When the weather gets warmer and the days go long, heading to one of the many restaurants in NYC with outdoor seating is the way to go. Tables and chairs spill out onto the sidewalk or in back courtyards and Aperol spritzes suddenly appear on every table.
But you shouldn’t just plop down at any sidewalk table. Combining a great al fresco atmosphere and good food isn’t as easy as it seems. We’ve sought out the best outdoor restaurants in New York City. They don’t just have great food; these restaurants with outdoor seating also have sidewalk tables or a leafy courtyard.
Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill
One of the best kept secrets of outdoor restaurants in NYC, Anable Basin is tucked into an outdoor spot where Long Island City, the East River, and the canal-like Eleventh Street Basin meet.
Long wooden communal tables are scattered around the patio, beer garden style. The menu leans toward the Balkans, offering Čevapči, small cigar-shaped grilled sausages; skirt steak; and grilled kielbasa with a side of sauerkraut.
Hanoi House, one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in New York City, sits at a perfect spot on St. Marks Place in the East Village. It’s the quiet, less bustling part of the street that borders on Tompkins Square. Which means grabbing one of the restaurant’s sidewalk tables is a must for summertime dining. Then focus on feasting on the Hanoi staple bun cha or a big bowl of ultra-flavorful pho.
This Greenwich Village Italian restaurant is an ideal place to park yourself at an outside table and slurp up some pasta and red sauce. The waiters hail from Italy and they introduce themselves with a large chalkboard of the daily specials. If you squint, you can kind of imagine you’re actually in Italy.
Located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, this bi-level spot feels like it was picked up by a hurricane in the Caribbean and dropped here. The structure is airy and, at some points, roofless, and it also boasts plenty of al fresco spots to munch on all things crab.
But Brooklyn Crab isn’t just a crustacean fest. The menu is loaded with goodness, including shrimp-and-bacon-topped deviled eggs, fried calamari, fish ‘n’ chips, and a nice swordfish sandwich.
If a sidewalk table isn’t enough al fresco for you, there’s always a boat. Moored toward the end of Pier 25 in Tribeca, Grand Banks is a historic wooden schooner that was given a new lease on life as a stationary bar and restaurant.
As expected, the menu leans heavily toward the sea with several varieties of oysters and caviar on offer, as well as dayboat scallops wading in a shallow pool of sweet corn succotash and an excellent lobster roll.
One of restaurateur Gabe Stulman’s three West Village restaurants, Jeffery’s sits on the corner of Christopher Street and Waverly Place. The sidewalk tables are a nice place to people watch.
On selective days, usually during the weekend, the city shuts down this stretch of leafy Waverly Place to traffic. Then tables from Jeffrey’s spill out into the street, which makes for some of the best outdoor seating in NYC.
Superstar chef Missy Robbins’ excellent Italian restaurant in Williamsburg also happens to have a lovely sidewalk dining area too. The menu at Lilia features a lot of must-haves, especially for the first-time diner. These include cacio e pepe fritelle, chicken liver crostini, grilled sardines, and agnolotti filled with sheep’s cheese, saffron, dried tomato, and honey.
A stalwart of the Meatpacking District dining scene, Pastis is not just a place to see and be seen. It’s a solid restaurant as well. And the sidewalk tables make for a fun place to watch the European shoppers/tourists strut by while feasting on Gallic-accented fare like steak frites, trout amandine, and lamb tagine.
Tavern on the Green
The legendary Tavern on the Green is a New York City dining institution. Located on the western border of Central Park, the fabled eatery first opened in 1934. The outdoor seating area here is huge, so on a warm day or evening, clear your schedule and park yourself at an al fresco table here to dine on classics like organic Scottish salmon, Long Island duck breast, and grilled Colorado rack of lamb.
Tavern on the Green is one of the most iconic restaurants in NYC with outdoor seating. Photo credit: Eden, Janine and Jim
Opened in Summer 2022 on Governors Island, Gitano Island is part of a series of pop-ups from the Tulum-based see-and-be-seen spot Gitano. After exiting the ferry take a sharp left and walk until you see “Gitano” lit up in neon.
The place is an Instagrammers’ dream, with plenty of lounge chairs and bed-like furnishings throughout the leafy outdoor oasis. The Mexican-accented menu includes bison meatballs, a watermelon salad, and a tuna tostada. Gitano Island is open from mid- or late-April until it gets cold (around the end of October).
Longtime West Village restaurant Tartine happens to be on one of the prettiest, most West Village-y corners of the West Village. Grab an outdoor table on the sidewalk at West 4th and West 11th Street and prepare to be dazzled by the leafy oasis that is this tranquil swath of the neighborhood.
The food is French leaning with garlicky escargot, spicy tuna tartare, steamed PEI mussels, and steak au poivre. Best of all, it’s BYO, so don’t forget to turn up with a bottle of your favorite wine.
David Farley is a West Village-based food and travel writer whose work appears regularly in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC, and Food & Wine, among other publications. He’s the author of three books, including “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town,” which was made into a documentary by the National Geographic Channel. You can find Farley’s online homes here and here.