Summer temps have been surprisingly resilient this year, but an imminent cool front means lower humidity and cool breezes are finally on the way. Fall's arrival means that drinkers and diners are once again flocking to patios around town. It's no wonder that newly opened and recently renovated restaurants are choosing to highlight the patio as a prime dining locale. Here are nine great spots that have opened since our last roundup in April to enjoy this season while the good weather lasts.
This recently-opened neighborhood spot on the near northside offers a flexible, indoor-outdoor vibe that's reminiscent of patio bars like Cottonwood or Wooster's Garden — just on a slightly smaller scale. The short menu by former Commonwealth chef Michael Sanguinetti offers a range of shareable options like fried quail and a smoked beef rib with housemade tortillas that are mostly priced between $10 and $15. Choose from a selection of craft beers, wines, or the well-priced house cocktails (an $8 Old Fashioned made with Buffalo Trace bourdon is particularly compelling).
Kirby Ice House
Although Kirby Icehouse only opened earlier in the year, it already feels like a River Oaks staple. With outdoor seating spread across an acre landscape that feels as wide open as a Texas prairie, it’s easy to kick back and enjoy a cold beer and a bite from their rotating lineup of food trucks. In addition to 50 drafts on tap, the eight well-crafted cocktails on draft are a nice bonus. All those drafts ensure speedy service that makes coming to Kirby Icehouse a stress-free experience.
Cane Rosso Montrose
Opened at the end of October, Cane Rosso’s new Richmond Avenue location blends in well with the neighborhood. This 160-seat covered patio is the perfect place to grab a Neapolitan style pizza from their wood-fired oven and people watch all afternoon. Once the patio gets in full swing, watch Cane Rosso’s Facebook page for events like pint nights with local breweries and trivia events. As the Dallas-based chain's name implies, dogs are definitely welcome on this patio.
A smart take on upscale French and Vietnamese cuisine requires a beautiful outdoor patio, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with this new addition to the always bustling River Oaks District dining scene. Dishes like roasted duck with tamarind dipping sauce and hanoi steamed ravioli with chicken, wood ear mushrooms and chili-lime sauce offer Houstonians a new way of experiencing the city’s ever-thriving Vietnamese food landscape on a patio intended to recall the decadence and luxury of the 1920s. The upstairs lounge has become the complex's ultimate see-and-be-seen destination.
Rooftop bars are surprisingly hard to come by in this city, it seems. Now under new ownership by The Viking Hospitality group (The Commoner & The Boulevardier) Rosemont seeks to capitalize on that underserved market with an emphasis on what makes their rooftop space so inviting. The patio cabanas are still around, but now they are surrounded by festive orange sofas and vibrant greenery around the walls. Check it out on a Saturday night and enjoy a unique view of the nearby downtown skyline before your night really gets going or try chef Dan Jacob's Sunday brunch.
Even after 40 years of success, Hungry's owner Fred Sharifi is still changing the game when it comes to the atmosphere of neighborhood restaurants. The recently opened, newly constructed Rice Village location boast a 100-seat downstairs patio where diners can enjoy the restaurant's signature Brunch for Lunch, paella nights, and all the restaurant's classic dishes underneath oak trees that are just as much a staple of the Rice Village landscape as Hungry’s itself. Stay tuned this month as The Upstairs bar and lounge opens with even more seating and cocktails created by veteran Houston bartender Linda Salinas.
When Roeder’s Sports Bar in Upper Kirby gave way to a CVS, neighborhood regulars and service industry professionals looking for a last call collectively mourned. It’s good to see the folks behind that bar getting back in the fray with this upscale sports bar that replaced The Corkscrew on W. 20th Street. Though this roofed patio is intimate - it seats 40 people - the frozen dreamsicles, beer buckets and friendly neighborhood feel make Providence feel like much more than a typical sports bar.
Hops Meet Barley
When visiting a craft beer bar, it’s always tempting to hang out inside and geek out about the ever-changing tap wall with the bartenders while keeping your eye on the game, but fall is the perfect time to enjoy the cool shade in one of the 70 seats under the huge oak tree on the dog-friendly Hops Meet Barley patio. Being located in one of the more pedestrian-friendly corridors in Houston gives beer drinkers a great people watching opportunity on a Saturday. Bring a board game or a deck of cards and don’t worry about a thing except which of their 140 different beers you’ll order next.
Johnny's Gold Brick
The Treadsack Group's "bar ass bar" in The Heights recently expanded by adding a 10,000-square foot garden that former Boom Boom Room owner Jackie Harris has been cultivating for 30 years. Open Thursday through Saturday, the fully-landscaped backyard offers lots of cool, intimate spaces that feel worlds away from Johnny's sometimes frenetic vibe. Best of all, table service means not having to break the mood by going to the bar to get another drink.