Garden State

Eating alfresco never tasted so good

As the weather heats up, eating out takes on new meaning. With this in mind we've gathered an international sampling of eateries with idyllic gardens where you can bask in the sun. And for those who don't have the dough to jet off to Tunis for whatever's left of their two weeks, these spots also serve as a culinary spin around the world. Enjoy!


Sripraphai
There's no better place to gobble jungle curry ($7) and laab ($6.50) than under the sun. Luckily New York's undisputed king of Thai food recently expanded its spiffy summers-only patio. The intermittent roar of low-flying planes passing overheard, bound for LaGuardia, punctuates the meal and provides as much of an adrenaline rush as fiery drunken noodles ($6.50). 64-13 39th Avenue, Woodside, Queens, 718-899-9599


A Voce
Foodie insiders have long considered Café Boulud the more consistent and substantive sibling to chef Daniel Boulud's glitzy namesake restaurant. The reason? Andrew Carmellini, who ran the kitchen for eight years, adding his masterful touch to a master's cuisine. Now Carmellini has traded refined French for rustic Italian cooking at this new spot, where diners nibble blood oranges tossed with radicchio and olives ($11) and featherweight gnocchi with prosciutto and peas ($22) alfresco, among herbs and lemon trees. 41 Madison Avenue, 212-545-8555


Sunburnt Cow
Though brunch here is more or less an American experience—OK, not quite, since every order comes with an optional Vegemite sandwich—dinner brings Australian-themed cuisine like pepperberry-rubbed shrimp kebabs ($10) and bangers and mash ($9) made with grilled kangaroo sausage. Revel in the food of the Outback in the open-air space out back, which sports a retractable roof and stays open past midnight. 137 Avenue C, 212-529-0005


Ici
Fort Greene's most ambitious restaurant has a spacious, serene garden, where an eclectic neighborhood crowd dines on highly seasonal and blessedly simple dishes such as grilled Montauk squid and minimally embellished local lettuces. For a distinctive dessert, the restaurant's owners work with Il Laboratorio del Gelato to make cool treats ($7) you can only find here, including lemon-basil sorbetti made with Brooklyn-grown basil and gelato flavored by cocktail bitters. 246 DeKalb Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-789-2778


Moustache
When the weather's warm, this location one-ups its West Village sibling by serving the same Middle Eastern standards done right—hot puffy pitas, lemony hummus ($4) doused with olive oil, killer lentil soup ($3.50)—in a cozy outdoor setting. Then, of course, there are the pitzas, such as lahambajin ($7.50), a heavenly mess of ground lamb, tomatoes, and parsley supported by a crispy crust. 265 East 10th Street, 212-228-2022


Mai
The food here, a happy mishmash of Malaysian and Vietnamese with a Singaporean dish or two thrown in for good measure, will surely distract you from the rather desolate stretch of Atlantic visible through its facade. But the shady garden, complete with a fountain, gives the tropical grub a proper stage. Between bites of sea bass grilled in banana leaf ($15.50) and slurps of sprightly pho ($7), close your eyes (really hard): You could be on a beach in Nha Trang. 497 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-797-3880


Le Souk
The dark dining room of this Middle Eastern is no place for dinner on a nice night. So thank heavens for the garden area, decked out with glowing lanterns and gyrating belly dancers. Forgo bottle service and focus on the chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons ($15) or shrimp in zesty tomato sauce ($7). 47 Avenue B, 212-777-5454


Ono
This garden used to be one of those hyper-exclusive spaces where to get in you needed to know somebody who knows somebody who knows Gisele Bundchen. But now the serene space, with its cabanas and plush purple banquettes, is accessible to even the least fashionable among us. The place may be Disney-esque, but that doesn't mean the charcoal-grilled chicken livers ($5 for two skewers) and silvery sardines ($6 for two skewers) don't taste fine in the fresh air. 18 Ninth Avenue, 212-660-6766


Bogota Latin Bistro
Owners Farid Ali and George Constantinou transformed a gloomy backyard into a festive extension of their colorful restaurant, hiring two local artists to paint the vivid mural depicting Latin greats like the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz. And it's the perfect backdrop for the vibrant South American–inspired cuisine: We're talking skirt steak with zippy chimichurri ($16), shrimp ceviche ($8), and arroz con pollo ($12) made from Constantinou's Costa Rican mother's recipe. 141 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-230-3805


Gavroche
This West Sider might excel at cassoulet and coq au vin, but as soon as the thermometer hits 70, neighborhood Francophiles forsake these gut bombs for dainty frogs' legs ($12) bombed with garlic and parsley and the assortment of house-cured fish ($18.50 feeds two). Where better to eat this light fare than in the bistro's tree-lined outdoor oasis to the soundtrack of a gurgling fountain? 12 West 14th Street, 212-647-8553

 
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