Walking around NYC right now, you’ll likely see just as many outdoor dining structures as manholes. They’ve become staples in the weird and wonderful world of supporting restaurants through a pandemic, and essential for planning a solid outdoor dinner date, choosing a patio to meet up with a few friends, or having meal outside when it may rain. But with more impressive options for outdoor dining than ever before, you might be wondering where to get a great meal that’s just as excellent as the patio setup. That’s why we put together this guide. From the clear plastic domes at a French bistro on the UWS to wooden cabins at a tasting menu restaurant in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, here is a list of the 25 best patios around the city.
Nowadays feels more like a park with non-existent open-container laws than a bar. The massive outdoor space at this Ridgewood spot has picnic tables spread out amongst trees, grassy areas, ping-pong tables, and booths with drinks and food. It’s a casual place to day drink with a group (or your dogs), and on Sundays between 3-9pm, they host Mister Sunday - a day party with rotating DJs and lots of sweaty dancing - which you’ll really like while you’re here, and probably hate the next morning at your desk.
Silver Apricot in the West Village serves Chinese-American small plates like mini croissant-like scallion puffs with scallion butter, perfectly poached shrimp atop toast with celery and walnuts, and a wagyu slider on a homemade scallion roll that was a close contender for the best burger in NYC. Besides a menu of exceptional dishes, their back patio is a secret oasis suitable for a dinner when you want to prove to a date or friend that you still have the whole restaurant choosing thing down.
Checkered floors, colorful banquettes, and globe lighting are consistent fixtures inside the dining area and outdoors on Bandtis’ open-air patio, which deserves some kind of design award. On a scale from dive to fancy cocktail bar, this place sits right in the middle, with beer-and-shot specials, and massive tiki cocktails on the menu. While you’ll definitely need a reservation to hang out here on weekends, it’s a great place to go with a big group and eat the type of food you’d expect at a kitschy diner, including four different kinds of loaded tater tots, deep-fried hot dogs, and a smashburger.
Since November 2020, an ex-Blue Hill at Stone Barns chef has been making locally-sourced Vietnamese dishes like grilled pork belly hand rolls, red curry seafood soup, and confit duck necks at this Bushwick spot. You can stop by Falansai from 5 to 10pm, Wednesday through Sunday to try them all while seated right next to a massive koi pond in the restaurant’s backyard. There are also plenty of places to sit several feet away from the pond, just in case you’d rather not risk the potentially disturbing consequences of seeing your reflection in a calm pool of water.
The Flushing location of Szechuan Mountain House has beachside cabana-style umbrellas covering the patio tables on the courtyard in front of the restaurant. So you can enjoy their excellent Sichuan food, like mapo tofu and garlic-heavy pork belly, even when it’s 90 degrees out. They take reservations as well as walk-ins.
Cervo’s has a new outdoor set-up that’s been attracting everyone we’ve ever stalked on the internet for dinner and drinks. The LES seafood spot recreated its iconic yellow tile bar smack in the middle of Canal Street, which is now affectionately known as “The Tub.” And eating some crudo, clams, and a lamb burger here feels like being cast as an extra in a movie about Dimes Square. Unless you show up before they open at 5:30, you’re going to have to wait at least an hour for a table outside, but it’s well worth the wait to enjoy great seafood and take in the well-dressed scene.
When this counter-service Pakistani spot moved from Bushwick to Williamsburg in 2020 they kept their phenomenal burger and seekh kebabs, and gained a lovely little backyard in the process. A win-win for everyone. So if you want a full dine-in experience at the new-ish counter service place on Grand Street anytime soon, grab a table on their heated patio pergola under a galaxy of string lights. Bring a few beers or pick up a cocktail beforehand to make the most of their BYOB policy.
Chances are, you don’t own a boat. But if you ever get the urge to climb onto a ship and drink a bottle of wine, just go to Grand Banks. To some, this is a big sailboat on the Hudson that serves things like rosé and oysters, but for others, this Tribeca bar is a summer institution. When it’s warm out, make it a point to hop on deck and enjoy some seafood at one of their patio tables. If possible, we highly recommend staying long enough to watch the sunset over the Hudson.
From the pastel pink arches to the checkered flooring, eating lunch on Guevara’s patio feels like attending a party in Betsey Johnson’s backyard. It also helps that this Clinton Hill vegan restaurant hosts a live salsa band on Saturdays from 1pm to 4pm, when neighbors come out to dance in the street at a safe distance. For a more traditional sit-down experience involving plant-based Cuban dishes like an excellent torta with fried eggplant and several vegan pastries, stop by their covered outdoor area on a first-come, first-served basis between 7am and 6pm daily. Or pick up a new ficus tree on a Sunday morning from the plant shop inside.
The covered patio at Blume has pink and purple flowers scattered across the ceiling, rainbow-colored dining chairs, and a bunch of potted plants hanging on its walls just in case you forget which season we’re in. So you should keep this Austrian wine bar in mind for a fun date or group hang. It’s tucked below a sandwich shop on the UES, and if this sounds familiar, you might recall this spot’s Alpine-ski lodge alter-ego Hutte, which was operating out of the same space last fall. Now that it’s warm out again, Blume is back with dishes like oysters, lobster rolls, and schnitzel.
From the excellent mole selection to its brightly-painted sidewalk patio, Ruta Oaxaca takes the maximalist approach at every turn. And that’s exactly why we love this Mexican restaurant in Astoria. The electric pink hut out front has four walls, a periwinkle carpet, huge windows, and a sliding door that stays open at all times. Eating the rich mole-covered enchiladas and tender short ribs inside the vibrant structure felt like being in a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie reboot based in 2021. If you need another reason to make this Oaxacan spot a priority on your list of new restaurants to check out, know that Ruta offers a 2-for-1 cocktail special during brunch service on weekends - all tables are first come, first served till 4pm.
As much as we’ve enjoyed outdoor dim sum this year, we’re also excited to enjoy the experience without beeping cars and trucks rattling our saucers of shrimp rice rolls. Thankfully, Nom Wah built a bunch of red and yellow huts outside of their location in Doyers Alley. Each one of these cylindrical structures has a little air vent near the roof for circulation and accommodates up to four people at a time. And no matter what happens outside, you can have some private inside one of them with a big round table covered in everything from soup dumplings and rice rolls to fried sesame balls and shrimp siu mai. Just in case you’re finally keeping an organized social calendar, Nom Wah allows you to book a hut ahead of time online.
Honey Badger in Prospect Lefferts Gardens has fully committed to creating new outdoor architecture: they built a chic, wooden lean-to house that’ll make you feel like you took went glamping on a long summer weekend. The experimental tasting menu here changes often, but it’s always focused on local seafood dishes like soft shell crab with fiddlehead ferns and whole squid with wild leek. You can make a reservation for up to six people on the restaurant’s website.
In New York, everything is always in flux. But there are two constants you can pretty much always count on. First, you’ll have to wait at least 45 minutes for a table at Via Carota in the West Village, and second, it’ll feel worth it once the food arrives. This Italian restaurant’s cacio e pepe is the best in the city, and their garlicky chopped steak is richer and more compelling than the majority of non-chopped steaks we’ve encountered. Plus, Via Carota’s expanded outdoor seating is a mix of umbrella-covered patio tables and two-tops underneath a large awning loaded with twinkly lights, and both options work well for a bucket list-worthy meal in Manhattan.
This outdoor-only Williamsburg spot looks like it could win a garden design competition show. The restaurant is essentially one huge covered patio surrounded by hanging plants, towering trees, and potted plants. Up front, they’ve got a row of picnic tables that work for small groups, plus there’s a quieter corner in the back with a bunch of two-top tables.
The greenhouse patio at Thai Diner is a miniature version of the Nolia spot’s impressive dining room. It’s all-bamboo-everything, from the wallpaper to the chairs, complete with heaters hanging above every table and shiny checkered floors that’ll make you feel the sudden urge to do the lindy hop. Every New Yorker should strive to eat the egg sandwich wrapped in flaky roti at brunch, or the creamy khao soi, fried chicken larb, and cabbage rolls stuffed with citrusy ground turkey and mushrooms at dinner.
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 are required, with tables available nightly from 5:30 to 9:15pm, as well as for weekend brunch from 11:30am to 3pm.
For the chance to eat lobster tempura in taco-shaped nori outside in the West Village, check Nami Nori’s outdoor tent. It’s an all-white structure filled with custom-built, heated chairs to keep your bottom side warm while you eat generously-stuffed handrolls. Nami Nori is taking dinner and weekend brunch reservations online, as well as holding a few tables for walk-ins. During lunch, you can also order takeout and sit at one of their tables on a first-come, first-served basis without waiter service.
Not only has this Williamsburg Peruvian spot set up a block of private cabins on its sidewalk, but they’ve also included woven light fixtures, thick curtains, and plush pillows in each one. 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. Plus, they’ve got new menu items like black bass ceviche and banana and queso helado ice cream cake.
This French bistro on the UWS installed clear plastic domes to cover several of their outdoor tables. Eating inside of one feels like what we’d imagine it must be like to walk on water in one of those inflatable bubbles - just without all of the face planting. The domes can be reserved for brunch, lunch, and dinner service through the restaurant’s website.
If you want to enjoy some shade while eating some of the best Indian food in the city, then a meal at Adda in Long Island City should be one of your top priorities. While you’re dining on their covered patio, do us a favor and bottle some of the saffron-scented steam that rises when you uncovered the dough on top of their incredible goat biryani.
The backyard at Lolo’s in Harlem is the perfect place to drink rum punch while eating large quantities of crab, shrimp, or other types of seafood outside. It’s got a few private cabanas and several open-air picnic tables that’ll make you feel like you’re dining on an oceanless beach. Head here the next time you’re in the mood to get peel-and-eat shrimp all over a paper bib.
The plant-filled back patio at this Middle Eastern spot in Fort Greene is surrounded by brick walls and murals of people drinking wine. It’s a wonderful place to have dinner with someone who you like, or who you want to like you. If there are no reservations available in the back, though, know that everything from the sweet whipped ricotta to the creamy hummus with lamb shawarma tastes just as good on their shaded patio out front.
This Japanese spot in Chinatown has everything from tabletop jingisukan grills to french fries with uni and anchovies. But what really sets Dr. Clark apart are the eight outdoor kotatsu tables where you can sit with a group of three to six people under a roof and a disco ball. These tables are reservation-only, so make sure to check out their website ahead of time.
While Elsie Rooftop is only about a block away from Times Square, the space feels more like a 1920s penthouse than a deserted tourist trap. This bar has golden chandeliers and a big wraparound terrace with sectional couches and string-lit shrubbery, but somehow it doesn’t feel too stuffy. You might see people in boxy dark blazers drinking champagne here, but more likely, others will just be hanging out and sharing sangria pitchers. Stop by Elsie at 5pm on a Friday to catch the sunset, or do some day drinking from 1-10pm on Saturday or Sunday.