table in every outdoor dining space, getting one for yourself can start to become a bit of a hassle. It definitely puts a damper on your dinner plans when you find out your favorite place has a two hour wait, and now you’re sitting in your car, on the phone with your fourth hostess, your friends only getting hungrier by the minute in the backseat…yeah, we’ve all been there. Wait a second, though, before you resign yourself to a fast food drive-thru and eating in the car. Here are some of the best hidden away, top-secret patios to save your dinner date.

Joanne’s Fine Foods

Anyone who has been to Joann’s or passed by it on South Congress has certainly seen their plant-adorned front patio, which borders the bustling SoCo sidewalk–but did you know that behind the beloved diner lies a second, secret patio? If you didn’t, you are truly missing out. Complete with lush greenery, plush couches, and some truly unique mosaics, this hidden gem is an essential stop during your next SoCo outing. 

Home Slice Pizza

If you feel like heading down a few blocks, Home Slice Pizza’s recently expanded South Congress location has you covered. Grab a slice and head back to their warehouse chic outdoor dining area. Is there really anything better on a cold day than a warm slice of New York style pizza in a heated patio? 

Magnolia Cafe

In a very Austin fashion, the garden patio at Magnolia Cafe has made an art of bringing an earthy, natural vibe to your dining experience. The space pictured above is the sheltered, more weatherproof counterpart to the picnic tables underneath a massive oak tree outside. Come here for pancakes, Tex-Mex, or a myriad of veggie-friendly choices and sip on some of Magnolia’s amazing lemonade in this lush outdoor space.

El Alma

To anyone who’s seen the signs advertising El Alma’s rooftop patio, this one may not seem like much of a secret, but I really hope I’m not the only one who looked at the apparently one-story building and went “wait, what patio?” Well look no further (actually, look a bit further). A bit away from the forefront street location, the advertised patio actually sits tryamong the trees behind that one-story building, and it’s definitely worth finding. If the serene feeling that comes from being in the treetops isn’t enough to convince you, hopefully the view of the Austin skyline is. 

Z’Tejas

This last dazzling deck only opened last month! Z’Tejas Southwestern grill recently debuted its new outdoor dining area, affectionately named the Z’ecret Garden. With its plants, ambient lighting, and fire pits, the space definitely has a warm, organic, and almost enchanted feel. Bring your friends here to enjoy a meal and watch the sunset on a cool night.