Communal dining isn’t a new concept, but it’s become a hot culinary trend that extends to restaurant design as well. In the case of Dallas, we’re taking the shared eating and playing space outdoors. This too is not new. Beer gardens, combining beer, food, entertainment for the community started appearing in Germany in the 1800s. Dallas has a number of self-identified beer gardens, and many restaurants have adopted or modernized the concept, so you can dine with family or friends as if you’re in your own backyard. Maybe even better.
If Your Backyard Had Game Night Every Night
Yard games and board games rule the day (or mostly night) at this Deep Ellum spot with a motto of eat, drink, play. It’s next to the Deep Ellum DART station, right across the street from one of the Travelin’ Man sculptures.
You can definitely eat, drink, and play here. Menu items are backyard barbecue standards – burgers, dogs, brisket and ribs - complemented by some thoughtful snacks, sides, and salads. There’s even brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Drinks include wine, craft beer, cider, and craft cocktails. Giant boozefests called Big Dogs arespecial cocktails sized (and priced) to be shared by three or more people. Speaking of dogs, this place is exceptionally dog friendly- their patio art is like a tribute to man’s best friend.
All the Food Trucks Bring the Boys (and Girls) to the Yard
To recreate Truck Yard in your backyard, you’d also need a treehouse and an assortment of junk decorations. Flamingos, mismatched lawn chairs, and even a junker car make their home in this dog-friendly backyard.
One of the first entries in Dallas’s backyard entertainment scene, Truck Yard is brought to you by the guys who created Twisted Root. Your tour should start with the bar – or three bars, that is. One is in a treehouse, and all serve plenty of bottled and tap beers from the ubiquitous big brands to local craft beers. Drinks are rounded out with a small wine selection and a number of bottled, frozen, and craft cocktails. If you came to eat, you can try their famed cheesesteaks or choose from a selection of food trucks. You’ll usually have three trucks to choose from at any given time, and they’re listed on the calendar, so you can plan ahead. The live music calendar is also pretty full, with performances in the early evening on Fridays and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
If You Had Live Music in Your Backyard
Local singer-songwriters appear here often, but some big names show up too. The patio, called Pat’s Backyard is named for Pat Green, a pioneer of the Texas Country genre.
Located in Uptown, near a McKinney Avenue M-Line Trolley stop, The Rustic has hot music, cold drinks, and Southern style food. Their Sunday Supper and Jam and Toast Brunch are served family style. Those meals along with their regular menu items and picnic baskets center around farm-fresh local. Enjoy Texas beers and spirits or a selection of imported beer, wine and cocktails in a backyard that makes your seem a little lame.
If Your Backyard Backed up to the Most Iconic Trail in Dallas
The Katy Trail is a three-and-a-half-mile trail named for the old railroad line, Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT or KT.) A 50-foot bar and acclaimed beer garden patio on the trail make this a backyard all of Dallas can enjoy.
The regular menu here is mostly burgers and sandwiches with a few salads and some Tex-Mex thrown in there. Katy Trail Ice House also offers a full barbecue menu each day that’s served until they run out. The real focus here, though, is on the cold beer (50 on tap!) plus wine and cocktails. You can walk, run, or bike to this backyard, or just watch walkers, runners, and cyclists pass by, like you do in your own backyard.
If Your Backyard Had an Immense Cedar Pergola Adorned with Flowers
The beer guys behind this place (also behind The Blind Butcher) built it around beer, burgers, and whiskey. I wonder if it makes them sad that it’s their “backyard” garden that catches your eye in this little East Dallas food neighborhood.
If they’re sad, they can cry in their beer, because this place knows beer. They offer a good selection of Texas ciders and local beers alongside domestic and imported cans and bottles. With rotating drafts and a rotating cask, if you’re not a fan of craft beer yet, you just might be when you leave. Even though beer is the star at Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House, the food easily earns its keep as a co-star. Burgers are made with 100% Texas beef and are house ground. Delicious sandwiches and bar food you’ll actually want to eat are on offer too – try the stuffed and fried avocado bomb for a treat. Speaking of treats, you’ll want to try a slice of pie provided by Piefalootin, a nearby Garland pie shop. This sounds too good to be a backyard, but seriously, it’s the best of everything good outdoors. The pergola-covered patio extends into an almost open-air restaurant area. Dogs (being goodfriends too) are welcome on the patio.
If Your Backyard Had a Ferris Wheel
Texas Monthly called it “barbecusement” and that Ferris Wheel isn’t a little mini one either. It’s 50 feet tall and you’ll find it in the backyard section of Ferris Wheeler’s Backyard and BBQ in Dallas’s Design District.
Hang out in the backyard and enjoy canned beer, draft beer, cocktails and wine – maybe after your spin on the ferris wheel. There’s also giant Jenga and cornhole, live music, and barbecue that’s worth coming for, even if you aren’t chasing the spectacle. Rubbed brisket, glazed ribs, and housemade sausage take center stage alongside four unique barbecue sauces. The jalapeño bacon coleslaw gets some nice reviews too.
If You Served the Best Barbecue in Town and Gave Away Free Beer
It’s only open for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays plus one Saturday a month. In spite of that, or maybe because of it, folks line up for this barbecue. In 2017, Texas Monthly named it #3 in all of Texas.
The backyard dining here is mostly indoors, although there are a couple of picnic tables outside. Where the backyard comes in is the feel of the place – like you’d have at a family barbecue. Except your family’s barbecue was never this good. Seriously, Cattleack Barbecue changed my mind about almost everything I ever thought about barbecue. In addition to the drool-inducing smoked meats, you can get weekly features, tasty sides, sliced white bread out of a bag, and bottled (no soda fountain) drinks. If you don’t like the drinks they offer, you’re welcome to bring your own, and since there’s no liquor license, they give away beer for free. Once you’ve tasted this smoked meat from heaven, you may not want any beer. You’ll need room for one more rib or slice of brisket. Even the crack cake and banana pudding, which are delicious, may have to wait till later. Insider tip: Get there early. They open at 10:30 AM on Thursday, Friday, and the first Saturday of every month.
If Your Backyard is West or North of Dallas
If you don’t live in Dallas, check out one of these other backyard-style restaurants closer to Fort Worth or Denton.
Called an adult playground, this beer garden/dog park/entertainment venue has karaoke, indoor and outdoor games, food trucks and more.
This huge outdoor space claims to be the largest patio in Fort Worth, and I don’t doubt it. The Americana vibe inside and out makes it a fun place to eat, drink, and socialize.
Rustic inside, playful outside; this is a fun place for Tex-Mex favorites.
Denton’s “Backyard” has a pizza restaurant, food truck park, and live music venue all in one.
Enjoy Texas barbecue served out of an Airstream trailer in a park-like wooded area, recently accessorized with misters to keep you cool.
I don’t know about you, but these are all WAY better than my back yard. Did we miss any of your favorite outdoor social spaces or backyard dining places in your neighborhood? Let us know in the comments.