The Austin Chronicle

Premium Pre-Mosquito Season Patio Hang Zones

Sawyer & Co. is full of culinary maximalism

By Emily Beyda, April 19, 2019, Food

Dear Glutton,

With the weather finally getting nice, I'm looking for an outside space to hang out and nosh before the misery of summer and mosquito season descends. Basically anywhere with a cute outdoor area that has decent food and/or drinks – I'm looking to max out my perfect Austin spring outside time ASAP.

– Patio Problems

When I first moved to Austin, one of the things I was most excited about was the outdoor space. Like you, PP, I'm a confirmed outside cat, never happier than when I'm posted up somewhere green with a tasty snack and a good book.

And if I can bring the snacks, even better – picnics, in my opinion, are one of the highest culinary art forms life has to offer. So imagine my dismay when I discovered that all of Austin's most beautiful outdoor spaces, from Barton Springs Pool to my favorite Greenbelt nooks, are beset with bloodsucking fiends all summer long. Between my instinctive hippie reliance on totally ineffective "natural" sprays, and what I imagine must be my extra-delicious blood (mosquitoes, unlike vampires, seem to be into garlic), I can barely venture outside in the summer months without paying the itchy price.

Big picture, though, mosquitoes are a small price to pay to get to explore what must be one of America's greatest outdoor cities. We're serious about our green space here in Austin, and our many, many restaurant patios are a reflection of that inside/outside ethos. From the winding gardens of Cenote to the tented glam of Justine's, from the sprawling porch of Radio to the pocket pool of Kitty Cohen's, Austin is a city in which outdoor drinking and dining is taken extremely seriously. So there are an infinite number of answers to your question, PP, each with their own unique charm. It all depends on what you're looking for: the laid-back, coffee-sipping vibe, or something a little more luxe. Austin has a patio to meet any culinary or aesthetic need.

It seems to me, PP, that what you're looking for is a distinctive little slice of Austin spring. Springtime, especially of the post-rainy-but-mild-winter Austinite variety, is rooted in a specific kind of baroque impracticality – a joyful abandonment of the buttoned-down sensibilities of the colder months. Spring is about turning your back on what, at the beginning of winter, seems like a delightful chance to hibernate, turn inward, spend weekends making elaborate vegetable soups, and have friends over for Netflix marathons. It's about abundance, the period before the start of swimsuit season when you start considering calories when you look at menus. Spring is about self-indulgence. And so, for me, dear PP, spring is about Sawyer & Co.

With their plastic-grass-coated patio and rows of vinyl-coated banquettes, the patio of Sawyer & Co. is hardly a wild bastion of natural excess – but hey, you can always make the five-minute drive up to the Walnut Creek bike path afterward for that. The excess at Sawyer & Co. is on the plate, with over-the-top interpretations of Southern classics that take the "more is more" approach, especially on the weekends, when their brunch service is a shining exemplar of culinary maximalism. Think bananas Foster French toast – topped with bananas, whipped cream, brown sugar, and butter-rum syrup – or the obscene concoction that is their Trailer Park Benedict: Frito pie topped with house chili, poached eggs, grilled onions, and cheddar cheese. Healthy it's not, but it's pretty fabulous – the perfect spot to enjoy the beginnings of Austin springtime. And if you stick with them through summer, all that butter might keep a few of the more health-conscious mosquitoes away, as well!

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