As Texas continues to loosen its restrictions — with a slew of new reopenings announced May 18 by Gov. Greg Abbott — some diners are ready to tiptoe their way back into the restaurant scene. Restaurants, which were allowed to reopen on May 1, may increase their capacity to 50 percent on May 22, doubling their previous capacity of 25 percent. Those capacity limits do not extend to outdoor areas, but groups may still be no larger than six people and tables must still maintain six feet distance apart.
Which brings us to patios.
While the pandemic continues, patios are proving popular for folks who’d rather not dine indoors, and those simply looking for a fresh change of scenery. Here are some of Fort Worth’s best patios that have reopened to diners — all adhering to COVID-19 precautions such as continued sanitation, deep-cleaning of tables in between parties, temperature checks, masked staff members, and a request that diners don masks, too.
Blue Mesa Grill
The restaurant’s popular brunch buffet is only available by takeout these days, but Blue Mesa’s tangy blue margaritas can still be sipped on the street-side covered patio. Views of bustling Carroll Street — busier now as folks slowly venture out amid loosening restrictions — provide for entertainment. For nourishment, it’s hard to go wrong with the New Mexican stacked blue corn enchiladas.
Branch & Bird
The sky-high restaurant and patio — and the full bar — is open Monday through Friday for order-at-the-counter service and online ordering. Customers may then eat on-site at one of the socially distanced tables, all spaced at least six feet apart. While there is no wait staff, the restaurant has team members designated to clean and sanitize tables after each patron’s use, and there are nice new sanitary touches like paper towels near door handles. Happy hour is still Monday through Friday from 2 to 6 pm.
Del Frisco’s Grille
Now that Bird Café is closing for good on May 22, Del Frisco’s Grille brings the only option for spacious outdoor dining in Sundance Square Plaza, aside from the tiny footprint of Taco Diner. Partake in ahi tuna tacos, the prime double-patty cheeseburger, or truffle mac and cheese with the signature pineapple martini. Reservations are encouraged to ensure a spot.
With spring in full bloom, Tim Love’s hidden outdoor oasis is as lush as ever, with seating spread amid veggie gardens and bright orange umbrellas. The high-profile chef has been an advocate for reopening Texas, even visiting the White House on May 18 for a discussion on restaurant industry recovery with President Donald Trump and other restaurateurs. Gemelle is now taking reservations for dining, with customer temperature checks upon arrival. Visit for pizza, pastas and frozen Aperol spritz.
Gloria’s Latin Cuisine
The Salvadorian-style restaurant, which has locations in Colleyville and Fort Worth's Montgomery Plaza, is one of many eateries offering a QR code for patrons to scan on their phones as a contactless option for viewing menus. Patio dining is popular on the widely spaced tables for mojitos, margaritas, and favorites like ceviche tostadas and carne asada with black beans and fried plantains.
Only the River District location of the barbecue haven is open for patio dining right now, and so far hours are only Friday through Sunday, weather permitting. The expansive deck, dotted with Adirondack chairs and picnic tables, offers window service to the full bar inside. Patrons will find even more outdoor seating in Heim’s lawn area with additional picnic tables shaded by umbrellas. Go for brisket mac and cheese, banana pudding, and TX Whiskey on tap.
HG Sply Co.
The riverfront views are calling at this Westbend favorite, where the patio boasts both covered and open air spaced out seating options perfect for a sunset toast. Have phones ready to scan the QR code for menu viewing. The healthy living restaurant is popular for those following nutritional lifestyles like Whole30, paleo, vegetarian, vegan and more — but folks of all dietary desires can find something to devour.
That classic country music heard on West Exchange Avenue is coming from the speakers at Hookers Grill, a patio-only destination with two levels of outdoor seating. The order-at-the-counter burger joint is open Wednesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, offering cold beer, wine, and lots of smiles from the Hooker family staff members behind the kitchen window. Picnic tables are comfortably spaced apart, so there’s plenty of room to spread out and devour the signature burger pressed with grilled onions.
Joe T. Garcia’s
Pandemic or not, the line remains strong at this outdoor dining mecca, which is currently operating at less than 25 percent capacity but is still drawing dozens. Best bet for grabbing a table is to visit during off-peak times, such as mid-afternoon or later in the evening. Patio hours (and curb-side pick-up) are 11 am to 8 pm Sunday through Thursday, and 11 am to 9 pm on Friday and Saturday.
Los Vaqueros Stockyards
The Stockyards staple has opened its expansive outdoor garden area, with its lush canopies and covered seating, for dining Wednesday through Saturday and Sunday for brunch. Go for Cisneros family favorites like sour cream chicken enchiladas and the chicken salad-stuffed avocado. There’s also live music every Friday and Saturday night — a plus while concerts are almost non-existent right now.
Piattello Italian Kitchen
Overlooking the greenspace at Waterside, Marcus Paslay’s Italian eatery opened its patio (and inside dining) just this weekend to the delight of patrons. Visit for lovely favorites like fried squash blossoms with house-made ricotta, panzanella salad and lobster ravioli. Make reservations to ensure a spot.
Piola Italian Restaurant and Garden
The elegant patio of this hidden West Fort Worth favorite is now open, but just Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings for dinner to start. Go for bruschetta, lobster bisque, caprese salad, and crème brulee. Pair with Italian prosecco and toast to dining al fresco.
Burger cravings can be quelled at this Cultural District go-to for cult favorites like the Chaca Oaxaca with chorizo, queso fresco, and a fried egg; and the whiskey burger with candied bacon and blackberry compote. The wide-open patio provides for picnic table seating and plenty of sunshine. Wash it all down with some Moontang, a potent moonshine-spiked, Tang-tinged libation.
The sprawling Rogers Road restaurant was popular for its spacious patio with plenty of room to social distance long before COVID-19. Now it’s open again, serving everything from burgers and wings to tacos and weekend brunch. Don’t forget the Curly’s Frozen Custard for dessert.
South Side Rambler
The former La Zona on West Magnolia Avenue is now South Side Rambler, a brand new restaurant and bar that opened May 18 offering a pet- and kid-friendly patio with brightly colored picnic tables, umbrellas and Adirondack chairs. Big selling points include more than 40 beer taps and regular live music along with a lengthy menu of American favorites, including an Atlantic lobster roll. Night owls will appreciate the later hours — South Side Rambler is open from 11 am until midnight during the week and until 2 am Friday and Saturday.
The Montgomery Plaza location of this Fort Worth favorite is experiencing newfound life as an outdoor dining destination. Set under the plaza’s twinkling string lights and with views of passersby, the sushi destination is an under-the-radar option for dining and imbibing outside with a lengthy list of rolls, fresh sashimi, and colorful martinis.
The Bearded Lady
Look for the South Main Street gastropub to open its dining room and patio on Wednesday, just in time for the holiday weekend. Seating areas — some covered and some shaded by umbrellas — are sparsely spread amid gravel-covered ground and provide for views of the growing Near Southside retail and restaurant district. Nosh on whole fried okra and two-handed sandwiches, and stay refreshed with cocktails like vodka cherry limeade.
Winslow’s Wine Café
The Camp Bowie Boulevard neighborhood favorite plans to open its dining room and patio at 25 percent occupancy on May 19, but asks that patrons keep their visit to no more than an hour-and-a-half. Winslow’s patio is like a cozy backyard, with cushioned furniture, potted plants and floral, and coveted seating around a picturesque fire pit. Go for wood-fired pizza, house-made pasta, and plenty of rose. UPDATE: Winslow's said in a Facebook post on May 19 that it will continue curbside service only for the time-being.
With views of the Trinity River trails and comfortably spaced picnic tables and seating nooks, Tim Love’s barbecue joint is perhaps one of the most popular pandemic patios right now. Temperatures are checked at the door, so customers should be prepared for a quick forehead reading. Barbecue ranges from traditional to “new Q” including ramen and tacos.