Spring is prime time for alfresco dining in Houston, but you’d better hurry before the mercury starts to rise. No matter your zip code, group or occasion, you’ll be made in the shade with one of these patios.
For Downtown date night: The Grove
At this stunning New American in the middle of Discovery Green, dine downstairs on the wrap-around patio for a romantic view of the park and Kinder Lake, or reserve the upstairs deck for a private affair with a skyline view.
1611 Lamar St.; 713-337-7321
For impressing the parents or in-laws: Brennan’s of Houston
The genteel patio with white tablecloth seating and a splashing fountain feels just like a French Quarter courtyard — the only one of its kind in Houston. Lunch on Creole specialties, savor a four-course dinner, hit the weekend New Orleans jazz brunch or just stop by for a drink and a bite in the bar. Gratis homemade pralines as you leave are a nice Southern touch.
3300 Smith St.; 713-522-9711
For bridal parties: Hotel Granduca
Whether for cocktails at the rehearsal dinner, a Sunday brunch wedding celebration or bridesmaid luncheon, the spacious pool area with a dining patio at this grand Italian-style boutique hotel in Uptown is gorgeous. Many brides choose the cool, secluded flower garden for small wedding ceremonies.
1080 Uptown Park Blvd.; 713-418-1000
For celebrating a promotion: Brenner’s Steakhouse on the Bayou
Hidden off Memorial Drive along Buffalo Bayou, Brenner’s pastoral setting is a great escape from the urban jungle. Overlooking the sprawling green lawn, woods, and cascading waterfall, the semi-covered patio and glass-enclosed dining room is ideal for splurging on top-of-the-line steaks, chops and seafood. For small plates and cocktails, the outdoor Blue Bar is relaxing with cushy couches, small tables and a summer live music program.
1 Birdsall St.; 713-868-4444
For a grown-up birthday brunch: Hugo’s
For a festive Sunday brunch with live music, head to this Mexican spot's spacious, ivy-covered patio with flowering plants, fans and a gurgling fountain. Even though you’re in lively Montrose, the tall white stucco fence keeps it quiet so you won’t have to scream to say “cheers.” Hits on the menu include tuna ceviche and expertly made margaritas.
1600 Westheimer Rd.; 713-524-7744
For wooing out-of-towners: Hotel Sorella Monnalisa Bar
Set up your visitors for a stay at Hotel Sorella in West Houston’s CityCentre and they'll be smack in the middle of shopping and restaurants within walking distance. Kick off your evening with cocktails at Monnalisa Bar on the chic upstairs terrace with a pool, cabanas and live music.
800 Sorella Court; 713-973-1600
For ladies who lunch: Tiny Boxwoods
This chic cafe nestled on the grounds of the Thompson + Hanson nursery features a garden with wicker chairs under the cool shade of umbrellas. And if you're coming with the kids, there's plenty of room for them to play on the perfectly manicured grass. Enjoy a simple menu of favorites like Cobb salad and thin-crust pizza.
3614 W. Alabama St., 713-622-4224
For culture cruising: Monarch at Hotel ZaZa
A scenic spot to wind down the day after making the museum rounds, the Monarch showcases delightful views of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Mecom Fountain. Its covered, climate-controlled terrace is perfect for just about any kind of weather. On the seasonal menu, expect the likes of spring lamb with Meyer lemon and duck fat–seared scallops.
5701 Main St.; 527-1800
For the entire family: Mia’s Table
This homey, Upper Kirby counter-serve joint in a newly constructed stone ranch house is ideal for the whole family. Even Fido is welcome on the glorious tree-shaded patio. Kids slurp handmade shakes, adults sip iced-down beer or wine, and everyone cheerfully chows on BBQ (from the fragrant on-site smoker), burgers, fried shrimp platters, salads and tacos.
3131 Argonne St.; 713-522-6427
For the new mommy spa staycation: The Four Seasons Hotel
Break for midday R&R with the new Four Seasons Go and Glo express spa treatment, which includes a gourmet Four Seasons lunch. If you book a spa appointment, you’ll have access to the awesome rooftop pool and deck. Go ahead and make it the whole day!
1300 Lamar St.; 713-650-1300
For retail therapy: Toulouse Café and Bar
This stylish Dallas transport recently bowed in the new River Oaks shopping district with chef-about-town Philippe Schmit helming the kitchen. Tucked away from street noise, the posh, 50-seat patio is covered and climate-controlled, so you’ll stay cool all summer. Catch your breath over bistro classics like croque madame, salad niçoise, and steamed mussels in wine with herbs.
4444 Westheimer Rd.; 713-871-0788