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

  • Credit: 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

  • Credit: 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