Secret NYC Restaurant Gardens: The Best Backyard Lairs for Dining in the Big Apple

For urban adventure seekers, few things are as exhilarating as hitting the pavement of the boroughs and seeing where the day takes you. But it can be grueling out there in the summer heat. Fortunately, New York has a deep web of hidden points of delicious respite waiting for you — if you know where to find them.

These are not your sidewalk cafes; these are al fresco urban oases where you can delight yourself with a bit of a breeze and put some distance between you and the grit of the streets. Seeking sustenance and solace from the teeming masses of competitive curb crawlers? Find serenity with our NYC outdoor dining guide to hidden New York secret restaurant gardens.

Barbone
Executive chef Alberto Ibrahimi at Barbone will treat you like family and introduce you to his version of Italian soul food. Fresh ingredients, a full bar, an extensive wine list, and a spacious outdoor dining area make this a one-stop relaxation destination.

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Edi and The Wolf
The executive chef team behind midtown Manhattan’s Michelin-starred (and, sadly, shuttered) Seasonal Restaurant & Weinbar opened this casual homage to Austria’s wine taverns. Located in Alphabet City, it features an eye-pleasing menu of wonderfully prepared rustic Austrian best enjoyed beneath the patio’s hanging garden.

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Home
A sustainable restaurant since opening in 1993, Home boasts a menu that showcases the best of New York’s regional agriculture. Beyond the local bounty, the petite eatery boasts an intimate wood-paneled backyard seating area that is guaranteed to ease and please.

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ICI
At Fort Greene’s ICI Restaurant, executive chefs Armando Reyes and Robert Howay prepare du jour bounty with a contemporary French twist (garlic scape soup, anybody?). Whether you go for dinner or brunch, the garden seating that hides behind the 19th-century brownstone is positively transportive.

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La Birreria at Eataly
Atop the bustling hordes of the Flatiron District, perched upon the great piazza of plenty that is Eataly, rests this comforting beer garden where you can sip your Peroni — or better yet, one of many house-brewed ales — accompanied by some mussels, housemade sausage, and other delights. [Photo credit: Virginia Rollison]

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Lunch Break: Meet OpenTable Employee Jessye Strohmeyer

Jesse Strohmeyer blog copyTop-notch engineers are vital to the success of OpenTable — as is the woman who helps recruit them. Jessye Strohmeyer spends her days seeking out the best engineers and (if this one is any indication) eating healthful lunches. The northeast native adores peanut butter, would love to dine (barefoot?) with Ina Garten, and has fond memories of the all-you-can-eat steak frites at Le Relais de L’Entrecôte in the City of Lights. Read on to meet OpenTable employee Jessye Strohmeyer, discover her drinking + dining tips, and find out what she’s having for her midday meal in today’s Lunch Break.

Name: Jessye Strohmeyer

Hometown: Lexington, Massachusetts

Job Title: Recruiter

What that means that I do at OpenTable: Tell engineers how cool OpenTable is and convince them to work here.

Years at OpenTable: One  Alma mater: Boston College

I have not worked in a restaurant.

The food I can’t live without: Peanut butter

The one food I’ll never try: Dog

My go-to drink or cocktail: Margarita

The delicious dessert I refuse to share: Mike’s Pastry cannoli

My favorite thing about dining out is: trying a new spin on classics.

If huevos rancheros is on a restaurant’s menu, I almost always order it.

My last best restaurant meal was at: Starbelly

The restaurant I am a regular at: Kells (They have food, right?)Continue Reading

National Fried Chicken Day: Tasty Takes on an American Favorite

Hamburgers, shmamburgers. We’re saying it: Fried chicken is now our national dish! From its humble origins in Scotland, where, according to the book Advances in Deep-Fat Frying of Foods, edited by Servet Gulum Sumnu and Serpil Sahin, the Scots prepared chicken fried without the spices we’ve come to associate with it today, to its evolution at the hands of African slaves who added in savory seasonings, it has been enjoying a renaissance in restaurants around the nation for the past several years.

As far back as 1938 (and even farther we’d venture to say), The New York Times was documenting the kerfuffle over the proper way to make fried chicken, debating the virtues of bona fide Southern fried chicken over that of recipes created by cooks in the north. Now this is not to say that we’re not interested in the authenticity of recipes, but what matters most to us is flavor. And flavor comes in many forms, from preparations classic and close to home to those exotic and international. In that spirit, then, and in honor of National Fried Chicken Day, we’ve rounded up tasty takes on an American favorite, featuring influences near and far.

Fried Chicken Basket, Blue Smoke, New York, New York
Inspired by his childhood in Louisiana, executive chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois added his own extra-crispy fried chicken recipe to the menu when he joined the restaurant in 2014. To achieve maximum crispiness, he employs a special “double dunk” process. Available mild or coated with spicy honey, each order comes with hot, buttery, house-baked biscuits glazed with a touch of honey and topped with flakes of salt and is served with a vessel of Steen’s cane syrup, a Louisiana product rarely seen this far north. [Photo credit: Melissa Horn]

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Thursday’s Southern Fried Chicken, BOA Steakhouse, Santa Monica, California
Executive chef Jose Melendez recently revamped the sexy steakhouse’s lunch menu to include a number of new daily specials, including Thursday’s Southern Fried Chicken. Tear into three pieces of white and dark meat along with must-have sides of coleslaw, potato salad, and spicy hot sauce – and make Friday jealous.

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Lou Dogg’s Crispy Skin Chicken, E.P. + L.P., West Hollywood, California
At this newly opened, multi-level modern Asian eatery in the city of angels, guests can dig in to chef Louis Tikaram’s “Lou Dogg’s Crispy Skin Chicken” – half a Mary’s Farm chicken with black vinegar, chili, and lemon. Australia’s 2014 Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year, Tikaram — and his delicious take on fried chicken — will have you begging for more!

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Five Great Grilling Cookbooks to Add Sizzle to Your Game on the 4th of July

Whether it’s a lazy summer Sunday afternoon or a steamy weekday evening, it’s always a good time to grill. But there’s a huge difference between smoking brisket, firing up some burgers, or throwing a pizza on the grate. Each dish requires the right tools, techniques, and recipe to ensure you get the best results boasting the maximum flavor. To give you some guidance for those days you can’t make it to your favorite BBQ restaurant, we’ve rounded up five great grilling cookbooks to add sizzle to your grill game ahead of the 4th of July – and all summer long. You can thank the chefs – and us – later. It’s also totally acceptable to show your appreciation by inviting us over for dinner.

Build Your Own Burger: BYOB
You need this burger bible. Penned by Jeff Rossman, executive chef of San Diego’s Terra American Bistro (and the cheeky burger concept Bunz), Build Your Own Burger: BYOB is the ultimate DIY hamburger helper. The book begins with two-dozen types of patty recipes, including beef, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, fish, vegetarian, and vegan. You can build on those bases with killer condiments, such as ancho chile mustard, smoked Gouda and tomato cream, and peach serrano salsa. The cookbook also includes salads, sides, and sips (boozy and kid-friendly), as well as burger-beer pairing tips.

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Grilled Pizza the Right Way: The Best Technique for Cooking Incredible Tasting Pizza & Flatbread on Your Barbecue Perfectly Chewy & Crispy Every Time
Here’s a new way to use your Weber. Transform it into a pizza oven. John Delpha, chef at Rosebud American Kitchen in Somerville, Massachusetts, teaches you the tricks in Grilled Pizza the Right Way: The Best Technique for Cooking Incredible Tasting Pizza & Flatbread on Your Barbecue Perfectly Chewy & Crispy Every Time The book includes nearly 100 recipes, ranging from classic ‘zas – Margherita, pepperoni, quattro stagione (four seasons) – to more unexpected options, like lamb and blue cheese, gyro with tzatziki, and a Thanksgiving-inspired round. There are even several sweet pizzas – blueberry-ricotta, strawberry-Nutella, and banana-caramel-cream-cheese. No matter which one you choose, expect to have a fight erupt over who gets the last slice.

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Low & Slow 2: The Art of Barbecue, Smoke-Roasting, and Basic Curing
Barbecuing may look simple – start fire, toss meat on grill, drink bourbon, ta-dah! – but it’s truly an art form. That’s why Low & Slow 2: The Art of Barbecue, Smoke-Roasting, and Basic Curing is required reading. Written by Gary Wiviott, pitmaster at Barn and Company in Chicago, the book walks you through every step of the process – from picking out your cooker and stocking your pantry to choosing your cuts and expertly executing a variety of recipes. All the standards are present and accounted for, but you should try something less expected, such as goose breast pastrami, smoke-roasted Baltimore pit beef, or hot smoke-roasted soft shell crabs.

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