June 24, 2024


The Food community

10 of the best outdoor restaurants in New York City

4 min read
The best outdoor restaurants in NYC (Getty Images)
The best outdoor restaurants in NYC (Getty Images)

New York City in April was virtually unrecognisable, with the toll coronavirus took on the city impossible to ignore.

But even at its bleakest moments – when the only lights were those from the Empire State Building’s constant red beating – the city that never sleeps wasn’t asleep, it was merely resting.

In June, as the weather warmed, the restaurants that make this city one of the world’s most impressive dining destinations began to reopen.

In the months since, New York City has transformed; the streets that were once filled with blaring car horns have been taken over by chairs, shrubs and outdoor seating patios seemingly built overnight.

And while many of the city’s restaurants have, unfortunately, closed for good, others have opened their doors for the first time to feed those loyal to New York even during one of its lowest moments.

With indoor dining still a couple of weeks away, these are the best outdoor dining options in New York City.

Wicked Jane

Wicked Jane, a new restaurant in Greenwich Village, was originally set to open its doors on 7 April as a “high end, fine dining restaurant with an extensive wine list,” according to its website.

“Unfortunately, life changed and we never got a chance to do that,” the restaurant’s owner and chef Zod Arifai wrote.

Luckily for New Yorkers, the restaurant opened anyway in an outdoor capacity that seamlessly mixes a casual dinner with fine dining on a New York City sidewalk.

We recently visited Wicked Jane for a meal of duck breast, lightly cooked salmon with ginger and lime, and a dessert of roasted pineapple, lime cilantro broth and coconut panna cotta, all of which we highly recommend.

“I really just want to make people happy,” Chef Zod told The Independent of his decision to open the restaurant in July. “It’s a version that is more as a service for the people to make them feel good for an hour and a half or two.”


The days of eating Korean BBQ over an open flame are, for the moment, gone, but that doesn’t mean the quality at one of the city’s best restaurants has suffered.

In Koreatown, where the street has been lined with restaurants and resemble a party more than anything, Jongro still stands out as one of the best BBQ choices in the city.

We recommend ordering the lychee yuzu cocktail.


While dining on 5th Avenue may seem slightly dangerous, this Lebanese Mediterranean restaurant has managed to create an atmosphere so inviting that you’d almost forget you’re seated within arm’s length of speeding New York City buses.

With fairy lights and dedication to both the food and the environment, this is your best choice if you’re looking for somewhere delicious in Flatiron.

Sushi Lab

Many rooftop restaurants have, fortunately, been able to transform into socially distant spaces without too much effort.

Sushi Lab, located on the top of the Sanctuary hotel in Times Square, is one of them.

The tiny restaurant serves delicious omakase while providing diners with an indoor restaurant-like feel thanks to an ivy-covered roof and lanterns.

The only downside is having to book more than a month in advance if you want to eat dinner later than 5pm.


Gitano, located in SoHo, is another restaurant ideal for outdoor dining, as it’s been offering outdoor dining since it opened.

The restaurant is inspired by Tulum, Mexico, and boasts 24,000sqft of open-air space in the middle of New York City.

During a visit this summer, it was easy to forget we weren’t on a beach resort vacation, thanks to the palm trees, Mexican dishes, and party-like atmosphere.

The views don’t hurt either. 

The Bonnie

Easily one of the best bars for cocktails in Astoria, The Bonnie has also managed to make outdoor dining a treat thanks to its outdoor backyard complete with picnic tables and umbrellas.

We recommend ordering the Bonnie Punch and the coconut shrimp. 

Shake Shack

If you’re looking for a less expensive outdoor dining option, the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park is hard to beat.

Situated among the park’s greenery, and just steps away from two dog parks, this location provides a nice backdrop for your burger.


Those craving Italian should head to the Upper East Side’s Uva, which has provided diners with ample outdoor seating on its patio and back garden.

The menu, which offers affordably priced dishes ranging from a selection of cheeses to cured meats, is delicious, while Uva’s back garden, complete with a red brick floor and various plants, will transport you (almost) to a small Italian village.

Grand Banks

Perfect for those craving a vacation, Grand Banks’ location aboard the historic wooden schooner, Sherman Zwicker, allows patrons to at least imagine being somewhere tropical instead of in New York City.

The restaurant’s cocktails are perfectly summery and the food is good albeit expensive.

If you’re looking for the best atmosphere to enjoy your oysters, this is the socially distanced restaurant to visit.

PJ Clarke’s

PJ Clarke’s location in the financial district offers nearly unbeatable views of lower Manhattan, including the World Trade Center.

With tons of tables set up by the water, this restaurant has managed to create an environment that seems both casual and high-end at the same time.

We recommend ordering the restaurant’s warm chips and a burger.

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