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RECIPE

ALFRESCO DINING

Enjoy a Pretty Outdoor Patio while the Weather is Just Right
By Robin Barr Sussman

Spring is prime time for alfresco dining in Houston, and no matter your zip code, a cool patio waits. Whether you’re looking for something shorts-and-flip-flops casual or a little more upscale, relax on one of these classic picks.

THE GROVE
This Discovery Green gem combines contemporary architecture and new American cuisine with the great outdoors. The soaring light-filled restaurant draws locals and guests from nearby hotels for its chic ambiance. Dine on the downstairs wraparound patio for a great view of the park and the city skyline or reserve the upstairs deck for a private event.
1611 Lamar St., 713-337-7321, www.thegrovehouston.com

IL GIARDINO
Savor the spring weather at Hotel Granduca’s still-new Il Giardino, a casual alfresco experience featuring light Italian fare, wines and Italian beer. Set within the hotel’s lush gardens, the shaded terrace overlooks the hotel’s beautiful saltwater swimming pool.
1080 Uptown Park Blvd., 713-418-1000, www.granducahouston.com   

HUGO’S
The spacious, ivy-covered patio with flowering plants and a gurgling fountain is the place to be on a breezy day for lunch, brunch or dinner. Even though you’re on bustling Westheimer, the tall white stucco fence keeps it quiet. You can’t miss with an expertly made margarita and one of the interior Mexican dishes like ahi tuna ceviche.
1600 Westheimer Road, 713-524-7744, www.hugosrestaurant.net

HOPDODDY BURGER BAR
Burgers and shakes are worth the wait on the patio at this popular Austin import — especially at the Rice Village location. Inventive burgers run the gamut from “Angus Beef Magic” (with mushrooms and goat cheese) to bison bacon and ahi tuna with sprouts. Besides gratis cucumber water, sip good wines and craft brew.
5510 Morningside Drive, 281-557-2337, and several other locations, www.hopdoddy.com

DEL FRISCO’S STEAKHOUSE
This swanky Galleria steak house recently got a big makeover, including a new rooftop patio. Catch cool breezes and the Post Oak Boulevard treetop views while noshing on oysters on the half shell, Del’s jumbo lump crab cake, broiled lobster tail and prime steaks galore.
5061 Westheimer Road, 713-355-2600, www.delfriscos.com

LOCAL FOODS
Committed to delicious and locally sourced ingredients, Local Foods showcases bountiful seasonal salads, fresh soups, creative sandwiches and dinner specials. The newest Local Foods in the Heights Mercantile sports an expansive patio facing the Heights bike trail and the brand’s first freestanding juice bar.
714 Yale St., 713-360-6133, and multiple locations, www.houstonlocalfoods.com

BRENNER’S STEAKHOUSE ON THE BAYOU
Hidden off Memorial Drive along Buffalo Bayou, this pastoral setting is a great escape from the frenetic urban jungle. Overlooking the sprawling green lawn, woods and cascading waterfall, the semi-covered patio is the place to relish steaks, chops and seafood. For small plates and cocktails, the outdoor Blue Bar is relaxing with cushy couches, small tables and a live music program.
1 Birdsall St., 713-868-4444, www.brennerssteakhouse.com

ARMADILLO PALACE
Kick back on Goode Co.’s patio with a selection of craft beers, savory bites (think pork and green chile empanadas, fried pork skins, guacamole and cornmeal-crusted oysters) — and live music. The massive shaded backyard space boasts an outdoor stage, communal dining tables and plenty of decorative Texas memorabilia. Look for crawfish by the pound when in season.
5015 Kirby Dr., 713-526-9700, www.thearmadillopalace.com

TINY BOXWOODS
Garden gabbing friends and ladies-who-lunch adore this chic cafe nestled on the grounds of the Thompson + Hanson nursery near River Oaks. There’s even room for the kiddos to play in the perfectly manicured grass. A simple menu of American favorites, including Cobb salad, thin-crust pizza, sandwiches with French twists and “the” chocolate chip cookies, keeps the whole group happy. Movies on the lawn until June start at dusk. Check out the website for details!
3614 W. Alabama St., 713-622-4224, and other locations, www.tinyboxwoods.com

RECIPE

LA PROVENCE COCKTAIL

Feel like lounging on your own patio? Here’s a beautiful spring-like sip inspired by the La Provence cocktail at La Table Houston restaurant and bar (1800 Post Oak Blvd., 713-439-1000, www.latablehouston.com), which also sports a chic patio for an alfresco respite.

Ingredients
Ice
2 ounces Hendrick’s gin
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1.5 ounces simple syrup
2-4 dashes of lavender bitters
Fresh lavender sprigs for garnish

Method
In a shaker with ice, add all ingredients except lavender sprig and shake to combine. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a fresh lavender sprig.
Yield: 1 cocktail

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