Best Restaurant Patios in New York City
When warmer weather arrives, seek out New York City’s best restaurant patios, sidewalk cafes and waterfront dining options.
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Alfresco in the Big Apple
On New York City’s sunny days, residents flock outside to enjoy spectacular sunsets and steamy summer nights. From a lobster cruise on the Hudson River to a garden patio hidden behind a former carriage house, here are the ultimate spots to eat and drink outdoors in the Big Apple.
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Pier A: Battery Park City
Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room: Rockefeller Center
Shake Shack: Madison Square Park
Shake Shack has become the city’s fast-casual culinary mascot, with locations across the boroughs and in ballparks, airports and even far-flung cities like Dubai, Beirut and Tokyo. Suffice it to say, it is still a great place to grab a burger. Launched as a summertime hot-dog cart that stood across the street from Eleven Madison Park restaurant, this cult hit spawned its first official location, or “shack,” in scenic Madison Square Park back in 2004. The line seems like it has never ceased since then. If you’ve not yet sampled their latest creation, the Chick’n Shack — chicken breaded and fried until ultracrispy, topped with briny pickles and tucked into a squishy bun that’s slathered with buttermilk mayo — wash it down with seasonal beer or raspberry limeade while watching the park’s squirrels gobble up stray french fries.
Photo courtesy of Esto Photography
Grand Banks: Hudson River Park at Pier 25
The last operable salt-cod fishing ship, the Sherman Zwicker (built in 1942), now serves as an oyster bar docked at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25. As befits a maritime restaurant, the menu highlights sustainable, wild-caught seafood overseen by executive chef and avid fisherman Kerry Heffernan. The boat’s deck is also one of the city’s most-popular summer bars, pouring rosé, beer and cocktails to stripes-clad New Yorkers. On weekends, the brunch is a scene, with items like mascarpone French toast and New Orleans-style cheese grits with andouille sausage. Return for sunset cocktails, and repeat on Sunday.
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Santina: Meatpacking District
The Brooklyn Barge: Greenpoint, Brooklyn
When riding the subway, it can be hard to remember New York City was once a maritime heavyweight, with one of the country’s busiest ports. A good reminder is The Brooklyn Barge, a seasonal floating restaurant equipped with industrial-size wire spools converted into tables and direct views of the Williamsburg Bridge. The casual all-day menu offers Grilled Fish Tacos, Mini Veggie Burger Sliders, and Tugboat Fries with pulled pork, cheese and jalapenos. Also available: beer (available by the bucket for groups), wine and specialty cocktails such as a nautical Rum Punch. For service, order at the bar and pick up your fare at the window of the kitchen, which is housed in a repurposed shipping container.
Photo courtesy of Liz Barclay
Lafayette Grand Café & Bakery: NoHo
It’s only fitting that the French-inspired Lafayette would offer Parisian-style sidewalk seating. This market-driven all-day eatery from celebrated chef Andrew Carmellini is at its best in nice weather, when locals pair cafes au lait with French pastries or settle in for larger-format dishes like rotisserie chicken salad, spaghetti nicoise — with rare and confit tuna — and a brisket burger blanketed in raclette. It’s an ideal downtown spot for a leisurely late-afternoon lunch that offers good people-watching in the shade.
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Industry Kitchen: South Street Seaport
Mr. Purple: Lower East Side
Like a tiny slice of Sesame Street in the heart of New York, this rooftop perch on the 15th floor of the Hotel Indigo is named in honor of neighborhood environmentalist and garden tender David Wilkie, aka Mr. Purple. A fixture on the Lower East Side, Wilkie painstakingly planted his “Garden of Eden,” a 15,000-square-foot urban oasis on a gritty stretch of Forsyth Street, which was once featured in National Geographic. Raise a glass to him with the eponymous Mr. Purple, a ruby-hued blend of tequila, cranberries and secret punch mix, and nibble on flatbread with seasonal market vegetables — best enjoyed poolside.
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