Where to Drink

Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 bars with roomy outdoor patios

Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 bars with roomy outdoor patios

frozen margaritas
Cocktails taste better outdoors. The Sound

Even before the pandemic, patios were a big thing. Dallas has the weather to support them nearly year-round and has amassed a collection of well-known outdoor spaces from The Rustic in Uptown to Katy Trail Icehouse to the infamous patio at Cane Rosso in White Rock Lake.

Since the pandemic, outdoor spaces have become an even bigger thing. It's rare to find an opening these days that hasn't incorporated some sort of patio scenario, the bigger the better. During these pandemic times, you want distance. You want your own space.

These five big patios give a nice beverage and plenty of room to drink it:

400 Gradi
Technically, this is less a bar and more an Italian restaurant specializing in Neapolitan-style pizza plus dishes such as pappardelle with mushrooms, from Australian chef Johnny Di Francesco. But they have an amazing patio. The restaurant is in the 2000 Ross building at the corner of Harwood Street, and the patio forms an "L" that wraps around the corner. It's just a pleasant place to sit in the urban core. It's kitty-corner to the Dallas Museum of Art, so there's lots to look at and take in, and it's kind of a hidden gem, not crowded, so you get plenty of space. They have a great wine list, dominated by Italian wines including some treasures from the Piedmont region, and a full bar with fun European cocktails.

Jaxon Beer Garden
One of the signature restaurants at the AT&T Discovery District, Jaxon boasts a selection of 34 craft beers plus cocktails, plus a well-designed menu with tacos, burgers, queso, salads, and sandwiches — check out the "French dip" sandwich made with mushrooms instead of shaved beef. Their patio area spills out onto the Discovery District; this is fortuitous because the Discovery District is a hot destination right now, thronged with people on the weekends. Happy news for downtown Dallas, but if you're avoiding contact, then early weeknight is the time to go.

The Shacks at Austin Ranch
Located at the southeast corner of Windhaven Parkway and Plano Parkway, The Shacks was created as part of Austin Ranch, a mixed-use project from the Billingsley Co. Surrounded by big oak trees, it encompasses loads of space along with a one-acre dog park, all open to the public. It's a bit of a drive but a fun field trip if you feel like getting outdoors while still in Dallas, and there's plenty of beer choices from Grrrowler's Tap Room and Beer Garden, as well as tacos from one of the two locations of OMG Tacos.

The Sound at Cypress Waters
Cypress Waters is the massive master-planned complex surrounding North Lake at LBJ and Belt Line Road built by the Billingsley family, with offices, residences, retail, the whole shebang. The Sound is the official relaxation niche: green space, paved walkways, mini dog park, small stage for live music, and a row of restaurants, most owned by Shannon Wynne (Rodeo Goat, Flying Fish, Flying Saucer) but also with a cool location of Ascension Coffee that has food, cocktails, and nice wines by the glass. It makes for an interesting excursion, like visiting another planet that, thanks to all the construction, is being reshaped before your eyes.

Thunderbird Station
Situated in a Deep Ellum building that first housed a gas station in 1922, Thunderbird Station boasts a 5,400-square-foot patio — huge by urban standards, leaving more than enough room to space yourself from your neighbors. You can have your space and your fancy cocktails, too: The bar, which was nominated for a Tastemaker Award in 2021, features the chops of award-winning bartender Liz Mitchell, with fun, high-concept drinks plus Southern snacks like bologna sandwiches and Frito pie. You also get to witness the parade of life passing through Deep Ellum.