Enjoy the wonder of the great outdoors in Dallas this summer on a restaurant patio. It's like camping, but with real restrooms and deodorant, and there's a place for whatever you're in the mood for.
For Carnivores and Veggiewhores
I really like eating lots and lots of meat. Which means I really like the outdoor dining experience at Mike Anderson's Barbecue (5410 Harry Hines Blvd.). The patio has some eerie red lighting, but that just makes me feel like I'm under the same glorious heat lamp that created the splendiferous barbecue I'm stuffing in my face. It's the kind of patio that inspires eating greatness.
Another good meatery with patio is Jake's Uptown (2702 McKinney Ave.). This burger has all the greasy grade-A goodness you're looking for. Don't forget the bottle caps. Whether you eat them alone or put them on your burger, the pure joy in these fried jalapeño slices is undeniable.
If you're up for something new, the patio at Twisted Root Burger (2615 Commerce St.) is two stories, the Black Angus burgers are everything you want them to be, they have veggie options for all you cow-hugging hippie people—and the desserts! Seriously, if you don't save room for dessert, I will punch you. If you miss out on the oven-roasted strawberry shake or the fried ice cream, you'll regret it forever and ever. Also, I will punch you.
Not a meat-eater? All you crazy herbivores try Kalachandji's Restaurant and Palace (5430 Gurley Ave.). If you're already a vegetarian, you know how beautiful the patio is because you've been here a million times. If you're newly veggie or just veggie-curious, you can sample daily selections for lunch or dinner or a Thursday night cooking class. The international buffet does not disappoint, except on Mondays, when the venerable establishment is closed.
For Tex to the Mex
If I could remember what my dinner tasted like at Matt's Rancho Martinez (6332 La Vista Drive), I'd tell you. I do know the patio was great and so were the margaritas. Have one—just one, or maybe two. And have some Bob Armstrong queso (chili con queso, ground taco beef, guac and sour cream) while you're at it.
Another good place for outdoor Tex-Mex is Joe T. Garcia's (2201 N. Commerce St. in Fort Worth). Yeah, it's a drive, but it's worth it once you take a bite of a fresh tortilla smothered in butter. And whether you get the beef fajitas or chicken while you sit out on the patio, know that they don't take credit cards. So, sweet-talk an ATM on your way out there.
How do you make a chicken salad sandwich better? You put pesto on it. How do you make a pesto chicken salad sandwich better? You put bacon on it. How do you make a bacon pesto chicken salad sandwich better? You don't. At the Dream Café at 2800 Routh St. (the atmosphere is way better than the one in Addison), you get a nice patio with tons of greenery, so it's shady, and the menu is full of good stuff. Sure, there are some family types here, but when you're looking for somewhere to take Mom to lunch, this place is a solid choice.
Another good one is the AllGood Café (2934 Main St.). There's some nice seating outside and live music inside. Go there at breakfast for banana pancakes and peppery bacon. Go there at lunch for the tuna salad sandwich and the chicken-fried chicken. Go there for dinner for the King Ranch chicken and the braised short ribs. Whatever you do, just make sure you go there.
I like going to fancy restaurants with good wine lists because it's fun to watch the wine dance. It starts with the waiter showing the rich guy the label, and then Rich Guy nods and then Waiter struggles to uncork the bottle. After Waiter pours a slosh in Rich Guy's glass, Rich Guy gets to sniffin'. Then he gets his swirl on. And then, finally, he tastes, and hopefully he nods and then everyone gets to drink. I usually pass on all the foreplay myself and just chug the first glass, and if the burp tastes good, then it's a deal! The Grape (2808 Greenville Ave.) has really nice outdoor seating, and if you're looking for pairings, they've got you covered.
Just found out you're not the father? Congratulating yourself on a successful boyfriend-stealing? It's time to celebrate. If you've got some cash burning a hole in your skinny jeans and a hankering for some Italian food, you should check out Arcodoro & Pomodoro (2708 Routh St.). There's a lush patio out front, and a fancy-pants wine list to go with it. Try the steamed mussels. And the calamari. And the ravioli.
For the Bar Scene
An evening out on the patio isn't an evening out on the patio without a beer. And Vickery Park (2810 N. Henderson Ave.) agrees. Spend some time hanging out on the worn-down patio, enjoying your brewski and munching on hand-cut fries, buffalo-fried calamari and soft tacos. Or, if you're a little girl, get the spinach salad. If you haven't been, go.
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When you're looking for a substantial beer list to go with your outdoor hanging out, The Ginger Man (2718 Boll St.) has it. Choose from British beers, German beers, Belgian beers, Texas beers and many others. You're going to see a few preppy white boys driving their dad's BMW here, but, after a few of these beers, you'll barely even notice. And if the SMU boys start getting on your nerves, just compliment them on their calf implants, or tell them there's a crowd of hot chicks waiting outside to watch them pop their collars.
After you get kicked out of the Ginger Man for not driving a luxury vehicle, make your way over to Lee Harvey's (1807 Gould St.) for the live music and the ridiculously laid-back outdoor atmosphere. While you sip on Pabst Blue Ribbon at a picnic table in front, take a moment to people-watch. It's special out there.
When you want something to satisfy that sweet tooth, skip the line of Highland Park mommies with their Bugaboo strollers and their $36 glorified Betty Crocker cupcakes and check out the frozen custard at Wild About Harry's (3113 Knox St.). Once you've ordered, take a seat out front and watch people try to back out of the ridiculously tiny parking spots into oncoming traffic.