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Head West for the Best Views
While Austin doesn’t have any mountain or ocean views, we have a wealth of lakes and hills. In downtown Austin, there are only a few restaurants along Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake). Most of these, such as Trio, are at basically the same elevation as the lake; the views are nice but not as dramatic as a hilltop view.
The mother of all hilltop views can be found at the Oasis on Lake Travis in far northwest Austin. The terrain on the west side of Austin is much hillier than downtown, so the opportunities for great views increase significantly as you travel west. At Lucy's Fried Chicken on Lake Travis, the stunning sunsets are complemented by an eclectic lineup of live music.
The most laid-back place to wrap up a day at the lake is Ski Shores Cafe on Lake Austin. You don’t even need to change out of your swimsuit. Just grab a burger and a brew and watch the boats glide by.
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Ski Shores Cafe
After a day of swimming or water skiing, Ski Shores Cafe on Lake Austin is the perfect place to wind down and enjoy a hamburger, a beer and the view. It's only a short drive from Emma Long Metropolitan Park, which has a mile of lakefront and a dog-friendly hiking trail.
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A series of tiered decks and patios provides a breathtaking view of the sunset for hundreds of diners at The Oasis every night. As the sun goes down, the crowd erupts in applause for Mother Nature's nightly show. The restaurant often has live music and dancing at the bar. As of summer 2016, the lake is full, which means the crowds are also back. Expect to wait at least an hour for a table.
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At Z'Tejas Arboretum, diners can enjoy a gorgeous view of the Texas hill country while devouring some of the best, if non-traditional, Mexican food in Austin. Don't miss the five-cheese macaroni and achiote chicken.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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The food is a strange but wonderful blend of Polynesian and Mexican influences, but the main attraction at the Hula Hut is the lakeside view. A small dock is available for those arriving by boat. Located only about four miles west of downtown Austin, Hula Hut is convenient even though it has the feel of an exotic vacation spot.
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Steiner Ranch Steakhouse
Breathtaking views can be seen from the interior, through floor-to-ceiling windows, or the huge outdoor patio at Steiner Ranch Steakhouse. In addition to steak, the restaurant serves chicken-fried elk and redfish.
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Roaring Fork Stonelake
Overlooking Quarry Lake, Roaring Fork serves everything from fancy hamburgers to seared scallops in an upscale, but non-stuffy, atmosphere. The green chili mac and cheese is a must-try. The area around the outdoor fireplace is a nice spot to enjoy a drink during cool weather.
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Abel's on the Lake
You can steer your boat right up to the dock at Abel's on Lake Austin. The menu ranges from pulled pork sliders to dry rub salmon. The food is pretty good but only a notch or two above typical bar food. The real attraction here is the lake view and the festive atmosphere.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Trio at the Four Seasons
The outdoor patio at Trio overlooks a lush lawn and the hike and bike trail along Lady Bird Lake. Trio's menu includes everything from steaks and seafood to wild game and hearty salads.
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Lucy's Fried Chicken on the Lake
In addition to a fantastic view of Lake Travis, Lucy's Fried Chicken features a sprawling outdoor patio. Beyond the amazing fried chicken, the menu also includes specialties such as West Texas Red Chili and Lucy's Cajun Broil.