Take It Outside

Our picks for the best patios in Houston.

With patio weather season in full swing, Houstonians are absolutely spoiled for places to enjoy the day outside. But sometimes the choices can be overwhelming, the pressure mounting as the sun creeps up in the sky on a beautiful Saturday morning. All you know is that you're in the mood for a patio, but how do you choose? With our help, of course.

First, you pick a category. Got kids in tow? Need a place with a fine wine selection? Want something a little off the beaten path? We've got you covered.

Patios to Pretend You're on Vacation

Cafe Mawal
Troy Fields
Cafe Mawal
Backstreet Cafe
Courtesy of Backstreet Cafe
Backstreet Cafe

Location Info



708 Telephone Road
Houston, TX 77023

Category: Coffee Shops

Region: East End

Las Ventanas Restaurant and Cantina

14555 Grisby Road
Houston, TX 77079

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Memorial

Flora & Muse

12860 Queensbury Lane, Ste. 143
Houston, TX 77024

Category: Restaurant > Breakfast

Region: Outer Loop - NW

Cafe Mawal

6006 Fairdale
Houston, TX 77057

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Galleria

Backstreet Cafe

1103 S. Shepherd Dr.
Houston, TX 77019

Category: Music Venues

Region: River Oaks

Vineyard on the Square

16135 City Walk
Sugar Land, TX 77479

Category: Breweries and Wineries

Region: Outside Houston

The Grove

1611 Lamar St.
Houston, TX 77010

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Jimmy Changas

5144 Center St.
Pasadena, TX 77505

Category: Restaurant > Tex-Mex

Region: Pasadena

Red Balloon Cafe

4410 Westway Park Blvd.
Houston, TX 77041

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Outer Loop - NW

Baba Yega

2607 Grant
Houston, TX 77006

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Montrose

Grappino Di Nino

2817 W. Dallas St.
Houston, TX 77019

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: River Oaks

Moon Tower Inn

3004 Canal
Houston, TX 77003

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: East End

Mediterraneo Market & Cafe

18033 Upper Bay Road
Houston, TX 77058

Category: Restaurant > Greek

Region: Clear Lake

Plonk Beer & Wine Bistro

1214 W. 43rd St.
Houston, TX 77018

Category: Restaurant > Bistro

Region: Outer Loop - NE

Las Ventanas, 14555 Grisby Rd., 281-752-6990
Destination: Puerto Vallarta. Las Ventanas is plain old gorgeous, period. Of course, you'd expect nothing less from the guys who originally brought you Las Alamedas on Buffalo Bayou. Think Mexican resort (minus the pool and hotel) at its finest, and you have Las Ventanas.

Flora & Muse, 12860 ­Queensbury Ln., 713-463-6873
Destination: Belgium. There's something about the pan-European menu — French here, Turkish there, high tea and Belgian waffles — that gives this Flora & Muse the vibe that you're in the crossroads of Europe, perhaps Brussels or Bruges. The invitingly shaded patio that obscures a view of CityCentre and the parking garages helps, too.

Cafe Mawal, 6006 Fairdale, 713-977-1999
Destination: Jordan. Is there anything more exotic-on-a-budget than dining on freshly cooked Jordanian cuisine and smoking shisha in an authentic Bedouin tent, its thick walls and low floor keeping you cool even during the scorching summer? Order the house special — Mawal-style chicken — and a cold glass of Arabic tea before indulging in the tobacco. We recommend double-apple.

Patios to Drink a Glass of Wine (or Several)

Backstreet Cafe, 1103 S. Shepherd, 713-521-2239
With one of the best sommeliers in the city — Sean Beck — and one of the prettiest patios, Backstreet is a surefire bet for this category. If you dress up, you can pretend like you're a Lady Who Lunches, even if only for the afternoon. And to quote Robb Walsh, the best thing about Backstreet Cafe is that "the food is better than it has to be."

Vineyard on the Square, 16135 City Walk, Sugar Land, 281-277-1851
Much like Cru in The Woodlands, the strength of the Vineyard's patio is its great people-watching along the Sugar Land Town Square. But more than just a nice patio, the Vineyard also has a state-of-the-art Enomatic wine system that allows it to offer up to 48 wines by the glass at any given time. And as at Block 7 Wine Co., you can purchase wines from its retail side to drink with no corkage fee, then take the rest home if you don't finish a bottle.

The Grove, 1611 ­Lamar, 713-337-7321
Is there a prettier sight in all of Houston than a bustling city park filled with farmers' market shoppers, little kids in swimsuits, happy dogs with Frisbees and beautiful old oak trees among the green grass? That's the view onto Discovery Green on Sundays from The Grove, although the view is equally fetching on every other day of the week — especially from the second-story patio onto the downtown skyline at dusk. Add a respectable wine list with plenty of intriguing options by the glass, and you have a stunner.

Patios to Take Your Kids

Mission Burrito, 2245 W. ­Alabama, 713-529-0535
It's the West Alabama incarnation of this burrito chain that's best for babies (or toddlers or kids), and that's because of the giant playground out front. Let your kids build their own burrito — you can't be fussy about the food when you're choosing the ingredients, right? — and then let them run it off in the mulch and on the jungle gym outside. Bonus: The place has better frozen margaritas than you'd expect, so pick a designated driver before you go.

Jimmy Changas, 5144 Center St., Pasadena, 713-575-2700
It's impossible to dislike Jimmy Changas if you have kids, especially if you have kids and you're on the southeast side of town. The palatial Tex-Mex restaurant has an enormous play area for the smaller kids, Jimmy's Jungle, and some beautiful outdoor lounging areas with fire-ringed fountains for teens who want to be cool and dine apart from their parents. The "Little Jimmys" menu also has a nice assortment of Tex-Mex items and standards like macaroni and cheese.

Red Balloon Cafe, 4410 ­Westway Park Blvd., 713-690-3114
The counter service-only Red Balloon, the fabulous little restaurant on a very not-little piece of land out in Northwest Houston, faces Carolyn Wolff Park and its generous allotment of old oaks. It's perfect for playing tag or whatever kids do these days when given green space and no portable gaming systems. We also hear that Chef Eric Grbic performs magic tricks for the kids on occasion when he's not cooking up shrimp or catfish specials.

Patios to Catch Up with Friends

Baba Yega, 2607 Grant, 713-522-0042
If the patio at Baba Yega were a person, it would be the Queen Mother. No other patio in Houston quite holds a candle to this sprawling, lush, quirky, sunny, wonderfully unique outdoor area that's expanded several times over the years. Even the "indoor area" has a patio feel to it, with views onto the beautifully landscaped gardens and fountains. There isn't a bad spot in the entire place, and the Sunday brunch buffet is the perfect way to catch up with your friends after a long week. (It's also the ideal kickoff spot for Sunday Funday, just saying.)

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