14 Great Places to Dine Outside in NYC
Remember when you vowed to spend all summer sitting at picturesque sidewalk cafés sipping mimosas? And nibbling charcuterie while watching the sunset? And the lobster rolls—who could forget the lobster rolls?! Then COVID-19 came along and scuppered all of your plans. But good news, friends: NYC is officially in Phase 2, which means that restaurants are now allowed to serve hungry New Yorkers seated outside (while following social distancing guidelines, of course).
To make it easier to find out which spots are open for al fresco dining in your neighborhood, the Department of Transportation has released an interactive map that lets diners search for open restaurants by borough and ZIP code. But how will you choose where to dine out of the more than 6,000 eateries currently open? Don’t worry, we’ve done the work for you and found 14 places worth checking out ASAP.
(Note: All outdoor seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis unless noted otherwise.)
But first, read up on the new rules of dining out:
With social distancing in mind, tables must spaced at least six feet apart. But happily, you can bring your entire pod with you to dinner, since tables are allowed to seat up to 10 guests in one party.
Don’t forget your mask. Unless you’re seated at a table, you must wear a mask or you could be denied service. Employees are required to wear masks at all times, and they’re allowed to suggest that guests wear one unless they’re eating or drinking.
Restaurants are encouraged to use single-use items for menus and condiment containers. If they don’t, they should be cleaned after each use. Pre-packaged silverware or pre-rolled silverware are also recommended.
1. Gran Electrica
This DUMBO Mexican joint is known for its luminous outdoor patio and killer cocktails. We’re happy to report that the outdoor space is now open for walk-ins and is a fantastic place to kick back on a warm night. Tacos under the stars? Yes, please.
5 Front St., Brooklyn; 718-852-2700 or granelectrica.com
2. Lolo’s Seafood Shack
Is it us, or is seafood always more delicious when eaten outside? Chow down on a delightfully messy soft-shell-crab sandwich on the sidewalk outside of LoLo’s Seafood Shack and you’ll swear you can hear the ocean.
303 W. 116th St.; 929-256-2509 or lolosseafoodshack.com
3. Pier I Café
Gaze out at the Hudson and enjoy a bottle of rosé on ice at this casual Upper West Side hangout with its sprawling patio that’s open daily from 11 a.m. until sunset (weather permitting). Team your beverage with a burger and an ice cream sandwich, and you’ve got yourself a well-balanced meal.
500 W. 70th St.; 212-362-4450 or pieircafe.com
4. White Horse Tavern
This casual spot—and second-oldest pub in NYC—boasts a large outdoor patio and an updated menu featuring burgers, chicken sandwiches and cheese fries. All of which would pair nicely with a cold beer on a hot day, no?
567 Hudson St.; 212-989-3956 or whitehorsetavern1880.com
5. Johnny’s Reef
Fact: Food tastes better when it comes with a view. Grab a covered picnic table at this City Island spot and soak up the views of the Long Island Sound while noshing on clams, lobster tails, shrimp, scallop and more—all washed down with a fresh lemonade.
2 City Island Ave.; 718-885-2086 or johnnysreefrestaurant.com
Wooden booths designed by famed architect The Rockwell Group and pretty green plants line this comfort-food hotspot on Frederick Douglass Boulevard. We highly recommend ordering their famous chicken and waffles and following up with a slice of chocolate layer cake.
300 W. 114th St.; 212-864-7777 or melbasrestaurant.com
7. Pete’s Grill
This Sunnyside diner has transformed its parking lot into an outdoor seating area with umbrella-covered tables handily separated by the parking spot markings. Expect the usual diner fare (pancakes, eggs, sandwiches, burgers and more) plus a newly expanded summer cocktail menu (strawberry daiquiri, anyone?).
3914 Queens Blvd.; 718-937-2220 or petesgrill.com
8. Jacob’s Pickles
Location is everything, and this Upper West Side spot happens to be saddled right next to a private garden, which means you can enjoy the outdoor seating while taking in the lush greenery. Also on the menu? “Southern-accented” dishes, like buttermilk-fried chicken with honey and pickles, catfish tacos and grits-crusted fried green tomatoes. Outdoor dining available by reservation only.
509 Amsterdam Ave.; 212-470-5566 or jacobs.picklehospitality.com
Head down to the Financial District for this seafood chain’s twinkling string lights, views of the Hudson and $1 oysters during happy hour. With the Brookfield patio now open for seating, this is summer dining in the city at its finest.
250 Vesey St.; 646-585-7380 or seamores.com
10. Taco Mix
Order your tacos, burritos, nachos, tostadas and more at this Sunset Park spot’s to-go counter, then tuck into your feast inside Industry City’s outdoor courtyard seating. It just reopened to the public. (We highly recommend the al pastor tacos that are made fresh from a rotating spit and served with grilled pineapple.)
220 36th St. Brooklyn; 646-634-8763 or eatrealtacos.com
11. Roberta’s Pizza
Imagine kicking back in a tiki garden with a slice of woodfired pizza in one hand and a frozen cocktail in the other. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Well, now that the Bushwick pizza stalwart’s outdoor space is back open for business, you can do exactly that. Available for reservations via Resy.
257 Moore St., Brooklyn; 718-417-1118 or robertaspizza.com
The famous brasserie in the Meatpacking District is dishing up all its classics (croque monsieur sandwiches, garlic snails and steak frites) to diners outside. Reservations available on Resy and by phone for up to one week in advance.
52 Gansevoort St.; (212) 929-4844 or pastisnyc.com
13. JG Melon
Got a hankering for a burger? JG Melon has one of the best (and the restaurant’s Bloody Marys aren’t half bad, either). You can now tuck into one of its juicy patties while enjoying sidewalk seating space on the sidewalk, complete with the eatery’s signature green-and-white tablecloths. And here’s some more good news: Melon’s strict cash-only policy has been relaxed and the burger joint will now accept credit cards, too.
1291 3rd Ave.; 212-744-0585 or jgmelonnyc.com
14. ART NoMad
Is it even summer in the city if you’re not sipping on a cocktail on a rooftop? This chic rooftop bar in the Arlo NoMad Hotel has just reopened and is serving drinks and small bites, complete with city skyscraper views. Reservation only.
11 E 31st St.; 212-951-1141 or arlohotels.com