Outdoor dining has been a hit this summer in NYC and is slated to return next year. However, not all diners feel comfortable being so close to the median or navigating bike lanes on the way to their table. Backyard dining is a much less chaotic way to support local restaurants and enjoy a meal in peace.
Best Outdoor Dining in NYC
This Labor Day weekend, enjoy one of these backyard or terrace oases. After all, it’s the last call for summer!
Perhaps the only major drawback to outdoor dining is sudden changes in weather but that isn’t a problem at Bottino. This Chelsea eatery has an all-season roof over their 30-seat backyard patio that is strung with fairy lights creating a warm, romantic atmosphere. Executive Chef Jamie Kenyon, formerly Chef de Cuisine of Eataly, has put together lunch and dinner menus that are refreshing respites from the summer heat. Enjoy grilled peaches and stracciatella with heirlooms, balsamic, and pistachios for an appetizer before moving on to seared Meditteranean octopus with eggplant, sundried tomato, and grilled rustic bread. The cocktail menu has many delicious offerings including 3 frozen cocktails: a watermelon daiquiri, a fresh berry margarita, and Bardolino rose. A perfect, icy salute to the end of summer.
Casa Del Toro
The backyard garden at Casa del Toro in Hell’s Kitchen is an intimate space to enjoy Oaxacan cuisine and craft cocktails. Executive Chef Reagan Angelle, also the Executive Chef of their French sister restaurant Le Privé, found ways to reinterpret classic Mexican cuisine and give it his signature modern flair. Choose from 10 different kinds of tacos included roasted corn with poblano, short rib with carrot relish, or ancho chile shrimp. The cocktail menu is agave centric, which is to be expected in an authentic Mexican restaurant, but they do have something that sets them apart. They offer a bespoke cocktail experience with their mixologist using ultra reserve Patrón tequilas.
A family favorite in Gowanus, Lavender Lake has reopened their backyard with new restrictions, making it a safer option for Labor Day festivities. Ample picnic tables, Adirondack chairs, and wooden benches are all spaced 6-feet apart on the ivy-draped back patio. The summer food menu is diverse and surely has something for everyone. Try the refreshing strawberry and arugula salad, the spiced cauliflower Reuben, or the pesto chicken club sandwich on Balthazar Levain bread. The cocktail menu has lots of popular summery ingredients including watermelon and Thai basil. The beer menu favors local, New York City brews including selections from Folksbier and Fifth Hammer Brewing.
Cocktail enthusiasts may already know Leyenda, a cocktail bar helmed by award-winning mixologist Ivy Mix, but they may not know about its backyard seating. The Pan-Latin bar and eatery’s beverage menu is bursting with classic and original cocktails inspired by the spirits and flavors of Latin America. The food menu also takes its inspiration from Latin traditions and showcases Caribbean, South and Central American fare with a contemporary twist. To drink, try the Palo Negro made with reposado tequila, palo cortado sherry, blackstrap rum, and Grand Marnier; it’s a rich and complex slow-sipper. Enjoy the last days of summer while munching on ham and cheese croquetas, chicharrones, or Churrasco skirt steak with chimichurri.
The murals painted on the back garden walls at Sweet Afton create a playful atmosphere perfect for a casual night out. This Astoria watering hole has been around for a decade serving craft cocktails, brews, and American fare. Appetizer favorites include zucchini fritters, fried pickles, and shish-eetos (shishito peppers with magic cheddar dust). The Sweet Afton burger has been on the menu from the start and the four-cheese mac and cheese should not be missed (add the bacon, always add the bacon). The cocktail menu has classic offerings such as an old fashioned, bloody mary, or penicillin.
Pye Boat Noodle
People from all over the world have immigrated to Queens so its no wonder authentic international restaurants are so plentiful. Pye Boat Noodle serves Thai cuisine in its peaceful backyard. They specialize in boat noodles and offer them in a variety of meaty broths which can be customized with your favorite proteins. They also serve Thai favorites like kaprow, pad thai, and prik khing. Cool off with a Thai iced tea or coffee with rich, sweetened condensed milk.