Spring is about three things… long days, balmy nights, and perhaps the most important, eating and drinking outdoors. Luckily, the city has tons of al fresco options, and we don’t just mean a few tables and chairs spread out on the sidewalk (although that’s perfectly enjoyable too). So if you really want to make the most of the season, study up on our outdoor dining guide, featuring the bucolic garden at Pure Food and Wine in Gramercy, the sexy rooftop at Juliette in Brooklyn, El Toro Blanco’s sidewalk seats and more!
The newly opened backyard at The Pines in Gowanus serves as more than just extra seating. It’s actually been transformed into a Basque Cider Bar, featuring a unique roster of items from a wood-fired grill (chef Angelo Romano’s regular dinner menu remains available inside). Look for Halumi with Ramps and Celery Mustarda, Chicken Skin with Preserved Lemon and Pink Peppercorn, and Confit Potato with Coriander and Baby Anchovy, complemented by fruity glasses of Castanon Sidra, a traditional Asturian cider.Read More
Add the new front patio to the list of reasons we love El Toro Blanco (retro-chic interiors, warm tortilla chips, a guacamole bar, and a 100-strong list of tequilas are some of the others). If you can escape the office for a long lunch, settle in on the sidewalk for an $18 prix fixe, featuring Short Rib Empanadas, Tostada Chopped Salads, and Crispy Fish Tacos. Just try not to overindulge on too many Jicama Fig and Prickly Pear margaritas!Read More
The real calling card at this whimsical Williamsburg bistro (besides rollicking Bastille Day parties and excellent Moules Frites, that is) is their expansive roof deck. Decked out with antique light fixtures and hanging plants, and outfitted with its own bar, “Le Roof” is the perfect place for whiling away a spring evening with a plate of Escargot, a French 75 cocktail, or a chilled bottle of surprisingly affordable Blanc de Blancs.
Pure Food and Wine
Rising temps mean barely-there clothing, so why not start your summer detox with a trip to Pure Food and Wine? New York’s first upscale raw vegan restaurant, everything on the menu is plant-based, and nothing is heated to more than 118-degrees. A luscious backyard garden completes the pastoral picture, although rest assured, chef Nikki Bennett’s inventive creations hardly qualify as rabbit food. King Oyster Mushroom Scallops and Cauliflower Couscous are sure to satisfy both body and soul… especially when followed by a surprisingly decadent Dark Chocolate Brownie, topped with chocolate cacao chip ice cream and a raspberry reduction! And there’s plenty of organic wine and fresh-squeezed cocktails to pair with all of that.
Housed in the former Mexican Radio space, The Cleveland continues to draw diners throughout the day to this Nolita spot for casual, but inspired Mediterranean cooking. While chef Ken Morrow recently departed, they’ve recruited Tal Aboav from Balaboosta to inject some Middle Eastern flare into this market-friendly menu. There’s Black Quinoa with House-Cured Salmon, Beet Yogurt and Mint, Roasted Eggplant Raviolo with Okra and Sautéed Kale, and a Spicy Moroccan Cod Skillet with Roasted Peppers and Tomato. A surprisingly spacious back patio to savor it all on only adds to The Cleveland’s appeal.
Given its proximity to the BQE, Brooklyn’s Columbia Waterfront District isn’t the most attractive destination, at least from the vantage point of the ground. But the sought-after rooftop seating at Alma, a three-story Mexican eatery, offers a breathtaking view of the water and New York skyline from up above. Although the roof is actually open year round (enclosed and heated in the colder months), Cucumber Margaritas and house-infused Tequilas are really best enjoyed in the open air on a warm day or night. Especially when accompanied by tasty Picadillo-stuffed Poblano Peppers, Banana Leaf-wrapped Tamales, and Vegetarian Enchiladas blanketed with Pumpkin Seed Sauce.Read More
There are no shortage of tables inside Gabe Thompson’s airy new Bowery Italian, but it’s well worth the wait for a prime spot on the just-opened front patio for their acclaimed polenta menu and more. L’Apicio has even created new dishes for spring to celebrate the addition of al fresco dining, like Gnocchi with Morel Mushrooms, Vanilla Semifredo with Rhubarb Compote, and of course, a dreamy Polenta, laked with Parmesan, Olives, and savory Rabbit Cacciatore.
Secluded gardens, yawning rooftop bars and convivial patios are one thing, but it’s hard to beat Bar Pitti when it comes to classic sidewalk seating. This West Village standby is prime for people watching (you might just spot a celeb or two) and the food isn’t too shabby either. It’s a whole lot better than its pricier Italian neighbor, Da Silvano. While we wish they’d give up their cash only policy, we’ll suck it up for rustic Tuscan dishes, like Eggplant Parm, Meatballs, and fresh Pesto Pasta.