Last year, we listed 20 of the best restaurant patios for dining, drinking and relaxing. It proved to be an extremely popular resource. Here's some excellent news: Every single option from last year is still viable. None of those restaurants have closed.
In the meantime, several new restaurants featuring patios have opened within the past year. So, here are 20 more places to go, a mix of the new places along with revered classics that should not be overlooked. When it’s time for a good meal, fine wine, cold cocktails and warm rays, there are plenty of options.
20. Cuchara, 214 Fairview
The interior of this Montrose restaurant is so colorful, memorable and evocative of Mexico City that it’s easy to forget outdoor dining is an option. Both the front and side of Cuchara are lined with café-style tables. At night, the side tables are preferable thanks to the soft, peachy glow of the lanterns overhead. It’s a fine environment for munching on a basket of crispy chicharrón (fried pork skins) and tangy green salsa or braving the compelling heat of one of our favorite dishes, the green mole verde with pork tenderloin. Not in the mood for Mexican fare? Try next-door neighbor, Max’s Wine Dive, which has a similar sidewalk café setup.
19. Sud Italia, 2347 University
It doesn’t feel like the center of the busy Rice Village shopping district when dining on the rustic porch of the old home where Sud Italia is located. It feels more like settling down for a meal during a garden party. The best time to dine on Sud Italia’s serious (and seriously good) fare, like Arancini di Riso (fried rice balls with meat and saffron) or rainbow trout grilled with white wine and herbs is early evening. As the sun dips beyond the horizon, suddenly being in the midst of the business retail district seems like much more romantic than seems possible.
18. Fielding’s Local Kitchen + Bar, 26400 Kuykendahl, Tomball/The Woodlands
The newest member of the Fielding’s restaurant family brings not only ambitious but approachable fare to a rapidly-developing area but a much-needed patio dining option, too. The seating areas is neatly divided in groups by nautical-striped bench seating and marble-topped tables. While bathing in the sun, keep cool with some of the most stellar cocktails in the area and keep hunger at bay with wood-grilled, in-house aged steaks and fresh seafood dishes.
17. Punk’s Simple Southern Food, 5212 Morningside
The well-designed sidewalk patios at Punk’s Simple Southern Food includes not only dark flaps that can be rolled down when the sun or wind gets intense but also ceiling-mounted fans every few feet. It’s possible to stay comfortable even as the temperatures start to climb. With selections like buttermilk-brined fried chicken, deviled eggs and pickled shrimp on-hand, it’s possible to have a Southern picnic right at the table.
16. The Union Kitchen, 12538 Memorial
There are more than 50 items on The Union Kitchen’s menu and they run the gamut from carnitas potstickers to herb-crusted rack of lamb. The wide range of dishes and price points which might be one reason why the restaurant has such a loyal clientele. Another draw might be the big, covered patio. Heat lamps keep diners warm during the cool season and a combination of fans and air coolers combat Houston’s famous summer heat. It’s a little oasis in the heart of Memorial.
15. Ouisie’s Table, 3939 San Felipe
With an abundance of greenery, the sunny patio of Ouisie’s Table is the picture of tranquility. It’s a favored spot for weddings and receptions but most of the time, it’s the setting for genteel Southern meals, like fried oysters with blue cheese slaw and tomato salad or the famous chicken fried steak with black pepper gravy. Brunching on Eggs Benedict with a bloody mary or mimosa at-hand seems especially refined.
14. La Table, 1800 Post Oak
La Table’s casual first floor dining option, Marché, includes a secluded side patio. The view of a wall of greenery, not the street, so the hustle and bustle of the Galleria seems to simply drift away. Pretty window boxes of flowers and a pastel blue and white color scheme is all elegance while overhead fans keep everyone cool.
13. Caracol, 2200 Post Oak
Chef Hugo Ortega’s sprawling patio in the Galleria includes a big, rectangular concrete fountain and plushy lounge furniture perfect for light bites and cocktails, as well as traditional seating more appropriate for an unhurried dinner. Juicy sangrias, pert margaritas and brisk, mineral-driven white wines from beverage director Sean Beck’s list are perpetually intriguing sources of refreshment. The menu, ranging from oysters on the half shell to warming soups and grilled fish, has something appropriate for every season.
12. Provisions, 807 Taft
Provisions can be quite bustling, but the enclosed patio behind the oblong bar area is consistently serene. The restaurant’s proximity to downtown means it’s an ideal urban hideaway for harried business professionals. The side garden, small fruit trees and other greenery are welcome signs of life in a concrete jungle. The three-course, $25 prix fixe lunch menu is one of Houston’s best choices for a business meal. At night, bring a friend or two and share big bowls of housemade pasta, pizzas beautifully blistered in the wood-fired oven, and whatever the “for two” special is for the evening, which could be a rib eye with accompaniments or a fine whole fish.
11. Karbach Restaurant, 2032 Karbach Street
Freelance restaurant critic Nicholas Hall reviewed Karbach Restaurant and wrote the following description of the big outdoor seating area.
The patio at Karbach Brewing Company is less a patio and more a rambling choose-your-own-adventure assemblage of al fresco options to suit a myriad of dining (and drinking) moods. Order off the menu and grab a seat on the patio proper, tucked into a little alcove in the shadow of the fermenters. Amble over onto the adjacent lawn and grab a deck chair; here, you'll have your pick from a rotating cast of food trucks that make the Karbach grounds feel a bit like a never-ending block party. There's also a long row of casual picnic table seating, designed to hold the tour-going crowds who stick around to sample the fruits of the labor they've just witnessed. A large stage with live music, cornhole boards and access to many of Karbach's special release beers adds to the fun. It's an odd little oasis tucked into a semi-industrial neighborhood in the crook of a freeway interchange, and it feels very, very Houston.
10. La Grange, 2517 Ralph
The vast outside deck patio is the heart of this hopping restaurant and bar. There’s plenty of outside seating, from covered, upholstered benches with low tables to larger tables in the center for groups. There are two bars outside in addition to the one inside, and the upper deck of this hopping bar and restaurant gives diners a bird’s-eye view of the Montrose. The casual Mexican fare ranges from big, chargrilled shrimp to three-layer stacked enchiladas, and there’s a cocktail for every mood.
9. Américas, 21 Waterway, The Woodlands
Américas’ patio is an ideal vantage point from which to get a surprisingly lovely view of the winding Waterway that flows from Lake Woodlands to its conclusion near I-45. At night, the lights from the lamps and Waterway Cruiser boats twinkle in the darkness. In the restaurant, big glasses of red Spanish wine, peppers and onions flambéed tableside and decadent preparations like the cerdo relleno, or achiote-rubbed and tamale-stuffed pork tenderloin with jumbo lump crab meat and shrimp, seem like appropriately dramatic accompaniments to the scene below.
8. The Grove, 1611 Lamar
In addition to sidewalk cafe-style seating below, this restaurant at Discovery Green near the George R. Brown Convention Center also sports a big rooftop deck. It provides a great view of one of downtown Houston’s most peaceful spots. From here, there are scenes of couples walking hand-in-hand, kids splashing in the fountains, parents pushing strollers and others simply enjoying a tranquil respite.
7. Hugo’s, 1600 Westheimer
How secluded is the patio at Hugo’s? Secluded enough that you won't realize it’s there even after dining a few times inside. It’s an enclosed affair that effectively shields diners from the traffic on Westheimer while providing a pleasant view of ivy-covered walls and stucco arches. During more temperate months, be sure to make reservations ahead of time to dine on chef Hugo Ortega’s acclaimed interior Mexican cuisine in this coveted space.
6. Harold’s In The Heights, 350 West 19th
This second-story balcony is one of the best places to dine in the quaintest area of The Heights. Old and revitalized buildings like Harold’s line both sides of this section of 19th. At Harold’s, indulge in Southern and Cajun fare like chicken and andouille gumbo or KG’s double-brined Cast Iron chicken, and after lunch or before dinner is a good time to scavenge the nearby antique stores for a few treasures.
5. Bernie’s Backyard, 22314 I-45 North
The vast, wood-decked patio is one of the main draws of food truck park Bernie’s Backyard. There’s an enclosed taproom as well, which is handy for inclement weather, but the most glorious days are the sunny ones on the patio. There’s often a live band to entertain the crowds in the evenings and on the weekends. Some of Houston’s best gourmet food truck fare is to be found here as well, including juicy burgers from the Black Garlic food truck and barbecue from one of the best area purveyors, BBQ Godfather.
4. Churrasco’s Sugar Land, 1520 Lake Point Parkway
Sugar Land seems like the most unlikely of places to dine by the waterside, but the northwest side of Highway 59 (or I-69, as it is now called) is populated by several small watersheds. Those include the Churrasco’s location in Sugar Land. Inside the restaurant, sections of the dining room are subdivided by carved sculptures of Peruvian wood and accented in the hallmark red, gold and chocolate colors that are hallmarks of the Cordúa family’s Houston restaurant empire. It is outside by the gentle ripples of the lake, though, where the hours slip away amid cool ceviches, warm bowls of lobster and shrimp bisque and hearty center cuts of beef fillet accented with the restaurant's signature chimichurri sauce.
3. Hunky Dory/Bernadine’s, 1801 North Shepherd
Both Hunky Dory and Bernadine’s feature big patios. Each has a tall, sprawling tree that thankfully was preserved while the restaurants were being built from the ground up. True to the nature of each, British restaurant Hunky Dory is accented with gaslamp-style lantern posts while little twinkling lights arc above the deck at Gulf Coast-inspired Bernadine’s.
2. Southern Goods, 632 West 19th
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When there’s a live band at Southern Goods, the patio becomes a jumping party scene. The oblong windows next to the bar counter open outward, which lets guests easily get drinks as needed. There’s a real neighborhood party vibe here, with the scent of barbecue smoke wafting through the air. The rest of the time, the calmer backyard atmosphere sets the stage for Southern-fried meals of gumbo, fried green tomatoes and barbecue that ranges from beef belly burnt ends to smoky cuts of pork.
1. B&B Butchers, 1814 Washington
Excellent nighttime views of downtown, elevator access and a retractable covering are just a few great features of B&B Butchers’ large, second-floor patio. Any of the aged steaks can get the popular “carpetbagger” treatment here: a topping of a fried oyster imbued with hot sauce and plenty of good-quality blue cheese crumbles. There are also lamb chops, pork chops, salads and a fine wine list both by-the-glass and by-the-bottle to peruse as well. The Washington avenue restaurant recently started offering brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.