The safest way to enjoy your favorite food and drink during the COVID-19 pandemic is to get takeout and hang out at home. But if you do want to go somewhere, sitting outdoors in open air while staying at least six feet apart from others is a good option.
Thankfully there are more than a few fun places to dine outdoors in Houston, including beer gardens that feature a wealth of ale and lager options and the kind of food that pairs perfectly with them. Here are some of our favorites open now for outdoor dining and takeout:
For folks down in the Meyerland area, Bacco on the Bayou is a quiet respite with a solid list of reds, whites, and rosés (plus beer and spirits). Pick at pizzas like the Asteria (garlic and pesto, plus mushrooms and arugula with mozzarella) and the Hypnos (butternut squash, red onion, and mozzarella with red sauce). You can lounge out on the back patio overlooking Brays Bayou, or if you'd rather have an at-home pizza party, takeout is available.
There's no indication, after exiting Interstate 69 up around Parker Road in the Eastex/Jensen area, that you're about to enjoy some beers on a spacious lawn replete with horseshoes, a fire pit, and a whole lot of picnic tables. But that's City Acre Brewing Co., also home to a garden of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, used in making the beer, or onion-thyme buns for killer burgers like the Urban Cowboy (flourished appropriately with fried onion strings and jalapeño ranch dressing). You can also get hefty Northside Nachos with chicken, bacon, or pulled pork, or opt for loaded fries City Acre-style with that shredded porky goodness, queso, and jalapeños. The food here is reason alone to visit, though the homemade beer (like the coriander-spiced blonde called Hitchcock) ain't bad either.
Companion to King's BierHaus in the Heights, this Pearland attraction recently updated its digs, reopening with a new look in July. Outside that means a fresh green turf beneath a stage with a sunflower mural, a bright bar area backed with subway tile, and tables made of reclaimed wood. There you can dig into the traditional German biergarten fare the Sitter family has been known for: schnitzel of all styles (pizza, barbecue, Tex-Mex, and Cajun), lavish hot dogs, and of course, all varieties of sausage, from kasewurst (cheese sausage) to weisswurst (Bavarian veal and pork back bacon sausage), and from wild boar to rattlesnake.
A diamond in the rough, Lazy Oaks has an inviting beer garden area with blue picnic tables, some under cover, along with a soon-to-be-finished pergola that'll have more seating and televisions. The food here is solid, highlighted by five styles of chicken wings (which you can get either char-grilled or boneless) and a couple of really tasty tacos. The turkey picadillo with refried beans is a winner, as is the roasted cauliflower, and all are topped with queso fresco, pickled shallots, and cilantro. Search the beer list for local favorites including Brash's Cali Green.
Local Group Brewing Co.
The side patio at this new Near Northside brewery offers a sweet view of the downtown skyline. It's also the perfect place to enjoy a big ol' plate of poutine. The classic Canadian street food comes topped with either shredded duck or chopped wild mushrooms (and an egg). With real cheese curds and rich brown gravy, it's great with a couple of housemade brews (try Sparkle Motion, a lighter, blonde-style beer). Pub bites like smoked chicken wings and chips and beer queso are also on offer, both at the taproom and for takeout.
Thanks to its spacious outdoor patio tucked along Silver Street, you can enjoy the brewpub grub and varied beers of Platypus, Houston's foremost Australian-inspired brewing operation. Pair the solid Mexican lager Ole Chit with its deliciously loaded Irish I was Aussie side: French fries topped with bacon bits, sambal beer cheese, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, jalapeños, green onions, and sour cream. Another possibility: the stellar fish and chips. For something a touch healthier, the lettuce wraps, with beer-marinated grilled chicken, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and cucumber, are terrific.
Revelry is one of Montrose's finest places to catch a game or chill out with friends, and its back patio has enough room to dig into some tasty appetizers while downing a couple of craft beers. Consider the cheeseburger egg rolls—juicy crumbled beef and cheese inside a crispy, fried casing and served with Thousand Island dressing—and the stuffed mushrooms, or fried balls filled with baby 'shrooms, bacon bits, and cream cheese. Pair them with the latest Saint Arnold or 8th Wonder brew, or maybe an old fashioned or Moscow mule. All offerings are available via takeout as well.
While the A-frame space abutting the stage at this 25,000-square-foot bar, music venue, and restaurant downtown has ample room to stretch out, the side patio with twinkle lights and modern Adirondack chairs is the perfect place to catch some fresh air and munch on entrées like the pork carnitas quesadilla and the Drunk Chick: beer-can game hen with jalapeño spoon bread and chile-lime butter. Appetizers like deviled eggs with cracklins and chorizo empanadas will make you feel all picnicky inside. Then there are the drinks, like house margaritas, frosés, and rustic waters (the bar's take on ranch water), perfect for the searing summer days, whether outside or inside the comfort of your home (takeout and delivery available, too).
If anyone had any doubts of the staying power of Saint Arnold, they were quickly erased when the O.G. Houston craft brewery opened the indoor-outdoor Beer Garden and Restaurant in 2018. The beautiful space with its industrial cathedral-style roof; picnic tables and Adirondack chairs; bocce courts; and brewpub fare like coal-fired pizza (the Flanders with its four cheeses is a mouth-watering attraction), wings (fire emoji is the spice level you need), and sandwiches (crawfish roll ... all day) became an instant destination for locals and tourists alike. Two years in, it still rocks, and it's the quintessential place for a little day-drinking.