Modern-rustic dining patio at Texas French Bread

December 04, 2019

All you really need for a garden, as Phoenix landscape architect Steve Martino says, are a tree, a chair, a wall, and a little water. The rustic-modern patio at Texas French Bread reminded me of this when I stopped by for lunch yesterday. Designed by Christy Ten Eyck, the patio’s clean-lined, semi-industrial design — rusty steel pipe and board-formed concrete predominate — shows the power of a shade structure (there are trees also), simple seating, low defining walls, and a bubbling trough fountain to create an inviting outdoor space.

McNICHOLS wire mesh, a signature design element for Ten Eyck, filters Austin’s intense sunlight atop a large pergola of rusty steel pipe. String lights hang in straight lines beneath the pergola and across the patio, allowing nighttime use. Planted in raised beds of board-formed concrete, billowing native grasses, leafy small trees, and Mickey Mouse-eared spineless prickly pear screen the patio from the street. If only the seating had been a little more inviting. There was a bar-height table and a regular table with a couple of hard stools. I got the feeling much of the seating had been moved elsewhere.

Another of Ten Eyck’s signature elements, a trough-style, board-formed concrete fountain sits alongside the main walk into the patio from the restaurant across the parking lot. The metal grate on the walk bridges a sunken rain garden, abloom with native Gulf muhly, including a white cultivar of the normally pink-flowering grass.

The other end of the patio contains three long beer-garden-style picnic tables. A tall wall along the back provides enclosure, and the low wall at left retains and separates the patio from the rain garden, where fruit trees offer additional screening amid the muhly grasses. A massive, gnarled live oak shades the tables.

At the door, a vertical strip of metal displays welded-on succulent planter boxes zigzagging up the side. Drainage holes in each box allow water to drip directly into the box below.

But back to the dining patio, where fruit trees and a fluffy swath of pink and white Gulf muhly greet you from the sunken rain garden as you park your car.

The outer edge of the garden along the public sidewalk is equally appealing, with grasses and spineless prickly pear planted block-style beneath a screen of trees.

Kudos to Texas French Bread for investing in a beautiful and sustainable design for their dining patio.

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