Houston Restaurants to Know
The Best Restaurant Patios in Houston
Patios used to be a rare sight in Houston, probably owing to the region’s notorious heat. However, in the mid-2000s, these relaxing outdoor venues started cropping up all over town. Some establishments simply added rows of tables wherever they could, while others built elaborate outdoor eating spaces. In the before-times, you might have even called it a trend. Now, patios and patio bars are a common sight.
Restaurant patios are as diverse as the city’s people. From elegant balcony terraces to playgrounds built for adult kids, there is something for every kind of patron. Since COVID-19 is still a major concern in the Houston-area, its made alfresco dining more appealing than dining indoors, despite the heat. Consider wearing breathable cotton clothing and a straw hat to help alleviate the temperature.
When you do, make it a better experience for you, the staff and fellow guests by following the minimum Health Protocols for Restaurant Customers that have been established by the State of Texas. These include minimizing in-person contact, maintaining six feet of distance from those not in your party, washing or sanitizing your hands frequently and wearing a face covering when entering or exiting the restaurant or are interacting with restaurant staff. Even if you don’t agree with the rules, remember: the staff didn’t make them, so there’s no reason to be unkind.
When you are ready to venture back to outdoor dining, here’s a list of some of Houston’s best restaurant patios, including shaded hideaways, discreet terraces and sprawling biergartens.
a’Bouzy 2300 Westheimer, (713) 722-6899: Perch at this Westheimer-facing patio and order exotic Champagnes or other wines. The extensive menu offers delights for every budget, such as Jacquesson “Dizy Corne Bautry” Millesime 07′ Extra Brut Non Dose 2007 and California red Clos Saron “Stone Soup.” Pair these wines with an eclectic menu of French dishes that incorporate southern flair. Some of those selections include Boudin Stuffed Quail and Seafood Bouillabaisse Pasta. a’Bouzy is very popular, particularly during weekend brunch, and reservations are highly recommended.
The Annie Café & Bar, 1800 Post Oak Blvd, (713) 804-1800: This terraced patio overlooks the Galleria’s polished surroundings. Chef Robert Del Grande sources local ingredients for dishes such as Wild Mushroom Soup with duck prosciutto and huitlacoche and wood-grilled Lamb Chops with roasted hominy and guajillo chili. On Fridays, there is a Chicken Fried Texas Wagyu special. There are also tempting cocktails that pair beautifully with the outdoor atmosphere. Try the summery Dreamsicle made with white rum, dry curaçao, Mathilde XO Orange, vanilla and cream.
Antica Osteria, 2311 Bissonnet, (713) 521-1155: A tree-shaded pergola hides the patio from the street at this Tuscan osteria in the Rice Village area. The simple elegance of the space is also reflected in its food. The Italian menu is restrained and refined with dishes such as Bresaola Valtellina, or thin slices of air-cured beef filet with truffle oil, and Trota In Padella, a pan-sautéed rainbow trout with capers and herbs. The wine list is built around intriguing Italian varietals like the Masi Amarone Riserva from 2012.
Axelrad, 1517 Alabama, (713) 597-8800 and Luigi’s, 3700 Almeda, (281) 793-3333: These two establishments share one of Houston’s biggest and most eclectic patios. There are colorful hammocks and sling chairs lining the outer edges of this grown-up playground, with picnic tables and Acapulco chairs filling the rest. Luigi’s serves Italian staples such as pizzas and subs. Popular options are the White Pizza topped with mushrooms and Alfredo sauce or the Chicken Parmesan Sub. Both are great accompaniments to craft beers, conveniently available at Axelrad. The extensive selection of rotating brews includes Pear of Peaches IPA from Colorado and locally made Russian Imperial Stout from Saint Arnold Brewing Company. If Italian food isn’t to your liking, food trucks are regularly stationed on the property. Axelrad frequently hosts live music events, fundraisers and even movies on the giant outdoor screen, so be sure to check out the Facebook page for the latest goings-on.
B.B. Lemon, 1809 Washington (713) 554-1809: In the recently added cabanas, guests can chill with a socially distant vibe. The seafood-focused menu has a Cajun twist with crispy Blue Crab Beignets and Pistachio Crusted Fried Shrimp. Carnivores can appreciate a smattering of meat dishes such as Pork Schnitzel with brown butter spaetzle and a poached egg. The cocktails keep a variety of palates in mind. Try the Social Butterfly made with tequila, passion fruit syrup and apricot liqueur.
B & B Butchers 1814 Washington, (713) 862-1814: This popular Houston steakhouse specializes in exceptional aged beef, which is especially lovely when enjoyed on the rooftop patio with views of Houston’s downtown skyline. Try the 55-Day Dry-Aged Wagyu Ribeye from Marfa or the vegetarian-friendly Strozzapreti Genovese — a satisfying dish of housemade pasta, basil pesto, fingerling potatoes and green beans. There are also hearty seafood dishes, such as Bacon and Lobster Mac and Cheese.
Backstreet Cafe, 1103 South Shepherd, (713) 521-2239: One of Houston’s most classic patios is still one of its best. Shaded by large oak trees and anchored with a gentle fountain, the backyard of this River Oaks establishment is a great place to enjoy Jalapeño Fettuccine made with chicken, tomatoes, black beans and cilantro or Pan-Seared Striped Bass with charred tomato, romesco and seasonal vegetables. The Corn Pudding is great on its own, but be sure to save room for Hazelnut Chocolate Banana Pudding with vanilla shortbread cookies, homemade Nutella and crisp vanilla meringue.
Bar Boheme, 307 Fairview, (713) 529-1099: This sprawling patio includes hideaway booths for a private evening with a friend or a significant other. The specialty here is wine, and you will find a rotating list of diverse choices. The food, prepared in a nearby food truck and brought to your table by servers, includes Argentinian Beef Empanadas spiced with cumin, oregano and house chimichurri and Truffle Mushroom Pizza crafted with wild mushrooms, garlic, mozzarella, truffle salt, rosemary and truffle oil. Adults can appease their inner children with slushie-style drinks like the Frozen Rosé, which offers a chilly twist on a traditional glass of wine.
Brasil, 2604 Dunlavy, (713) 528-1993: After you enter this coffeehouse with deep roots, place all food and drink orders at the counter, take a table number, choose from two spacious and shaded patios and then wait for a server will bring out the goods. Select from handcrafted fare such as tamales with fillings like heritage pork or butternut squash, corn and poblano, a range of baked foods or fresh pizzas like the one loaded with fig and prosciutto. You can also sip hot and cold coffee drinks prepared with beans from local roasters Amaya Roasting and Cleo Roasting Co.
Brennan’s of Houston, 3300 Smith, (713) 522-9711: A beautiful and lush patio awaits diners at this classic New Orleans-style eatery. The Snapping Turtle Soup splashed with Lustau sherry is a house tradition and Brennan’s Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, served over chayote, a little herb salad and melted leek and roasted corn sauce, are legendary. For a little dinner drama, order Shrimp Chippewa, which is flamed tableside in Cognac with sun-dried tomatoes and served over stone ground Texas grits with goat cheese. For libations, don’t miss the Brandy Milk Punch, which is a famous and creamy treat.
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co., 2101 Summer Street, (713) 750-9795: The balcony at this brewery’s new location has a tremendous view of downtown Houston. Colorful metal furnishings lend a youthful vibe and set the tone for tasting creative small-batch beers. These brews include rich German Chocolate Cake or Y’alloha, which sports tropical fruit flavors. Visit often to avoid missing out on the limited-edition selections. The more-than-just-burgers menu features “sammies” such as Piggy Smalls — two kinds of salami, smoked ham, garlic, chili and arugula on ciabatta. It also includes pizzas like Smoke on the Bayou topped with 44 Farms slow-cooked short rib, red onions and pickled jalapeno. The creativity spills into lighter fare as well with Eggplant, Beets and Bleats salad with charred eggplant, Crush City IPA roasted beets, sumac, goat cheese and pomegranate molasses vinaigrette.
The Burger Joint, 2703 Montrose, (713) 485-6734: This versatile Montrose patio is ideal for the whole family or for friends watching sports on flat screen TVs. The burgers, fries and shakes are served at the counter. The hand-cut fries come with a choice of dipping sauce such as savory-creamy Bacon Aioli. Choose from classic burgers or creative spins like the Kimchi Burger, just one of a host of burger options that can be washed down with a locally crafted beer like 8th Wonder Rocket Fuel or a G-rated drink such as the Cookies and Cream Shake.
Cafe Mawal, 6006 Fairdale, (713) 977-1999: Enjoy a hookah and a brightly colored Kasamiro, a layered smoothie with strawberry, mango and mint on this sprawling patio just west of the Galleria. The cuisine is bright, healthy pan-Mediterranean with plenty of skewered meats such as Kafta Kabob ― spiced ground beef that’s slid onto your plate from a skewer ― and sides like Grilled Halloumi, a semi-soft Greek cheese and the pickle plate with pickled turnip, cucumber, chili and olives.
Coltivare, 3320 White Oak, (713) 637-4095: This patio is part-vegetable garden and part-deck, making the outdoor space so enticing that the owners have to guard against plant thieves. Paying guests can enjoy seasonal small plates such as gazpacho made with heirloom and backyard tomatoes, pasta dishes like Ricotta Gnocchi and pizzas topped with Revival Market pepperoni.
Eight Row Flint, 1039 Yale, (832) 767-4002: Whiskey and tacos are favorites at this Heights bar with a prominent patio. There are eight pages’ worth of whiskey selections from around the world, including well-regarded bourbons such as Weller (made these days at the Buffalo Trace distillery) and imported selections like Nikka Coffey Grain from Japan. There are also proprietary barrels of various spirits such as the L’encatada Armagnac’s Space Cowboy. The onsite food truck specializes in tacos and creative spins on bar snacks. Selections include fried and orange-glazed Shrimp Tacos and Street Corn Hushpuppies that come with queso fresco, lime scallion mayo, cilantro and chili.
Fiesta en Guadalajara, 3522 Irvington, (713) 227-1800: This patio is shaded by lush palm trees and centered with a large fountain. Expect favorites such as Ixtapa Fajitas with beef, chicken and shrimp served with all the fixings and Camaron Brochetta: jumbo shrimp stuffed with Jalapeño Jack cheese, wrapped in bacon and served with queso. Have a Tajín-rimmed margarita alongside for a complete experience.
FM Kitchen, 1112 Shepherd, (832) 804-6006: A few streets off Washington Avenue is this backyard-esque Southern patio, complete with a ping-pong table and bocce ball set. Munch on Street Corn or Loaded Tots made with pulled pork, bacon, chili, avocado, pico, queso and tater tots while you enjoy a Green Chile Cheeseburger. Be sure to checkout the specials, which include Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole on weekends and Chicken Fried Steak with black pepper bacon gravy and two southern-style sides on weekdays.
Hungry’s, 2356 Rice, (713) 523-8652 and 14714 Memorial, (281) 493-1520: Choose the upstairs or downstairs patio at the oak-lined Rice Village eatery or the outside deck next to the Memorial restaurant. Expect healthy fare in the form of pizzas, sandwiches, grains and pastas. Some great items to try include the Taos Tartare Ahi Tuna on a bed of guacamole with homestyle crisps or Organic Tricolor Quinoa Salad with turmeric roasted zucchini, broccoli, red bell pepper and red onion. For something more substantial, try the Honey Ginger Salmon with basmati rice, seasonal vegetables and garlic toast. Sophisticated cocktails such as the Green Garden with Ketel One Botanical Cucumber and Mint, lemon, agave syrup and jalapeño round out the menu.
Kau Ba Saigon, 2502 Dunlavy, (713) 497-5300: The pergola-style patio is where chef Nikki Tran serves her Vietnamese-Cajun (or “Viejun”, as she calls it) cuisine. Expect many pleasant surprises here, including the Seafood Viejun made with prawns, clams, mussels, corn, potatoes and viejun sauce and Saigon Sunrise, a pork chop with egg cake, kimchi apples, shredded pork skin and a fried egg. Don’t forget to stop inside and check out the beautifully remodeled bar area.
King’s Bierhaus, 2044 East T. C. Jester, (281) 990-3042: Hidden behind the castle-inspired facade is a biergarten with a fountain and hammock chairs. The vibe is cheeky and fun with dish names such as Inglorious Bastard, a chicken schnitzel sandwich with mushrooms and swiss cheese. There is also a big selection of sausages, from the traditional Scharfe Kasewurst — smoked pork and beef, 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 them hot-dog style or on a board with a choice of sides. Of course, there are plenty of beer selections, too. Drink a Hofbräu Dunkel from a keepsake two-and-a-half liter boot or a more modest half- or one-liter glass.
La Grange, 2517 Ralph, (832) 962-4745: Guests can get lost in this cactus adorned two-story patio tucked away in Montrose.. Choose approachable dishes like Shrimp and Crab Empanadas or Tac-itos, crispy beef and bean mini tacos served with sour cream, guacamole and salsa fresca. Drinks run the gamut from traditional to original. The latter includes the Willie Nelson’s, which is a CBD-based drink with Garden Saint George Terroir Gin, lime juice, simple syrup, CBD oil, and fresh rosemary.
Local Foods, 2555 Kirby Dr, (713) 360-6133: This courtyard patio in the Upper Kirby area is conveniently close to shopping. Fuel up, and then walk a few blocks to a variety of stores. The dishes, often made with local ingredients, skew towards the healthy side. Some examples include Vegan Meatballs with mushroom and quinoa and the popular Truffled Egg Salad served on a pretzel bun. Wash it all down with Pat Greer’s Spring Kombucha.
Lucille’s, 5512 La Branch, (713) 568-2505: In the backyard of this reimagined soul-food eatery, you can enjoy Gumbo Z’Herbes, a hard-to-find gumbo style with mixed greens. Chef Chris Williams makes his rendition with ham hock andouille and serves it with potato salad. Braised Oxtails come with serrano-cheddar grits and rich oxtail jus. Lighter fare is also available, such as the Watermelon Salad (served at brunch) with baby arugula, iced red onions and pistachios in a lemon-ginger vinaigrette or the Roasted Acorn Squash stuffed with collard greens, quinoa and kuchela (a green mango relish popular in Trinidad and Tobago).
Monkey’s Tail, 5802 Fulton, (713) 842-7188: This Near Northside bar and restaurant with front and back patios and great cocktails is a decidedly modern nod to the neighborhood. Order the Chango Burger with American cheese, chopped onions, relish and Valentina mayo or a Pastor or Barbacoa with chili sauce, cotija, mozzarella, cilantro, onion . Paired them with the cocktail of the day is served in a pouch dubbed the Que Chigao-Esto (meaning “what the heck is that?”)
The Phoenix On Westheimer, 1915 Westheimer, (713) 526-3100: There are essentially three patios at this community-centered Montrose bar and eatery: a fenced dining area that wraps around the front, one in the front parking lot and another in the back. Any of the spaces are ideal for trying Lockdown Brown, one of the many proprietary brews available at this pub with Southwestern flair. Jameson Salmon with a Jameson Whiskey glaze evokes the highlands of Ireland while Jalapeño Chicken ―stir-fried chicken with onions and jalapenos and Jasmine rice ― feels closer to home. Vegetarians won’t feel left out with Vegan Street Tacos being just one of several options.
Piggy’s Kitchen & Bar, 3412 West Lamar, (281) 849-9606: This patio is big and playful, with features such as decorative old freezers used for growing squash and cornhole for unwinding. The Chicken Fried Steak is served with bourbon gravy, mashed potatoes and broccolini. The burger choices are creative, including the Piggie Burger which replaces ground beef with smoked andouille sausage, crispy shallots and arugula. Appetizers include Pretzelaches (knockwurst kolaches) served with 1836 Beer Cheese. Don’t overlook the chicken wings. These are truly succulent, rich and tender examples because these are prepared confit-style.
Postino, 642 Yale, (346) 223-1111 and 805 Pacific, (713) 388-6767: Bright yellow umbrellas and sleek modern design mark both of Postino’s patios. Wooden boards hold a variety of creatively named antipastos. Try the Bounty, which is loaded with crispy cauliflower, seasonal vegetables and hummus or the charcuterie-focused Butcher Block. Opt for bruschetta board and choose from twelve different toppings such as Warm Artichoke Spread or Prosciutto Di Parma, Fig & Mascarpone. Interesting wines like the Greek Monograph Agiorgitiko 2018 keep the party going.
El Pueblito, 1423 Richmond, (713) 520-6635: Sit in a private cabana and enjoy complimentary Pineapple Salsa at this Montrose eatery. Seafood and fruit dishes abound, such as ceviche served in half of a pineapple or El Capitan: redfish with shrimp and mushrooms served in an orange.
Rainbow Lodge, 2011 Ella Blvd, (713) 861-8666: It’s clear why the patio at this treasured restaurant is a popular wedding destination. Multiple walkways and platforms wind around trees and over a gentle stream. There are also plenty of satisfying dishes. South Texas Nilgai Antelope Loin ― an example of the many delicious wild game dishes on the menu ― is served with smoked whole grain mustard glacé and served atop jalapeño, cheddar and bacon grits. Seafood lovers may want to try Seared Alaskan Halibut Filet with puffed rice and curried tomato sauce. Wines and spirits from across the globe like the French Les Grandes Mises Mommessin Gamay, 2015 or the Haitian Barbancourt Rhum are worthy of exploration. By the way: the Tied Fly Bar inside just was the subject of a gorgeous remodeling effort. Be sure and check it out.
Shell Shack, 2412 Washington, (844) 588-2722: Load up on shellfish at this balcony patio on Washington Avenue. Choose from snow crab, king crab, crawfish and shrimp. For a change of pace, try the Alligator Tenders served with a choice of two sauces. The seafood is available boiled with a seasoning choice or served as a package like the Date Night, which includes snow crab, boiled shrimp, king crab, corn, potatoes and sausage.
Songkran Thai Kitchen, 1101 Uptown Park: Believe it or not, it’s possible to have a little outdoor seclusion in Uptown Park. Just to the left of Songkran Thai Kitchen’s front door is a shaded patio under an arched walkway. There you can enjoy refined Thai fare such as Kari Puff (curry potato puff), Nuea Sawan (Heavenly Beef with sriracha sauce) and Kang Phet Ped Yang, or crispy duck in red curry. The wine list sports plenty of popular domestic brands, as well as intriguing imports from Italy and France, and there’s a cocktail program as well.
Tiny Boxwoods 3614 West Alabama, (713) 622-4224: A quiet, tree-lined patio and a chalkboard menu greet guests at this shabby-chic cafe. Indulge in refreshing, non-alcoholic drinks such as Orange Julia, a frothy orange juice concoction, or grab a bottle of Spanish 1994 Urbina Gran Reserva Rioja for something a little more festive. Most of the dishes are light and healthy, like Avocado Toast with lime, salt, red pepper, honey, organic sourdough and fried egg alongside bacon and heirloom tomatoes. There are also more indulgent dishes, such as Espresso-Rubbed Ribeye with baby heirloom tomatoes, chimichurri and fries.
Turkey Leg Hut, 4830 Almeda, (832) 787-0770: Owners Lynn and Nakia Price keep it lively and fun at this Third Ward/Museum District eatery Don’t try picking up your Hennessey Glazed Turkey Leg; the meat will fall right off the bone. While you have that fork handy, share the Cajun Crawfish Mac and Cheese Stuffed Turkey Leg with a friend because the portions are huge. Drinks are boisterous and boozy like the Side Piece made with cognac, Triple Sec and homemade sweet and sour that is served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass.