A year ago, we wrote that compiling a list of good new North Texas patios is becoming an annual event. There were a dozen new patios (to go along with the classics) in our 2017 story, and there could have been more.
And there are a dozen new patios in our 2018 story -- and there could have been more. New restaurants that don't have patios have become the exception, not the rule.
Heck, the Shops at Clearfork, the new (mostly) luxury dining-retail center in southwest Fort Worth, appears to have made patios a requirement for its restaurants -- to the point that we could've done this story on those alone.
Instead, we focused on a handful at the Shops, but also went just over the Tarrant County line to find a couple more, and walked a couple of blocks to find a really cool one that's not only near the Star-Telegram office -- it's where some of the Star-Telegram offices used to be. Well, OK, it's a few floors higher than we were.
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Here's our 2018 list.
As noted above, patios are a big deal at the Shops at Clearfork. The Houston-based B&B scored the prime patio, one overlooking the center's central plaza with its fountains and Tom Friuin's "Windmill," a quirky mosaic of a sculpture. The white-tablecloth tables extend to the outdoor area, and carefully planted vegetation (as well as a fence) insulates patio diners from the parking lot not far away. Outside the patio are tables for general sidewalk dining, almost perfect if you decided to get a sandwich from B+B's less expensive Butcher Shop around the corner. Now if the Shops at Clearfork would just do something about the music blasting from the landscaping ...
Craft & Vine
A lot of thought went into the semi-enclosed, third-floor deck of this Roanoke restaurant: The open-air parts face west, for Texas sunset views, and north, which gives you a view of Roanoke's bustling Oak Street (and many more Roanoke restaurants). The color scheme is blue and white, with blue banquette-style seating and white-rock-festooned planters lining the Cape Cod-style walls. There are a handful of TVs and some very efficient heaters for cool nights. The restaurant's mix of tapas-style plates, craft beers and wine has quickly made it a popular (and at times noisy) spot in Roanoke, a town that advertises itself as "The Unique Dining Capital of Texas." That may be hyperbole, but places like this are doing their best to back it up.
Drakes Yoke Wood & Wine
About a 20-minute drive (in good traffic) west of downtown Fort Worth is the Shops at Willow Park, a still-developing center that's home to this Southern-inspired restaurant named for Edwin Drake, a pioneer in oil-drilling techniques. According to the restaurant's website, "Drake's Yoke" was the nickname bestowed on Drake's first oil derrick by the men who actually raised it. Which helps explain the derrick motif throughout the restaurant, including the three that decorate the roofed patio that has other rustic touches, like the kind of metal chairs you might expect to find on someone's lawn. The usual trappings are here -- TVs, brick, exposed ductwork -- but somehow the patio makes you forget you can see a busy I-20 access road just across the parking lot. (The Shops at Willow Park has an artificial-turfed patio itself, with colorful lawn chairs and a big-screen TV that, on our visit, was blasting pop and country music videos. And that was at lunch, when things were relatively quiet.)
This whimsical development, which feels like someone dropped a piece of Marfa on Magnolia Avenue, consists of two buildings: Hotel Madrid, a bar/tapas/pizza spot, and St. Sofia, a tiny coffee bar where you can also get hot chocolate and churros (and a churros ice-cream sandwich). Connecting them is a large desert-like patio, complete with desert plants, located in a prime people-watching spot on Magnolia Avenue. Shade is currently in short supply, but we're told that it will be coming. It's still a good place to kick back with a sangria.
This brand-new space -- it was still in grab-and-go mode during a May 15 lunch visit but is expected to have seasonal dine-in breakfast, lunch and evening menus within a couple of weeks -- offers the best Fort Worth restaurant view since Reata had to leave the Tower more than a decade ago. Perch, a new 12th-floor cafe/coffee bar/cocktail bar in the new Frost Tower in downtown Fort Worth, has an open-air balcony patio that wraps around a corner, providing some great northwest, east and downtown views. (Note: It can get a little windy up there -- hold on to your napkins.) It's a couple of blocks from the Star-Telegram office (and where part of the office used to be), and we have a feeling we'll be spending a lot of time there. Even in grab-and-go mode, it makes you want to sit and stay.
On paper, Pinstripes sounds like another bowling/entertainment center, except for maybe that "bocce" part. But Pinstripes, which opened its first Texas location in April at the Shops at Clearfork, is proud of the "Bistro" part of its name, and that includes its wine program, honored on its large patio with a grapevine design on its wrought-iron gate, a corkscrew sculpture and wine-barrel tables surrounding a fire pit. A separate section of patio has cushioned seating, and there is outdoor seating upstairs as well. There's still some construction going on in the area (an AMC Theater complex is scheduled to open soon), but the patios separate you from it.
Salsa Limon "Distrito"
In 2016, Salsa Limon "Museo" moved -- historic chrome building and all -- to the River District, a spot on White Settlement Road that's still growing (it will soon be home to a second location of Heim Barbecue). Rechristened Salsa Limon "Distrito," the new location didn't open till last fall, but it made the best of it, with an expanded, picnic-table loaded patio decorated with desert plants and feeling more like some off-road rest area than something on a busy, increasingly burgeoning street.
The owners of this months-old Italian restaurant on Grapevine's Main Street decided to use the rooftop terrace for a pizza-burrata space with a smaller bar-food menu than the main restaurant, with customers often coming upstairs for an appetizer before going downstairs for the main event. Cushioned sofas and chairs, done in the same earth tones as the interior seating, adorn the patio, which has a plant-lined balcony overlooking Main Street (the Palace Theater is almost across the street) with western sunset views.
Three Danes Baking Co.
Tucked in a corner of the Near Southside bed-and-breakfast Three Danes Inn, this offbeat bakery is only open three days a week (Friday-Sunday mornings) , and so small that employees warn you when someone else is coming in so that the door doesn't hit you. It's a little gem that serves a lot of pastries, including some that are a challenge to pronounce (we tried a kanelsnegle kage -- think Danish cinnamon roll). There's no room to eat the pastries inside -- politely, anyway -- so take them on the small but charming, tree-shaded patio, which has picnic tables for large groups but also small tables for you to scarf those pastries.
This half-hidden Near Southside hangout has earned some buzz for its inventive cocktails and for the po-boy sandwiches served on site, as well as its live music series featuring local artists. Its patio also deserves praise: Fenced off from the world around it, so that you don't see traffic or parking lots or anything but other customers and a couple of TVs.
Twisted Root Burger Co. Mansfield/The Backyard
The newest location of the Dallas-based burger chain Twisted Root has a multi-level patio, some of it covered, some of it not, some of it in a little gazebo-like area and all of it with picnic tables and old-school lawn chairs. No wonder the patio is called "The Backyard," and will also be adjacent to a location of Twisted sister Tacos & Avocados as well as Hypnotic Emporium, an ice cream shop from the minds who brought you Hypnotic Donuts in Dallas and Denton, and an on-site brewery called By the Horns Brewing. Across the parking lot is access to the Pond Branch Linear Trail, good for a walk or a bike ride if you want to stay outside.
From the same people who gave you Texas Republic Bar &Kitchen and Landmark Bar& Kitchen comes this recently opened space that boasts of an "Adult Playground," a dog park, a miniature golf course, a balcony with a skyline view, colorful tables (with swings for seats in some cases) and a state-of-the-art stage for local and national touring acts (after all, it is in the old Capital Bar space).
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives