New York’s Top 10 Outdoor Eating Spots

You may have noticed that in the past week or so, certain elements in the media establishment have been trying to convince you that summer is over. THIS IS A LIE. As I’m sure we all remember from 8th grade earth science, summer does not end until the autumnal equinox on September 22. Any attempts to claim that it is already time to get back to work, back in shape, or back to sober are just shamefully false. And most importantly, we’ve still got a good few weeks yet of prime outdoor eating time. So close down that spreadsheet and check out our list of New York’s Top 10 Outdoor Eating Spots.

10. Tree


Some people say outdoor eating should be reserved for lighter fare, like summer salads or baguette slices and brie. To this I call BS. There’s nothing better than sitting outside and enjoying a full plate of  steak frites and a couple of bottles of Bourdeaux. Wedged between a deli and a barber shop, this narrow East Village French bistro is entirely missable from the sidewalk, but one of New York’s best-kept secrets is hidden in the back: the lush, ivy-lined patio garden.

190 1st Avenue, Near 12th Street, East Village
Tree on Urbanspoon

9. Harbor Lights


South Street Seaport is generally a place New Yorkers like to avoid when not guiding out-of-towners around. But if you’re up for a little tourist-elbowing, it’s worth pushing your way past the mall crowds to this seafood palace serving freshly-caught oysters, clams, shrimp and lobster, along with the best views going of the Brooklyn Bridge and downtown Manhattan. Sure, it’s a cheesy postcard moment, but as those go, it’s as good as it gets.

Pier 17, 3rd Floor, South Street Seaport

8. New Leaf Cafe


All the way on the other end of Manhattan, Washington Heights’ woodsy Fort Tyron Park is the setting for this quaint limestone building and garden cafe, which serves an upscale seafood menu featuring oysters on the half-shell and tuna tartare (hopefully nothing culled from the Hudson below). But the real draw is the view from up on the hill, with the towering Cloisters museum just next door and an expansive view of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx in the distance.

1 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tyron Park, Washington Heights
New Leaf Café on Urbanspoon

7. Gowanus Yacht Club

Photo: Semarr

Don’t let the stuffy name fool you: Smith Street may be home to Brooklyn’s toniest restaurants, but this summertime beer garden is a dirty beach bum’s dirty hipster’s paradise, complete with dirt cheap burgers and hot dogs, and the added lure of Styrofoam cups of beer starting at one dollar.

323 Smith Street, at President Street, Cobble Hill

6. A60


New Yorkers of all stripes discovered a new pastime this summer: figuring out ways to sneak into this exclusive rooftop patio at the 60 Thompson hotel. Techniques for gaining access to this members-only lounge include shelling out for a room key, finding a hotel-guest date in the second-floor lounge, or showing up on weekdays before seven, when the rooftop is open to all.

60 Thompson Street, near Broome Street, Soho

Next: Top 5 of New York’s Outdoor Eating Spots

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  • Yvo September 8, 2008  

    Sorry dude but Harbor Lights sucks. The last time I went there, the waiter all but told us to go f*ck ourselves because there was a giant firemen’s get together going on in one room, and he actually said it was OUR fault our food took so long because we moved from the outdoor seating to a table directly inside the glass doors (it began to pour; everyone moved inside! we even went to find him to tell him we’d moved!). Ummm… yeah.

  • Britannia September 8, 2008  

    Do any of these have outside heating, I’m going to be visiting NYC at the end of the month and I would love to check at least one of them out, not sure on the weather later in the month.

    With that said, if there is anyone wanting to take me as their date to A60 then I’m game 🙂

  • BS September 8, 2008  

    Yvo – that sounds like a crappy experience? Is there anywhere on SSS that you like. I always wanna hang out there, but, you know…Brit – end of September is actually one of the nicest times to visit NYC – all of these spots (except maybe coney is. and water taxi beach) should still be beautiful weather – grab a long sleeve t-shirt and try any of them.

  • karuna September 8, 2008  

    good timing for me to read this post. specially when i am travelling to new york next mnth. would love to try out atleast a few of the listed places. thnx for the info

  • ALEX September 8, 2008  


  • Thresher September 10, 2008  

    I feel a little bad for New York when I see these places and think, “Ooh, that was in the third episode of season three of Sex and the City!”

  • Ailbhe September 10, 2008  

    pangs of hunger mixed with pangs of new york… 🙁

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