BY SHELBY HODGE // 05.29.20
Now that Texas has allowing restaurants to return to 50 percent occupancy, the concern among restaurateurs is will the public return? How many remain squeamish about being near strangers over a meal in the time of the coronavirus, is their concern?
Patio dining, where tables are spaced and fresh air circulates, is the answer for many. New studies have indicated that outdoor transmission of the coronavirus is rare. With that in mind, PaperCity is highlighting Houston’s Best Restaurant Patios. These are spots where dining alfresco is truly a joy.
One Fifth Mediterranean
Typically ahead of the curve, Underbelly Hospitality chieftan Chef Chris Shepherd has wasted no time expanding his group’s patio offerings. As of Thursday, he has opened a newly-installed patio in the former parking lot at One Fifth Mediterranean and it is a brilliant concept.
“We’re listening, Houston,” Shepherd writes in an email. “You feel more comfortable dining on a patio, so we are giving you a patio!”
Partnering with Lexus and Tellepsen Landscaping, One Fifth now boasts an open-air party tent (BOH Event Rentals) with social distancing seating for 40. Umbrellas, ferns, potted palms and artificial turf underfoot create a verdant space which Shepherd notes “an outside space perfect for hummus, pita and meats cooked al ha’esh.”
As a bonus guests driving a Lexus and dining on the patio receive a complimentary order of hummus and pita bread.
B.B. Lemon & B.B. Italia
Berg Hospitality, also one step ahead of the game, has installed chic cabanas and furnishings across the lawn of its Washington Avenue site for al fresco dining. The high-style comfort food restaurant’s existing patio continues to offer open air dining.
In the Memorial area, B.B. Italia has created a charming outdoor patio with faux grass, bright red umbrellas, festival overhead lighting and comfortable furnishings for those who prefer fresh air dining.
Where lovelier place to feast on Chef Drake Leonard’s to-die-for Hearth Roasted Oysters or the classic Smoked Chicken and Sausage Gumbo than on Eunice‘s patio? The venerable oaks of Greenway Plaza and the beds of robust ferns that flank the outdoor dining area make for an irresistible dinner setting.
Morning (starting at 9 am), noon and night (until 9 pm), seven days a week, this popular Washington Avenue bistro, bar and market is open for business with its upstairs patio dining available for full service and the downstairs patio open for counter service. Don’t miss the Chicken in a Garden or the Eggplant Napoleon for a hearty outdoor lunch.
If you are like many of us, you are getting up later in the morning and eating later in the day, the good news is that Urban Eats serves lunch until 3 pm.
Brennan’s of Houston
The tables might be a bit further apart on the patio in the days of the coronavirus but the romance remains as the fountain trickles and stars rotate overhead in the night sky. Where else to escape the current awkwardness than at Brennan’s where diving into Bananas Foster or Bread Pudding doesn’t seem so sinful these days.
The Annie Café & Bar
Sophisticated dining at The Annie hits glamorous, even romantic high notes when the table is set outdoors with dazzling views of Post Oak Boulevard. With Chef Robert del Grande’s signature dishes on the menu and restaurateur Ben Berg’s expertise and enthusiasm, this is sure to be one of the season’s outdoor hotspots.
B&B Butchers & Restaurant
The skyline view from the rooftop terrace never gets old just as the amazing food coming from the kitchen of B&B Butchers makes it one of Houston’s top steakhouses. With filets, ribeyes, burgers and those crazy good Carpet Baggers on the Half Shell, the menu — whether lunch, brunch or dinner — is a ’round the clock winner.
No listing of outdoor dining would be complete without including Backstreet Cafe, which has been a mainstay of cafe society for decades. Who doesn’t love a weekend brunch or romantic dinner on the patio noted for its shade trees, black umbrellas and banks of ferns? With famed chef Hugo Ortego orchestrating the menu, it’s a win win.
A Houston favorite among the social set, Tiny Boxwoods regularly sees lines form for diners eager to roost in the chic setting that reminds of the South of France or Southern California. And, of course, there are those killer chocolate cookies.
A long-time favorite for business lunches, event planning sessions and society tête-à-têtes, La Griglia continues its popularity with its solid, good food and friendly staff. The patio, an addition after the restaurant was purchased by Tilman Fertitta, is a popular spot for those seeking serious air circulation.
We can’t talk about high-style outdoor dining without including Brasserie 19 in River Oaks Shopping Center, which has enjoyed huge fans and a terribly chic following since originally opening a decade ago. This photo was taken before the Clark Cooper Concepts team added social distancing space between the outdoor (as well as indoor) tables.