The 10 Best Patios in Houston

Get outside and eat.

As it was my first time at LKRO, we wanted to get a good feel for the menu, which was vast. The deviled eggs topped with fried oysters were a must-have. One of the signature items, it epitomized Southern comfort — simple, down-home food amped up a notch with a fried oyster on top. Equally delicious was the daily special of U-10 scallop served sashimi-style with a Thai-style spicy sauce, which came from the raw bar.

Did you know that LKRO offers caviar service? An almost inconspicuous line item on the menu, California Royal Osetra caviar is available, served with warm blinis, shallots, crème fraîche and eggs. It was definitely a decadent indulgence but decidedly amazing.

The evening hit an all-time high even before we got to my original reason for visiting, when the chef brought out a medium-size porcelain and bamboo steamer. Lenig made ingenious use of the container, not as a steamer but as a vessel for smoking. Hickory wood chips had been heated and placed in the bottom compartment of the steamer so that smoke permeated the top compartment, infusing a cold slab of A5 Japanese wagyu with a rich, smoky flavor and aroma. The wagyu alone — intensely marbled and so tender you could cut it with a fork — would have been spectacular, but Lenig added seared foie gras on top to make it a blow-your-mind dish. I had to slow things down so I could revel in the moment and commit to memory the taste, texture and smell of that dish — it was insanely crazy, stupid good.

Spice up your life with some tapas on Batanga's quaint patio.
Courtesy of Batanga
Spice up your life with some tapas on Batanga's quaint patio.
A little bit of the Hill Country in Houston at Cedar Creek.
Courtesy of Cedar Creek
A little bit of the Hill Country in Houston at Cedar Creek.

Still to come, because we'd ordered it and had come expressly to try it, was the prime rib. It was everything that the picture I'd seen had promised, and then some. When you order it, Lenig rolls out the shiny cart himself, then proceeds to perform this dramatic knife-sharpening act. All around you, people stop eating and turn to watch as he quickly, repeatedly drags the knife across the sharpening tool, a mischievous glint in his eye. Then comes the moment of glory as he slices a generous cut of prime rib onto a plate before covering it with a ladle of deep brown au jus. An order of prime rib also comes with a choice of sides, and we received sautéed asparagus, onion rings and creamed spinach as accompaniments.

It was, of course, one helluva prime rib. Juicy and flavorful, with a thickly charred, salted outer crust, it reminded me of my first prime rib fine-dining experience at the famous Lawry's The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills years ago. Back then I also had a tableside carving experience, but it was a much more formal affair served by someone clad in a toque and chef's whites and gloves. At LKRO, you get all the pomp and circumstance of tableside service without the stiff formality of a place like Lawry's — much better, in my opinion, and just as memorable.

Restaurant News

Openings & Closings
The food truck expansion continues.

Molly Dunn

It's been a busy time for the Heights neighborhood as several restaurants and bars have opened their doors and some have announced future plans to set up shop.

The new Piatto Ristorante opened in the Heights on April 14 at 1111 Studewood. The location joins Liberty Kitchen and Ruggles Green on the same intersection. This Piatto, like the one in the Galleria area, features dishes from recipes passed down by John Carrabba's family and his wife, Janice's. Both locations feature several new menu items as well, and the Heights restaurant has an expanded bar offering craft beers, boutique wines and specialty cocktails, like a frozen bellini called the Piattolini.

Swamplot notes that the previous location of Country Kitchen on West 11th Street has been transformed into Warehouse Bar & Chill. Eater reports that the new Heights location, where you can enjoy a gourmet burger and local beer on an expansive outdoor patio, will be open within the next week.

Urban Kitchen may have opened a month ago, but the new Memorial restaurant is starting to draw attention for its selection of indulgent comfort foods and lighter, healthier options. Last week, Eater shared the new family restaurant's dinner menu, which features standard American options like baked spinach artichoke dip for an appetizer, plus flatbreads and burgers for main courses. The entrée offerings vary from hearty fettuccine Alfredo with chicken to light herb-crusted seared salmon with a quinoa salad topped with a citrus vinaigrette.

Get ready for another El Tiempo Cantina. The Webster location at 20235 Gulf Freeway should be open by June. It was announced in January that the restaurant would open in May, but the owners are aiming for June instead. According to a statement, owner and executive chef Domenic Laurenzo says there are a lot of loyal customers in the Webster and Clear Lake area, and that was the reason for opening one closer to where those customers live. This will be the sixth El Tiempo Cantina.

Is a food wagon the same thing as a food truck? Regardless, Landry's Inc. has opened its first food wagon to cater events at Landry's properties, and it's serving crawfish. The wagon will operate only during crawfish season and can produce up to 1,000 pounds of mudbugs in an hour. The next two events are at the Kemah Boardwalk April 25-27 at Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier for Crawfish Weekend. Crawfish on the go? Yes, please!

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