The Best Patios & Backyards In Houston guide image


The Best Patios & Backyards In Houston

If you have to be outside, you’ll want to be at one of these places.

Houstonians and patios—we go together like peanut butter and jelly, crawfish and garlic butter, and the 610 and traffic. Maybe it’s our innate desire to sprawl, or our dedication to being outside on any sunny Texas day when it’s not a bajillion degrees. With enough trees for shade, ample seating, and an industrial fan or two to keep the heat at bay, here’s our guide to the best restaurant and bars patios in Houston.


Bar 5015

Like all the best Houston clubstaurants, the patio makes up roughly 85% of Bar 5015 in the Third Ward. Covered by hardworking awning, the patio has an ample amount of booths and tables, and with a walkup bar, there isn’t much reason to go inside of the restaurant, except maybe to use the restroom. Unless you thrive in environments where you’re all but shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, the best time to come to Bar 5015 is right when they open on the weekdays, where you can have your pick of the seating options. And while we can’t quite explain the science, the frozen drinks do seem to taste better when they’re sipped outside.

The Midtown beer garden Axelrad is 90% patio. The good news is that there are a number of ways you can experience this place. Whether you're snuggled in a hammock swaying in the breeze, at a picnic table knocking back a few beers, or in a swinging chair with a frozen drink from the indoor bar, there isn’t really a bad seat on the sprawling lawn. But come early on the weekends because seats are highly coveted, especially the hammocks.

You’ll probably end up on the patio if you forgot to make a reservation at the pizza and pasta spot Tiny Champions. But on a (bearably) sunny day, the backyard is exactly where you’ll want to be. There’s something about Tiny Champs being in EaDo—it might be because of the lack of buildings around it—but there’s always a nice breeze. And the marble tables on the patio are so fancy that it doesn’t feel like a second rate place to eat at all. As a bonus, there’s a sprawl opportunity, especially on the picnic tables, that doesn’t happen inside because the dining room is, well, pretty tiny.

If you’ve ever driven down Almeda Road in the Third Ward, you’ve probably seen a line of people outside the Cajun-Creole restaurant Turkey Leg Hut. Waiting in line is inevitable if you don’t have a reservation, but you can cut the wait time in half if you sit on the covered patio out front. Even with the creeping heat of the sun just outside of the covering’s shade, the patio is surprisingly cool thanks to the industrial fans working overtime. And while the fall-off-the-bone stuffed, smoked turkey legs taste just as good in the main dining room as they do outside, you’ll only get the chance to see candy-colored slabs cruising down the street from the patio.

The patio at Rodeo Goat, a burger and craft beer bar in EaDo, is often swarmed with people glued to sports on TV. The enormous, covered patio provides shade for everyone, from the cyclists stopping by for a mid-ride power up, to the pooches waiting patiently for a spare fry to be dropped. There’s enough space to anxiously watch an Astros game while pacing around without disturbing the ring toss game happening in the center of the patio. And if you’re feeling brave and order the extra-spicy Hot Bastard burger, you’ll appreciate the extra room outside for the inevitable fire-breathing that will ensue.

While the patio at Hamsa in Rice Village may be small, the vibe is over the top. It really screams, “patio,” like one of those outdoor showroom set pieces with almost too many potted plants and a fancy cantilevered umbrella. Dinner between a few hedgerows? Now that’s romance. Get the whole shebang salatim with dips and pita pickled vegetables, or hit up Hamsa on Sunday for a plate of shakshuka with Turkish coffee for brunch. Take pleasure in knowing everything tastes better because you’re eating it outside.

The center of the action at the Galleria Cajun-Creole clubstaurant Kamp is the massive outdoor seating area. It’s where you’ll find reserved sections of birthday clans and bachelorette parties in matching t-shirts, all usually with a giant mimosa on display in front of their table. Even during the hottest months, you’ll still see people packing out the patio, personal fans in tow. And with a $400 minimum for a prime time patio reservation, you’d better bring your fiercest party friends who’ll help turn the section into your personal dance floor. 

People watching at Brasserie 19 could be an Olympic sport, especially from a perch on the patio. The French bistro in River Oaks has an endless parade of see-and-be-seensters traipsing back and forth from the plush dining room, through the spread of white linen tables, and back again. Share a plateaux de fruits de mer (or at least some oysters) and the city’s best beef tartare as you eavesdrop on River Oaks housewife gossip, witness someone attack at least three stiff martinis, or watch the staff kindly turn away a group of rogue teens.

While the inside of Winnie’s can get pretty lively, sometimes you need an intimate patio moment. The Midtown bar’s adorable outdoor seating lets you be a little more secluded without sacrificing any fun. And the pimento cheese queso tastes just as good outside, especially when the AC inside is a little overzealous. So grab a picnic table, a few friends, and work through a frozen drink treasure chest flight in peace.

Built to withstand an unrelenting crush of boozy brunch-goers, Leeland House in East Downtown is mostly a sprawling, multi-level patio disguised as a restaurant. Sure, there’s a house where you order at the counter, but the plant-screened patio is where you want to be. You can easily show up here with as many or as few people as you want, and immediately stake a claim over any outside cluster of tables, like some kind of brunch-level Risk strategy. Food and drinks arrive at your small table-island nation almost suspiciously fast, and everything includes bacon, even the french toast.

When it’s time to see and, more importantly, be seen, the go-to spot is Chapman & Kirby, a bar and popular brunch spot in EaDo. On any given day, folks will be outside on the patio doing impromptu fit checks, with colorful cocktails in tow. Chapman & Kirby shares the massive patio space with a neighboring restaurant, but there’s still plenty of seating, so you can catch your best angle at a picnic table, casually lounge on the plush couches, or devour some glazed ribs at the high top tables. On the weekends— especially “Sunday Funday”— the patio is full of brunch warriors at every turn, so either make a reservation, or show up early to secure your seat on EaDo’s hottest runway.

The patio at the vegan daily brunch spot Mo’ Better Brews feels like a friend’s newly renovated backyard that’s now the official cookout spot. Which is why there will often be more people dining on the tree-lined patio than inside of the Museum District restaurant. Covered by sunshades, everyone on the patio is kept cool by some of the hardest-working fans in the neighborhood. And if you aren’t coming for brunch, a cup of coffee makes a perfectly good excuse to sit on the patio as much as you want.

Eight Row Flint in The Heights isn’t just the place you take that one friend who insists he can taste the difference between every Buffalo Trace Distillery whiskey. It also has a very chill patio. The outdoor space of this mid-century dry cleaners-turned-bar may feel like it was cobbled together from nothing in a parking lot, and that’s because it was. But the tables are comfortable enough for a quick burger and a beer or a first date that lingers over a couple of solera shots.

Looking to take your dog out for dinner? Hit up Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino, a neighborhood Italian classic with a dog-friendly patio. Despite being right off Westheimer in River Oaks, dining al fresco feels relatively peaceful thanks to a shroud of vines and a red umbrella canopy. Split a charcuterie board, mozzarella-stuffed radicchio, eggplant parmesan, and bowls of housemade or imported pastas Lady-and-the-Tramp style. Humans can also enjoy a few glasses of wine from a number of female winemakers, which Giacomo’s makes sure to note on the menu.

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photo credit: Liz Silva

The Best Patios & Backyards In Houston guide image