As the weather warms up, al fresco dining is back in full swing around New York City. Whether you’re looking for sidewalk seating for premier people watching, want to get cozy in a backyard or are looking for a breathtaking Manhattan skyline view from a rooftop terrace, these restaurants offer the best in outdoor dining this season. By Sarah Shaker.
Gerber Group's The Roof
Make your way up to NYC’s newest outdoor terrace hot spot, overlooking Central Park at Viceroy New York. Small plates include Artichoke Hummus and Shrimp Tacos. Sip on an expansive collection of small-batch spirits, regionally brewed craft beers, global wine offerings and a selection of classic and modern cocktails that highlight market fresh ingredients. Signature cocktails include the GG Manhattan and Spicy Paloma. For an indoor dining experience, head down to Chef Marc Murphy’s Kingside on the ground floor of the property, making this destination one of our favorite NYC staycations.
Where Greenwich Village and Soho meet you’ll find Ariana, offering an interpretation of traditional Russian cuisine. Enjoy some fresh air as you dine this spring on the charming back patio with exposed brick, lavish greenery and romantic lighting. Highlights from Chef Vitalii Kovalev’s inspired menu include In-House Pickled Crudités, Lobster Stuffed Cabbage and Foie Gras Country Pâté. Ariana has a cutting-edge beverage program led by mixologist Orson Salicetti, featuring a global wine and beer selection, extensive craft vodka offerings including a unique vodka-soda menu, barrel-aged martinis and Vodka Shot Duos. Spring seasonal cocktails include Strawberry Fennel and Green Bell Pepper Martini.
Hinomaru Lucky Cat
Sit back and relax in Hinomaru Lucky Cat’s casual backyard garden as you dine on indulgent and modern Japanese pub fare, with menu highlights like the Lucky Cat Ramen with 14-hour tonkotsu broth, Chiritori Nabe (Traditional hot pot), Kushiyaki (Japanese grilled meats), as well as comforting bar snacks and tapas like pork buns and homemade tofu. Imbibe on a world-class sake list with favorites like Tedorigawa and Narutotai, and an inventive beer selection including exclusive varieties like wasabi and red miso flavored beers.
Named for the Middle Eastern spice blend za’atar, this Arabian French bistro in the East Village offers sidewalk seating for the best in neighborhood people watching. The menu is based on family recipes developed by Salwa Fallous, a native of Lebanon, with familiar classics like falafel and hummus, made fresh in house, as well as authentic dishes such as kibbe naya (lamb tartare with scallion and mint) and Lebanon’s national dish, kebbe kras, a mix of beef and bulgur wheat, onions and pine nuts. The beverage program features natural and organic wines from around the world, along with international craft beers and two housemade sangrias.
Head out East to the new waterfront dining destination Bay Kitchen Bar to make the most out of the Hamptons season. With stunning views in an expansive indoor/outdoor dining space, the new restaurant will be great for fresh seafood and summer events from Chef/Owner Eric Miller and Co-owner Richard Silver. The menu includes a Raw Bar with locally-sourced Little Neck Clams and more indulgent dishes like Handmade Lobster Ravioli. Bay Kitchen Bar will even have a few guest slips at the nearby marina for those who would like to arrive by sea for the ultimate boat party.
Chef Leah Cohen offers up flavorful Filipino and Thai food in the Lower East Side, where you can relax in the outdoor patio out back for al fresco dining. Try Pig & Khao’s affordable $45 per person 5-course Chef’s Tasting Menu or stop by for brunch with bottomless mimosas for $15 along with dishes including Sizzling Corned Beef Hash with raw egg, ginger, garlic and Thai chili and Brioche French Toast with bananas, coconut whipped cream and Genesee cream syrup.
‘La Isla Escondida’, Mulberry Project
As the weather warmed up this April, Mulberry Project launched ‘La Isla Escondida’, a secret outdoor space following in the footsteps of this winter’s speakeasy bar, Project 1919. Translating to ‘The Hidden Island’, ‘La Isla Escondida’ is the latest project from Restaurateur and Owner Nick Boccio and star mixologists Sam Ziar and Jasper Soffer. The garden is located just past the DJ booth and up the clandestine staircase, where they will host film screenings, serve spiked ice cocktails from the ‘La Isla Escondida Slushy Machine’ and offer Sunday Pig Roasts complemented by light-bites from the Latin menu, for the perfect summer staycation.
Delmonico’s of Southampton will re-open for its second season out East on April 28. Offering both classics like Lobster Newburg and Eggs Benedict and an updated menu of fresh seafood and farm-to-table specialties sourced from its onsite garden, the chic Southampton outpost of NYC’s legendary Delmonico’s Restaurant is also introducing an al fresco raw bar this season, dubbed “The Pearl.” During the month of May, a portion of The Pearl’s proceeds will be donated toward cancer research.
In the heart of the Theatre District, escape the touristy hustle and bustle at The Hudson Bond. Sneak away into the ivory-lined terrace resembling a European café, for outdoor cocktails this spring. For a larger party, reserve Henry’s Den, a subterranean lounge within the space, holding up to 400 guests. This restaurant, bar and event space is one of Midtown’s hidden gems.
Tavern on the Green
The reincarnation of New York institution Tavern on the Green in Central Park will have its full grand opening May 13, complete with outdoor seating galore. Enter Central Park on West 67th Street to find the beautiful 110-seat garden where you can enjoy cocktails this summer. There is also the “Green to Go” window offering simple, organic and healthy sandwiches, drinks and snacks. There are seats for the public, as well as bike and stroller racks for easy and safe storage for a full day at the park.
Sarah Shaker is the founder of the blog Bright Lights, My City.