Truly, living in Houston during the spring is one of my favorite things about this city. When the sun is out and temps are around 70°, my mind starts racing to, “Where is a good patio where I can enjoy this weather..and maybe a beverage and tasty food?” There are too many to feature them all here, but I wanted to provide you a handy starter list so that you, too can celebrate springtime in Houston. Don’t see your favorite listed? By all means, post a comment and share your best spot. I’ve rated cost on scale of $-$$$.
Brennan’s $$$ Located between Midtown and the Museum District, Brennan’s is finally back after the tragic Ike fire. The high-walled intimate courtyard is just like any you would find all over the NOLA French Quarter and is best enjoyed while you sip on a mint julep. They’ve recently kicked off their BYOB (Bring Your Own Bowl) cooking series, with a good ol’ crawfish boil coming up on March 30. Future BYOB events include Shrimp Etouffe April 13, Jambalaya May 18, and a fish fry on June 8. A steal at $15, it includes 2 beers from local brewery favorite, St. Arnold’s. Attire is typically a little more formal: professional/cocktail.
Cedar Creek $ I grew up in the Texas hill country so this place is very nostalgic for me. Cedar Creek really feels like you are in the heart of the hill country rather than the heart of Houston! Get a bucket o’ Lonestar, a batch of chili cheese fries and knock the dust off your boots. Located in the north Heights area.
El Pueblito Place $$ The large courtyard is surrounded by romantic semi-private dining cabanas with big, comfy outdoor sofas makes for our pic for a great “date” patio spot. They also serve up some awesome Mexican seafood. Located on Richmond between Montrose and Shepherd.
Lucy’s Porch/Bear’s Garden at Ouisie’s Table $$$ Ahhhh…air conditioning combined with beautiful outdoor space! Lucy’s Porch has the feel of a screened in porch and seats up to 90, and yes, it’s air conditioned! Combined with Bear’s Garden it makes for a wonderful party venue for receptions, garden weddings and more.
Niko Niko’s $$ Now with 2 great options: their recently added patio space in Montrose, and even more recent outdoor dining space downtown at Milam and Congress in downtown. Grab a “Nikorita” and some of the best fries around, along with a classic gyro (make it an iced tea, and easy on the onion and tzatziki if you’re going back to work).
The Rainbow Lodge $$$ Feels just like a big, rustic hunting lodge. The huge multiple level deck overlooks a beautiful layered terrain including a citrus grove, bubbling brook, and a kitchen garden. Very earthy feel, but hardly what I would call roughing it. Open for lunch and dinner most days.
The Grove $$$ opening out onto Discovery Green. The upper deck of The Grove Restaurant is surrounded by gorgeous live oaks and really does feel like a (pretty fancy) tree house although sadly, the upper deck is now offered only for private venues. Very upscale/trendy The Grove features some great margarita options. Our favorite is the spicy ginger margarita.
Lankford Grocery $ One of Houston’s favorite “mom and pop’s” with its rickety charm since 1938, the Lankford is nestled in a back street of the Montrose area. Old timey burgers and patty melts, cold beer, and their legendary enchiladas make for a great spot to kick back casual.
Grappino’s $$$ Convenient to downtown, Midtown, and Montrose the patio space transports you. The bricked deck is surrounded in lush, green foliage and the tinkling sound of water fountains. Simply, a lovely place to enjoy a glass of wine and good friends not to mention some of Houston’s best Italian.
Lupe Tortilla $$ This is our pick for kid-friendly patios, as much of the outdoor seating area opens to a great kids play area. This is a great spot for you to relax on the patio while the kiddos run off some of that energy. Lupe Tortilla features their own unique twists to Tex Mex. The following Lupe locations have the kids play area: Shepherd and I 59, Stafford, Clear Lake, and Sugarland.
The Black Lab $$ For you cerebral types, you might enjoy the chess yard, featuring a full scale chess deck surrounded by playing tables. Feels like the red queen could arrive any minute. The foliage covered façade is a charming backdrop while you enjoy a pint and some serious pub grub.
The Last Concert Café $ This is surely near the top of the list for best bohemian haunts in town. Huge outdoor space features live music Tuesday through Saturday until 2 AM. Great to let the kiddos run around, too. Great people watching, always with a massive hodge-podge of all types. Also a favorite haunt of ZZ Top.
Tiny Boxwood’s $$$ One of Houston’s best kept secrets! Located on the grounds of Houston’s upscale Thompson & Hanson nursery, the outdoor patio area surrounds a pristine green lawn with whimsical acorn statuary. The yard begs for a picnic blanket and basket, which head chef Barron says they are considering. Even the inner dining area has a patio feel with large, paned-glass walls looking out onto the beauty. If it’s your thing: PLEASE try the foie gras. No doubt, the place is spendy at dinner, but well worth every penny as the friendly service is also remarkable. Dressy casual or professional attire. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Tuesday-Saturday, and brunch on Sunday.
Others worth mentioning: Backstreet Cafe (see post on the brunch series), Mardi Gras, Artista, Brasil, Empire Cafe, Crappito’s.