7 Great Restaurant Patios East of Downtown Houston
As the grip of COVID-19 and its associated fears begin to lessen, restaurant dining rooms are once again feeling like havens. Regardless, with the promise of fresh air and space to spread out, outdoor seating is still a big draw for Houstonians. Plus, there are the added benefits of chirping birds and people-watching — simple pleasures to lift one’s spirit after being cooped up so much this past year.
Houston has plenty of options when it comes to dining al fresco. That includes east of downtown, especially with the new restaurants that have cropped up over the past few years. Both EaDo (formerly “old Chinatown”) and East End District (part of the Second Ward) are lovely areas to explore. Each has particular appeal for residents and visitors who seek shady streets, sunny verandas and an eclectic assortment of architecture, art displays and community events.
Although places that have a few sidewalk tables are appreciated, these aren’t included due to the lack of a dedicated patio space. Looking for patios in other parts of the Greater Houston areas? Read our giant list of restaurant patios across the area. There’s a dedicated list for Sugar Land, too. Watch for more neighborhood patio round-ups in the near future.
Acadian Coast, 2929 Navigation: The street-adjacent patio at this New Orleans-style eatery has traditional tables and bar seating. The Creole and Cajun-inspired menu includes classic dishes such as Snapper Pontchartrain and Boudin Balls. To shake things up, there are Grilled Oysters Rockefeller that swap kale and Havarti cheese sauce for traditional spinach and cream. The Shrimp Rogue offers another twist that employs a fermented pepper sauce alongside blackened shrimp.
Visit for Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for favorites such as beignets served with a choice of chicory chocolate or berry compote, Steak & Eggs (44 Farms filet mignon with eggs and potatoes) and decadent Mushroom Ravioli filled with fresh crimini mushrooms and walnut butter, and drenched in a traditional sauce piquant. Keep the New Orleans vibe flowing with a Hurricane cocktail made with dark and light rum, orange, passion fruit, lime and grenadine.
District 7 Grill Eado, 1508 Hutchins: This oak-shaded patio evokes backyard comfort. The fast-casual service of this growing Houston restaurant company contrasts with elevated fare such as osso buco (braised pork shank with grilled asparagus) and crab cakes with avocado, charred onion and poblano pepper.
Brunch is served daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Choose from Braised Beef Benedict with poached eggs, arugula and hollandaise and choice of fruit or grits, or the short stack of pancakes. There are oysters, too, and these are available raw or grilled. Dressing choices for the grilled variety are Buffalo-style, bacon jam or lemon-garlic. District 7 also serves hand-tossed pizzas with a variety of toppings such as the Back Yard Pizza with artichoke, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, Parmesan, pepperoncini, shredded mozzarella and red sauce.
El Tiempo, 2814 Navigation: Start your visit by making a wish in the Pegasus fountain, and then enjoy the sound of the flowing water as you dine café-style. Order from a classic — and vast — menu filled with Mexican standards, including an expansive parradilla (grilled meat) section. Options include lobster, carnitas, traditional beef fajitas and more. Each is served on an individual fire pit, called an anafre, that is brought to the table while the meat is still hot and sizzling. Try toppings such as Durango, a blend of tomatoes, bacon, jalapeños and cilantro.
For a twist on enchiladas, try the Jumbo Lump Crab Enchies served with either marisco cream or vegetarian red sauce. There is lighter fare, too, such as the refreshing Mango and Jicama salad, which includes diced strawberries tossed in a black pepper mango sauce.
Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and features Crepe-Style Pecan Pancakes with butter syrup, fruit and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Leeland House, 2119 Leeland: This neighborhood hangout has a veranda in front and a sail-shaded patio in the back. Choose from light dishes such as Thai Steak Salad that comes with marinated steak, mango, tomato, Thai basil, mint, cilantro and chopped peanuts, or go for the substantial Short Rib Pappardelle with shishito peppers, shiitake mushrooms, Boursin cheese and Parmesan. Brunch is served Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and occasionally features a live jazz band. Specials include the Big Daddy Benedict served on a croissant with local chorizo and avocado-jalapeño crema. Order a pitcher of the Hibiscus Mimosa to share with friends.
The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, 2704 Navigation: A shady and secluded patio is the perfect spot to try the fajitas that made this long-standing neighborhood gem famous. Of course there are the mainstays: beef, chicken or vegetables, but creative options also abound. Choose wood-fire grilled quail, Bacon-Wrapped Diablo Shrimp, Portobello Fajitas or Brisket Picadillo Chile Relleno as the base. Next, select toppings such as Berry (a combination of tomato, onion, jalapeño and mushroom named for a loyal customer) or Chihuahua (bacon, cheese, onion and pepper).
Guest-favorite traditional dishes include Ground Beef Enchiladas with beef gravy and cheddar cheese and Texas Redfish modernized with chipotle aioli, cole slaw, pico de gallo and poblano rice. Wash it down with a Ninfarita — a large, tangy margarita made with 100% silver agave tequila. It is not for the weak of heart, and neither is the sangria, made with red wine, tequila, whiskey, fruit and spices. These are available by the glass or pitcher.
Ninfa’s serves brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit for the brunch-only Red Chile Pork Pozole. This pork-hominy soup with avocado, onions, sour cream and a queso fresco tostada alongside is a traditional hangover cure. There are also daily Breakfast Tacos for under $5 each from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tiny Champions, 2617 McKinney: The sister restaurant of Nancy’s Hustle has a spacious backyard patio. Chef Jason Vaughn and his team prepare naturally leavened pizza, fermented vegetables and housemade pastas. The plate of pickled vegetables is a nice starter before moving on to heartier entrées. The latter include creative pizzas like Kale+Chard topped with ricotta, mozzarella and pickled garlic or the Sausage Pizza with sausage, mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil, peppers and onions.
Additional intriguing main dishes include Saffron Mafalda — is a flat, ribbon-like pasta covered in braised lamb with green olives and orange — and Escabeche, a chilled mackerel served with fennel and paprika.
Finish with a sweet treat from pastry chef Julia Doran, such as housemade ice cream in flavors like Malt/Hazelnut Praline with the diner’s choice of toppings from an extensive list that includes Toasted Meringue or Blackberry Caramel. Beverage specialist Sean Jensen developed a cool cocktail menu with options like Love Pusher, a mix of vermouth, mezcal sour, strawberry and fennel, and sommelier Bridget Paliwoda has curated a lovely wine list, too.
Vinny’s Pizza, 1201 Saint Emanuel: Enjoy a beer and a slice of pizza in this industrial atrium filled with natural light. Agricole Hospitality partners Ryan Pera, Morgan Weber and Vincent Huynh make their own pepperoni, source local 44 Farms beef, handcraft a whopping 52-ounce pizza and charge just $4 a slice. There are classic pizzas, including Cheese Pizza with mozzarella and tomato sauce or more exotic selections such as the Meatzilla with pepperoni, Angus beef, fatback bacon, tomato sauce, provolone and chili flakes. Gluten-free pizza is available upon request.
The menu also goes beyond pizza, with selections such as the Big Baller meatball sub served on a La Reyna bolillo with tomato sauce and three cheeses, and the Judy Chop salad made with housemade pepperoni, blue cheese crumbles, iceberg lettuce, red onions, tomato and topped with buttermilk dressing.