Creative Outdoor Dining in New York City

As New York City restaurants scramble to figure out how to keep their outdoor business flourishing during the chilly (and potentially snowy) winter months, many have come up with creative solutions to keep diners happy and warm.

From igloos to bubbles, covered tents, and enclosed-yet-open structures, restaurants are developing new spaces to allow socially distanced socializing and fun.

Creative Outdoor Dining Experiences

Given that NYC regulations are constantly changing, please be sure to contact each establishment to verify opening hours, reservation policies, health requirements, and any other variations as the months progress. Here are a few options for your dining pleasure.

Schaller’s Stube Sausage Bar

Chameleon and somewhat-of-a-speakeasy, the unmarked back garden area below Schaller’s Stube Sausage Bar has transformed from an Austrian wine bar to Hütte, their new Alpine ski lodge. A cozy winter retreat in the middle of the Upper East Side, Hütte (German for small cabin or hut) is a tented, heated outdoor dining experience. There you’ll enjoy hearty stick-to-your-ribs comfort food including game meats and fondue, paired with a wonderful Austrian wine list. Guests are encouraged to bring a blanket, just to be sure. A piping hot Glühwein will add extra warmth. If you can’t fly to Austria this season, this just might be the next best thing.

The unmarked back garden area below Schaller’s Stube Sausage Bar has transformed from an Austrian wine bar to Hütte, their new Alpine ski lodge | WhereTraveler

Vicolina

Transporting you to Italy, the new Carnegie Hill Vicolina has created an Italian garden in an enclosed box. Draped with flowers and grapes and reminiscent of a vineyard, the box is inviting and elegant. The interior is heated and decked out with chandeliers and white tablecloths. White-glove service is the norm. The evening is luxe and perfect for enjoying the restaurant’s extensive menu and wine list. Be forewarned, portions are huge. The delicious chicken parmigiana is easily shared by two. If you happen to be there on the right night, a strolling musician will make you feel like you’ve just entered a private club or perhaps Trastevere in Rome.

Transporting you to Italy, the new Carnegie Hill Vicolina has created an Italian garden in an enclosed box | WhereTraveler

Parklife

Parklife in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn will keep its hip crowd happy this winter with outdoor heating and two solariums. Using their 4000-square-foot outdoor yard, they have created a dining and drinking space that guarantees social distancing. Blankets can be rented, if you’re still feeling chilly, for a mere $5, and the blankets are washed, sanitized and vacuumed sealed after each use. Or bring your own. There’s also a fire pit if you prefer to sit in the great outdoors instead to enjoy Texan, Persian and Mexican-inspired dishes and warm cocktails like the new Apple Sauced and Break the Mulled. The bar/restaurant also offers one of the rare socially distanced entertainment options for you during the pandemic – they have a full event calendar with the likes of trivia and movie nights, all free.

Parklife in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn will keep its hip crowd happy this winter with outdoor heating and two solariums | WhereTraveler

The Greens on the Rooftop at Pier 17 

The Greens on the Rooftop at Pier 17 will bring all the seasonal charm of Upstate New York downtown as it converts the Seaport’s "The Greens" into a village of 28 winterized rooftop cabins. The personal dining cabins, which fit up to 10 guests (the current maximum allowed in an indoor gathering in NYC), are decked out with classic winter décor and amenities including cozy and comfortable banquette seating, floor-to-ceiling views of New York City, a virtual fireplace, electric heating and a Molekule air purifier. The all-day menu from the Pier’s rooftop restaurant, R17, blends New American cuisine with a festive cocktail program by bar Dante including exclusive cocktails and recipes. Even cooler to fight off any chill, you can order warm beverages in YETI vacuum-insulated drinkware. Reserve the cabins well in advance.

The Mark by Jean-Georges

For those in the know, The Mark by Jean-Georges at the Mark Hotel has been offering outdoor dining from the full menu along with a popular high-end hot dog stand. And, now, for the chillier months, The Mark’s green and white tents have been winterized to keep guests toasty. You can choose from an all-day menu with the likes of sushi, sashimi and black truffle pizza or from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s elevated selections like slow-cooked salmon in a fermented black bean vinaigrette and the signature salted caramel sundae, a drool-worthy confection that includes popcorn and peanuts. Wear your fur-trimmed Moncler or a real or faux fur for this chic experience.

he Mark’s green and white tents have been winterized to keep guests toasty | WhereTraveler