Best Houston Restaurant Patios in Timbergrove, Lazybrook and Shady Acres
Some of Houston’s most-overlooked dining neighborhoods are Timbergrove and Lazybrook — which are west of White Oak Bayou — and Shady Acres, to the east. Often, restaurants in these areas get rolled into articles about the Heights, but these are unique neighborhoods in their own part of town.
(Just ask someone who lives in the Heights, and they’ll tell you what is not considered “the Heights”.)
Collectively, these neighborhoods offer some of Houston’s most cozy, laid-back and attractive restaurant patios. The whole area, in fact, is undergoing a renaissance that includes a revamped hike-and-bike trail and multiple parks along the bayou. Plus, newly built town-homes and upscale apartment complexes have drawn young professionals, thus creating a demand for public, outdoor, hangout spots that range from from kid- and dog-friendly to romantic.
Perhaps it’s the ghosts of the German farmers that settled here in the 1800’s or the microbreweries that cluster along White Oak Bayou, but many of the restaurants here have a vintage ice-house feel. That doesn’t mean all you’ll find is wings and beer. There is also bánh mì and beer, jambalaya and beer, bulgogi and beer, and schnitzel and beer! That’s a lot of beer, but don’t worry, wine enthusiasts: Rainbow Lodge, Crisp and the Barking Pig all offer substantial by-the-glass and bottle lists.
The Boot, 206 West 20th: Play a round of washers at this Cajun shack and beer house. Authentic Louisiana grub sets this place apart, while paper towel rolls signal that it’s okay to eat with your hands. You will need them for the spicy boiled crawfish, shrimp and snow crab. Add a side of boiled smoked pork sausage or potatoes and corn if you like. The chicken and sausage gumbo is made with dark roux and the crawfish étouffée is a local favorite.
Another way to get your hands (pleasantly) dirty is by diving into an oyster or Spicy Buffalo Chicken Po-Boy, both of which come with Leidenheimer bread, lettuce, mayo and pickles. Abita beer from Covington, Louisiana is the beer of choice.
The Barking Pig, 2307 Ella: This patio has ample cover, twinkling lights and a stand of tall bamboo that adds some privacy to the dining area. Counter service that doesn’t take itself too seriously pairs with live music and theme nights (like ’80s night and Doggy Day). The menu is primed for group settings with shareable dishes such as the hummus platter loaded with feta, cucumber, spicy chickpeas, tomatoes, olives and naan. Pizza comes in many forms such as The Gunslinger with Sweet Baby Ray BBQ sauce, pulled pork, cheddar cheese, jalapeños, pickled red onions and mozzarella. The Brussels sprouts come highly recommended, as does the fried chicken served with pickles. There is also a full bar and a substantial wine and beer list.
Cedar Creek, 1034 West 20th: An actual creek runs through the sprawling patio of this Hill Country-themed bar and grill. The sail- and tree-shaded decks are rustically outfitted with corrugated metal and painted wooden signs. The menu offers appetizers such as Crispy Cauliflower in buffalo sauce with ranch and Frickles (fried pickle chips) served on plain trays, while Frozen Country Ass Tea and other frozen drinks are served in Mason jars.
Cedar Creek also serves entrées such as fish tacos with grilled or fried mahi-mahi, and burgers like the Deep Woods Burger with smoked gouda, garlic butter and grilled mushrooms and onions.
Mixed drinks are named for Texas people, places and things, such as the Ladybird made with white rum, strawberry and Topo Chico, and the Frio Mojito named for the Texas river. A full menu of coffee drinks are provided by Katz’s Coffee. Try the Cuban Breve, raw sugar-infused espresso with steamed half-and-half. Pets are welcome.
Crisp, 2220 Bevis: The mild-mannered facade of this Shady Acres wine bar hides a fantastic backyard. Scattered throughout the grounds are pergolas, fountains, shady, umbrella-shaded patio tables and even a ping pong table. The cuisine is based on the Italian roots of its operating partners, Al and Angelo Scavelli, and is complemented by an extensive wine selection. Wines can be tasted before investing in a whole bottle thanks to the Enomatic wine preservation system, which keeps open bottles in perfect condition. You will find old-world red wine choices such as the Ca’ Marcanda ‘Promis’ Super Tuscan from Italy.
The red wines tend to be perfect matches for the classic Italian fare like Mama’s Lasagna, made with house sausage and Italian cheeses, and Saffron Arancini: fried risotto balls served with an orange and thyme vinaigrette. There is also a large selection of Texas craft beers, as well as a small number of spirits and cocktails. Crisp does not allow pets but welcomes kiddos.
Dak & Bop, 1805 West 18th: Korean-style fried chicken put this Timbergrove staple on the map, which offers a enclosed patio that gets lots of natural light. The chicken is twice-fried and served with your choice of four sauces: a mild soy garlic, medium spicy, hot-and-spicy or sriracha honey lime. This local, independently owned restaurant with clear Houston influences also serves Kimchi Fries layered with caramelized kimchi, hoisin sauce, “kombak” (comeback) sauce, candied gochujang sauce, green onions, cilantro and sesame seeds, and Bulgogi French Dip, a sandwich stuffed with thinly sliced ribeye, short rib pâté, caramelized onions and smoked provolone. It’s served with bulgogi au jus for dipping.
Vegetarians can try Mama M’s Eggplant Parm Sandwich, a brioche bun filled with Parmesan bread crumb-crusted eggplant, kombak sauce, gochujang pomodoro and crispy Parmesan chips. There is also a full bar with spirits, cocktails wine and beer.
Hughie’s 1802 West 18th: The original location of this bar and grill combines an ice house sensibility with Vietnamese and Southern comfort food. It’s partly covered patio is outfitted with fans and natural wood benches. Dishes include from Country Fried Steak — a battered filet mignon in sausage and bacon gravy (you can even get it with an egg on top) and Lemongrass Tofu sautéed with sliced jalapeños, bell pepper and onion. Bánh mì come in seven varieties, including classic grilled pork and tofu. You will find over 20 beers on tap with gems such as Dollar Pils Y’all by Hollar Brewing. Hughies also carries a selection of natural wines like Cueva Vi Viu Ancestral Syrah 2018.
Hubcap Grill, 1133 West 19th: This classic hamburger joint has been quietly adding coverings to its front patio, and it also has a huge backyard that’s perfect for outdoor events. There you’ll find a stage for live music and, of course, old hubcaps everywhere as lowbrow decor. Hubcap Grill’s claim to fame is its burgers, which have been recognized as some of the best both locally and nationally — and the hand-cut fries are also excellent. The Hatch Green Chili Burger is an example of a seasonal selection, but most of the menu, which includes the Cheesy Crunchy Burger with cheese puffs and cheese sauce and the Black and Blue Burger with bacon and chunky fresh blue cheese dressing, is available year-round.
A few picks on the fry side: Hell Fries are loaded with cayenne and chili powder and served with Sriracha mayo and jalapeños, and the Texas Fries are smothered with chili, cheese, jalapeños, onions and Krystal hot sauce.
The selection of beers is lined up on a shelf above the ordering window and is comprised mostly of selections from local and Texas breweries, as well as some standard domestics like Bud Light.
Kings Bierhaus, 2044 East T.C. Jester: The parking lot and facade of this German-inspired restaurant hides a biergarten with a fountain-fed pond and a separate gated area for private parties and events. The menu vibe is cheeky and fun, with dish names such as Inglorious Bastard, which is a chicken schnitzel sandwich with mushrooms and Swiss cheese.
There is also a large selection of sausages, from the traditional scharfe kasewurst (smoked pork and beef sausage with cheddar and red pepper) to the exotic rabbit and rattlesnake sausage. There are even plant-based sausages, like the Smoked Apple Sage made with Yukon gold potatoes, apples and sage and smoked over hickory. Guests can try any of the sausages hot-dog style or on a board with a choice of sides. Schweinshaxen, a crispy, 2.5-pound pork shank served with sauerkraut, Austrian potato salad, and apple horseradish, is served only on weekends.
Of course, there are plenty of beer choices, as well as an underrated whiskey selection. Drink a Hofbräu Dunkel from a keepsake two-and-a-half liter boot or a more modest half- or one-liter glass.
Preslee’s, 1430 West 19th: This sprawling patio wraps around the parking lot in a series of turns that reveal games, firepits, Instagram opportunities and a seemingly endless number of swinging chairs. The family-friendly menu includes kid-favorites such as corny dogs and chicken tenders. Families and groups can also enjoy playful dishes like smoked turkey legs stuffed with mac and cheese, Frito pie with spicy chili, queso, jalapeños, bacon green onions and ranch. More homestyle favorites, like chicken pot pie, can be ordered with sides like sweet yams and fried okra. The playground-style patio welcomes kids, pets and “fire-pit lovers.”
Rainbow Lodge, 2011 Ella: Multiple walkways and platforms wind around trees and a gentle stream at this wild-game haven built behind a 100-plus year old log cabin. The outdoor seating area was also just outfitted with all-new patio furniture.
Rainbow Lodge is indeed a feast for the eyes, but that’s certainly not its only positive attribute. In addition to chef Mark Schmidt’s dishes featuring elk, venison and pheasant, guests can expect seafood, steaks and vegetarian options. Start with a luxurious Lobster and Avocado Wedge Salad with bacon and jewel tomatoes on little gem lettuce with buttermilk herb dressing. South Texas Nilgai Antelope Loin is served with smoked mustard glacé and served atop jalapeño, cheddar and bacon grits. Seafood lovers may want to try Seared Alaskan Halibut Filet or Garlic Blue Crab Claws with broccolini sautéed with Texas 1015 onions and Calabrian chilis. Vegetarians can feast on Sweet Potato Flautas served with charred mushroom salsa, avocado crema and pickled onion.
Beverage director Marc Borel sources wines and spirits from across the globe. Selections such as the French Les Grandes Mises Mommessin Gamay, 2015 and Haitian Barbancourt Rhum are worthy of exploration. Come early to enjoy the Tied Fly Bar, which was recently the subject of a gorgeous remodeling.