With almost 100 rooftop bars, close to two dozen waterfront ones, and beer gardens galore, you’ve got ample options when it comes to outdoor drinking in NYC, enough that there’s basically no way you’re going to be able to hit them all this summer.
So let’s narrow things down to the ones you absolutely HAVE to hit this summer, shall we? Here are NYC's 12 best outdoor restaurants, bars, beer gardens, and more.
Long Island City
There’s a reason why this LIC beer garden remains a summertime staple. A top-notch selection of brews on tap and potent glasses of the house sangria keep the communal picnic tables packed all season long.
The views here alone are pretty spectacular, but tack on a menu of great cocktails and seriously tasty bar snacks (mmm... fried cheese curds and meatball sliders...) and this is one rooftop you’ll never want to be talked down from.
With its rustic wood tables and mismatched chairs, this back garden nails the Brooklyn charm factor. It’s got more than just good looks, though: killer Vietnamese eats (get the bánh xèo, guys) by a group of Slanted Door alums also give Bricolage some serious culinary cred.
This seafood shack with an island twist goes way beyond your typical lobster roll -- think conch fritters, fried shark sandwiches, and snow crab legs drenched in curry sauce, and all of it is served on an equally tropical and colorful back patio.
The handsome newcomer arrived in Williamsburg by way of NOLA, and brought with it a bright, airy, mostly covered bi-level patio. The Cajun- and Creole-inspired plates are musts, as is its version of a Hurricane made with banana-infused rum, coconut water, lemon juice, and spiced passion fruit.
The stunning skyline views are only made better by the free-flowing margaritas, tacos, and, if you come here on the right night, dance parties.
Lower East Side
A spacious backyard full of trees and strung with hanging lights, plus tables filled with buckets of fried chicken -- dining al fresco really doesn’t get much better than this.
New York City’s got plenty of great BBQ joints, but not plenty of great BBQ joints like Arrogant Swine, which boasts a sprawling courtyard where you can eat whole-hog barbecue and bathe in the godly perfume of the pig-cooking smokers.
Located in the sexy and secluded courtyard garden of the High Line Hotel, this seasonal restaurant from the dell’anima team ticks off everything from our al fresco checklist: cozy banquette seating (check), ball of burrata (CHECK), and boozy slushies in the form of frozen Negronis (cheeeeeeeck).
Nothing beats drinking on a boat and this sailing fish shack makes it all too easy with beer buckets, pitchers of sangria, and Fireball shots.
A kick-ass beer selection and rotating lineup of guest chefs (from Roberta’s, French Louie, and currently DBGB) are only enhanced by a lush garden and plenty of sun-splashed drinking space.
Battery Park City
The harborside megaplex finally gives us a reason to stay this far Downtown after 5pm. Snag a seat out on the plaza with a plate of oysters and drinks by The Dead Rabbit’s Jillian Vose and watch as the sun slowly sinks down over Lady Liberty.
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1. Studio Square35-33 36th St, Queens
2. Refinery Hotel63 W 38th Street, New York
3. Bricolage162 5th Ave, Brooklyn
4. Loosie's Kitchen91 S 6th St, Brooklyn
5. Cantina Rooftop605 W 48th St, New York
6. Birds & Bubbles100B Forsyth St, New York
7. Arrogant Swine173 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn
8. Alta Linea180 10th Ave, New York
9. North River Lobster CompanyPier 81, New York
10. Threes Brewing333 Douglass St, Brooklyn
11. Pier A Harbor House22 Battery Pl, New York
12. LoLo's Seafood Shack303 W 116th St, New York
Studio's a colossal suds-complex divided into a two-barred, exposed brick interior (decked out in industrial steel doors and vintage whiskey barrels), and a 900-capacity, birch, ivy, and stone outdoor patio, all dreamed up by two Queens locals.
The Refinery Hotel is the opulent reincarnation of the Colony Arcade Building. Constructed in 1912, its ornate, neo-gothic façade became the vision that welcomed the workday of the generation's milliners. These skilled artists were working at the peak of New York innovation, as showrooms, importers, and manufacturers thrived in this cultural and media center.
Bricolage exudes the intimate feeling that you're eating dinner at a Park Slope brownstone, albeit one decked out in princess chandeliers and dishing plates of modern, Vietnamese fare. The chefs and owners worked at The Slanted Door in San Francisco before setting up shop in Brooklyn, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the inventive creations coming from Bricolage's open kitchen, like Sriracha butter wings, pork ribs in tamarind-hoisin sauce, and savory crepes with mushrooms and bean sprouts. While the dimly lit, exposed brick space has an irresistibly cozy vibe, we can't think of a better place to bite into summer rolls than on the gorgeous back patio.
Tucked behind Loosie Rouge, the mid-century style bar, this dining spot offers a pleasant patio and plenty of Southern comfort food, beginning at 7pm daily.
A great spot for a low-key date, Cantina showcases the Manhattan skyline as it's meant to be seen, from a bright and lively rooftop restaurant. The view is excellent at sunset, but we’d definitely recommend this spot for brunch -- the house margarita is tasty, and the food is genuinely excellent, especially the tacos.
Sarah Simmons' upscale restaurant on the Lower East Side is dedicated to two things: Southern food and champagne. The menu changes with the seasons but you can always expect the signature buttermilk fried chicken, available by the half or full bird, and an extensive selection of champagne and sparkling wines. The subterranean space opens onto a large outdoor patio, and though it's popular for brunch and dinner, Birds & Bubbles serves a late-night menu with the aforementioned fried chicken and biscuit sandwiches that's a huge draw on Friday and Saturday nights.
This beer hall and home of all things pig from chef Tyson Ho brings a boat load of traditional North Carolina BBQ to the city along with enough whiskey and beer to float said boat on. The space is pretty sparse with ten small tables and a large bar, but when it gets warmer there's a patio where you can chow down. One of their specialties is the Western North Carolina Outside Brown, or pork shoulder. But probably their most unique offering is their mac and cheese waffle, which is exactly what it sounds like.
From the team behind L’Apicio and dell’anima, Alta Linea takes al fresco dining to the next-level in the garden courtyard of the High Line Hotel. The emphasis is on Italian aperitivi, aka pre-dinner cocktails and appetizers, so expect an all-Italian wine list, negronis, and aperol spritz. The food menu revolves around small bites like bruschetta, burrata, and grilled vegetables, but there are also a few entrées.
This floating lobster shack is perfect if you want a totally unpretentious atmosphere for drinking and eating out on the water. Docked in Midtown West, North River offers 45-minute cruises that serve great seafood -- think four different kinds of lobster rolls and a full raw bar -- as well as a solid bar menu with Mason-jar cocktails, beer buckets, and an ample selection of wine.
Threes Brewing is a state-of-the-art brewing facility in Gowanus boasting a restaurant -- helmed by the guys from The Meat Hook -- and a Ninth Street Espresso outpost. Greg Doroski and his team consistently top critics' picks lists with some of the best beers in New York State state, focusing on farmhouse styles. Beers like Hereyago and Superf*ckingyawn show a great balance between a malty backbone, blended hop character, and finishing bitterness.
From the team behind nearby Dead Rabbit cocktail bar, this megaplex in a historic Battery Park building houses separate bars and restaurants on each of its three floors, all of which offer breathtaking views of the New York Harbor. The first floor is home to a casual beer hall and oyster bar that's for group outings, while the more intimate second level includes a clubby cocktail bar and a steakhouse-like restaurant that pays homage to the Hudson Valley. The third floor, reserved for private events, is the most exclusive of the three.
Caribbean meets Cape Cod at LoLo's, a unique island escape in Morningside Heights that specializes in boiled seafood, like snow crab legs and peel-and-eat shrimp soaked in signature sauces like garlic butter and Old Bay seasoning. The steampot combos, baskets of fried fish, and jerk chicken and ribs are so luscious that you'll want to lick your fingers clean at the end of your meal, even though they'll be covered in blue disposable gloves provided by the restaurant -- cleanliness is next to godliness, right? The interior has a kitschy but charming dilapidated beach-house look, but you should grab a seat on the sea-foam green back patio to feel like you've really run away to the beach.