Drink in the sunshine!
One surefire way to capitalize on the weekend, weekday, weeknight – really just any time – is to have a couple drinks amongst friends in the open air of a patio. Get out and about this season at some of our favorite watering holes in town. [Featured image: @wicklowheights]
Quick note: we’re limiting the definition of patio bars to bars whose patios are sizably larger than their indoor seating (not large-batch breweries such as Saint Arnold’s and 8th Wonder – we’ll save that list for another time). Is that arbitrary enough? Oh well, let’s go.
Axelrad is as much a concept piece as a bar: the two-story venue is a centruy-old manifestation of artists’ visions, from the artisan tap handles, to the seating and textiles. Outside, dubbed the Neon Garden, is a vast patio lined with hammock nooks and bedecked with long community tables.
As a venue, Axelrad regularly features video installation projects, stand-up comedy and open mics, jazz nights, as well as live bands and DJ sets (with past headliners such as Paul Banks and Twin Shadow). But let’s not forget, it is by virtue a patio bar. As such, Axelrad offers a dizzying selection of craft beers and cocktails. While Axelrad doesn’t offer a food menu, their garden is adjoined by Luigi’s Pizza as well as a tiny neighborhood of food trucks from any of which you can bring back to your table. All in all, Axelrad is a cultural stand-out from the other contemporaries and is one of the raddest places in Houston, period. 1517 Alabama St.
2. Moon Tower Sudworks
I might catch a little heat for this one, as Moon Tower Sudworks does brew their own beer. But its size and distribution are small enough to fit into the parameters of my vague definition of patio bars. Anyways, Moon Tower Sudworks was the first place I ever tried a hamburger with a fried egg — for this reason it holds a special place in my heart. But there’s plenty more to love in this Second Ward brewpub. Their patio resembles more of a backyard and is a perfect setting to ride your buzz. Pick your poison from their perpetually stacked menu of local crafts and other wild-named beers of which you’ve never heard. In addition to their melt-in-your-mouth hamburgers, they got the best damn hotdogs in the game. Final note, don’t miss out on their movie nights! 3004 Canal St.
3. Truck Yard
Who knew that there was a straight-up carnival in the middle of East Downtown, Houston? Spangled with twinkly lights, yardsale-begotten furniture, and a live music stage, the Truck Yard is a jangly oasis to drink watermelon-sized Moscow Mules and crush Philly Cheesesteak. Also, wait, is that a Ferris Wheel?? 2118 Lamar St.
4. West Alabama Ice House
You won’t find many sparkly cocktails here — in fact, you won’t find any. As per icehouse tradition — and the West Alabama Icehouse being the oldest icehouse in Houston — it serves only beer, wine, and cider. You may bring your own food, or better yet, order from Tacos Tierra Caliente — one of the best tacos trucks in the city parked across the street. It’s a great hang day or night, with ping-pong tables, cornhole, a pool table, and a basketball court for you to drunkenly squander your hoop dreams. 1919 W Alabama St.
5. Heights Bier Garten
It seems like all my friends live in the Heights now. Thankfully so, as now visiting is an excuse to stop by the Heights Bier Garten. This happy hour haven is shared with Worcester’s Annex. So if you yearn for something off the deep list of beer and wine at HBG, you can wet your whistle with a hand-crafted cocktail from Wooster’s. HBG also offers a full food and snack menu; take your order on one of their swing chairs and see how many pretzels you can eat before the chains give way. 1433 N Shepherd Dr #1
6. Bar Boheme
This floral Montrose hang is a Bohemian hideaway twinkling with homespun cocktails and craft libations. Here, visitors can nosh on mountains of Vietnamese fries in a garden atmosphere day and night while also being treated to the occasional drag, flamenco, and mediterranean performance. 307 Fairview St.
7. Social Beer Garden
Vibrant patio seating, clean cut lawn, and colorful murals – Social Beer Garden in Midtown offers a vivid outdoor atmosphere by which to enjoy a variety of excellent outdoor activities including live music, steak night, dinner and a movie, and backyard LAW Wrestling. The beer garden also offers a variety of rotating food trucks to make sure the experience is complete with good eats. 3101 San Jacinto St.
8. Present Company
Cute, colorful, and easily Instagrammable, Present Company on Westheimer is a Palm Springs-inspired patio bar with tropical vibes and quirky cocktails. The bar also offers a variety of bar snacks that range from nachos, green chili mac n cheese, parmesan truffles fries, as well as main dishes such as burgers, pizzas, salads and desserts. 1318 Westheimer Rd.
9. Secret Garden
All year long, the Secret Garden patio is vibrant with floral splendor. Planted on the 2,000-foot patio of Bravery Chef Hall, Secret Garden offers an enchanting Downtown escape. Its precious greenhouse is adorned with a multiplicity of striking floral arrangements fit for a wedding. At nightfall, neon lights compliment its charming fairy tale ambiance in dreamlike hues. 409 Travis St.
10. Wicklow Heights
The dog-friendly patio in the Heights offers a laidback garden retreat from the city, fit with twinkly lights, picnic tables, and a plethora of cocktails. In addition to daily specials like Taco Tuesdays, Steak Night on Wednesdays, and Old Fashioned Mondays, Wicklow Heights features Happy Hour from 4 – 6 pm from Monday through Friday. 1027 W 19th St