The Best Outdoor Dining in 12 Houston Neighborhoods

By Marcy de Luna
June 9, 2014

From rooftops to waterside patios, no matter where you're located, we've got your guide to Houston's best alfresco dining.

  • Batanga Houston in Downtown

    Kick back and relax with a handcrafted cocktail or ice-cold beer at this casual restaurant. The patio, at 3,600-sq.-ft., is the largest Downtown.

    Must-Order: The small-plate menu of Latin American tapas includes crispy pork belly and grilled avocado with chorizo and queso fresco.
    Insider Tip: Get half-off all bottles of wine on Sundays.

    908 Congress St.; 713-224-9500

  • Brooklyn Athletic Club in Museum District/Montrose

    Adjacent to the restaurant, the casually cool patio is also just a few steps away from gaming areas including bocce, beanbags, Ping-Pong and mini-croquet. 

    Must-Order: We could make a meal of the baked mac 'n' cheese with braised short ribs, yet we'll always save room for the tasty herb-roasted chicken in red-wine jus sauce.
    Insider Tip: Ask your server for a set of dominoes or playing cards, and coming soon the addictive KUBB (viking chess).

    601 Richmond Ave.; 713-527-4440

  • Backstreet Cafe in River Oaks

    The backyard of this upscale neighborhood staple features a spacious New Orleans-style patio positioned under a sprawling camphor tree.

    Must-Order: The coffee-crusted tenderloin with sides of garlic mashed potatoes and spinach. 
    Insider Tip: We recommend you make a reservation, especially for brunch.

    1103 S. Shepherd Dr.; 713-521-2239

  • Sparrow Bar + Cookshop in Midtown

    With plenty of shade and seating, and solid tunes streaming through outdoor speakers, the lively patio at Sparrow is a great choice for having a drink with coworkers or hanging with friends.

    Must-Order: We like to start with the shiitake mushroom dumplings in creamy blue cheese-honey sauce (great for dipping your bread) and work our way up to the red snapper fillet with Thai-style orange salsa.  
    Insider Tip: Delicious $10 cocktails are just $5 during happy hour Tuesday through Saturday from 2 to 8 PM. There's also half-off select bites.

    3701 Travis St.; 713-524-6922

  • Americas in The Woodlands

    Enjoy progressive Latin American eats while you take in the picturesque view of the waterway at this Woodlands hot spot. 

    Must-Order: Filete con hongos, grilled beef fillet in pisco peppercorn sauce served with tempura mushroom and corn.
    Insider Tip: Save room for the tres leches dessert.

    21 Waterway Ave.; 281-367-1492

  • Osteria Mazzantini in The Galleria

    This chic restaurant on Post Oak offers a menu of Italian fare and a large patio with seating enough for 50. 

    Must-Order: The pork porterhouse with prosciutto and slow-cooked red cabbage.
    Insider Tip: Valet is complimentary, or self-park in the garage and get your ticket validated.

    2200 Post Oak Blvd.; 713-993-9898

  • Photo by: Andrea Weir

    Coltivare in The Heights

    The patio seats 40 and overlooks a 3,000-sq.-ft. garden oasis of heirloom vegetables, herbs and fruit.

    Must-Order: Gulf coast-inspired, the fettuccine is tossed with shrimp and a spring-green purée of parsley and flavored with orange zest and chili.
    Insider Tip: The list of 17 amaro (an Italian digestif) is the largest collection currently available in Houston.

    3320 White Oak Dr.; 713-637-4095

  • Photo by: Midway Companies

    Straits in Memorial

    With two patios plus private cabanas and a roster of delectable Singaporean dishes, the hip and modern Straits at CityCentre is a no-brainer for a cool outdoor dining experience. 

    Must-Order: Wok-fried mussels, shrimp pad Thai and crispy salt-and-pepper fried chicken. 
    Insider Tip: Try a little of everything and order dishes to share, family-style.

    800 Sorella Ct.; 713-365-9922

  • Blu Restaurant and Lounge in Sugar Land

    The inviting and upbeat atmosphere transforms the patio into a bustling gathering place.

    Must-Order: Our Asian-fusion favorites are the five-spice braised duck and seared tuna.
    Insider Tip: Multiple TVs mean you won't miss the big game.

    2248 Texas Dr.; 281-903-7324

  • Tiny's No. 5 in West University

    This family-friendly, quaint restaurant's patio looks out at a manicured lawn and garden.

    Must-Order: While the menu is subject to change, you can't go wrong with any of the rotating pizzas.
    Insider Tip: Check online for the "movies on the lawn" schedule.

    3636 Rice Blvd.; 713-664-0141

  • Brenner's Steakhouse on the Bayou in Rice Military

    Views of the surrounding bayou and woods will make you feel like you've left the city. 

    Must-Order: We favor the chicken-fried filet mignon in white gravy. 
    Insider Tip: While you're there, head next door and visit the garden at Bayou Bend.

    1 Birdsall St.; 713-868-4444

  • Raffa's Waterfront Grill in Kingwood

    Relax by the water while you enjoy contemporary American cuisine at reasonable prices.

    Must-Order: The crab-stuffed flounder with shrimp.
    Insider Tip: Wednesday night is half-priced bottles of wine, up to $40 off.

    1660 W. Lake Houston Pkwy.; 281-360-1436


Places Mentioned


Latin American • Downtown

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Brooklyn Athletic Club

American • Montrose

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Backstreet Cafe

American • River Oaks

Food26 Decor24 Service25 Cost$39
Sparrow Bar + Cookshop

New American • Midtown

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
Osteria Mazzantini

Italian • Galleria

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
Américas Woodlands

South American • The Woodlands

Food24 Decor25 Service23 Cost$47
Coltivare Pizza & Garden

Italian • Heights

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Brenner's on the Bayou

Washington Corridor

Food27 Decor26 Service25 Cost$59
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