Regardless of how much the temperature has actually dropped since July (not much, let's be real), the fact remains: it is officially autumn, and that is cause to celebrate. In a few short weeks, discussions will turn to those of the Halloween and costume-hunting variety, and soon after there may even be a chill in the air. But today, we're spotlighting the sublime—not the scary—with a look at two of our favorite restaurants, one new and one not-so-new, with charming outdoor spaces perfect for welcoming fall back to town.
Rico's Morning + Noon + Night
401 Gray St., 713-750-0050, ricosmnn.com
Rico's is a welcome addition to Midtown for both people and pups alike. Located at the corner of Gray and Bagby in the newly redeveloped Bagby Park (that's where the giant "Midtown" sign is, for the geographically challenged), part of the charm of this brand new, glorified burger-and-hot-dog stand is that it caters to all: grown-ups, kids, even the four-legged members of the family—and into the wee hours of the night, might I add. The itty-bitty kiosk provides diners with a cozy, dog-friendly outdoor seating area in the way of bar stools and picnic tables, even promoting "Yappy Hour" when pups are rewarded with well-deserved treats after a run in the gated dog park just steps away.
The newest restaurant to join the growing list of hot spots at the popular Midtown intersection, Rico's Morning + Noon + Night is the brainchild of the team behind Cyclone Anaya's Mexican Kitchen. It's even named after Jesus "Cyclone" Anaya's youngest son, the current owner of all of the Cyclone Anaya restaurants. Cyclone Anaya's corporate chef Jason Gould is currently manning the day-to-day operations, as the restaurant aims to offer Houstonians a place to indulge in good, casual food all day long and late into the night. The restaurant plans to stay open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, catering to the local crowds of 20- and 30-somethings and their after-hour cravings.
The team behind Rico's boasts a "support local" attitude, sourcing ingredients from Texas vendors and using only the freshest produce possible. "Morning" menu items include breakfast tacos, breakfast sandwiches, fresh fruit smoothies and Katz coffee, while the "Noon" and "Night" menus boast a bacon-wrapped hot dog made with 44 Farms beef and a Tex-Mex burger that smothers a 44 Farms beef patty with queso, salsa and fresh guacamole (a nod to the popular appetizer trio at Cyclone Anaya's). Rico's offers a plethora of beverage choices from shakes and iced coffee to wine and beer, including Houston favorites like 8th Wonder, Karbach and Saint Arnold. Weekend mornings, meanwhile, are reserved for mimosas. And as Houston's weather begins to look more and more promising, it is only a matter of time before Bagby Park begins hosting movie nights on the lawn, so stay tuned.
2555 Kirby Dr., 713-255-4440, houstonlocalfoods.com
The Upper Kirby location of this obsessed-over, farm-to-table "local food" joint is known just as much for its picturesque patio as the fresh, organic menu for which it first gained renown. Sitting on prime real estate at Kirby and Westheimer (you may remember it as the old Taco Milagro stomping grounds), Local Foods's large patio is where you will no doubt find yourself—and not just because the much smaller indoor dining room is always packed! Menu items like the crunchy chicken sandwich with provolone cheese and buttermilk ranch or the chopped Asian chicken salad are best paired with the house mintade that's a blend of vivid orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit juices and fresh mint.
Contemporary yet comfortable, the patio boasts views of nearby shopping and dining at posh West Ave across the street, while towering palms meet your glance at every turn. Your summer vacation won't soon be forgotten as sunshine streams into the open-air courtyard, with only the bright blue table umbrellas and strings of garden lights to distract you from a clear Houston day.
Open seven days a week, Local Foods offers a variety of daily specials in addition to its seasonal menu, including several vegetarian-friendly items. Wines available by the glass and bottle, along with a variety of Texas beers and locally made liquors like Paula's Texas Orange and Treaty Oak Rum only up the wow factor. Although the Rice Village location of Local Foods is just as popular at lunch, the Upper Kirby location's vibrant patio and Texas-themed cocktails assist with its transition from day to night.