By Libby Hoppe
It gets hot in Central Texas during the summer, and when that happens, the only place I want to be is by the pool or on a boat on Lake Travis. But until the fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk heat hits in July and August, the weather in Austin is awesome especially in the evenings when it cools down by 15 degrees. Bars owners are privy to this knowledge, and a number of them have created cool outdoor patios where you can meet up with friends for a happy-hour cocktail or a late-night drink. But the best patio bars are the ones perched on downtown building rooftops, where the views are as appetizing as the drinks.
My favorite spot is the rooftop bar at Speakeasy
, which is both laid-back and trendy at the same time. It’s squeezed into the middle of downtown’s busy bar district (the hidden entrance is in an alley), but the rooftop deck feels like an upscale retreat with stark white sofas, low cocktail tables and a few roped-off lounge areas for private parties. But in true Texas fashion, you’re welcome upstairs in your jeans and cowboy boots, and the bartenders don’t look at you funny when you order a bottle of beer.
The vibe is similar at The Belmont
(shown), a two-story classic American restaurant and bar that sits in a small void on Sixth Street between the busy live music clubs to its east and the unhurried bars to its west. Downstairs is a swanky eatery with dark green, studded leather booths, mid-century modern lamps and brass fixtures that recall 1960s Vegas. But upstairs on the patio on a balmy May evening is where The Belmont is at its best. The Palm Terrace is open and airy, with its own bar and views of the downtown skyline. I feel pseudo Palm Springs sitting under the sprawling white umbrellas on the cushy patio lounge chairs.
Other downtown rooftop bars worth a look include Union Park
, Molotov Lounge
, Iron Cactus
and Six Lounge
. So the next time you’re in downtown Austin in early summer, look up for the best happy hours in town.