Although Houston winters are mild compared with many parts of the country, we do have our blustery days where a winter escape is in order. Here’s where to find glowing fireplaces, dark, quiet nooks, hearty winter fare and drinks and a warm Texas welcome.
Generally the patio at this cozy converted old house gets all the press, but when the mercury drops, the upstairs area with its twin fireplaces is as lovely as winter dining gets. Piquant tortilla soup, potato ravioli or shrimp and cheese grits will hit the spot this time of year.
1103 S. Shepherd Dr.; 713-521-2239
Johnny Carrabba’s newest addition to Kirby Drive is designed to feel like someone’s home — make that a vintage mansion — complete with couches, three separate cozy dining areas and bookshelves lined with family keepsakes. A fireplace in the main room keeps things toasty, as does the comfort-food menu of Italian and American recipes passed down from grandmother Grace Carrabba.
3111 Kirby Dr.; 713-728-6410
Located in a quiet strip center in West Houston, this pint-size Gallic bistro is worth seeking out for its authentic French fare — ranging from roasted duck breast and leg confit to mustard-rubbed grilled pork chops — and roster of complementary wines. Warm aromas fill the 15-table room, which, along with exposed beams, checkered flooring and sunny French drapes, add to the charming ambiance.
13616 Memorial Dr.; 713-827-8008
Damian’s Cucina Italiana
The upscale, old-world setting at this Downtown stalwart still charms for its cozy dining corners, flattering lighting and warm, nonintrusive service. Traditional Italian cuisine (including a mean veal Bolognese), remarkable Italian wines and a sliver of a cocktail lounge with red flickering candles will put you in a Zen state of mind.
3011 Smith St.; 713-522-0439
Grab a corner table and feel like you're hidden from the world at this Italian gem in West University. A Tuscan paradise boasting aged walls and woodwork, the two-story bungalow is the ideal spot for a snug rendezvous.
A down-home, rather darling cocktail bar in a historic building in the Old Sixth Ward District with stylish touches like silver mint julep cups on display, polished copper accents and a cozy bar and booths is a big draw for a Southerner. Owner Alba Huerta’s stout cocktails — and the covered patio with galvanized fire pits — will take the chill off any night.
1919 Washington Ave.; 713-869-4383
What could be cozier than dining at a lodge on the banks of the bayou? Maybe dining in a log-cabin lodge with a large stone fireplace and a menu of refined game specialties. Once you set foot into the wood-paneled dining room and dishes like lobster Thermidor and slow-roasted duck breast start landing on the table, you'll warm up fast.
2011 Ella Lee Blvd.; 713-861-8666
You'll feel like right at home at this sophisticated River Oaks belle that includes not one, but two roaring fireplaces and several quaint rooms. Down-home eats like Ouisie's original chicken-fried steak are city-wide favorites.
3939 San Felipe St.; 713-528-2264
Sonoma Wine Bar
Snag a table in front of the roaring fireplace inside this double-decker in the Heights and enjoy good wine and a tasty nosh. The second-story patio is complete with heaters and comfy pillow-flocked couches for those mild winter nights we so often experience.
801 Studewood St.; 713-864-9463