Recently, PaperCity gave readers a heads up on the hottest new restaurant patios for savoring our first taste of fall. As the temps today are perfection, we now remind you of a few of the venerable Houston restaurant patios where Houstonians traditionally flock when the weather is fine.
This is the grande dame of patio dining with enough saucy New Orleans flavor to entice the most rigid AC hound. The vast oaks provide shade, the trickling fountain delivers a touch of romance and who can argue with the old school charm and hospitality. The patio is open 11 to 2 for lunch everyday and most evenings, but you’ll need to check.
The Brennan’s patio, so popular with business types, brides and event planners, is often booked for evening events. This is the spot for those seeking a sophisticated dining experience al fresco.
Brasserie 19 and La Griglia
The dueling hot spots in River Oaks Shopping Center both offer a lively patio dining scene — La Griglia’s on a tree-shaded side, B-19s front and center at the entrance. La Griglia, often considered the city politic’s swank cafeteria, fields requests for patio tables from a clutch of socialites, business heavyweights and romancing couples. In years past, owner Tilman Fertitta and his family made Sunday night supper on the patio a trusted ritual.
Brasserie 19’s patio is a see-and-be-seen world where geezers driving Bentleys gather for cigar lunches and where the fashionable gather to bask in the notoriety that a B-19 table delivers. (On occasion, we find ourselves slowly driving by in order to see the who’s who that are dining outside.) The collection of jazzy imported cars parked out front is enough to make it worth a visit.
A love of champagne and oysters is not a requisite for patio dining at this River Oaks enclave of movers and shakers but it makes the party much more fun. Shaded with California umbrellas, the tables are usually full, even on the hottest of days. With the current cool spell, a’Bouzy could well be the place to perch while increasing one’s social creds.
Il Giardino at Hotel Granduca
One of the beauties of European travel is the luxury of dining al fresco in beautiful settings. Thanks to this lovely restaurant, the transatlantic hop is not necessary for a sampling of tasty Italian fare while saluting fall temps. All day dining and cocktails are served on the shaded terrace overlooking the hotel’s grandly landscaped swimming pool. With a Negroni or Bellini in hand, you could almost image you are in a quiet nook at Hotel Quisisana on Capri.
The umbrella-shaded deck is a hot ticket anytime the weather cooperates. With its central gurgling fountain, a profusion of flowering plants and the food of Hugo Ortega, this staple of the River Oaks neighborhood is a sure thing for lunch and dinner and for a leisurely weekend brunch.
Morning, noon and night, this most charming of indoor/outdoor restaurant is packed with trés chic patrons, everyone from moms enjoying while their kids are at Pooh Corner to business types savoring a cappuccino over contract discussions. (This is where Holly Moore and Jim Kastleman sealed the deal with my coming on board at PaperCity.)
The umbrella-shaded tables on the surrounding patio are prime seating particularly with the verdant overlook of the manicured lawn that leads to chicest of chic Thompson + Hanson nursery.
Etoile Cuisine et Bar
You don’t ordinarily think of this oh-so-French brasserie as a place to dine outdoors. But the Uptown Park roost is a hit with Europeans more inclined to forgo air conditioning than typical Texans. And, yet, when the weather is nice Etoile’s quaint patio provides a front row seat to Uptown comings and goings and entree chef Philippe Verpiand’s fab French fare.
The Tasting Room
Devotees of this Uptown Park venue don’t seem to care if it’s mid-August or late January, the patio is regularly packed with those seeking a taste from the cellar boasting more than 150 wines and bites from the commendable kitchen. But when the weather turns nice like it has this week, there are few livelier spots for celebrating Mother Nature’s blessings.
Brenner’s on the Bayou
There isn’t a more beautiful view from a Houston restaurant patio than that of Bar Blue located at the back of this popular steak house. Rising above the banks of Buffalo Bayou, sitting in something of a forested sanctuary, it’s difficult to imagine that you are in the midst of a city of 2.3 million.
Cranes light on tree branches, alligator gar swoosh by in the waters below and gentle breezes ruffle leaves of the surrounding trees. Beautiful for weekend brunches and a happening happy hour scene steadily draw an SRO crowd.