Where to Eat Outdoors in NYC, 2014 Edition

20140528-eating-outside-nyc-collage.jpg

It's been a punishing winter, but now that the weather's reliably warm it's time to get outside. This city has plenty of outdoor dining—so much so, in fact, that it can be hard to know where to go. To help you out, we've rounded up some of our favorite restaurants, from cheap to blow-out, that satisfy on both food and outdoor atmosphere.

Cheap Eats

Shake Shack

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-shake-shack.jpg
The classic Shackburger at Shake Shack. Robyn Lee

Shake Shack, New York's hometown favorite burger chain, has locations scattered across the city, but the Madison Square Park flagship is arguably the best. Besides the food, there's nothing like eating your Shackburger in the middle of a park. Pick up a burger, fries, a ShackMeister Ale (created for the chain by Brooklyn Brewery), and enjoy.

Shake Shack

Madison Square Park, Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010

map 212-889-6600 Website

Louie and Ernie's Pizza

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-louie-ernie.jpg
The sausage pie at Louie and Ernie's Pizza. Adam Kuban

Some of New York's best, most no-nonsense pizza, with outdoor seating to boot? It's everything you could hope for in the Bronx. The sausage pie looks unassuming, but the chunks of juicy, fennel-spiked meat really are special.

Louie and Ernie's Pizza

1300 Crosby Avenue, The Bronx, NY 10461

map 718-829-6230

Lechonera La Piraña

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-lechonera.jpg
The crab pastelillo from Lechonera La Piraña. Chris Crowley

When it comes to eating outside, you can't beat the simplicity of street food, but the Lechonera La Piraña trailer in the Bronx isn't just some street cart. Eating among the folding chairs always feels a little like a party, and the eponymous lechon—fatty, super-crisp-skinned, and gloriously porky—doesn't disappoint. The pastelillos are a surprise hit, too.

Lechonera La Piraña

152nd Street and Wales Avenue, The Bronx, NY 10454

map

L & B Spumoni Gardens

20130601-l-b-spumoni.jpg
Spumoni at L & B. Max Falkowitz

The asphalt landscape of Brooklyn's L & B is a rite of passage for pizza lovers, native Brooklynites, and anyone who wants to know what New York is all about. Summer nights bring thick Brooklyn accents, a unique Sicilian-esque square pizza, and spumoni, a creamy frozen dessert that's caught between ice cream and Italian ice. You're here for the scene as much as the food, but that pizza hits a definite sweet spot.

L & B Spumoni Gardens

2725 86th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11223

map 718-372-8400 Website

Casual Sit-Downs

Back Forty

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-back-forty.jpg
Back Forty respects its produce, always putting together simple, delicious green salads. Ben Fishner

When it opened in 2007, Back Forty became one of the major players in Manhattan's "Eat Local" restaurant scene. It's retained that relevance with sensible but delicious dishes of pork chops, grilled trout, and a grilled kale Caesar. Come warm weather the restaurant starts up weekly crab boils (buy tickets in advance), which may be the best way to make the most of their charming outdoor seating.

Back Forty

190 Avenue B #1, New York, NY 10009

map 212-388-1990 Website

Bedouin Tent

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-bedouin-tent.jpg
Howard Walfish

Bedouin Tent's fresh pita, fatty lamb, and vibrant vegetable mezze are all just the thing for a neighborhood Middle Eastern restaurant, but their garden is an extra treat. It's a homey kind of space, astroturf at all, which just feels like the right pairing for a homey meal of creamy hummus, pillowy flatbreads, and some excellent lamb kebabs.

Bedouin Tent

405 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

map 718-852-5555

Bierkraft

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-bierkraft.jpg
Great beer, good sandwiches like the Italiano, and a backyard: what's not to love about Bierkraft?. Carey Jones

Bierkraft is primarily a destination for beer—a counterpressure growler fill system ensures that your beer stays nice and carbonated even if you wait a few days to crack it open. But with a charming patio and great sandwiches filled with the likes of Serrano ham and roast eggplant, you'd do well to stay awhile and pick up a growler on your way out.

Bierkraft

Bierkraft 191 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

map 718-230-7600 Website

Cafe Mogador

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-cafe-mogador.jpg
People line up to get an outdoor seat at Cafe Mogador and eat dishes like the lamb shank tagine. Max Falkowitz

If the crowds are any indication, we're hardly the first to recognize Cafe Mogador for its great open patio space; the St. Marks location (there's a less crowded one in Williamsburg) has been satisfying the brunch crowd with great Moroccan food for 30 years. Mezze and tagines are the order here: excellent hummus, greaseless fried eggplant, and a resoundingly rich lamb shank tagine.

Cafe Mogador

101 St. Marks Place, New York, NY 10009

map 212-677-2226 Website

Chez Lucienne

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-chez-lucienne.jpg
Moules marinières at Chez Lucienne. Aya Tanaka

You might not be able to make it to Paris this summer, but if you head uptown you'll find Harlem's Chez Lucienne putting out bistro classics like soupe de poissons, coq au vin, and steak frites. There's plenty of room on the patio to sit, dig into some moules frites, and enjoy a bistro done right in Harlem. Not all sidewalk seating is created equal in New York, but Lucienne offers a more peaceful way to take in Lenox Avenue.

Chez Lucienne

308 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10027

map 212-289-5555 Website

The Cleveland

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-cleveland.jpg
All brussels sprouts salads should aspire to be as good as the one at the Cleveland. Max Falkowitz

You can get Brussels sprouts salad at any number of restaurants, but how many of them come with briny trout roe and crunchy sunflower seeds? And how many do a take of fish and chips with cod, yucca, and singed wheels of citrus? This is the subtly inventive fare you'll find at the Cleveland, and it's best eaten in their gorgeous semi-secret garden festooned with rare greenery for Soho.

The Cleveland

25 Cleveland Place, New York, NY 10012

map 212-274-0900 Website

Fritzl's Lunch Box

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-fritzls.jpg
The burger at Fritzl's Lunch Box. Noah Arenstein

A recent addition to the Bushwick dining scene, Fritzl's offers a small menu of pastas and sandwiches, but the burger is the restaurant's pride and joy. Think of it this way: are you looking for a stunning city view or a casual outdoor space for a simple but well-done meal? If the latter, Fritzl's is your neighborhood joint.

Fritzl's Lunch Box

173 Irving Avenue, New York, NY 11237

map 929-210-9531 Website

Il Bambino

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-il-bambino.jpg
Taleggio, sun-dried tomato, and chive oil at Il Bambino. Max Falkowitz

Astoria's self-described "paninoteca" is beloved by locals for its well made salads, crostini, and panini. Add in cheese from Murray's and an affordable selection of wine and beer to round out your meal, then eat it all in what may be Astoria's nicest garden space: wide wood tables under a long fabric canopy, with a large table that seats eight in the back.

Il Bambino

34-08 31st Avenue, Astoria, NY 11106

map 718-626-0087 Website

Flatbush Farm and Bar(n)

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-flatbush-farm.jpg
The backyard at Flatbush Farm and Bar(n) is great for happy hour. Carey Jones

Tucked away just off a busy intersection at the edge of Park Slope, Flatbush Farm is two spots in one. The table-service restaurant and the more casual Flatbush Farm Bar(n) share a backyard, so you have a choice between just stopping by for a beer and bar snacks or indulging in the full dinner menu.

Flatbush Farm and Bar(n)

76 Saint Marks Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

map 718) 622-3276 Website

Gran Electrica

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-gran-electrica.jpg
The earthy beet margarita at Gran Electrica. Scarlett Lindeman

Dumbo has some of the best waterfront views in Brooklyn, and Gran Electrica takes full advantage of the location—the back patio has a prime view of the Brooklyn Bridge. The restaurant, drawing influence from both Brooklyn and Mexico, features hand-pressed tortillas, elegant Mexican fare, and an extensive tequila and mezcal list. Don't miss the quesadilla with chorizo and potato and the stunningly red beet margarita.

Gran Electrica

5 Front Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

map 718-852-2700 Website

The Lobster Joint

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-lobster-joint.jpg
The huge backyard at Lobster Joint means you can almost always find a seat. Asa Prentice and Paul Yee

The Lobster Joint's backyard is an expansive graveled lot full of picnic tables, so even during peak hours you'll probably get seated without a problem. Though the lobster rolls aren't quite the best in the city, they're well worth an order, as are greaseless fried oysters and crab tossed with tartar sauce.

The Lobster Joint

1073 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222

map 718-389-8990 Website

Locanda Vini e Olii

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-locanda-vini-olii.jpg
Don't let the sign fool you—Locanda Vini e Olii is selling great Italian food, not medicine. Craig Cavallo

The only sign outside of Clinton Hill's Locanda Vini e Olii reads "Lewis Drug Store," but the tables out front in the warmer months let you know that the space isn't filling prescriptions anymore. Instead, you'll find Tuscan-inspired fare like Venetian sardines in saor and potato and pancetta tortelli.

Locanda Vini e Olii

129 Gates Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238

map 718-622-9202 Website

Lock Yard

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-lockyard.jpg
"Everything" fried pickles at Lock Yard. Robyn Lee

Head down to Bay Ridge and you'll find a bar and beer garden serving craft beer and homemade hot dogs in some funky flavors. Heaters keep the backyard open in the winter, too, and there are TVs indoors and out tuned in to the night's sporting event. Don't miss the "everything" fried pickles.

Lock Yard

9221 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209

map 718-333-5282 Website

Pok Pok

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-pok-pok.jpg
Pok Pok makes some of the best papaya salad you'll find outside of Thailand. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Andy Ricker took the Thai food scene in America by storm when he opened up the original Pok Pok in Portland, Oregon. His New York outpost tucked away in Brooklyn's Columbia Street Waterfront neighborhood, has been no less of a success for its always-faithful northern Thai food. A spacious garden feels straight out of a Chiang Mai side street, a fitting setting for meals of papaya salad and grilled pork neck.

Pok Pok

117 Columbia Street, New York, NY 11231

map 718-923-9322 Website

Roberta's

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-robertas.jpg
The Margherita pizza at Roberta's. Robyn Lee

East Williamsburg pizzeria Roberta's has become a Brooklyn icon since opening in 2008. The exterior might be a little grungy, but the patio out back is anything but, a surprising touch of elegance for the industrial neighborhood. Come for the pizza, the burger, brunch, pasta, charcuterie, and then some.

Roberta's

261 Moore Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206

map 718-417-1118 Website

SriPraPhai

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-sripraphai.jpg
Don't miss the green curry at SriPraPhai. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Did you know that one of the city's most beloved Thai restaurants has outdoor seating? It does, and it's as slick as the dining room (which seats over a hundred). Come for the spicy fried watercress salads and all the curries, arguably the best of their kind in the city.

SriPraPhai

64-13 39th Avenue, Woodside, NY 11377

map 718-899-9599 Website

Telly's Taverna

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-tellys-taverna.jpg
Telly's Taverna knows how to fry vegetables. The zucchini is the star. Max Falkowitz

Astoria is the destination for Greek dining in New York, and Telly's Taverna is one of the best spots in the neighborhood. Mains are fine, but the menu shines with its mezze, which are reasonably priced and generously portioned. The spicy feta dip, Greek-style fried potatoes, and fried zucchini are standouts. Come warm weather, the front floor to ceiling windows open wide to let in the air, and the back garden is open for business.

Telly's Taverna

28-13 23rd Avenue, Astoria, NY 11105

map 718-728-9056 Website

More Upscale

Birreria at Eataly

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-birreria.jpg
Birreria is an oasis above Manhattan. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

It's no secret that New York City is lacking in open space, but we have more than our share of rooftops, and Birreria on top of Eataly is the Flatiron's oasis with wonderful beer and housemade sausages. The only trouble is getting in—this spot commands long lines.

Birreria

200 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10010

map 212-937-8910 Website

Maison Premiere

 20140528-eating-outside-nyc-maison-premiere-2.jpg
Maison Premiere's oyster happy hour is one of our favorite in the city, with every bivalve dropping to $1 each. Vicky Wasik

Stepping into the elegant, vine-enclosed garden at Maison Premiere, you're immediately transported from Williamsburg to New Orleans. The restaurant has a full menu of seafood dishes, but is best known for its great oyster selection—show up during happy hour and every bivalve on the list is just a dollar each. Absinthe cocktails drive the NOLA experience home at what may be the city's most civilized oyster bar.

Maison Premiere

298 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211

map 347-335-0446 Website

Riverpark

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-riverpark.jpg
Fried chicken at Riverpark. Robyn Lee and Christine Tsai

Sitting right on the edge of Kips Bay, Riverpark has two options for outdoor seating: a formal patio and a more casual terrace furnished with communal picnic tables. Both options put you right on the edge of the East River, but Riverpark isn't just about the view—Tom Colicchio opened the restaurant with Gramercy Tavern and Craft veteran Chef Sisha Ortúzar, who is putting out a menu of bar classics like an excellent cheeseburger and upscale offerings like short rib ravioli and grilled swordfish.

Riverpark

450 East 29th Street, New York, NY 10016

map 212-729-9790 Website

Esca

20140528-eating-outside-NYC-esca.jpg
At Esca, Dave Pasternack often features rare fish like this louvar. Erin Zimmer

A splurge restaurant but well worth it for special occasions, and there's a beautiful patio for eating outdoors. One of the city's top seafood restaurants, hands-down.

Esca

402 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

map 212-564-7272 Website