NYC’s Best Outdoor Dining for Summer 2020

Ampia's private greenhouses | Photo Credit: Travis W Keyes Photography

Beloved restaurant dining is back. New York City’s streets have delightfully been co-opted by restaurants, effectively turning the city into one big block party. Elaborate new patios, entirely private table structures, and tons of foliage have turned sidewalks and streets into the restaurants New Yorkers have been missing since the start of the pandemic. And it’s all with coronavirus safety measures firmly in place.

From a European-like piazza in the Bronx’s Little Italy to a FiDi rooftop with single-use greenhouses, these are the best restaurants for outdoor dining in NYC right now, organized by neighborhood.

For guides to the best outdoor dining in other cities around the U.S. and Canada, head here.

Brooklyn

East Williamsburg: Our Wicked Lady

This warehouse-turned-cocktail-bar frequently hosts live shows, dance parties, and more. Right now its rooftop is open, complete with shaded seating, slushies, and hot dogs — or outside food is allowed in, too.  

Sheepshead Bay: Il Fornetto

Waterside dining is at its finest at Il Fornetto, an Italian seafood restaurant with a killer view. Order raw bar, pizza, pasta, and other red-sauce classics while gazing at the Atlantic Ocean from a covered patio.  

Williamsburg: Casa Ora

Green turf, lively plants, and latticed fencing have turned the street in front of Casa Ora into a getaway. The Venezuelan restaurant’s menu of arepas, empanadas, and plantain sandwiches is ideal for summer heat.  

Outdoor dining at Casa Ora

Casa Ora’s outdoor dining area takes over an NYC street | Photo: Casa OraWilliamsburg: Shalom Japan

The unusual combo of Japanese and Jewish fare finds a home at Shalom Japan, where the cuisines come together for singular dishes such as wagyu pastrami sandos, matzah ball ramen, and lox chirashi. A few fenced-in tables outside the corner restaurant make for a lovely Brooklyn night.  

Manhattan

Financial District: Ampia

This brand-new addition to FiDi from the same owners of Gnoccheria in the East Village has made a splash with its rooftop private greenhouses — well-suited to the current climate. Like its sibling restaurant, there’s plenty of gnocchi, as well as pizza, antipasti, and panini, too.  

Flatiron: Hill Country Barbecue Market

One of NYC’s best barbecue joints, Hill Country serves up Texas-style, dry-rubbed meat smoked over oak such as brisket, sausage, ribs, and turkey breast. Its outdoor situation comprises a semi-enclosed area out front with Edison bulb lighting and cacti.  

Greenwich Village: Olio e Piú

NYC’s most iconic outdoor setting is still alive and well at Olio e Piú. Simple Neapolitan fare — pizza and pasta — is on the menu here, but the true calling card is the ivy-covered entrance that looks out onto the picturesque Jefferson Market Garden and a lively cross section of Greenwich Village streets. Tables are now separated by rustic wooden and glass dividers.  

Outdoor seating at Sfoglia

Outdoor seating at Sfoglia | Photo Credit: Sfoglia

Harlem: The Cecil Steakhouse

Iconic jazz enclave The Cecil is now serving up its American-Latin steakhouse fare on a flower-filled patio outside. Various steaks and other meats such as pork chops, burgers, and chicken, plus sweet plantains, empanadas, and Senagalese lamb are all available.  

Lower East Side: Souvlaki GR

Souvlaki GR’s bright blue door and white exterior evoke the seaside hills of Greece, a welcome feeling given current travel restrictions. Dig into affordable Greek classics such as spreads with pita, meat skewers, and souvlaki.  

Midtown West: Red Peony

A wide variety of Chinese fare in all its glory is on display at Red Peony, from fiery Sichuan to tamer Cantonese in dishes such as soup dumplings and other dim sum, Peking duck, whole braised fish, and chicken and broccoli. The restaurant’s upscale decor makes its way outdoors with white tablecloths and potted plants.  

Soho: Laduree

Experience full-on Paris chic in Laduree’s stunning courtyard. The French teahouse is famous for its macarons and other traditional pastries, but there’s also a full savory menu here with dishes such as quiche lorraine, a chicken club sandwich, and lobster Caesar salad.  

Upper East Side: Daniel

One of NYC’s finest restaurants has come outdoors. Acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud’s eponymous Boulud has brought fine dining to the street, with all the accoutrements that come with Michelin-starred dining. The seasonal menus include a raclette burger, shrimp and fennel salad, and summer berry tart.  

Panzanella salad

Sfoglia’s panzanella salad | Photo Credit: Sfoglia

Upper East Side: Sfoglia

Mosaic tables, string lights, and hanging flower pots bring the cozy magic of Sfoglia outside. The favorite UES Italian trattoria has all its rustic classics available, from pappardelle bolognese and veal Milanese to panzanella salad and gazpacho.  

Upper West Side: Blossom

Blossom has long been serving the city’s vegan crowd organic dishes such as tofu BLT, seitan nachos, and mushroom pizza. Now, the restaurant has tables spread across the sidewalk outside, interspersed with planters and a wine window.

Upper West Side: Pier I Cafe

Like a beacon along the West Side Highway, Pier I Cafe is a rare casual riverside restaurant. Walk up to the window to order American fare such as sandwiches, burgers, and salads, plus a wide range of drinks. Sit either at the umbrellaed tables, or — even better — make a picnic in one of the myriad parks and piers nearby. Walk-ins only.

West Village: Rahi

The neighborhood’s best Indian restaurant has not only added tables outdoors, but also created an entirely new menu from James Beard Award-nominated chef Chintan Pandya tailored to the format. There’s a charcoal grill with kebabs, a cocktail bar, and kulfi, or Indian ice cream pops, all available at the 30 seats out front.

A grill outside Rahi

Rahi’s outdoor set-up | Photo Credit: Rahi

Queens

Astoria: Christos Steak House

The steakhouse gets a Greek twist at Christos, where meat is dry-aged on site and charbroiled at a whopping 1,200 degrees. But the grill isn’t just for meat, with shrimp, saganaki cheese, and salmon all finding their way there, too. Seating outside is in a garden setting with white tablecloths.

Long Island City: Casa Enrique

Michelin-starred Casa Enrique has brought its Mexican food in front of its house-like setting. Mole de Piaxtla is the star dish here, prepared from seven different chiles, plantains, raisins, chocolate, and other ingredients simmered for four hours, and now available alongside frozen margaritas and the rest of the southern Mexican menu. Outdoor seating matches the restaurant’s minimalist vibe.

Staten Island

Shore Acres: Bin 5

A fenced backyard with trees creates a dreamy outdoor setting for a meal at acclaimed Staten Island wine bar Bin 5. Beyond eclectic dishes such as duck pâté, grilled squid salad, and chicken and waffles, the mainly natural wine list is extensive and pulls from Europe and the U.S.

The Bronx

Little Italy: Mario’s

The Bronx’s iconic Little Italy neighborhood has created a European-style piazza with 100 tables from neighboring restaurants, including 101-year-old red-sauce joint Mario’s. Sit outside and feast on classic Italian-American dishes such as chicken francese, veal parmesan, penne alla vodka, and more.

The patio overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at Il Fornetto

Il Fornetto’s patio overlooking the Atlantic Ocean | Photo Credit: Il Fornetto