where to eat right now
Where to eat in Houston right now: 8 best new patio restaurants to fall for this month with al fresco fare
Slightly chilly mornings and lower humidity means that fall has finally arrived. That means Houstonians will be filling patios at bars and restaurants across the city.
Of course, certain spaces are classics, and we understand why people will be flocking to places like Backstreet Cafe’s courtyard, Becks Prime’s live oak-shaded patio on Westheimer, or the Coltivare garden for a little outdoor dining.
At the same time, some newly opened bars and restaurants have inviting outdoor spaces of their own. Consider these as a new alternative to those old favorites.
Located in the former Bernie’s Burger Bus space in Bellaire, this upscale new sushi seats about 50 people on its fully covered patio. Even better, the restaurant will serve chef Yoshi Katsuyama’s, 19-course omakase to any seat in the restaurant, which means its possible to enjoy dishes like chu toro nigiri, scallop chawanmushi, and madai crudo while dining with the wind in your hair. It’s also possible to order a la carte for those who prefer a little more say in their dining experience. An extensive selection of wine, beer, and cocktails offers plenty of beverage choices.
The former Liberty Station has been transformed into a stylish pub devoted to pizza and cocktails. While the interior features a room devoted to taxidermy, the expansive patio makes for a pleasant place to dine. Rudyard’s chef Anthony Calleo developed the pizza recipes, which feature a crispy crust topped with combinations like pepperoni, mushroom, and feta or shaved Brussels sprouts, pancetta, blue cheese, and hot honey — or keep it simple with a classic cheeseburger. The cocktail menu features sections devoted to martinis, frozens, and high balls, all of which offer plenty of refreshment.
Blue Sushi Sake Grill
Nineties nostalgia is alive and well in many facets of our culture, so perhaps it makes sense that the trend would reach restaurants, too. The menu at this Omaha-based restaurant centers around a huge selection of sushi rolls that combine different types of fish and shellfish with vegetables, fried elements, sauces, and more. More modern aspects include a huge selection of vegan options and using sustainably sourced seafood. As for the patio, it’s adjacent to a M-K-T walkway that should provide solid people watching, but the colorful dining room is clearly the focus.
Cherry Block Smokehouse
So many Houston patios only offer a view of a parking lot, but the covered patio at this new, fast casual steakhouse sits next to the green space at the Stomping Grounds, the culinary-focused development in Garden Oaks. Compared to its original location at Bravery Chef Hall, the menu offers more choices that are still rooted in classic Southern and Texas fare — everything from shrimp cocktail, hush puppies, and wedge salad to po’ boys, barbecue, and steaks. The $23, 10-ounce ribeye is one of the best steak deals in Houston, and the cheeseburger gets an umami boost from demi glace.
Admittedly, the outdoor seating at this River Oaks-area restaurant only consists of a few tables next to the parking lot, but chef Roberto Crescini’s pastas are so good that it doesn’t really matter. Diners have the option to build their own dishes from a range of different pastas and sauces, but the real culinary fireworks come from whatever specials the Italian native has prepared that week. A recent meal featured two standout specials: tagliolini matched with colatura (a sauce made with anchovies) and bottarga (cured fish roe) that had a delicate seafood flavor and rigatoni with a hearty lamb bolognese.
The new location of Underbelly Hospitality’s flagship steakhouse boasts an upstairs patio and lounge that’s one of the city’s most-exciting outdoor dining spaces — complete with fire pits, TVs, and a view of the downtown skyline. Chef Greg Peters has created a menu of snacks and lighter entrees that includes a full selection of raw bar items as well as entrees such as shrimp and grits and a strip steak. Those who want the full steakhouse experience, including the signature baller boards, will have to dine downstairs. While the food menu may be limited, the full wine, beer, and cocktail offerings are available, and the ability to order and pay via QR codes makes for a more efficient service experience.
Most people will opt for the stylish, midcentury-inspired dining room at this Galleria-area newcomer, but the Dallas-based Italian restaurant also offers a patio with a view of one of the city's busiest intersections. Indoors or out, diners will find well-executed Italian classics like meatballs with focaccia, cacio e pepe, Caesar salad, and chicken piccata. Other standout dishes include the fried artichoke appetizer and spicy gemelli pasta. Friendly, knowledgeable service and an extensive selection of wine and cocktails enhance the experience.
Recently opened in The Woodlands, this Los Angeles-based restaurant puts its spin on classic American fare. Diners can make a burger using five different patties, five different buns, and more than 40 vegetables, toppings, and condiments. Alternatively, opt for a salad, hot dog, or sandwiches such as Buffalo chicken or the signature short rib grilled cheese. Will the cookie butter crunch milkshake taste better when consumed outdoors? Try it and tell us how it goes.