1. THE CATCH
The Catch in south Arlington isn’t fancy, but I’ve found that the all-weather patio (fully enclosed during the summer and rainy days) is a great place to enjoy a happy hour beverage and some authentic Cajun food –– I promise the gumbo over cheese grits is life-changing, and the fried green tomatoes are also excellent.
This spot arguably provides the best view of downtown Cowtown. Multiple outdoor spaces allow you to take advantage of dining al fresco, even when Mother Nature goes through all four seasons in a week. The Sunset deck is mostly covered, with steps leading through the open air seating of Caballo Canyon to the Grotto Bar under a protective stone ledge. The upper Rooftop bar is also predominantly covered, while the Dome provides fabulous dining space in a completely clear enclosure. My favorite offering is the carne asada and cheese enchilada –– a small, highly flavored steak with a gooey, grilled cheese-esque enchilada.
The new Eno’s Pizza Tavern in the Cypress Waters development has a street-level covered patio that’s pleasantly adorned with cute wood tables and strings of lights. But it’s the upper patio with a wall of brick, covered and uncovered seating, and a million-dollar view of the development’s outdoor stage, where there’s something happening most weekends. Go with a group and sample the pies: The Pig Smiley is essentially a meat lovers with a sweet dash of local honey, while the Meatball and the Goat mixes fresh basil, house-made meatballs, and tangy goat cheese.
Malai Kitchen (located in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Southlake) offers Thai- and Vietnamese-inspired dishes with a glorious and comfortable ground-level view. If you’re looking for an indulgent treat, the fresh seared jumbo sea scallops, served on an amazing bed of perfectly-executed Pad Thai, should fit the bill.
7. PRESS CAFÉ
Located at the trail head of the Trinity River’s Clear Fork, Press Café actually has more space outside than inside. A lovely rooftop patio decked out in comfy furniture provides a great view, while the expansive ground level deck wraps around the building, providing covered areas, fire pits and heaters when needed, and (my favorite) twinkly lights.
8. MESO MAYA
Meso Maya (located in Addison, Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano) offers Central and Southern Mexican cuisine along with a variety of shaded and open patio spaces. The Fort Worth location has three patios, from full sun to mostly enclosed. All the tortillas are house made, which means everything from the basket of chips to go with your salsa to the tortillas wrapping the enchiladas, taste exceptionally fresh. If it’s cool outside, the green pozole soup is a reverent, authentic recipe.
Newcomer Rogers Roundhouse is a mostly-outdoor space with three levels of comfort. When the giant sliding glass garage doors are open, there’s a great view from inside. The temperate covered patio provides the best of both worlds, while the graveled lower patio with shaded bench seats will be pleasant three seasons out of the year. It’s also the most pup friendly of the lot. I loved the loaded tater tots on the appetizer menu –– the combo of house-made queso, bacon, and sour cream really elevated what should be a simple bar appetizer.
10. CHELSEA CORNER
Another picturesque, Hill Country-esque restaurant, Chelsea Corner combines shady tree lined cover, comfy outdoor furniture, and a garage-windowed dining area that brings the outside in and vice versa. Also dog friendly, Chelsea Corner hosts a Halloween costume contest for your pupper! The weekend brunch menu is on point with powdered sugar-dusted beignets served with lemon curd –– something I never knew I needed until I had them.
11. BIRD CAFÉ
Bird Café offer glorious al fresco dining opportunities on top of Sundance Square with a circular seating arrangement around a cozy fire pit. Both restaurants offer amazing craft cocktails –– you’ll find everything from a Mai Tai that packs a rummy punch, to a proper Pimms Cup, to a selection of whisky cocktails including the Blood & Sun, made with Japanese whisky and house made blood orange. The wine menu’s also really impressive.