For six months a year, Houston is tailor-made for outdoor activities. The other six months...well, not so much. Unfortunately, the better half of the calendar is winding down, and scorching temperatures are on the way. Act fast, Houston — you’ve got about one month left of quality outdoor good-timing.
With that in mind, here are the ten best Houston bars that provide a top-notch outdoor experience.
10. 8TH WONDER BREWERY/KARBACH BREWING CO. (TIE)
This brewery battle is too close to call. Both offer an array of outstanding beers and ample outdoor space. Both are dog- and kid-friendly and offer quality food options. And both get jam-packed on weekends when the weather is nice – so be prepared to wait in line a bit to get your beer tokens and/or beer. Live music and sports on TV will help pass the time. (8th Wonder: 2202 Dallas, 8thwonderbrew.com; Karbach: 2032 Karbach, karbachbrewing.com)
9. LA GRANGE
One of the best patios in Houston. Not only does La Grange feature a standard outdoor bar patio – serving up a unique array of cocktails – but its elevated terrace offers a view of all that Montrose has to offer. As a bonus, the coastal Mexican food is legit. (2517 Ralph, lagrangehouston.com)
8. BROOKLYN ATHLETIC CLUB
A classy patio in every sense of the word, Brooklyn Athletic Club doesn’t feature the most conventional game for outdoor types, but anyone looking for a nice game of badminton, bocce ball or croquet is in luck. BAC, with its beautiful lighting setup and laid-back vibe, is an especially nice place to hang outdoors once the sun goes down. (601 Richmond, thebrooklynathleticclub.com)
7. IRISH COWBOY
When Celtic Gardens closed in February, Houston said good-bye to one of its best outdoor patios. Then Irish Cowboy, which took over the space, came along and did it one better. Checking in at approximately 11,000 square feet (Celtic was closer to 6,000), Irish Cowboy is home to one of the best outdoor scenes in Houston. It’s also all things Texas, as local-themed murals adorn the patio walls and barbecue is roasted outside. (2300 Louisiana, irishcowboy.com)
While Cottonwood does offer an indoor space, it’s pretty much all patio. Not only that, but a portion of the patio is covered, in the event of rain or immense heat. Couple that with foosball and cornhole, as well as live music throughout the month, and you have one of the best outdoor bars in Houston. Extra points for being dog- and kid-friendly, as well as serving up one of the best burgers in Houston. (3422 North Shepherd, cottonwoodhouston.com)
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5. KIRBY ICE HOUSE
It’s been open only a month or so, but Kirby Ice House is already a player on the local patio scene, and for good reason. The bar touts its own “one-acre backyard,” which is dog-friendly and offers a ton of seating (the lighting adds a little ambience on a nice spring or summer night). Couple that with events such as crawfish boils, steak nights and charity events, and you have a Houston bar on the come-up. (3333 Eastside, facebook.com/KirbyIceHouse)
4. RAVEN TOWER
Another relatively new arrival to the Houston bar scene, Raven Tower is a little brother of sorts to White Oak Music Hall. Of course, it offers up a good time all on its own. The patio is spacious, games are always on TV and the beer selection is on point. Plus, a number of local and national acts play the outdoor stage, which adds to the atmosphere. Then there’s the tower itself, which offers up one of the best views in Houston, although it’s temporarily closed for renovations. (310 North, raventower.net)
3. ONION CREEK
All of the Creeks (Cedar, Canyon and Dry) are great on a nice day, but Onion offers a little something extra. For one, its location on White Oak and its proximity to other bars (Jimmy’s Ice House, Public House, Little Woodrow’s, etc.) make for a nice outdoor bar-hopping experience. The patio is spacious and shaded, the burgers are on point and, most important, the service is the best and quickest among all the Creeks – you’ll rarely wait more than a few minutes for a beer. (3106 White Oak, onioncreekcafe.com)
2. LITTLE WOODROW'S MIDTOWN
The least bro-ish of all Midtown bars, Woodrow’s – unlike many of its Midtown contemporaries – doesn’t have a dress code. What it does have is a spacious patio with a row of cornhole games. And then there’s the Turtle Races, a Thursday night tradition that runs throughout much of the year and offers a little something extra for those looking for a nice outdoor experience (that damn James Franco turtle was unstoppable last season). (2306 Brazos, midtown.littlewoodrows.com)
1. WEST ALABAMA ICE HOUSE
At West Alabama Ice House, maybe the most welcoming bar in Houston in terms of both customer service and ambience, a day doesn’t feel like simply a day at the bar – it feels like a block party or a neighborhood barbecue. The food trucks are fired up, the beer is cold, the music is going and the bar games are plentiful. Whether you want to shoot hoops on the bar’s basketball goal or play a little table tennis, West Alabama Ice House caters to everyone. The bar is awesome 365 days a year, but it offers a little something extra on those tailor-made patio days. (1919 West Alabama, twitter.com/the_WAIH)