For about half the year, date night means finding a dark restaurant where you can hide from the cold and talk to someone about the best types of socks to keep your feet warm. But in the summer, you should be sitting outside - preferably in a place with strings of lights, minimal mosquitos, and at least one tree that you can carve your initials. Here’s where to do that.
The back patio at Celestine sits right above the waterfront in Dumbo, and it has a view that will make your date suddenly feel open to the idea of going on another date with you. While you take in a couple of bridges, the East River, and Manhattan at large, you can eat a big plate of Mediterranean mezze. The food is a little bit pricey - but it’s not stuffy, so it’s great for an outdoor date night that feels a little more special.
The backyard at Claro has strings of lights and vines that hang overhead, and there’s a big oven in the front where they make their homemade tortillas. They also don’t crowd the space with too many tables, so you won’t have to listen to a bunch of other people on dates having boring conversations. You should eat outdoors here at some point over the summer, and, when you do, you should try as many of their Oaxacan-inspired dishes as possible. Especially the molé.
The rooftop at City Vineyard is enormous, and, when it’s warm out, you’ll find a lot of big groups up there passing bottles bottles of wine back and forth. But if you’re out with a date, you should get a table on the ground-floor patio. It still has a view of the Hudson River, but it’s a little more mellow. You can eat a full dinner here, but we suggest you stick to smaller things and drink a bottle of something from the 30-page wine list.
At any given time, at least 50% of the people at Uva are on dates. That’s because it’s Italian, and Lady and the Tramp remains very influential. It’s also because the inside is decorated like a little house in rural Italy. But when it’s warm out, you should be sitting on the back patio that’s open-air in the summertime. If you can’t get a seat back there, try the sidewalk café out front.
Your date will be impressed that you know of Ammazzacaffe. It’s a fairly serious Italian operation in Williamsburg, and it’s perfect for when you need to show someone that you’re the sort of person who knows about things. You could walk right by without noticing it, but the backyard is one of the best outdoor spaces in the area, and they have great pastas, skewers, and larger things like duck and roasted pork.
If you’ve lived in this city for a significant amount of time, you probably have a go-to date spot in the West Village. Chances are, it isn’t Entwine, because a lot of people don’t know about this place yet. It’s a little wine bar in the quiet part of the West Village near the Hudson River, and it happens to have a great back patio. The dinner menu isn’t too extensive, but you can snack on various meats and cheeses while you drink your wine outdoors.
Mr. Dips isn’t fancy. It’s just a vintage airstream trailer in Williamsburg where you can pick up a burger, some waffle fries, and a soft serve. But you can get that soft serve with a salted peanut butter candy shell, and the trailer itself is hidden in a grassy park that’s up a flight of stairs beneath the William Vale Hotel. Bring a blanket, and you and your date can share some cheese-covered fries on the grass while you stare at the Manhattan skyline and say cliché things about New York.
It’s your third date with someone, and you want to communicate to this person that you’re interested in more than just making out on their stoop. Take them to LaRina. This Clinton Hill spot has one of the best backyards for eating pasta, and it’s never too hard to get a table here. Order the very affordable pasta tasting menu (three pastas for around $38), and save room for the panna cotta. Do all of this on the back patio, and you’re now fourth-date material.
Unless you’ve been dating for several years, a date at a pub generally isn’t the best idea. But when the pub has tiled floors, exposed brick walls, potted plants, and a big backyard with picnic tables and umbrellas, it might just work. That’s what The Bonnie is like, and it also has a big dinner menu with everything from burrata and steak to tacos and cheese fries. And since this is consistently one of the busiest places in Astoria, you can probably meet someone else here if your date doesn’t go well.
A good backyard in the East Village is somewhat hard to come by. But the Mermaid Inn on Second Avenue has one that’s surrounded by a white picket fence and is filled with plants. Come for Happy Hour, when oysters are $1.25 and wine is $7. If you want a prime seat in the backyard, you should get here early, because we’re not the only ones who know about this place. But if the backyard is full, you can always eat your seafood (which is mostly what they serve here) on the little patio out front.
Lilia has a good amount of cafe seating right on the sidewalk. Which means that you can bring a date here, then point to the crowds waiting by the front door in order to prove how hard it is to get a reservation here. And the food will only make you seem more impressive. Get some cacio e pepe fritters, get some pasta, get some grilled clams, and (we’ll rarely tell you this) don’t fill up on dinner. You should get desserts here. Also, make sure you really like the person you’re bringing because a) it isn’t cheap and b) you’ll want to fully enjoy these memories.
Suggest Thai food to someone, and they’ll usually say, “That sounds good.” And this is why you should know about Thep. It’s a solid Thai spot on the Upper East Side with a big indoor space full of Edison bulbs and hanging plants, and there’s a good amount of sidewalk seating when it’s warm outside. The menu is also huge, so you and your date can have some curry, noodles, a whole fish, or ten sides of rice.
This place is French, but you don’t have to wear a jacket here. It’s lively, good-looking, and there’s outside seating. Reservations at Sauvage also aren’t too hard to come across, so if you make plans last-minute and want to seem like a real adult human being, this is the place. The outdoor seats here are on the sidewalk, so it’s a good place to eat some steak while you stare at pedestrians who aren’t eating steak. For dessert, get the chocolate tart. You should leave with that taste in your mouth.
Evelina is an overachieving neighborhood Italian restaurant where the menu changes often. Expect things like mafaldine with uni butter and squid-ink spaghetti with chunks of king crab, and be sure to make the pastas the main focus of your meal. And, if it’s nice out, ask to get seated at one of the tables on the sidewalk out front where you can sit with a date and appreciate how quiet, photogenic, and expensive-looking Fort Greene is.
If you want to temporarily feel like your life is a modern fairy tale or a movie montage, go to Olmsted. Before dinner, you can have a drink and snack in the backyard (where they grow vegetables and store a few birds), and, after dinner, you can head back out there for some DIY s’mores. It’s also worth noting that all of your food will both look and taste like something you’ve never had before. Unless you ate pea sushi and a carrot crepe for breakfast.
Raines Law Room, under any circumstance, is an impressive cocktail place. The drinks are fantastic, there are about 100 of them, and you sit on leather-tufted couches that are equally intimidating and comfortable. But Raines Law Room is especially impressive when you bring a date onto the little back patio. No one seems to know they have one, but since you have this knowledge, you are now a person of extreme intrigue. Don’t mess this up.
The West Village is charming, which means that you don’t have to try as hard there. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t put in a good effort on your date, but maybe you had a long week and you’re fighting back some yawns. Go to Malatesta. Sit outside, eat some pasta, and watch people walk down Christopher Street while your date takes in the ambience and starts to mentally photoshop you into his or her holiday cards. The setting here is quaint and the food is simple and affordable. Just be aware that it’s cash-only.
We love Blueprint for two kinds of date night moves. Hit it before or after dinner at Al Di La for an awesome one-two punch, or make it your main event with several small plates and the giant house charcuterie plate. The cocktails are excellent and the back patio might be small - but it’s highly pleasant.
Tsion Cafe is an Ethiopian place in the bottom of a big brownstone in Harlem, and it’s about as casual as a friend’s living room. It’s great for a weeknight meal, and the back patio is perfect for a quiet date night when you want to get to know someone while eating some food with your hands. We like the vegetarian sampler here (with kale, lentils, chickpeas, and several other things), although there’s also stuff like burgers, shakshuka, and salmon.
If you’re not already aware of June Wine Bar, we’re sorry. But at least you’re reading this now, and you can make up for lost time. This extremely charming Cobble Hill bar has excellent cocktails, a long and interesting natural wine list, impressive small plates, and most importantly - a back garden with comfortable seating and lots of twinkly lights.
Hotel Delmano is a magical place. We mean that figuratively, although maybe also literally, because we’ve spent hours here that felt like five minutes. You could just come here for cocktails before or after dinner, but you could also make it your main event - they serve a serious raw bar and many snacks. Plus, you can eat that shrimp cocktail while sitting out on the sidewalk talking about all the Williamsburg people who pass you by.
Remember when Barbuto was supposed to close? That’s definitely not a thing anymore. But we’re also not complaining, because Barbuto is one of the absolute best places in the city to eat a bowl of pasta and/or a roast chicken outside.
Whether you’re really into mezcal, or you enjoy a nice margarita, or you just want to sip on some straight-up tequila, you and your date will find something that appeals on Leyenda’s cocktail menu devoted entirely to Latin-inspired drinks. Get here on the early side to take advantage of the back patio.
Maison Premiere sparked many imitators, but no Williamsburg-themed fancy cocktail joint is quite as impressive as the original. Yes, the cocktails are fantastic - but everything else about the place is what makes it special: the amazing back patio, the raw bar, and maybe even those suspenders that everyone who works here wears.
The modern Vietnamese food is good, and the cocktails are tasty, but the real reason Bricolage gets a spot on this list is its patio. Just look at that thing. It’s just waiting for your third date.
Most Spanish restaurants in Chelsea: cramped, and filled with uncomfortable bar stools. Not the case at Salinas, which is quite large and has one of the best, most comfortable outdoor situations in the city: a dining room with a retractable roof and couches you wish you had in your apartment.
Charlie Bird is quietly New York’s coolest restaurant - hip hop soundtrack, perfect service, great food, and an always-awesome feel overall. In the summer, they take over a pretty big chunk of sidewalk and bring the party outside.