You can call it “dining under the stars” if you want. But the fact of the matter is that for the time being, going to a restaurant with outdoor seating is just called going to dinner. And while you have more outside dining options now than ever before, you still might find yourself growing bored or falling into a routine. Fortunately, the 14 places on this guide are here to help. From a Vietnamese spot where the chef grills your food in front of you, to a brand new bar on an aircraft carrier in the Hudson, head to any of these spots when you want an outdoor dining experience that feels unique.
Bohemian’s phone number is 212-388-1070. For the first time ever, this Noho Japanese spot has made that information public. Call them between 1-5pm to make a reservation for a table between 3-8:30pm (they don’t accept same-day reservations), and eat some wagyu beef tartare over blue cheese toast in front of the former home and art studio of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Shuko is the kind of place that allows you to choose between adding uni from California or Japan to your nego toro roll. And it still is, but without the usual $300 commitment. You can experience the same phenomenal fish at this Union Square sushi spot, but now you can opt for a $68 set menu, or order things like spicy trout rolls and toro sashimi a la carte. Seating is first come first served from 3-8pm Tuesday through Friday, and until 9pm on Saturday.
Claro’s big backyard full of trees, string lights, and aqua-colored patio furniture is always one of our favorite places in the city to eat outside. And currently, you can experience it in a whole new way. This Gowanus spot’s fantastic Oaxacan food is being offered in a $72 four-course meal, in which you can choose dishes like masa fried oysters, tamales with guinea hen, and mole negro with seared duck. Reservations for the two nightly seatings - 5:30pm and 8pm - are required, and can be made on their website.
Your friend from Santa Barbara may scoff, but drinking wine next to the vines where the grapes grow is a unique experience in NYC. And it’s one you can have at Rooftop Reds in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The reservation-only rooftop bar doubles as a commercial vineyard, with rows of grape vines growing a few feet from tables where you can look out over Brooklyn and Manhattan. Through their website, you can book a table for up to ten people from 5-9pm on Thursday or Friday, or from either 2-5pm or 6-9pm on weekends.
On Fridays and Saturdays, this Greenpoint spot is offering a prix-fixe menu of Vietnamese BBQ dishes - like giant prawns and sliced sirloin with lemongrass - which you have the option to grill yourself, or have the chef do it for you tableside. There are currently two seatings per night at 7pm and 8:30pm for parties of two, and you can make a reservation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aircraft carriers are very large. While that’s both obvious and seemingly irrelevant, it’s worth mentioning here because it explains how this outdoor bar at the West Harlem Piers has 4,000 square feet of space, without even taking into account the inside, which will open with the return of indoor dining. The converted aircraft carrier is open Wednesday through Sunday from 3-10pm, serving cocktails and seafood-leaning bar food, like fried clam strips and lobster rolls with spicy tarragon mayo.
This Prospect Heights American spot has turned its backyard into “Olmsted Summer Camp” for the summer. As you might expect from one of our favorite restaurants in the city, their take on camp food is a far cry from the sloppy joes and mostly-defrosted chicken nuggets you may have had as a kid. They’re serving things like wagyu beef corndogs, dill pickled fried chicken, and corn on the cob with yuzu kosho butter - all of which is available on a first come first served basis Wednesday through Sunday from 5-10pm.
Calling Ruffian a wine bar feels misleading considering we’d absolutely go just for their constantly changing menu of Eastern Mediterranean dishes. But not calling Ruffian a wine bar also feels inaccurate considering their wine list, which includes more than 250 bottles from small producers, could keep us occupied for a very long time. Semantics aside, you should go to Ruffian, which is currently offering a $30 three-course tasting menu for the first time ever. You can reserve a table through their website Wednesday through Friday from 4-11pm, and from 12-11pm on weekends.
No matter how many types of hops you can rattle off the top of your head, or how old you were when you memorized “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots,” you’re going to come across beer and music at Bierwax that you’ve never tasted or heard before. This Prospect Heights beer bar has more than 5,000 vinyl records, and a huge selection of beers that you can order by the can or from the tap. Stop by any day between 4-11pm (1-11pm on weekends), and learn about some new beers and music at one of the first come first served tables in their backyard.
This American diner in Astoria has been around since 1965, and while we can’t say for sure whether or not they served a BEC with pancakes for buns back then, one relic from that era remains: drive-in movies. It’s $32 per car, but you can bring as many people as you want, and you can order from the very long menu of comfort food and diner classics throughout the show. You can keep track of what’s showing and ticket sale times on their Instagram.
Simply serving drinks on a boat isn’t unique. But what is unique is requiring people to take two other boat rides just to get on board, and then serving drinks with 360 degrees views of Manhattan, Jersey, and The Statue of Liberty. And on top of all that The Honorable William Wall has a BYO food policy, in case your preferred boat snack is something other than $4 oysters or a chicken club.
Some things about eating at Rahi will feel familiar, like finishing a plate of prawn curry or goat biryani, and realizing you haven’t said a word for 30 minutes. But some things will feel new, like the live tandoori grill station cooking lamb chops and chicken legs, and the curbside stand serving fresh kulfi to-go. The seating is first come first served, but if there’s a wait, then you can get a margarita with chamomile-infused tequila from the outdoor bar. That’s new, too.
If your only sports viewing experience in the past few months has been The Last Dance, then Ribalta can provide you some welcome relief. This Italian spot south of Union Square airs soccer matches on outdoor TVs, which you can watch while eating Neapolitan-style pizzas on their patio any day from 12-10pm.
Battello has better views of Manhattan than any place in Manhattan itself. This Italian spot is at the end of a pier in Jersey City, with outdoor seating overlooking the whole west side of the island. While you’re taking in the views and eating carpaccio or squid ink torchio, you can enjoy some live music, which they have Thursday through Saturday from 6-9pm.