Sometimes our hunger can’t be contained within mere brick and mortar, and so we set out in search of the city’s many courtyards, patios, gardens, terraces, and rooftops, looking for a place to put food into our mouths while enjoying the weather. A fine time can be had outdoors, whether gazing out at a beautiful vista or eating within the confines of ivy-covered walls. Outdoor dining in New York adds its own intangible spice, even if one of those spices is occasionally exhaust fumes. Here are our favorite places to bask in the airy glow of a gorgeous day.
10. The Bahche, 191 7th Street, Brooklyn; 718-422-0801 A former warehouse in Gowanus sounds like a great place to host a Molly-fueled EDM festival, but this Mediterranean cafe with a well-appointed courtyard is a perfectly respectful tenant, and one whose food needn’t be experienced while rolling. The abbreviated menu includes simple, fresh salads and panini, as well as shareable snacks like hummus, string bean, and eggplant meze.
9. The High Line, closest to the 14th Street and 18th Street entrances on Tenth Avenue Climb the High Line’s stairs and watch out for double entendres: The west side attraction is basically one big elevated food tour, both in its offerings and its construct. Let Paul Grieco drop some sherry knowledge at Terroir, tuck into brisket at Delaney Barbecue’s SmokeLine, and cool off with frozen treats from La Newyorkina, L’Arte del Gelato, Melt Bakery, and People’s Pops.
8. Cafe Allegria, 547 St. Mark’s Avenue, Brooklyn; 917-589-8418 If the outdoor seating area adjacent to this charming Crown Heights cafe feels like someone’s backyard, that’s because it is. The owners live upstairs, and inside, vintage design elements adorn a counter and kitchen area that still retain some residential charm. Bagels and croissants are made in-house, and coffee’s served strong. [
7. Vetro by Russo’s, 164-49 Cross Bay Boulevard, Queens; 718-843-8387 Frank Russo is the man behind the Russo’s on the Bay brand, which has proliferated throughout Queens to spread his particular brand of hospitality, which often features large portions of reliable Italian fare. Vetro goes for Howard Beach swank, with an exterior neon glow and expansive outdoor patio overlooking the northern tip of Jamaica Bay. The Vegas-light architecture complements plates of clams oreganata, king crab-stuffed shrimp smothered in béchamel, and pork osso buco.
6. Sea Witch Tavern, 703 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-227-7166 It’s far too easy to wile away an afternoon in the back garden at this Sunset Park watering hole, which features a manmade terraced babbling brook running through its middle. In addition to having one of our favorite fried clam rolls in town, pork schnitzel that dwarfs its bun, and a dressed up fast food-style burger, the bar serves a competent roster of craft cocktails and beers.
5. Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel, 530 West 27th Street, 212-904-1883 Eschew the theatrics at Sleep No More below and head straight to the McKittrick Hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar, which provides plenty of entertaining atmosphere and whose industrial surroundings are offset by lush flora and a vintage train car that doubles as a dining room. Revelers will find an impressive list of cocktails, punches, and small, United Kingdom-inspired snacks from which to choose, like bite-sized pork pies to pair with a deep bowl of smoky, fruity, and sparkling mescal and raspberry punch called Touch of Evil.
4. The West 79th Street Boat Basin Café, West 79th Street at Henry Hudson Parkway, 212-496-5542 Come for the view, which proves itself most during sunsets that disappear into the Palisades across the Hudson river. Stay for the grilled La Frieda burgers and abbreviated list of snacks, salads, and sandwiches. Brunch plates are available on weekends, and the bar makes good use of their slushy machine.
3. Maison Premiere, 298 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-335-0446 You can enjoy this New Orleans-inspired restaurant’s back garden at midnight or mid-day, where ‘good’ comes in the form of seafood preparations both raw and cooked, and ‘evil’ entices via the 22 varieties of absinthe poured. Try the fabled intoxicant in cocktails such as the Mother Henriot’s Elixir, which pairs Duplais Verte absinthe with sloe gin, green Chartreuse, Angostura bitters, and sea salt.
2. Riverpark, 450 East 29th Street, 212-729-9790 At Tom Colicchio’s hidden restaurant, situated in the back of a recessed high-rise and overlooking Riverpark Farm, Sisha Ortuzar commands a menu of rustic dishes including cylinders of duck liver pâté topped with blood orange gelée and pork loin supported by apple, cipollini onions, and brussels sprouts. There’s also a more casual bar menu, should the desire for fried chicken strike. Outdoor diners have two experiences to choose from: more formal service on the restaurant’s patio, or communal seating at picnic tables on the restaurants terrace in view of the on-site herb and vegetable garden. Granted, this is produce that sits on a lip above the FDR, but who’s complaining? Riverside dining options are few and far between.
1. Birreria, 200 Fifth Avenue, 212-229-2560 Eataly’s rooftop beer garden serves a modest selection of interesting craft beers, some of which are brewed in-house. With the market below as its purveyor, the quality of the ingredients used translates to pitch-perfect antipasti and salumi, as well as larger plates like flap steak with porcini-beer mustard. Larger groups of carnivores would do well to order the piatto misto, a platter that includes the restaurant’s three proprietary sausages and apricot glazed pork shoulder and three vegetable sides for $90.