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These 10 Houston restaurants nail outdoor dining

A photo of Red logo
by Lauren McDowell
Updated 10 May 2023

Most Houstonians require a very special restaurant patio to keep them from running to the comfort of indoor air conditioning, though some city dwellers brave the humid summers for an alfresco meal, no matter how high the rising temps.

A multi-leveled patio at a swanky American spot in Heights/Washington offers soothing views of the rolling hills. A perch under one of the red umbrellas at a Tex-Mex favorite on the Eastside confirms that nothing beats a chilled margarita on a sweltering Houston day. At a Creole restaurant in Upper Kirby, outdoor tables in the shade of massive oak trees feel like a well-kept secret.

Whether you’re after an idyllic picnic-inspired meal or an action-packed open-air happy hour, these spots have you covered. Read on for a guide to the 10 best restaurants for outdoor dining in Houston right now.

A photo of Brennan's of Houston restaurant
4.9
4.9 (3790)
$50 and over
Creole / Cajun / Southern
Montrose
About the restaurant

The joie de vivre of New Orleans-style dining is alive and well in the courtyard at Brennan’s, where wrought-iron furniture, white tablecloths, and gas lamp posts set the scene for romance. The burble of the courtyard fountain accompanies diners as they sip on gumbo and dig into pecan-crusted Gulf fish with a Creole meunière sauce. Reservations are highly recommended for popular weekday lunchtime slots when the business crowd cashes in on one of the best deals in town: 25-cent martinis with the purchase of an entree.


Top review
AceDufferman
Dined 6 days ago
Great experience. Staff, food, wine, and service all excellent.
A photo of Rosalie restaurant
3.7
3.7 (683)
$30 and under
Italian
Downtown
About the restaurant

When dusk falls and the light is just right, the sun setting over Buffalo Bayou is nothing short of spectacular. And yet, that experience is made even more magical with a Margherita pizza and a bowl of spinach and ricotta manicotti in spicy vodka sauce from Rosalie’s kitchen. Comfortable seats and stylish umbrellas draw the Downtown office crowd and theatergoers, who come for standout negronis and arancini. Those looking for a full-fledged Italian meal will be enthralled by heartier dishes conceptualized by Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined on 12 May 2024
There are no words to truly describe my experience at Rosalie! The food and service were impeccable, truly top tier. Tannis was our waiter and he was amazing and the front end manager Christina was sooo sweet and helpful and the executive sous chef brought out our dessert! The décor and ambiance were vibrant and beautiful, yet initiate. We had a great Mother's Day and Rosalie and the C. Baldwin hotel were a huge part if it! 10/10
A photo of Rainbow Lodge restaurant
4.7
4.7 (5094)
$31 to $50
American
Heights / Washington
About the restaurant

The century-old cabin that’s home to Rainbow Lodge is a stunner, so it’s only fitting that the restaurant’s multi-leveled patio is equally impressive. The patio’s elevated outdoor tables overlook the banks of White Oak Bayou, where rolling hills provide one-of-a-kind Houston views. It’s an excellent perch for enjoying plates of wild game such as piñon coffee-rubbed grilled elk loin, smoked duck gumbo, or seared halibut on Parmesan risotto. Pair your dishes with a cocktail or a bottle of wine from the extensive list to fuel the ultimate getaway vibes.


Top review
Nene
Dined on 12 May 2024
The food was delicious and the service was great!!
A photo of Kau Ba restaurant
4.4
4.4 (374)
$30 and under
Vietnamese
Montrose
About the restaurant

Kâu Ba’s colorful shaded patio is a reflection of the creativity that chef Nikki Tran pours into her Viet-Cajun neighborhood restaurant. Dotted with foliage and shaded from the bustle of Montrose’s busiest streets, the restaurant’s outdoor garden is an inviting setting to sample the chef’s innovative fusion dishes. It makes for an equally comfortable place to sit solo with a matcha latte and bánh mì or to visit with a group to share dishes such as lemongrass pork skewers and a plate of baby soft-shell crab with Kâu Ba’s signature Cajun-spiced citrus Viejun sauce and Cajun salt.


Top review
RachelleD
Dined on 31 Mar 2024
Good food! Wonderful service, able to accommodate the food allergies of my guest!
A photo of Brasserie 19 restaurant
4.8
4.8 (2621)
$50 and over
French
River Oaks
About the restaurant

Brasserie 19 is home to a see-and-be-seen patio, thanks to its luxe River Oaks shopping center setting. The French brasserie attracts a chic crowd that takes advantage of elegantly plated hors d’oeuvres, attentive service, and an extensive and well-priced wine list. The patio’s sought-after tables are perennially filled with the buzz of diners enjoying caviar and chips or steak tartare and a plate of trout almondine—with a side of some of the city’s best people-watching.


Top review
Jayker
Dined on 12 May 2024
Always fantastic! I had a wonderful Mother’s Day meal with my son.
A photo of B.B. Lemon Washington restaurant
4.6
4.6 (968)
$30 and under
Unspecified
Heights / Washington
About the restaurant

If B.B. Lemon is New York-inspired, then the fully shaded patio sets the scene for a Hamptons party (sans beach, of course). Channel a summer vacation by sitting in a cane-backed chair and sipping a Pimm’s cup-inspired cocktail. Shared plates of blue crab beignets, steak frites, and cheesecake for dessert make for a convivial group meal. Just know that when it comes to an order of the restaurant’s beloved lobster roll (served Maine-style or Connecticut-style), it’s likely everyone for themselves.


Top review
Lld71
Dined on 11 May 2024
Everything was top-notch. Food was excellent and our server was amazing. We will be back!
A photo of La Lucha restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1264)
$30 and under
Seafood
Heights / Washington
About the restaurant

La Lucha’s outdoor meals were inspired by chef Ford Fry’s childhood visits to San Jacinto Inn, a well-loved but now shuttered seafood and chicken dinner spot. Meals here channel an idyllic picnic, whether you’re seated at a romantic table for two or with a group that lays claim to an entire wooden table. Shucked oysters, juicy fried chicken, and warm flaky biscuits taste extra good beneath the shade of an old oak tree. To all that, add attentive service and soft serve for dessert and it’s hard to find a sweeter outdoor dining spot.


Top review
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined on 8 May 2024
Great meal, drinks, and service! Nice oyster happy hour!
A photo of Eunice restaurant
4.6
4.6 (2476)
$30 and under
Creole / Cajun / Southern
Upper Kirby / Shepherd Corridor
About the restaurant

The outdoor tables at Eunice still feel like a well-kept secret, hidden in the Greenway Plaza area. Those in the know sit under the shade of massive oak trees while enjoying small plates such as cornmeal-crusted oysters, chicken liver mousse with strawberry and fig jam, and hand-pulled burrata with biscuits and pepper jelly. Crowds come for the weekday special, a $27 deal that includes a main (such as wild boar ragout) and a choice of gumbo or salad plus an iced tea or a three-finger vodka martini.


Top review
Impressed
Dined 1 day ago
Amanda was great and food was delicious, portions right size, ambiance comfortable but not overdone
A photo of Brenner's Steakhouse on the Bayou restaurant
4.7
4.7 (5421)
$50 and over
Steakhouse
River Oaks
About the restaurant

The wild natural beauty of Buffalo Bayou meets a lush manicured garden at Brenner’s Steakhouse’s expansive outdoor terrace. Set back from roads and passersby, the restaurant’s layout shelters diners from city noise and buildings and results in an exclusive feel ideal for special occasions. The swanky menu fits the setting, with specialties such as Akaushi beef ribeye, crispy duck leg confit, and Alaskan king crab legs.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 4 days ago
Brenners on the bayou is definitely capitalizes on scenery and service. The outside portion of the restaurant is decked with nice furniture and good for socializing. Inside the restaurant is definitely not the quiet romantic dinner type but the waiters/waitresses ate super nice and attentive. Food is also amazing.
A photo of The Original Ninfa's on Navigation restaurant
4.7
4.7 (3120)
$30 and under
Mexican
East Side
About the restaurant

There are few things better on a hot Houston day than a frosty margarita, especially when sipped on the lively outdoor patio at the city’s historic Original Ninfa’s on Navigation. The revitalized East End esplanade makes an energetic backdrop for the happy crowds that regularly gather for some of the city’s most praised Tex-Mex. Regardless of the season, diners can be found under Ninfa’s signature red umbrellas, snacking on tortilla chips and reveling in the arrival of a sizzling plate of Mama Ninfa’s famous fajitas.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
Ninfas continues to provide a satisfactory dining experience. Our waiter Antonio was attentive and charmingly funny. The entire wait staff is so kind.
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