After work drinks? Need a place to park the stroller for two hours? No matter what, you can always hang at the beer garden. In recent years they’ve grown in stature and size (have you even been to Saint Arnold yet?) and now you can find one for just about any kind of Houstonian. Here are 10 of our favorites, all with superlatives … because we love them for very different reasons.
The Best Distillation of Houston with Hammocks
To channel Stefon: This bar set in a circa-1920s grocery store has everything Houston. There are boozy rum and vodka drinks, a frozen mango cocktail with chamoy, wine, local beer including big bottles, pizza from Luigi’s, DJ sets, a weekly market, and lots of hammocks for chilling out. Always abuzz with young Houstonians toasting to the weekend, it’s a place to be seen … hopefully while relaxing.
The Best Grub to Pair with Your Pilsner
If you’re surprised to hear that this unassuming brewery off of I-69 near Tidwell offers superior bar grub, you need to familiarize yourself. Chef Rick Kelsay makes everything from weekend brunch dishes (fried chicken and waffles, anyone?) to loaded fry plates (get City Acre style with pulled pork and queso) to outstanding burgers like the Urban Cowboy (beef and bacon patty with jalapeño ranch and fried onion). After stuffing your face, take a beer out to City Acre’s backyard for a beanbag toss or to lounge beside the fire pit.
The Best Place for Your Good Boys and Girls
Weekend afternoons were made for watching good dogs zip around a park like it was a Formula One course. That’s why EaDo’s hot new beer garden from Houston Dynamo legend Brian Ching installed Finley Field, a 3,500-square-foot dog park with plenty of space for lots of four-legged action. Dogs are allowed everywhere at the Backyard, home to 25 taps, a solid wine list, and rotating food trucks. Here “BYOB” means Bring Your Own Bones.
The Best Place to Spend 10 Minutes Scanning a Beer List
Something hoppy? Maybe light? Perhaps a big stout? The possibilities are endless at this day-drinking paradise for families, dates, and big groups of friends. Heights Bier Garten’s lengthy menu draws on both local favorites (Brash, Eureka Heights, New Magnolia) and respected national names (Firestone Walker, Parish, Rogue), along with several ciders and about two-dozen wines … so good luck deciding.
The Best Place to Bring Everyone
A lot of great Houston stories start with the phrase “So we were at Kirby Ice House ….” You should have no trouble finding a spot for you and your friends in the 30,000-square-foot backyard with TVs, twinkle lights, and pastel-colored plastic chairs. Similarly, it won’t be difficult to find a beverage. Kirby boasts 51 mostly local draft beers and a full bar with a couple dozen tequilas and scotches. And now that there are two Kirby Ice House locations—Memorial joining the original in Upper Kirby—you have no excuse but to bring the party out.
The Best Place to Let the Kiddos Run Wild
One word: playground. Yup, you could be sitting at a picnic table with the latest Great Heights IPA and a couple of tasty turkey picadillo tacos while the little ones climb up, dart across, and slide down the playground equipment at this Spring Branch spot. Lazy Oaks carries about two dozen draft beers—many of them locals—plus a modest selection of wine and frosé. Just remember that playtime is daytime—when the sun goes down, it’s adults only here.
The Best Place to Just Drink a Beer
This beer garden has never played around. Heck, for a while its website URL was “damn good food cold ass beer dot com.” While they’ve moved on from that, Moon Tower does just that, offering hot dogs, tacos, and burgers like the Cheech—goat cheese, roasted poblanos, bacon, sambal mayo—and a robust list of local brews. Not only are Brash, Equal Parts, and Saint Arnold regulars here, but Moon Tower produces its own ales, including Panther Hawk Pale. No play areas or colorful chairs here; just picnic tables, grub, and brews. Cheers.
The Best Place to Kick It (Literally)
Own a “Euro club kit”? Know what those words together even mean? Another indoor-outdoor bar from Brian Ching, Pitch (as in soccer) 25 (as in Ching’s uniform number) is the ultimate football hang with more than 40 draft beers, wine, frozen cocktails, burgers and snacks, and a miniature soccer field. Join a league or come watch the next big match … this is the place. All you need is that kit (jersey).
The Best Place to Spot Up at 5:09 p.m. Thursday
Less “pose against neon signs and order juice-box vodka drinks” and more “sip a pilsner and play Jenga,” this neighborhood nook has everything you want in a friendly happy hour hang. You’ve got lots of local beer including stuff from Saint Arnold and Holler, an L-shaped, mostly covered patio with plenty of seating and televisions, plus wine, cocktails, and—in case you want to extend happy hour—both steak night and lotería on Thursdays.
The Best ‘Mom, Dad, Welcome to Houston’ Place
If you’re not sure where in the Bayou City to bring visitors for that grand introduction, ask if they like beer, or pizza, or the outdoors, or fans, or sporting event watch parties, or bocce, or giant kettles turned upside down so that they act like fountains. Opened in 2018, Saint Arnold’s 115,000-square-foot beer garden has it all. It gets mighty crowded weekends—apparently lots of people already know this is the place to bring guests to enjoy a couple of pints of Art Car IPA.