New York City restaurants can officially offer outdoor dining. If you have questions as to what exactly that means, we have an FAQ guide to help you sort that out, but here are a few important stipulations: Masks are required for restaurant staff, you’ll have to wear a mask when not seated at your table, and all tables need to be six feet apart. Party sizes will also be limited to 10 people, although many restaurants have tighter restrictions for the number of people you can eat with, so it’s important to check with places ahead of time. Plenty of restaurants also have time limits for sit-down meals, and these typically range from 1-1.5 hours.
Now that we got all those logistics out of the way, here’s a running list of NYC restaurants where you can sit outside, eat off a real plate, and make socially distanced small talk with someone who doesn’t live in your household. If you know of a place that should be on this guide, send us an email at email@example.com. We’ll be updating this regularly.
When you go to Melba’s, the chicken and waffles are mandatory - but the short ribs are also excellent, and you should get a side of mac and cheese with whatever you order. This iconic neighborhood spot has sidewalk seating available as well as an impressive build-out in their parking lane equipped with string lights and all.
Imagine this: a shady table, the sun shining on just your elbow, and a steam basket of excellent soup dumplings. That’s the experience of eating at Deluxe Green Bo’s covered sidewalk seating area. In addition to the crab and soup dumplings, we love the hot and spicy wontons that come with cold peanut sauce, sesame seeds, and a chili oil pool that we’d like to become members of. Just make sure you have cash - Deluxe Green Bo doesn’t accept cards.
Wait, don’t scroll past this BBQ spot just because you already know about it. Hometown isn’t currently accepting any food orders at their restaurant, so you have to place your order online ahead of time. If you just want to walk by and pick up a beer or a cocktail, they have a cash-only takeout window. But for food, you have to plan ahead. It’s possible the wait time may be 150 minutes (you can check at the top of the page here), so plan ahead. They have a bunch of nice picnic tables for you to eat at once you get your food.
After teaming up with Contra for a joint takeout and delivery project, Wildair is now serving to-go small plates from a window at their spot on the Lower East Side. The menu has a bunch of things you’ll want to try, including their famous hazelnut chocolate tart and some new daytime dishes like a confit bacon roll with egg crepe and pickled pineapple. Wildair is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 9:30pm, and they’re fully equipped with two-tops where you can sit, drink wine, and ponder buying a giant hat at the old-school wedding dress boutique next door.
Akrotiri’s patio seating is perfect if you’re looking for a place in Astoria where you can make a reservation. The menu here has a bunch of things like lobster pasta, truffled squid ink taramasalata, and a saganaki with quinoa and tiger shrimp. But we prefer the more traditional Greek dishes like the various types of whole fish, the sliced octopus over black eyed peas, and the grilled Greek sausage that’s just about perfect once you squeeze some lemon over it.
Claro’s big backyard is full of trees, string lights, and aqua-colored patio furniture, and now’s the best time of year to make use of it. This Oaxacan spot in Gowanus is offering a $72 four-course meal to two nightly seatings at 5:30pm and 8pm. Reservations are required for dinner, and for the two brunch seatings on weekends, but they’re accepting walk-ins for drinks and snacks from 2-5pm during the week, and 12-5pm on weekends.
While in Red Hook, you are legally obligated to eat a frozen, chocolate-covered key lime pie on a stick from Steve’s. We don’t make the rules. Their industrial space on the water has a bunch of picnic tables, and you can always take your pie-sicles to Louis Valentino Jr. Park right next to Steve’s - it has a glorious view of the water and the State Of Liberty.
Thai Diner opened a few months before restaurants closed for dine-in service, so we don’t really know if they ever planned on setting up outdoor seating. What we do know, however, is that there are about seven tables set up on their Nolita corner spot where you can enjoy an excellent BEC on a roti, a frosty Singha, and some fried chicken laab. Also, if you’d rather pick-up your food or just stop by for an ice cream to-go, their takeout window is open every day starting at 11am (and you can call 646-559-4140 to place your order ahead of time).
Think about three people you like. Not just “pleasantries at a dinner party” like, but “want to make them happier people” like. Invite those three people to eat pasta with you at Rezdora. This Italian spot in Flatiron is only accepting parties of four, so find a time that works for your three friends, and make a reservation up to 14 days ahead of time.
This counter-service gyro spot on Astoria Boulevard makes one of the crispiest pork gyros we’ve encountered, and they have a few cafe tables and nice yellow chairs set up outside where you can sit and admire it in all of its fat-dripping beauty. Seriously, we’re telling you to get the pork instead of chicken - even if every bone in your body identifies as a chicken person.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live, or if you’ve already had pizza twice this week - eating pizza and ice cream outside at L&B Spumoni Gardens is one of the best things you can do with a summer Saturday. This place has a giant patio with a takeout window that serves some of the most delicious pizza in the city. Order the Sicilian (it’s the closest thing to pizza lasagna we’ve ever eaten) and end your meal with their famous spumoni, knowing that you might end up falling asleep on the way home.
Corner Social is another spot with the occasional (masked) DJ. This Lenox Avenue spot is offering outdoor dining on their sidewalk space every day from noon to 10pm. The menu here skews mostly American, with dishes like crab cakes, hot chicken, and a green chile cheeseburger you may or may not get on your white shirt.
Another great Greek option in the neighborhood is Gregory’s Corner Taverna on 23rd Avenue. They have their typical red-checkered tablecloth outdoor seating available every day for lunch and dinner. If you need some guidance with the large menu, just stick to any grilled seafood or meat that briefly distracts you from the happenings of the world.
If you’re in the mood for pizza under the stars, we want to pause and say, gee that sounds like a really nice mood. Also, we’re here to tell you that you can stop by Hoek for some wood-fired pizza at one of their nicely-spaced-out patio tables. They’re open on Thursdays and Fridays from 5pm to 9pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 9pm.
Aurora’s covered patio looks like a place where the best-friends-turned-soulmates in a rom-com would feed each other pasta just before the credits roll. It’s decorated with lots of hanging ivy and more lights than a fairly large Christmas tree, as well as high walls and a roof that make it feel far removed from the corner of Wythe and Grand. Their Italian small plates and pastas are available for lunch, brunch, and dinner, with reservations available through their website.
Carbone is now offering outdoor dining. Is it any easier to get a reservation for one of these tables on Thompson Street than it was for a table inside? Well, no, especially since they only become available two days in advance. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, because the service, spicy rigatoni, and massive veal parmesan are still fantastic.
There’s no rule that says porterhouses and martinis need to be served in dark rooms filled with some combination of mahogany, worn leather, and jazz. We say this for two reasons. First, it’d be a very stupid rule, and second, Peter Luger is currently serving great versions of both at sidewalk tables outside their iconic steakhouse. Make a reservation for lunch or dinner through their website.
If you’re looking for somewhere in Chinatown with lots of space, Taiwan Pork Chop House’s outdoor setup is a great option, since Doyers Street is blocked off to cars. While the titular pork pork chops here are enjoyable (especially for $2.50 each), our favorite dishes at this spot are the fried rice cakes with shredded pork and the tender wontons drenched in chili oil.
Brooklyn Crab is right next to Hometown BBQ. So, on the weekends, this area feels like a socially-distanced summer block party. This seafood spot is known for (resist the urge to scream) crab, specifically in the form of crab rolls and steampots. Each of Brooklyn Crab’s outdoor tables have a little flag that you can use to indicate to your server that you’re ready to order. The restaurant is asking that you put on your masks while interacting with their staff.
You don’t want to “do brunch.” You just want to eat breakfast food in public. Go to La Bonbonniere. This cash-only diner serves perfectly crispy pancakes, big plates of bacon, and great milkshakes every day starting at 7am.
From butter chicken with too many flavors to count, to everything coming off the tandoor grill, this Indian spot is one of your best dining options in LIC. And now for the first time, they’re serving their fantastic food outdoors, with eight tables available by reservation from 5-9pm any day except Monday.
Vesta Trattoria is a kid-friendly restaurant and wine bar on 30th Avenue that’s just a little more upscale than a place where you want to eat in your sweats (which is good news because you’ve been wearing sweats for months). They make a very good wild boar lasagna and other Italian-inspired dishes like osso buco. If you need an outdoor date spot in Astoria right now, the sidewalk seating at this place is ideal - they have a brand new mural and Vesta sangria for your enjoyment.
One of the most charming hotel restaurants in the city is officially back open for outdoor dining on their garden patio. While we do like the borderline-palatial dining room, the stringlit and brick-surrounded yard will be a nice place to deconstruct and consume a small mountain consisting of roasted chicken and fries followed by some profiteroles. You can make a reservation online, and they’re going fast.
Hunky Dory in Crown Heights has a big, blocked-off patio with plenty of spaced-out tables and umbrellas. They’re serving their all-day menu from a takeout window, including things like pickled summer squash, barbecue shrimp skewers, and soft serve. Also something to note: Hunky Dory includes tax and gratuity in their menu prices. Check out their menu or place your pick-up order ahead of time here.
Lots of foods have nicknames - flapjacks, frickles, za - and most are pretty uninspiring. A notable exception is burnt ends, also known as Kansas City caviar. Almost as important as finding ways to use that term as often as possible, is eating them at John Brown Smokehouse. It might be the best bite of BBQ in the city, and like everything on the menu, it’s available in their backyard every day from 12-8pm.
No other spot in Bed-Stuy does Southern food like Peaches. It’s a solid choice for a casual weeknight dinner, a celebratory weekend brunch, and every other outdoor meal in between. From shrimp and grits to catfish and ribs, all of the dishes here are good enough to calm your anxiety about ordering “the right thing.” If you’re at one of the tables on the back patio, you’ve already made the right decision.
Peaches Hot House is one of the many Peaches offshoots that specializes in Nashville hot chicken. Bring yourself here when you need a reminder about why hot sauce matters, and don’t forget to add a side of mac and cheese to your order. The outdoor tables along the sidewalk here are bright red, so you can’t miss this Southern spot on the corner of Tompkins Avenue & Hancock Street. Note: your meal will likely make it impossible for you to do anything else for the rest of your day - accept this fact as a part of its magic.
When this counter-service Pakistani spot moved from Bushwick to Williamsburg earlier this year, they kept their phenomenal burger and seekh kebabs, and gained a lovely little backyard in the process. It was a classic win-win move, unless you live in Bushwick.
The Honorable William Wall opened before other spots in NYC because it’s not technically in NYC. It’s a boat anchored off of Ellis Island that you get to by way of two other boat rides and a $20 ticket. Once you’re onboard, you can order drinks and eat whatever food you bring with you while overlooking Manhattan.
This Greek restaurant on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria serves some of the best grilled octopus in the neighborhood, as well as some moussaka that you’ll lie awake thinking about quarantining with. Since this spot is so close to Astoria Park, you could always take your food to-go and have a picnic.
With an abundance of little trees, colorful flowers, and yellow umbrellas, the outdoor dining setup at this West Village Mediterranean spot is pretty ideal. So much so that you may feel compelled to sign their petition to close the block to traffic, and open it for expanded seating. The first come first served tables are available every day starting at 11am.
This Mediterranean spot’s backyard is bigger than plenty of NYC parks. Not McCarren or Central, but the ones that you look at on a map, and wonder how many people in the entire city know its actual name. This place is easier to remember thanks to ceviche, frozen cocktails, and a very attractive space covered in lights and hanging plants. It’s open from 5-11pm during the week, and starting at noon on weekends, so keep it in mind when you want to day drink in a park, legally.
Virginia’s on Avenue C makes one of our favorite burgers in the neighborhood, and they’re currently serving said burger (along with a slew of new menu items like BBQ ribs and New England-style shrimp rolls) in their parking lane patio area. The planters and wooden fences here look really pleasant, and you can make a reservation ahead of time online. We wouldn’t not bring a date.
Malaparte is a block from the river, and it’s a great option whenever you get tired of gazing out at New Jersey like it’s an island in the Mediterranean. Their delicious pastas and relatively light pizzas are available daily from 4:30-10:30pm, and they’re also doing weekend brunch starting at noon.
Harlem Food Bar
The sidewalk cafe at this American restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 3pm to 9pm. The spaced out tables are first come, first served, and there are some big red umbrellas to keep you out of the sun. If you’d rather eat your crispy basa sandwich or cauliflower poppers at home, you can also place your takeout order by calling 212-222-9570.
If you’re looking for vegan options outdoors in the East Village, Double Zero on 2nd Avenue is serving its plant-based pizzas on their patio from noon to10pm from Monday to Wednesday, and noon to 11pm Thursday to Sunday.
This Indian restaurant has fenced off the parking lane in front of their 51st Street restaurant for outdoor lunch and dinner service. It’s kind of like a block party, but with onion kulcha and tandoori prawns instead of half-deflated bouncy castles and six-year olds maniacally chasing you with a bubble wand. In case you’d rather order Amma at home, you can place your takeout or delivery order through their website here.
Johnny's Famous Reef Restaurant
On City Island in The Bronx, this classic seafood spot is open daily from 11:30am-9pm. Order some $3 beers, fried oysters, and a few dozen little neck clams while overlooking the Long Island Sound.
A lot of people have improved their abilities in the kitchen during quarantine, but we’d venture to guess that nobody is cooking the dishes coming out of Llama San’s kitchen. The Japanese-influenced Peruvian food, like hot soft shell crab baos with aji amarillo tartar sauce, is fantastic, and fully worth planning ahead for in order to get one of the four tables available for reservation through their website.
Any discussion about the best Mexican food in NYC needs to include Casa Enrique, so, naturally, any conversation about where to eat in LIC should as well. Dishes like chile relleno in a perfectly sweet tomato sauce, and chicken covered in rich, chocolate-y mole are available at first come first served sidewalk seating out front.
Chez Ozskar is a neighborhood French bistro with plenty of outdoor sidewalk seating and just enough charm to make you want to be a regular. They serve everything from quiche lorraine to escargot all day long, and you can enjoy them while seated below an exterior wall mural of a burlesque dancer in a giant martini glass. From a lazy Sunday to a date night under string lights, this casual spot works for essentially every occasion.
Sunday In Brooklyn is as synonymous with brunch as any place in Williamsburg. That could be because the brunch menu is longer than the dinner one, or that brunch is served every day, or the fact that most of the drinks could be described as “breakfast cocktails.” Try to figure out while eating a triple stack of fluffy pancakes with hazelnut maple praline, or a BEC with gochujang aioli at a sidewalk table Wednesday through Sunday.
This upscale Italian spot in Astoria set up a ton of outdoor seating in their parking lane on 31st Avenue. They make excellent spaghetti and meatballs (in addition to many other pastas). If you’re looking for a place to eat with your family after everyone has gotten sick of each other’s cooking, come here.
In addition to doubling as a cool vintage clothing store, this relaxed counter-service spot serves a wide range of Thai food, like Southern fried chicken, creamy coconut curries, and khao mun gai (steamed chicken). They have a few wooden tables set up outside their shop in East Harlem where you can sit after you get your food. Order the tamarind coconut milk noodles with crab - it’s sweet and nutty, and comes with enough crab to be confused with the vermicelli noodles they’re mixed with.
We like hanging out on the enough to overlook the fact that drink options tend to be pretty limited. A notable exception is City Vineyard, which makes their own wine, and serves it on their rooftop patio in Tribeca. The big, first come first served space on the Hudson River running path is open on Thursday and Friday from 4-10pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 12-10pm.
This Moroccan spot is open every day for lunch, dinner, and that awkward time in between when wanting a drink and having an empty stomach are like the devil and angel on your shoulder pulling you in different directions. Fortunately, it’s a dilemma Mogador can help solve thanks to their daily Happy Hour from 4-6pm that includes a free mezze with the purchase of two drinks.
At Empellon Al Pastor on St. Marks, you order your tacos and drinks at their takeout window, seat yourself at one of their two-tops, and they’ll bring out your food when it’s ready. In addition to things like tiny, delicious al pastor tacos, Empellon is also serving bar snacks like corn dogs and an all-day breakfast burrito. They’re open at 4pm on weekdays and 1pm on weekends.
Over the last few months, Fort Defiance has transitioned into a grocery and general store, selling pantry goods, produce, rotisserie chicken, and booze. You can stop by their ordering window for cocktails and prepared snacks from Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 7pm, or place your pick-up order ahead of time on their website here.
Not only has The Kent Ale House expanded its outdoor seating - much of which has nice very views of the Manhattan skyline - but it has also set up outdoor TVs, so you can watch soccer somewhere other than a bench in McCarren Park. Check their Instagram for information on what matches they’re showing, and stop by between 3-9pm during the week, or 12-9pm on weekends.
The backyard patio at Miss Ada deserves some kind of restaurant patio award. It’s lush, surrounded by a colorful mural, and makes you feel like you’re eating in the garden of a brownstone in Fort Greene. As of Wednesday, June 24th this outdoor space is open for dine-in service, but just in case it fills up, this Mediterranean spot also has some first-come-first-serve sidewalk seating available.
The Fly in Bed-Stuy is where we like to consume roast chicken, fries, and natural wine - and we feel confident you’ll like to consume those things here too. They recently started takeout window service five nights a week (Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm to 9pm). You can order ahead of time online or stop by and exclaim, “I’ll take one whole chicken, please” through your mask. Hang out at one of their tables for half an hour, take your chicken sandwich and wine to the north side of Prospect Park, or go home so you can be alone with your bird.
Cervo’s and The Fly are sister restaurants, and if we learned one thing from the Cheetah Girls song “Cheetah Sisters,” it’s that sisters stand together and set up matching takeout windows. This LES seafood spot has a few tables with umbrellas in a blocked-off area on Canal Street. Their menu changes often (including a weekly-rotating fish sandwich that once came with mackerel that was so riveting that we quite literally blogged about it), but don’t worry, the burger and head-on prawns are forever. Check out their website or Instagram page for details on this week’s menu.
You could pick up a hot chicken or wagyu roast beef sandwich from Mekelburg’s, and eat it across the street in Domino Park. But if you’d rather wipe your hands with napkins than with artificial turf, get a table outside. They come with the added benefit of silverware so you can get a salt baked potato topped with a mound of caviar, and pint glasses so you can take advantage of their excellent draft beer list.
This BYOB Indian restaurant in Murray Hill now has sidewalk seating available for groups of two and four. They recommend that you make a reservation ahead of time, so if you’d like to eat some impressive kebabs here soon, call (212) 683-4228 to book a table.
When you see nothing but blue skies and sunshine from your apartment, going somewhere with outdoor seating seems like a great idea. But when you’re taking ice cubes out of your vodka soda to rub on your neck, you start second guessing your decision. Fortunately, that’s not an issue at this Eastern European beer hall, as all of its outdoor tables are covered by an awning. That means you can eat giant pretzels and bacon cheeseburgers in peace, and not have to order a vodka soda at a beer hall.
Great BBQ and great outdoor space aren’t things NYC has in great abundance, so when you can get them both at the same time, you should take advantage of it. You can do exactly that by heading to Morgan’s BBQ in Prospect Heights. Get some brisket, or try their new wasabi wings, until 10:30pm during the week and 11pm on weekends.
We would normally advise you to camp out at this Crown Heights cafe all day and be a very happy person. But, right now, you should probably limit yourself to half an hour at one of their seat-yourself tables. The Latin food from their takeout window is better than what you’ll find at most all-day cafes, like tender pork hash with pickled vegetables and hominy, and chorizo and egg tacos that will restore your faith in New York’s breakfast taco abilities.
Ponty Bistro’s patio in Harlem is open until 11pm every day. Come when you can’t decide whether you want truffle mac and cheese or poulet yassa - Ponty serves both (as well as a mix of other Mediterranean, West African, and American dishes). And, if you’re really being strategic, try to show up between 4pm and 7pm during their Happy Hour.
If you’re taking a stroll through the West Village, Berimbau’s takeaway caipirinha window makes it a very useful refueling station. And if you’re looking to sit down for a full meal, then this Brazilian spot’s feijoada and baked to order pão de queijo make it a great option for that as well. Their outdoor seating, which is limited to 25 seats for social distancing, is available every day from 11:30am-9:30pm.
This fun Japanese spot on the UWS is open for outdoor dining every day starting at 3:30 (and 12:30pm on Saturdays), with a Happy Hour that goes until 6pm. In addition to snacks like karaage and cheesy corn, Moonrise Izakaya is serving frozen cocktails and bottles of sake. You can make a reservation ahead of time online here.
Ping’s has some nice sidewalk tables as well as a few covered tents set up in the parking spots in front of the restaurant. It’s cash-only, but know there’s an ATM in the bodega at the end of the block. You can get dim sum all day here, and there’s also a full menu of Hong Kong-style dishes like garlic eggplant, and a massive, fried soft shell crab. Whatever you do, order the fried shrimp balls - they are crispy with light batter, and we’d like to stuff our pillows with the shrimp in the middle.
The two specialties at The Cecil are steak and fun (if you need more information about the fun part, please watch the fantastic music videos on the restaurant’s Instagram to celebrate Pride and its new outdoor tables). This Harlem institution is currently open for outdoor dining Tuesday to Sunday from 1pm to 10pm, and serving things like frozen drinks, prime rib, and empanadas. You can even order your food ahead of time to minimize contact with the staff when you make a reservation through their website here.
Porto Bello Pizza and Restaurant
Portobello is serving their full menu of classic Italian-American dishes and Neapolitan pizza outdoors on the big brick walkway in front of their restaurant on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria. They’re open every day from 11am to 10pm, and they also have their own app if you want to order pick-up or delivery.
This Malaysian spot on the border of the Lower East Side is one of our absolute favorite places to eat breakfast in the area. They recently built a covered, wooden structure in the parking spot in front of their East Broadway restaurant where you can seat yourself after ordering from their takeout window. Get the oyster omelette and order of the Nasi Lemak (the national dish of Malaysia, which involves coconut rice, fried anchovies, cucumbers, and hard-boiled eggs).
Whether it be takeout, delivery, or outdoor dining, the Red Hook location of Somtum Der is where you should be eating Thai food in the area. If you want some extra motivation to eat here, be aware that they have a beautiful back patio that’s currently open for outdoor dining on Van Brunt Street. You can book a reservation online ahead of time to guarantee yourself some papaya salad with salted egg, pork larb, and sticky rice.
If you don’t have your own neighborhood Italian place, or if you just prefer the West Village to whatever neighborhood you live in, check out Malatesta. Sit at a table on the sidewalk, and eat some really good gnocchi while pondering a move to Washington and Christopher. They’re currently open until 3-10pm (11pm on Friday and Saturday).
Community has reopened their huge outdoor patio area for dine-in from 8am to 8pm daily. So if you’re looking for vegetarian options like blueberry pancakes, rice bowls, and sandwiches piled high with avocados and sprouts, you can stop and grab a walk-in only table or order takeout.
Saying a restaurant serves Mediterranean food doesn’t tell you a whole lot. The place might serve grilled octopus or shawarma or ravioli, or in the case of Meme, all of the above. This makes it a good option when you’re eating with picky or indecisive friends, and the fact that most dishes are less than $20 means it’s a low-commitment choice as far as the West Village goes. Its outdoor patio is open daily from 12-9:30pm, with brunch on weekends from 12-4pm.
This Ridgewood all-day spot has vegetarian and vegan breakfast dishes like BECs and BLTs with bacon that they cure in-house. Their seat-yourself outdoor area is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 3pm. If you’re in a rush, you can always call 347-889-6302 to place your takeout order so it’ll be ready when you arrive.
In passing, you might think Calaca is just a dark, tiny tequila bar with a few outdoor tables for those bold enough to emotionally drink in public. But the reality is, this cash-only Mexican spot serves incredible mezcal cocktails, as well as tacos, and tostadas (which is where you should focus most of your stomach space). They’re usually open from 5-9pm, Wednesday through Sunday, but it’s always best to check their Instagram for updates.
This is the only meal at a diner you should actively plan in advance for. That’s because Golden Diner takes things you may have had 100 times before (like cobb salad and club sandwiches) and makes them exciting and new again. Their sidewalk and patio seating are open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 10pm - and you can always call 917-472-7800 for pick up or delivery.
Telly’s has some nice sidewalk seating in front of their spot on 23rd Avenue. They also have about as many options for grilled whole fish as there are birthday cards in CVS categorized as “funny birthday.” Pick your fish and then get some grilled or fried vegetables and spanakopita. This is some of the best Greek food in Astoria - which, as you’ll notice from this guide, is saying something.
Ops has a few outdoor tables available right now, but since they’re not offering table service yet, you’ll have to walk up to the bar to order your glass of natural wine and wood-fired pizza at this Bushwick spot.
Tsion Cafe is an Ethiopian restaurant in the bottom of a brownstone in Harlem. And, like all the best brownstones, there’s a nice little patio out back. The next time you need a spot for a casual summer date night, especially if you’re looking for vegetarian food, make a reservation here by calling 212-234-2070 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every weekend, this all-day American spot sets up Gertie Summer Shack out front on Grand Street. From 4-9pm on Friday, 10:30am-9pm on Saturday, and 10:30am-6pm on Sunday, you can stop by for things like chicken schnitzel sandwiches on challah, smoked shrimp rolls with Old Bar aioli, and mezcal lemonades or summer shandies.
A lot of things are anything but normal right now, but there are two things you can pretty much always count on being true. First, there will be a fairly significant wait for a table at Via Carota, and second, it’ll feel worth it once the food arrives. The outdoor seating at this Italian spot is available every day from 4-9pm.
In addition to their gelato stand which is open until 9pm, Saraghina in Bed-Stuy has a few first come first served outdoor tables available for you and your dog. For now, it’s just sidewalk seating, but soon they’ll be opening their incredible garden patio. Check out their Instagram for updates.
At Brooklyn Beso in Bed-Stuy, you order their Carribean and Latin inspired dishes from someone behind the counter and then take your food to one of their garden patio tables. They’re serving brunch on weekends, including tres leches French toast and mimosas for two that come in mango, orange, and sorrel. Check their Instagram for the latest updates.
The current brunch menu at Chez Ma Tante only has four items on it: chips and aioli, tortilla espanola, caesar salad, and pancakes. In other words, it has three more options than you really need. That’s because this Greenpoint spot serves the best pancakes in the city, which you can order at a first come, first served table on Sundays between 11am-3pm. They’re also serving dinner from 5-10pm Wednesday through Saturday.
Tonii’s Fresh Rice Noodle
We like Tonii’s for several reasons, the least important of which is that the walls are covered in adorable cartoon rice roll caricature. The most important reason is that they serve a short menu of things like curry fish balls, soups, and rice noodles, all for $4.50. Get the beef, shrimp, and roast pork rice noodles, and sit under one of their white tents in the middle of the blocked-off section of Bayard Street.
No, you can’t eat the patio at Bricolage. But it is one of the best things about this Vietnamese spot in Park Slope. It’s got mix and match chairs tucked under real wood tables, more potted plants than your local nursery, and they just reopened it for dinner service during the week and brunch from 11am to 3pm on weekends.
Drinking rosé outside during the summer is an objectively pleasant experience. Drinking rosé on a boat is objectively better. In the unlikely event that you need to be convinced of this, head to Grand Banks. This sailboat docked on Hudson River in Tribeca is open and taking reservations through their website.
Nom Wah has the benefit of Doyers Street, which means the whole street feels like an outdoor dining room with yellow umbrellas and foliage. They also have some nice shady seats for people who are waiting for pick-up, in case you want to take your har gow to-go.
Poco is a busy brunch spot on Avenue B that’s been offering outdoor seating for years. The food here is a mix of Spanish, American, and Mexican, which means you can order guacamole to go with your lobster mac and cheese, and shrimp and leek croquetas. They recently started taking reservations for their outdoor area (which you can make on Yelp), and they’re serving a bottomless deal every weekend.
The two things we like most about Beebe’s are its big back patio, and its thin, crispy pizzas. Put the two together, and throw in some rosé or aperol spritzes, and you have a very good reason to head to this Italian spot in the Boro Hotel. It’s open for lunch and dinner every day, and whenever you go, head up to the hotel’s roof afterwards for drinks overlooking Manhattan.
Saigon Social’s Vietnamese food is so delicious that we would eat it anywhere where there’s gravity. That includes their corner Orchard Street location, which has a handful of tables with tiny red stools you can sit on while you eat things like bun cha, peppery garlic noodles with shrimp, and soft crab summer specials that you should pounce on. Saigon Social is only accepting Venmo and cash, and they’re closed on Tuesdays. Also - if you want to avoid large groups of people drinking across the street at Hair Of The Dog and Pizza Beach, stop by for lunch.
There are two locations of this Mexican restaurant (one right above Central Park and one on the corner of Malcom X and 126th Street), and both have limited sidewalk seating on a first come, first serve basis. Come to either spot for some nicely fried fish tacos, unlimited chips and salsa, and a fresh margarita after work one day.
Both the patio and the sidewalk area at this classic neighborhood spot are open for outdoor dining. Brooklyn Ice House serves a combination of bar food like onion rings and frito pie, as well as BBQ specials like dry-rub spare ribs with mac and cheese. Their patio is pretty spacious, and it’s nice and hidden from any Citi Bikers parading down Van Brunt Street on a weekend afternoon.
Robertas has a large, fenced-in patio that also happens to be tiki themed. So if you want to eat a good Neapolitan pizza at a picnic table surrounded by plants, this East Williamsburg spot is a great option. You can make a reservation online.
The massive outdoor patio in front of Harlem Tavern is officially back open. You’ll find a little less seating than usual (for social-distancing reasons), but there are still plenty of tables, including a few that are good for small groups. Grab one if you’d like to drink outside while you eat a burger or some chicken tenders.
Does a plate of perfectly charred octopus and a $24 liter of house wine under the stars make Kiki’s outdoor seating feel like an out-of-the way spot on the Aegean? Well, no, but it’s still pretty great anyway. And because they have tables set up in front of the restaurant and Kiki’s Rotisserie across the street, it’s more spacious than you might expect for a place that usually has multi-hour waits every night.
A couple doors down from Kiki’s on Division Street, Forgtmenot is offering outdoor seating as well. You can stop by this casual bar for a lamb pita or chicken BLT, or for a few drinks if there’s a wait for a table at Kiki’s.
Whether you get the mac and cheese with bacon and five types cheese, or the cheeseburger topped with grilled pineapple at this American spot in East Williamsburg is up to you. We recommend sipping on a Hennycolada while you decide, and then just ordering both. Their patio seating is available from 12-10pm every day except Monday.
Corner Bistro is an institution, which is likely part of the reason our Editor In Chief decided to go there for dinner on night one of NYC’s reopening. The order here is simple: bistro burger, fries, and a cold beer. Just remember to bring cash.
When the martini mood strikes and your freezer is out of vodka, head to Anyway Cafe’s outdoor area for Russian snacks, live guitar, and all of the vodka-based cocktails you could ever want.
Say you’re in more of a tequila and guacamole mood than a vodka and guitar mood, you can bop across the street from Anyway Cafe to Rosie’s. This Mexican spot is taking reservations for their outdoor tables ahead of time online, and they’re open for dinner on the weekdays and brunch and dinner starting at 1pm on weekends.
When Wayla’s plant-filled backyard patio opened last year, it quickly became one of our favorite places to sit in the city and eat things like garlicky long beans, kua kling shrimp, and mango sticky rice. And now, their backyard is back open. You’ll need to make a reservation before you go, which you can do here (reservations are available twelve days ahead of the time).
When you have a craving for a meat-heavy meal, The Beatrice Inn is there for you. Whether you satisfy that craving with lamb, pork shoulder, cote de boeuf, or duck is up to you. The reservation-only seating is available for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday.
At Dim Sum Go Go, order the dim sum sampler. It comes with 10 different types of steamed dumplings, including both meat and vegetarian options. In general, the variety at this spot is strong, with dumpling options like duck and crab in addition to the more usual suspects. They’re open every day from 11am to 7:30pm, and have a big red tent set up in front for outdoor dining.
An outdoor table is always the best place to sit at Industry Kitchen. So while it’s also the only place to sit at the moment, we’re not complaining. Order a pizza topped with spicy soppressata, and have some drinks while looking out on Brooklyn, or people-watching on the East River running path. Reservations are available through their website.
Ernesto’s has outdoor seating available on weekends only, and it’s where you should go to drink Spanish wine and eat pinxtos on a sidewalk like you’re in a Criterion Collection film. They’re also running takeout service out of their cafe every day except Monday, including dishes like Spanish tortillas, a breakfast sandwich, and to-go cocktails. Place your pick-up or delivery order here.
Red Hook Tavern has a handful of tables set up around the corner from their spot on Van Brunt Street. The important thing to order here is the burger, which you can think of as a distant cousin of the one at Peter Luger. It’s a minimalist sandwich with one thick patty, some salty melted cheese, and a bunch of semi-sweet onions resting on top like they’ve had a long day. Red Hook Tavern is also selling nice bottles of wine, merch, and other specialty goods inside their restaurant.
If you want to have a pleasant experience that also involves a pleasantly small amount of money, sit at a sidewalk table in front of this French spot in Harlem, and order a $10 plate of fantastic macaroni and cheese made with bechamel, parmesan, and parsley.
Lilia isn’t accepting walk-ins, which saves you the trouble of thinking “this’ll be the night,” only to be told that the waitlist filled up five minutes after they opened. If you do manage to reserve one of their outdoor tables online, which are available Wednesday through Sunday from 5-10pm, then you’ll be able to get the same fantastic sheep’s milk agnolotti and grilled clams as you would have if you’d ever gotten off the waitlist in the past.
Jing Fong’s dining room normally fits 800 people, so eating outdoors in their covered tent will obviously feel a little different than the indoor experience here. They’re still serving chewy sesame balls and bacon-wrapped shrimp that will successfully interrupt your dreams, as well as takeout if you’d rather eat your dim sum at home. Just call 212-964-5256 to place your order ahead of time or stop by and do it at their window.
Ma-n-Pop Soul Food
Every time we pass Ma-n-Pop, we feel the need to say “good morning” to the building as a form of respect. That’s because this Southern spot has been preparing shrimp and grits, corn beef hash, and fried white fish on the corner of Lewis Avenue and Halsey Street for years. Right now, they’ve got a few sidewalk tables available for you to sit at while you contemplate whether a soul food restaurant this good deserves to be an American landmark.
Milkflower is where you should be eating wood-fired pizzas outside in this neighborhood. Come for weeknight dinner or stop by for a casual date night and order a bottle of wine.
This takeaway window in the middle of Domino Park is open daily from 11am-5pm. Place your order ahead of time through their website, and have some chicken tinga tacos and margaritas at a table overlooking the East River.
This popular Vietnamese spot in the East Village now has a few sidewalk tables that can seat up to four people. So whether you’re in the mood for chicken pho, papaya salad, or a brisket banh mi, Hanoi House has you covered. They’re open every day except Monday and if you stop by over the weekend, you can get breakfast options like an egg banh mi and Vietnamese coffee.
The Middle Eastern dumplings at Kubeh are filled with things like lamb or fish, they have the texture of matzo balls, and they’re served in soups like Persian chicken. In other words, you should be eating them in the near future. You can do so any day between 11:30am-10pm at a sidewalk table on 6th Avenue, which are first come first served except for groups of six or more.
Every time we’ve been to Hanon, we’ve looked out the backdoor into the huge, unused backyard, and imagined how great it’d be if they set up outdoor dining back there. There’s no need to imagine any more. Sit at an umbrella-covered picnic table under ivy and hanging lights any day except Monday, and enjoy some of the best udon in the city.
The patio at this Mexican spot in Greenpoint seems much further from Greenpoint Avenue than it actually is, and it’s a great place to drink margaritas and eat shrimp ceviche tostadas. Reservations are available through their website.
The next time you find yourself hungry enough to do something about it, but not quite to the point that you want a full meal, head to Lamano. Tapas like chorizo with cheese fondue or thinly sliced octopus with fried potatoes will hold you over until dinner, and they have the added benefit of being delicious.
Pomp & Circumstance is a great spot to get some drinks and snacks while you’re walking around Williamsburg. Their Mediterranean small plates, especially the various dips served with housemade sourdough, are available every day except Wednesday from 1:30-10pm. They accept groups of up to eight people, and you can make a reservation by calling 718-387-4861.
Hudson Clearwater’s back patio is always one of the most pleasant outdoor dining spaces in the West Village, and right now is no exception. Make use of it with spicy eggs benedict and sugar-free smoothies at brunch, or seared duck and mezcal cocktails at dinner.
Astoria Bier & Cheese
Both the Broadway and Ditmars Boulevard locations of this beer spot are open with outdoor seating and some new sandwiches on their menu like a scallion potato bun with jowl bacon, spicy cheddar, caramelized ham, and onion jam. You can stop by from noon to 8pm every day.
This Southern spot in East Village has a very nice streetside patio covered in plants, and a canvas roof that’ll give you comfort on afternoons when the clouds can’t decide how they want to proceed. The first come, first served tables are available for dinner any day, as well as weekend brunch, and whenever you go, make sure to focus your order on the sweet tea-brined fried chicken served with honey tabasco sauce.
This woman-owned Jamaican spot has a few tables set up on Columbia Street where you can eat things like rasta pasta with jerk chicken outside. Call 939-398-0074 to place your pick-up order ahead of time or go to their website for delivery.
For the first time ever, Shuko in the East Village has three outdoor tables available where you can hang out with some spicy trout rolls and toro sashimi. They’re only accepting walk-ins from Tuesday to Saturday from 3 to 8pm for now, and you can see their menu of sushi sets, and a la carte rolls here.
This great Venezulan restaurant recently set up a few tents where you can eat things like a beef patacon, a frozen passion fruit sangria, and an appetizer plate that comes with mini empanadas, arepas, and tequenos. Call 718-937-3835 to place your order ahead of time.
Even though you won’t be surrounded by vintage knick-knacks and a chorus of French accents, Buvette is still a very charming place to eat fluffy eggs topped with smoked salmon at breakfast, or coq au vin at dinner. Their sidewalk seating is available daily from 9am-11pm.
This Nolita spot from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s son is now serving its Indonesian small plates and shareable entrees at outdoor tables on Spring Street. From 12-9pm Wednesday through Sunday, you can order things like avocado gado gado or perfectly charred octopus, and if there are no tables available, you can get a tequila and Thai chili cocktail from their booze cart while you wait.
Between the perfectly al dente garganelli and the confit duck that you’ll want to pick up like a turkey leg at Medieval Times, Clay is a fantastic place to impress someone. They recently launched outdoor dining with some new summer specials like heirloom tomato and watermelon salad, as well as all-day brunch on Sundays. Clay is also running takeout and delivery through their website in case you’d rather eat elsewhere.
If you’re planning a socially distant special occasion soon, like an intimate birthday dinner or a solo celebration in honor of your trumpet-playing roommate’s return to his family’s farm in Kansas, try L’Antagoniste. It’s a somewhat pricey French spot with a big garden patio where you can eat wagyu beef steak tartare and duck à l’orange by candlelight.
Buddha Bodai is a kosher and vegetarian dim sum restaurant. It doesn’t get insanely busy, and most dishes here cost less than $15 - so it’s a very useful place to know about, especially because it’s BYOB. There’s a long menu of things like dumplings, spring rolls, and various noodle dishes, as well as some pretty solid vegetarian versions of chicken, duck, and lamb.
Brunetti is serving their Neapolitan pizzas, as well as Italian small plates like arancini and eggplant parmesan, on their front and backyard patios. The pies, which are also available with gluten-free or whole wheat crust, range from a margherita with housemade mozzarella to a carbonara version topped egg yolk and pancetta. Stop by for lunch or dinner any day except Monday.
Whether you’re looking for an appetizer and glass of wine after a stroll through Fort Greene Park, or you want to follow an eggplant parm appetizer with pasta covered in oxtail ragu, Evelina is here for you. This Fort Greene Italian spot has patio seating every day starting at 5pm.
Not only has this Peruvian spot set up a bunch of tables out front, but it’s also offering seating on its colorful, plant-covered roof. You can make a dinner reservation through their website or by calling 718-387-3434 for groups of up to six any night of the week. They’re also offering weekend brunch, when you can pair a spicy pan con chicharron with a Llama Del Rey cocktail (pisco, rum, and red wine).
Hosting a birthday party with three friends? Looking for brunch that involves lots of colorful cocktails? Miss Lily’s 7A is prepared for you. They have outdoor tables set up in their parking lane every day.
232 Bleecker is the first full-service restaurant from the people behind the fast-casual chain, Dig, and it’s similarly focused on vegetables. But only using it as a place to get a light lunch or early evening snack would be a mistake. Their roast chicken is one of our favorites in the city, and they’re also serving pastas, rotating sandwiches, and frozen cocktails. You can reserve an outdoor table on Carmine Street for lunch or dinner Wednesday through Sunday through their website.
Oh you’ve had Rubirosa? Did you know that Rubirosa wouldn’t exist without the cracker-thin pies at Joe & Pats? Did you also know that the East Village location of this famous Staten Island pizza place has a somewhat-secret back patio where you can sit outside now. OK we will stop asking questions. Focus on the vodka or a white clam pie, and ask if you can sit in their backyard (even though they also have sidewalk seating available).
Noodle Village is serving their excellent food under a tent in front of their restaurant on Mott Street. This place serves Chinatown’s best wonton soup, which you should order without noodles (despite the name of the restaurant). It sounds confusing, but just trust us on this one.
Bronx Ale House opens every day at 11am, but brunch is only served on weekends. So if you want to pair this Kingsbridge bar’s great beers with some breakfast tacos or eggs and biscuits covered in sweet sausage gravy, you’ll have to go Saturday or Sunday between 11:30am-3pm.
Dante has opened up their sidewalk seating, so you can once again book a table here and drink several negronis while you watch people walk up Macdougal Street. And if you need some food to go with cocktails, they serve things like meat, cheese, pasta, and roast chicken. Make your reservation online up to a month in advance.
This Korean skewer restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen now has outdoor dining available Wednesday through Sunday, including brunch on the weekends. They’re accepting walk-ups as well as reservations, and you can find more information about their menu (which includes a $55 five-course tasting menu) and hours on their website here. Also important - they’ve set up awnings so you won’t get soaked in a ten-minute summer thunderstorm.
La Diagonal has the advantage of a big corner space, a heaping stock of tequila, and a permit to use part of the street for their outdoor dining. Stop by this Mexican spot for some cocktails and ceviche on a day when the city feels especially like an unwanted sauna. And if you’re looking for chilaquiles and mimosas, La Diagonal also has brunch service available every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4pm.
While the name might lead you to believe otherwise, Thai Son is a Vietnamese restaurant right near the courthouse on Baxter. They have a covered tent with a handful of tables available for outdoor dining every day. Skip the pho and prioritize the barbecue pork, some summer rolls, and banh xeo (massive egg crepes).
Right now Abuqir and Astoria Seafood aren’t offering outdoor seating. But if you want to point at a fish and tell someone exactly how you want it cooked, know that this Egyptian restaurant on Ditmars Boulevard is open and ready for you. Go inside to pick out your fish, and then head back to your outdoor table and order from their non-seafood menu. We’d suggest getting the dip appetizer sample, some grilled octopus, and then making a pita sandwich with the tahina, eggplant salad, and thinly-sliced tentacles.
The corner of North 3rd and Berry in Williamsburg feels a bit like a (greatly subdued) World Cup rally in Munich. Both streets are full of picnic tables, where people are drinking giant steins of Radeberger zwickelbier and eating brats and currywurst. The first come, first served tables are available for up to 90 minutes per party from 12-8pm during the week, and 11am-10pm on Saturday.
We can’t count the number of times Chilo’s excellent tacos have been there for us. This taco truck in the back of a bar is one of the few great Mexican spots in Bed-Stuy, and it’s open everyday, and till 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. You can order your fish, carnitas, and smoked beef tacos online and eat them at one of the outdoor picnic tables here with up to four people - just keep in mind that you may be asked to give up your spot after 90 minutes.
Wo Hop in Chinatown has been around since 1938, but this is the first time in its history that they’re serving crispy fried dumplings, orange chicken, and big plates of chow fun under three colorful tents on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to stare at ’80s headshots of former broadway stars on the restaurant walls, but the humidity might make you look like an ’80s star in your own right.
You can now eat Zooba’s excellent Egyptian sandwiches, dips, and dukka fries on the sidewalk in front of their corner spot in Nolita. Zooba is open from 11-9pm every day (and they’re still serving pick-up and delivery.
The East Village location of Caracas has the honor of being the first, while the Rockaway outpost has the pleasure of being a few steps from the beach. But this Venezualan spot in Williamsburg has something that the others don’t - a beautiful backyard and a cocktail bar with more than 40 types of rum. Make use of both while sampling their wide selection of arepas any day for lunch or dinner.
This neighborhood French bistro on the UWS with a bunch of sidewalk seating, and plenty of French wines for around $10 a glass. Try a couple of them while eating mussels in a dijonnaise sauce any day between 4-10pm.