6 spacious Dallas restaurant patios with safety in mind during the coronavirus pandemic

The Dallasites love for terraces is profound. it has been for years. But as the pandemic continues, terraces are more than a place to enjoy drinks outdoors. It’s a place health officials say is mostly safe during the coronavirus pandemic, though patrons and restaurant owners must be vigilant and follow safety guidelines.

These are: People who dine outdoors should wear a mask when entering and leaving and not mix with people outside their household. Tables should be 6 feet apart and servers should wear masks. And do not visit the terrace if you are not comfortable, if you are in a risk category or if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

The risk in Dallas County is red, and the county’s COVID-19 documentation states that eating indoors should be avoided. So we go outside: for picnics in parks, for barbecues in your own backyards and for occasional terrace trips.

I’ve tested some decks in Dallas with my family and found comfortable, fun places to serve good food.

It should be noted that this list of restaurant patios looks very different from a year or two ago. While we might have picked a packed patio as a favorite in 2019 when hanging out with new friends was part of the spirit of an outdoor space, we’re now looking for spacious patios that will never make you feel too close to your neighbors. We have also given terraces that require reservations a few weeks in advance or that have long valet parking.

It’s 2020 and our life is already very complicated.

We mourn for some courtyards that did not survive the pandemic. Examples include The Lot in East Dallas, Savor in Uptown / Downtown Dallas, Off-Site Kitchen in Trinity Groves, and The Foundry / Chicken Scratch in Oak Cliff – outdoor areas that might otherwise be on this list.

Take your mask and let’s take a seat.

Bars in Texas are technically closed under a mandate from Governor Greg Abbott.  But bars get special food and beverage certificates from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and more open every week.  Should you go to one


in Dallas’ Bluffview neighborhood, near Park Cities

Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman is the head chef at the José Restaurant in Dallas.Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman is the head chef at the José Restaurant in Dallas.(Lynda M. Gonzalez / employee photographer)Squozens are a popular drink order from Jose in Dallas.  The name is a combination of fresh Squozens are a popular drink order from Jose in Dallas. The name is a combination of fresh “pressed” juice and “frozen” margarita.(Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman)

The Guadalajaran Restaurant José is a favorite among Park Cities and Bluffview. When the pandemic broke out, cook Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman and her team, like so many other restaurant workers, went to work to feed health care workers. Today the restaurant has reached its new normal. Masked waiters interact with smiling customers as they sip squozens (frozen margaritas with freshly squeezed juice) and enjoy Quiñones-Pittman’s excellent dishes such as fried chicken with mole and fried red fish a la Veracruzana.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, José had a moderate number of customers, all of whom were seated and did not have large crowds.

Pick a type of patio and you’ll find it here: There’s the covered patio with a fountain and fans that provides total shade. A few steps further is a partially covered terrace with pretty plants and carefully arranged tables. And then there are a number of picnic tables on one side with optional umbrellas.

José is at 4931 W. Lovers Lane, Dallas. Find Jose’s COVID-19 log here.

Vector brows

in Lake Highlands

Vector Brewing is located on Walnut Hill Lane and Audelia Road in Lake Highlands.Vector Brewing is located on Walnut Hill Lane and Audelia Road in Lake Highlands.(Stewart F. House / Special Contributor)

Vector Brewing feels like a secret of the Lake Highlands neighborhood. That’s one of the best things. This family-run taproom and pizzeria in a strip center has a wonderful terrace, especially for families with children. A designated children’s area in the background will keep the youngsters busy, even though you want to keep the children together in your own household as suggested by the health authorities. It wasn’t full of kids on a recent visit. The parents made sure to let the children play for a few minutes and then bring another family to act.

On the open-air terrace with sun protection above you will find numerous TVs for playing football on the weekend. My favorite spot was a picnic table against the wall that overlooked the TVs, the rest of the patio, and a safe space for my family to eat and drink. Dogs are also welcome.

Check out Shady’s Burgers across the street – another patio that’s kid-friendly – if you want to make a day out of it.

Vector Brewing is located at 9850 Walnut Hill Lane, Dallas. Here you can find the COVID-19 protocol from Vector. Shady’s Burgers is located at 9661 Audelia Road in Dallas.

Terry Black’s barbecue

in Deep Ellum

Clark Hansel (center), Greg Wilkes (top center) and Chris Akin (far right) will have lunch on the terrace of Terry Black's Barbecue in Dallas on Wednesday, October 14, 2020. Clark Hansel (center), Greg Wilkes (top center) and Chris Akin (far right) will have lunch on the terrace of Terry Black’s Barbecue in Dallas on Wednesday, October 14, 2020. (Ben Torres / Special Contributor)Brisket, coleslaw and green bean sausage from Terry Black's Barbecue in DallasBrisket, coleslaw and green bean sausage from Terry Black’s Barbecue in Dallas(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Even before the pandemic, Terry Black’s barbecue felt like an airy place indoors and out. The smokers are exhibited directly behind the two-story beer garden in front of the restaurant. You have to enter the restaurant to order a grill. So bring a mask and pick a time when the crowd may be thin. After securing a tray of smoked meat and a drink, head back outside to take a seat above or below.

When Terry Black’s opened in late 2019, it was an exciting moment for grill people. The Black family has a long (and complicated) history in the Texas barbecue capital, Lockhart.

Terry Black’s trips are good, and his jalapeño cheese sausage, turkey, and creamed corn are great options for a home picnic too.

Terry Black’s Barbecue is located at 3025 Main St., Dallas.

S&D Oyster Company

in Uptown Dallas

The S&D Oyster Company in Uptown Dallas is more than 40 years old.  A charming rear terrace was added a few years ago.The S&D Oyster Company in Uptown Dallas is more than 40 years old. A charming rear terrace was added a few years ago.(Jason Janik / Special Contributor)

Little else will you know you’re still in Dallas when you step onto the back patio of the S&D Oyster Company, a New Orleans-inspired courtyard with red brick pillars and French Quarter-style gas lamps. Note that you will have to put on a mask and walk through the restaurant to return to the terrace.

The patio feels almost like a private space, likely because of the small number of tables and high walls that keep traffic out of sight in uptown. Order a dozen oysters or make two and have a toast to one of the happiest restaurants in Uptown, which has just celebrated its 44th anniversary.

The S&D Company is located at 2701 McKinney Ave., Dallas.

Jaxon Texas Kitchen & Beer Garden

in downtown Dallas

Jaxon's cheeseburger is a winner.Jaxon’s cheeseburger is a winner.(Courtesy The PR Collaborative)

Take a stroll through the AT&T Discovery District in downtown Dallas and you’ll find it’s the new Dallas hot spot for Instagram photos and videos. But if that’s not your vibe, the district can still be: Jaxon Texas Kitchen & Beer Garden is near the back of the square and feels like a good place to base yourself in the center of town.

On weekends, Jaxon has live music and an impressively large TV that shows football on Saturdays and Sundays. (From Jaxon’s front porch, you can’t see the 104-foot-high, 84-foot-wide “media wall” in any section of the Discovery District, but you don’t have to with the built-in entertainment.)

Here you will find a sympathetic selection of fried chicken sandwiches, burgers and snacks like Luscher’s Corn Dogs. The hand disinfection stations are never far away.

The Jaxon Texas Kitchen & Beer Garden is located at 311 S. Akard St. (in a new development called the AT&T Discovery District) in Dallas. Parking on the street can be tricky. Free parking is available in the garage at 1212 Jackson Street, which has been approved by Jaxon. You can find Jaxon’s COVID-19 log here.

The wild detectives

in North Oak Cliff

The Wild Detectives pictured here in 2017 have a large garden.  It's 2020 and the tables are now further apart.The Wild Detectives pictured here in 2017 have a large garden. It’s 2020 and the tables are now further apart.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Technically, The Wild Detectives isn’t a restaurant, but rather a bookstore-bar backyard that serves food. It’s a great place to go alone, enjoy a glass of wine and a side of sunshine in front or in the back. And because you should be careful not to mingle with people outside of your household, it makes a lot of sense to go to The Wild Detectives Solo. It’s super low-key: great when you have some work to do.

Be sure to check out the events page before you head out as these indicate times when the shop will be a little crowded.

While in North Oak Cliff, take a 5-minute walk to the patio at The Salty Donut. Grab a horchata donut – you read that right, yummy – and take a seat. There’s plenty to see when customers are looking for candy at this new Dallas store.

The Wild Detectives are located at 314 W. Eighth St., Dallas. The salty donut is located at 414 W. Davis St., Dallas. You can find Salty Donut’s COVID-19 log here.

For more food news, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter @sblaskovich.

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