Time To Go Alfresco: NYC's 10 best outdoor restaurants

By: Allana Mortell

As a girl with experience in the restaurant industry, I feel comfortable saying (on behalf of most servers) patio season is the best. Whether you work at a small, sidewalk cafe or are dealing with 25 tables wrapped around an entire block, the hustle and bustle of summertime alfresco dining in New York City is irreplaceable.

Now, as an experienced eater, I'm enjoying living on "the other side," -patio hopping from the Upper West to the Lower East and everything in between. With rising temperature expected in the next week, get your list ready because here come ten of the city's most hopping outdoor seating.

1.Alma Restaurant - 187 Columbia Street, Brooklyn: Boasting a traditional Mexican menu of chilaquiles, house-made chips & guacamole, adobo braised chicken breasts and delectable short ribs, Alma is the place to be for great food and even better skyline views of the city. With their roof-deck open all year long (heated in the winter, open-air in the summer), Alma is the perfect joint to grab a Margarita, nosh on some nachos and take in the breathtaking panoramic view of the city you know and love. Additionally, on the ground floor beneath Alma is their sister bar, B61 which carries 12 beers on tap, bar food separate the regular menu and to unwind after work, a juke box, pinball machine and all sorts of pool tables. Happy Friday to you!

2.Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden - 29 -19 24th Avenue between 29th & 31st, Astoria, Queens: Located in what used to be a Czech and Slovak social club, this local favorite has been serving the Queens community for over 100 years. The large garden full of trees and massive picnic tables contribute to the cozy and casual atmosphere while the folk music and nearby park make this place a family restaurant by day and beer garden by night. For the late-nighters, the beer garden is open till 3 Fridays and Saturdays (1 am on weekdays) with an eclectic menu of Czech and German beers, house-made sausages, dumplings, burgers and the like. One block away from the elevated N train makes this place a quick trek and always enjoyable experience any day of the week.

3.Ardesia - 510 West 52nd between 10th & 11th: Sitting outside atop wooden modern picnic tables, people-watching, sipping on champagne and munching on Croque Monsiuer slathered in bechamel sauce is my kind of heaven. You too can grab a slice at this latest Hell's Kitchen hot-spot. Have a cocktail or a glass of wine from the 75+ bottles featured and try to restrain yourself when it comes to the food menu. Seasonal sandwiches, salads, housemade charcuterie and cheeses bring this "small plate" menu to new heights. Be sure to start with the house-made soft pretezels and end with the smores. Your inner kid will thank you later.

4. Bar Pitti - 268 6th Avenue between Houston & Bleecker: The secret's out on this Greenwich Village gem with its sidewalk laden table-side seating, more than reasonable prices and insanely delicious paninis. Surely, that's why the restaurant is always busy, especially with those highly coveted patio tables come summer months. Regardless, the food is great and easy on the wallet, something we all can appreciate these days. Go for the homemade sammies under ten bucks, flavors ranging from veal meatballs, salame with tomatoes, assorted vegetables and proscuitto with mozzarella. If you're lucky enough to snag an outdoor table, grab a Peroni to wash down that sandwich and be ever thankful New York restaurants have outdoor patios.

5. Mission Dolores- 249 4th Ave at Carroll Street: There are so many cool things about this bar I don't even know where to start. I suppose the best place to begin is the blog of Mission Dolores, which features the daily list of beers on draft which can happily be consumed until 4 am at this Park Slope favorite. Calling themselves "that weird bar at 4th & Carroll," the four managers of this beer haven have created a space for locals and draft lovers alike to sit back and enjoy the 20 draft lines of local brews, Belgian, German imports and traditional IPA's. To boast, Dolores also uses recycled materials for "everything but the essentials" (plumbling, wall panels, etc). Open till 4 a.m., the courtyard is the place to be, surrounded by walls that fold and collapse as the crowd expands.

6. Riverpark - 450 E. 29th Street : Leave it to Top Chef head judge Chef Tom Colicchio to build an outdoor terrace that seats over 40 people with views of the East River! The newest establishment from this famed restaurateur comes equipped with all the best al fresco options : a patio with plush chairs and modern small, square tables in addition to a terrace with picnic tables for communal seating in a more relaxed, casual atmosphere. The spicy potato chips with goat cheese and rosemary are the perfect munchies for an afternoon on the terrace in addition to a plethora of modern day comfort favorites, such as East & West coast oysters on the half shell, fried chicken, cheeseburgers and assortments of meats & cheeses. Colicchio's done it again with Riverpark and the outdoor seating is sure to make this place a contender for al fresco favorites this summer.

7. Edi & the Wolf - 102 Avenue C: The hope for diners at this East Village locale is to experience a sense of "gemutlichkeit," a sense of cozy intimacy coming from the temporary surrender of everyday responsibilities. Tack on a 30-seater outdoor patio, an Austrian wine garden and a menu consisting of ribs with honey and beer, Austrian sausage with pickles and the pork belly with mustard and you're looking at a winner. The shared plate mentality compliments the "homey" dining space of the restaurant, while recreating a rustic feel with comforting food items, a lengthy European curated wine list and hanging plants from the ceiling. Diners suggest the house favorite, "can't-miss" spatzle with wild mushrooms and brussel sprouts. That, along with your favorite lager and a seat on the patio and somehow, somewhere life is really good.

8. The Standard Grill - 848 Washington Street at 13th, under the High Line: Directly attached to the Andrew Balazs Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking district, this joint is perfect for brunch, lunch, dinner and more importantly, late night. With sidewalk tables perfect for people-watching, the outside patio fills up quick so remember to be swift upon arrival and snag that coveted table. For breakfast, go for the Brioche French toast with buttered rum, walnuts and bananas. Then, walk off the consumed calories and arrive back at midnight to dive into the late-night menu featured until 4 a.m. With quirky titles such as "end-of-the-night-omlette" (fresh herbs + goat cheese) "wake & bake" (chocolate chip cookies served with chilled Battenkill valley cream-top milk) and "the deal-closer"(bittersweet chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream), you can't not stop at the Standard for a quick bite or my personal favorite, an Espresso Martini.

9. Roberta's -261 Moore street near Bogart Street, Brooklyn : With a brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert and delivery menu alongside a bustling outdoor patio, Roberta's hits the trifecta on all levels. A short walk from the Morgan Stop off the L train, Roberta's used to a former garage but now sends out some of Brooklyn's best and most flavorful pies. Since one full side of the restaurant opens to an outdoor garden, locals and tourists alike flock to the sun kissed tables to munch on crispy pizzas straight from the wood burning oven. The duck prosciutto pizza may be four bucks more than the classic Margherita, but one bite later and your tasting buds will be exploding with flavor, making that price increase a thing of the past.

10. August- 359 Bleecker Street: We couldn't make a list of the great outdoor eateries without including our favorite August! With their unique greenhouse, August let's you enjoy the best of both worlds, the outdoor feel and sunshine with the indoor heat for those late winter breezes. Chef Josh Eden uses the wood-burning oven to serve up seasonal pan-European specialties like Mushroom Risotto, Bakes Skate, and Roasted Organic Chicken. The best part is August also offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays which let's you enjoy that sunshine under the greenhouse for even longer!

What's your favorite outdoor eatery?

Photo: J. Annie Wang

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