On any given day between May and October, the idea of leaving your air-conditioned car even just to make the short-but-sweaty walk into a bar or restaurant seems overwhelming. Then, suddenly, the day arrives when eating inside becomes a ridiculous proposition. This being Texas, we never know when the heat or the humidity or the rain will drive us back indoors, so any chance to drink and dine al fresco should be seized and celebrated, and you can’t go wrong with these 14 premium patios.
Beautiful and elegant without being stuffy, Ocho at the Hotel Havana is an amazing place to drink some tequila and watch the people. It’s the perfect place to take out-of-town guests when you want to show off our ciudad linda.
Launched in 2015, Paramour is decidedly more upscale than most of its fellow al fresco bars, which tend to be dog- and T-shirt-friendly. This rooftop lounge offers an outstanding vantage point from which to take in the skyline -- and the hobnobbers pretending for a night that SA is LA.
There’s a surprise out back at this unassuming historic home-turned-restaurant -- a sprawling, enclosed yard with grass and trees and a bar and a stage. It’s intimate without feeling cramped -- a perfect setting for sharing a tableful of small plates with your nearest and dearest.
The name says it all as The Friendly Spot is Southtown’s open-air gathering space for all sorts of folks, and their dogs, seeking out a good michelada and an outdoor movie. Pull up a candy-colored retro lawn chair and make a new friend.
Few SA spots are more beloved than The Cove, a favorite for a cross-section of Alamo City residents looking for sustainable, locally sourced food in a sociable atmosphere as well as 50+ home-grown beers on tap.
The menu features interior-Mexico street foods -- tacos, ceviches, tortas, and the like -- and the bar offerings are extensive. The real draw, though, is the outdoor space. It can get crowded, but it’s worth the wait to sit and relax alongside this serene and lovely section of the river.
Come for the fries, stay for the river view. Order at the counter -- beer and wine only, which won’t bother you a bit when you see how extensive the selection is -- then grab your drink and hit the bocce court out back.
The two chefs behind one of SA’s newest bars have the chops to deliver top-shelf food and pair it with alcohol offerings that make sense. The patio space offers a great Downtown view and the squash tacos are buzzworthy.
Happy hour drink prices at the Garage can’t be beat, and neither can the margaritas. San Antonians must agree, since the outdoor bar needed to be expanded to accommodate the happy crowds. Fun and funky, with live music often.
Mind that you don’t get too wild and run into a giant tree. As long as you can manage that, you’ll find much to love about this comfy, casual bar/taco stand that abuts The Pearl without absorbing any of its slick-n-shiny vibe.
If your fantasy is to hold your outdoor wedding reception at a brewery, this is the place to do it. The beer is excellent, and the well-manicured outdoor space is huge and more reminiscent of museum grounds than a bar.
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Michelle Burgess lives and writes in San Antonio. She never turns down an assignment that somehow incorporates any or all four of the major food groups of Texas: chili, Tex-Mex, deep-fried, and barbecue.
1. Ocho 1015 Navarro St, San Antonio, TX 78205 (Downtown)
This restaurant and lounge at Hotel Havana offers indoor and outdoor seating in close proximity to the river. The menu pulls from a Pan-Latin influence, which is reflected in both its food and drink (including one of the best margaritas in the city). The downstairs lounge is dimly lit and intimate, with couches and leather chairs.
San Antonio's first rooftop bar, Paramour offers cocktails as spectacular as its views. While you're enjoying its industrial, rustic digs, considering dropping some cash on their selection of Pappy Van Winkle, the world's most sought after rye whiskey, and sip it as you look over the beautiful cityscape.
This restaurant serves modern Mexican food (specifically not Tex Mex) in a historic Five Points limestone building. The bar has 24 taps that attract craft beer enthusiasts and they offer a weekend brunch inspired by Mexican dishes, plus Tapas Social Hour Tuesday through Friday.
The Friendly Spot took the old model of the ice house and modernized it for the craft beer fan. Instead of sipping on Lone Star or Coors Light, you’ll have to decide which beer to order from one of their 76 taps or 250 bottles on hand.
The Cove actually began as a laundromat and car wash -- its husband-and-wife team added food service as an afterthought, and now, years later, it's gained a dedicated following because of its welcoming atmosphere and organic, locally sourced ingredients. They offer lamb, bison, and brown-rice patties, plus their ‘09er, which is made with grass-fed beef and topped with goat cheese, pesto aioli, and roasted red peppers.
Ambiance-wise, it’s hard to find a better spot than Two Bros, with its oak-shaded outdoor picnic tables and extra-large double dining rooms inside. The menu also impresses with expertly smoked meats, solid sides, a free fixins' bar with an venerable choice of pickled goodies, and three distinctly different delicious sauces. Bright, warm and friendly, this is the perfect place to get your meat on.
Stay Golden Social House takes the best elements of the South Texas ice house and combines them with the sensibilities of a craft cocktail bar. One of Jeret Peña’s projects, this bar adjacent to the Pearl Brewery offers a killer happy hour in a laid-back environment.
This colorful cantina and icehouse is known for its authentic Mexican street food such as panuchos, ceviche, and tlayudas (Mexican pizza). Enjoy a prickly pear frozen margarita and al pastor tacos on the scenic patio.
The Luxury is quirky and fun, with order-at-the-counter service and housed in converted cargo containers. They serve up hearty portions of eclectic, casual fare and features all-outdoor seating... kind of a maverick but with a serious chef pedigree. And remember, the fries are some of the best in Bexar County.
This airy Mexican eatery offers frozen fresh fruit drinks alongside Mexico-inspired bar snacks. Bean and jalapeños tamales, mushroom poblano pop tart, and house-made guacamole are a few of Toro's specialties.
Brewed by born and bred Texans, Alamo Beer is a source of pride for the Lonestar State. A nod to the “Alamo” beer popularized by San Antonians during the pre-Prohibition years, the brewery crafts a focused list of quality brews – a signature golden ale, Vienna-style amber lager, a German pale ale, and a pilsner. The industrial space features a well-manicured outdoor beer garden, which seems more reminiscent of a museum grounds than a popular bar.