The Best Patios for Eating and Drinking Outside in Houston
Soak up the sun.
It’s patio season, y’all! That ideal time between the hellaciously hot summer months and that “second summer” we’ve been known to experience into fall. All of this to say, there isn’t a better moment to take advantage of Houston’s mosh pit of patios. You can throw a rock and you’ll hit an awesome bar or restaurant patio at which to hang out, but we’re narrowing things down for you, delivering the best outdoor spaces in show, with sprawling beer gardens, bayou-side decks, and one place where you can sip a flaming tiki drink under the palapa.
Southern comfort hits the table in the form of shrimp & grits, fried green tomatoes, and chili biscuits at chef-owner Chris Williams’ classy restaurant, bar & patio. Those chili biscuits (and the whole place, for that matter) pay tribute to Williams’ great-grandmother, Lucille B. Smith, a African-American entrepreneur, chef, and pioneer in the food and hospitality industry. When the weather is right, you’ll enjoy the chef’s modern spin on traditional Southern goods even more so out on Lucille’s tree-shaded, string light bedecked patio.
Axelrad Beer Garden
That there is both a mosaic of hammocks and a neighboring pizza joint that’ll bring the slices and pies straight to your picnic table is pretty much all you need to know about this fire patio bar and craft beer garden. But we’ll say a few words more: board games, movie nights, food trucks, live music, and yes, seasonal crawfish.
Pretty sure we’re all in desperate need of a vacation after this year. Well you can take one without really taking one, and it’s as easy as sipping a flaming cocktail under the star-lit palapa at this tiki-style haunt. The cascading waterfall and bamboo features level up the serene vibe, as does one of Sarah Troxwell’s epic cocktails, like the frozen Banana Daiquiri or jalapeño tequila-spiked Tropic Like It’s Hot. Pair ‘em with Baja mussels and you’re pretty much on an island.
We’re sure you’ve seen it on the ‘Gram. This is the bar with the giant Ferris wheel. Now we’re going to tell you why you should go here… besides the very obvious fact that you can get a drink and ride a giant Ferris wheel. There’s also a stage for live music, a cheesesteak stand, food trucks, craft cocktails on tap, and adorable dogs to play with on any given day.
Part live music venue, part Southern patio bar and kitchen, this popular country bar is a damn good time. In its glory days (pictured above), live country acts hit the stage to play to rowdy crowds, but today, you can still hit the colossal open-air space to enjoy some socially-distanced jams alongside house ranch waters and chorizo empanadas. There’s a Texas-sized Post Oak location, as well, but Downtown’s outdoor space is where you’ll want to be on nicer days.
Holman Draft Hall
Swing seats. Fire pits. Lush greenery. A straight-up gorgeous open-air veranda. The Wooster’s Garden crew got things right when they opened this younger sibling. You’ll want to check off visits to worthy sibling establishments Heights Bier Garten and Worcester's Annex in the Heights and the aforementioned Wooster’s in Midtown, too.
There are several locations of this watering hole around town, though its Midtown locale is the cream of the crop when it comes to patio spaces. The blockbuster is a choice spot to bring your pup (there’s astroturf for them, and swings for you), and the seasonal Thursday Night Turtle Racing is the stuff of legend. Pop by for happy hour, al fresco trivia, steak nights, and more.
Picture German Disneyland, but without all the Disney characters and with an awesome lederhosen-clad guy named Hans (that’s the owner) ushering you around instead. That’s what you’ll be getting yourself into at this rare bird, a German-style bierhaus and patio where the faux river flows as quickly as the das boots. Grab a shaded seat out back, down a stein, dip a pretzel in beer cheese, play some corn hole, and say “prost!” to Houston’s beautiful weather.
Saint Arnold Beer Garden
Texas’ oldest brewery in the game totally upped its game when it added an off-the-charts beer garden & restaurant a few years back. Now Saint Arnold’s loyal army of fans can sip a hoppy Art Car IPA under the stars, nosh on Headliner kimchi fries and Amber Ale brats, and catch the ‘Stros and the Rockets on the big screen, all while enjoying views of the downtown skyline. It’s one of the most popular patios in town (for now you can check in at the hostess stand for first-come, first-served seating), but we should note that many of Houston’s finest breweries have awesome outdoor spaces, including but not limited to 8th Wonder, Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company, Karbach, and Walking Stick.
You can feel that weekend groove any day of the week at Present Company, a Palm Springs inspired oasis sporting bright colors, neon signage, lush landscaping, and an easygoing vibe. Snag a shaded table or super cool wicker lounger on the patio and let the spike La Croix cocktail do its job, and tack on shishito peppers, loaded nachos, and pork belly bites when you need some sustenance.
When low-key good times are in order, there’s nothing better than this unfussy, beer- and whiskey-lovin’ patio bar. Head here to unwind among a bunch of four-legged pals, plus partake in fun stuff like corn hole, live music, crawfish boils and steak nights, fireside chats, and a menu of sloppy burgers, tacos, and thirst-quenching booze.
Great news! You can have your very own cabana table at which you can slurp oysters, pop bubbly, and dig into lobster rolls and steak frites at this sexy local treasure. The New-American kitchen and bar took this rough past year in stride, adding turf to its outdoor space and transforming it into a chic, cabana-filled utopia. There’s an ample covered patio section, as well.
There isn’t a prettier spot to sip a sparkling wine than this cafe-plant nursery hybrid. The tiny, from-scratch kitchen puts out French picnic platters, salmon Provençal, and the best freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in town to complement your bevy of choice; and the perfectly poised garden and patio hits the sweet spot between being the kind of place where you can totally get away from it all and being the kind of place where you go to gawk at whatever designer goods the haut monde River Oaks folk are sporting these days. Either way, you’ll want to stay a while.
Does that lingering over artisanal cheese and sangria while nestled among Live Oaks in Downtown’s magnum opus, the nearly 12-acre urban park Discovery Green, sound like a nice Saturday? We think so. You can do that this Saturday (or any day, really) by hitting up the deck at this stylish, in-park bar and kitchen. The total eye candy of a restaurant has been known to host seasonal rooftop happy hours, as well, one thing we hope returns some day soon.
The bar at this century-old log cabin restaurant got a facelift as of late, and we have to say, the work was well done. But it’s the natural, wooded outdoor space that really gets us going, climbing up and around an acre of lush grounds along White Oak Bayou. Patio season is the time to hit the garden decks and indulge in smoked duck gumbo, rainbow trout hit with lump crab and pecan brown butter, South Texas antelope with jalapeño-bacon-cheddar grits, and whiskey spiked croissant bread pudding.