SHADY PEOPLE: Obzeet doesn’t look like Far North Dallas, does it?
The patio at Obzeet is an oasis of kitsch, from the bird figurines populating the pond area to the thatched bar that reminds us of the Jamaica scenes in Cocktail. Calling itself a “Tropical Bar,” this Far North Dallas gem also boasts a martini and cigar bar, as well as a home décor shop in back. There’s no cheeseburger at this kind-of paradise, but the trademarked tramezzino—pita bread stuffed with your choice of ingredients—should satisfy even the most discriminating wannabe beach bum. Live music fills the air most summer nights, and Mondays feature all-day happy hour, when Obzeetinis and Margareetas flow like the fountain outside. 19020 Preston Rd. 972-867-6126. www.obzeet.com.
Best Patio for Getting Hit By Flying Nuts
There is much to recommend the Ginger Man: 74 beers on tap (and even more bottled), a reasonably priced bar menu. But the best part is the patio, with its pecan tree towering over the quaint, old two-story house converted into a tavern. A bench curls around the pecan, which, along with some perimeter trees, provides a nearly uninterrupted canopy over the patio. Be careful come fall, though. Because there’s a reason the season is so named. 2718 Boll St. 214-754-8771. www.gingermanpub.com.
Best Patio for Forgetting You’re Landlocked
So you won’t see the spire of St. Mark’s Basilica in the skyline of Las Colinas, but the view from Trevi’s patio is pretty decent for North Texas. Perched on the shore of Lake Carolyn, the restaurant, inside the Omni Mandalay Hotel, offers guests a taste of Italy with inventive pasta dishes and the opportunity to end their meal with a gondola ride. Nearby office park workers might have to pass on the boats during lunch hour, but they can eat their fill of Trevi’s lunch offerings, which include a panini layered with cappicola, prosciutto, provolone, and pesto, while taking in the patio’s lush setting. 221 E. Las Colinas Blvd., Irving. 972-869-5550.
Best Patio for Meeting Bob Armstrong
Okay, so it’s not a beer garden in the classic German sense. For example, it’s not a place that serves you alcohol but encourages you to bring your own food. And it’s not shaded by chestnut trees, as many were in the 19th century because of the abundant shade their branches provided fermenting barrels. But the patio that sits between Matt’s Rancho Martinez and The Balcony Club in Lakewood does have lush greenery for shade, a full bar, plenty of seating, and the one thing that makes this retreat unique: Matt’s seminal Bob Armstrong dip. The layers of queso, beef, and guacamole topped with sour cream make the perfect outdoor companion, so long as you’ve got about 12 Dos Equises to go along with it. 6332 La Vista. 214-823-5517. www.thetexmexchef.com.
CANNONBALL! Water nymphs have been known to take a dip at ZaZa after one cocktail too many.
Hotel ZaZa offers great people-watching anytime. But on ZaZa’s patio, now dubbed the Urban Oasis, guests canoodle and kunkle on plush lounge chairs, sip lethal Za Lemonades, and say bye-bye to inhibitions. During Texas/OU weekend, the poolside patio is overrun with sophisticated Sooner fans (owner Charlie Givens hails from OKC, and this crowd is strictly upscale), and that’s when things get really interesting. Expect scantily clad former contestants from ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette hanging out in the hot tub, Napoleon Dynamite impersonators “gah”-ing for stunned fans, and plenty of tipsy Okies celebrating a win, no matter what the score really was. We recommend the Oasis for all other weekends as well. 2332 Leonard St. 214-468-8399. www.hotelzaza.com.
Best Patio With a View
The BarBelmont patio is just off the lobby of the historic Belmont Hotel, a 1940s motor court designed by legendary architect Charles Dilbeck that has been renovated into a glam destination for visitors and locals alike. Owing to the Oak Cliff location, the crowd is eclectic and cool. In many hands, you’ll find squat glasses filled with the bar’s specialty, the Belmontini (citron vodka, Grand Marnier, pomegranate juice, and champagne)—the perfect drink to soften the edges while taking in amazing, almost completely unobstructed views of the Dallas skyline. From far away, one might say it almost looks—beautiful. (Go easy on Belmontinis.) 901 Fort Worth Ave. 866-870-8010.
Best Patio for Sipping Chardonnay and Letting the Children Play
We can’t think of another playground in town that allows parents to enjoy a delicious pan-roasted salmon or a Thai yellow curry noodle bowl while their kids climb and slide in a giant playhouse. But you can get all this and more at the Central Market store in Southlake. In addition to a great (and affordable) kids menu, there is also an extensive wine and beer list, which makes it easy for Mom and Dad to linger until the kiddies are worn out. It offers live music Thursday through Sunday. But the real deal is Tuesday, when it’s Family Night and kids under 12 eat for free with the purchase of one adult meal per child. 1425 E. Southlake Blvd., Southlake. 817-485-8846. www.centralmarket.com.
Best Patio for Eating Pies
Pizza never seemed like an outdoor dish to us, probably because we usually equate al fresco dining with nachos and beer, but Fireside Pies changed our perception of what the entire pizza-eating experience should be. That’s primarily because it offers one of the most compact, comfortable patios in town, one that beckons to you and your pie. All the elements of a laid-back, Austin-style dining experience are on hand: the flagstone floor and surrounding wall, the outdoor fireplace ringed with ironwork, the weaved design of the simple tables, the sleeveless eye candy, the mixed greenery that circles the patio and diffuses the afternoon sunlight, the wine list that included a great hot-weather wine (the Marco Felluga Molamatta). The wine list changes frequently, but pair a crisp, cooling white with the pizza featuring Jimmy’s Italian sausage and red onions. 2820 N. Henderson Ave. 214-370-3916. www.firesidepies.com.
BUENO: La Calle Doce in Oak Cliff has become a Dallas institution.
Mexico City’s trendy expat neighborhood might be more sophisticated (also smoggier and more prone to kidnappings) than low-key North Oak Cliff, but surely there’s a spot for La Calle Doce on the quieter residential streets of that part of the Distrito Federal. We’ll look. Meanwhile, stay in Dallas and chill for lunch or dinner under the ceiling fans on the rambling porch of the old converted house and sample the tacos de camarón with jicama and carrot salad. Sip a margarita or cerveza brought by a friendly waitperson from the cozy bar inside and know why this has been a south-of-the-Trinity haven for Mexican food and atmosphere for decades. 415 W. 12th St. 214-941-4304. www.lacalledoce-dallas.com.
Best Patio for Whomever
Ozona Bar & Grill has a great patio. Like, duh. But here’s why: the multileveled, tree-covered space accommodates the needs of young families, empty nesters, frat boys, and Bubble dwellers alike. The vibe is laid-back and, thankfully, lacks the “scene” that characterizes so many of Dallas’ outdoor seating areas. The food is quality and hits the mark with Tex-Mex and Southwestern favorites; there’s also a well-rounded brunch menu (hello, Bloody Mary bar). Wash down your Ozona chili pie with $1 margaritas on Monday, or get a buzz on with $1 domestic drafts and $2 imports on Wednesday. 4615 Greenville Ave. 214-265-9105. www.ozonagrill.com.
Best Patio for Wearing a Tank Top
We dropped by Duke’s Original Roadhouse the other Wednesday evening with our 8-year-old, our 1-year-old, and our wife. As we stood on the huge patio, searching in vain for an empty table (at 6:30), a boozy patron barked at us, “Hey, I need a baby sitter for later!” Open mockery of those who’d dare bring their children. That’s the kind of place Duke’s is. The menu says: “Home of the $5 pitcher. All day—everyday.” Cheap beer and bad grammar. That’s the kind of place Duke’s is. Trollopy-looking waitresses in tiny cutoff jean shorts. Parking lot overrun by Harleys every Sunday. Loud Lynyrd Skynyrd playing. That kind of place. Which is to say: totally awesome. That Wednesday evening, we sent the wife and kids home and ate dinner by ourself. 4180 Belt Line Rd., Addison. 972-503-2337.
HIGH, WISE: For great downtown views, Fuse is a smart choice.
Our most recent night at Fuse couldn’t have gone better: fabulous Tex-Asian dinner downstairs, followed by a sampling of five tremendous cold sakes in the bar upstairs. But the real wow moment came when we left the bar for the rooftop patio. After two decades here, we didn’t even know that view of downtown existed. We stood in a canyon of skyscrapers, Pegasus flying in the near distance. The patio itself is accommodating, with its gorgeous fountains and corner deck where bands play and you can sway. Just don’t sway too much. 1512 Commerce St., Ste. 100. 214-742-3873. www.fusedallas.com.
Best Patio for Watching Ducks and Silver Birds
Just to the north and east of Love Field, tucked in the back of the Plaza on Bachman Creek and an Embassy Suites Hotel, between Marsh and Midway, on Northwest Highway, lies Bugatti Ristorante. Its hidden location adds to the secret getaway patio experience. White lights twinkle from the crepe myrtles, and the entire patio sits under a canopy of towering pecan and elm trees. The restaurant overlooks Bachman Creek and Lake, where hundreds of ducks, cormorants, swans, and other shorebirds make their way under the bridge between the two. Just to the west, private Learjets and Southwest Airlines planes land. You might think it’s a noisy spot, but the planes land without a sound. Order a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs and a glass of Chianti and soak up the solitude. 3802 W. Northwest Hwy. 214-350-2470. www.bugattis.net.
Best Patio That’s Really an Ice House
You figure a place named Lee Harvey’s for irony, but you also get a hell of a nice outdoor patio in the style of the great ice houses of Houston and San Antonio, with some Austin on the side. Wooden tables under the stars, some of the best burgers and quesadillas in Dallas, and all the cold beer the waitress with the unshaven legs (it works, though) can carry. The casually diverse ambience of hard-core urbanites and culture-seeking refugees from up the Tollway blend well. Don’t feed the dogs next door, please. Sometimes with music, and usually campfires. 1807 Gould St. 214-428-1555. www.leeharveys.com.
Waltz right through the glitzy nightclub and head out to the 13,000-square-foot patio at the Glass Cactus at the Gaylord Texan Resort. From a cozy wicker chair you’ll have a 180-degree view of Lake Grapevine. Choose a seat facing west and you’ll enjoy a true Texas-style, open sky sunset. Give a royal wave to the sailors, Jet Skiers, and boaters as they cruise below your feet. The outdoor chef station puts out some fabulous “club cuisine,” such as herb-crusted calamari served with Thai sweet chili garlic sauce, and the bar offers special drink prices from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. One too many frozen rum runners? Just slip down the street and sleep it off at the resort. 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine. 817-788-2800. www.glasscactusnightclub.com.