The 10 Best Places To Dine Al Fresco In New York City

The original Shake Shack located in Madison Square Park
The original Shake Shack located in Madison Square Park | © Beyond My Ken/wikicommons
Rachelle Eason

The warm weather of spring has brought New Yorkers out of their winter hibernation. In honor of rising temperatures, blooming flowers, and sunshine, we give you 10 charming restaurants where you can dine al fresco and pair your meal with the great urban outdoors.

1. The Pavilion

Restaurant, Italian

The Pavilion is a seasonal restaurant that offers incredible views of Union Square. Fostering something of a country club-feel with palm branches and exotic plants placed around the dining area, indulge in classics like the salmon and kale Caesar salad, paired with one of their hand-crafted cocktails.

2. Narcissa

Restaurant, Contemporary, American

When you’re dining in Narcissa‘s gardens, it’s hard to believe that you’re actually in the East Village of Manhattan. The trees offer a natural shady reprieve, while the sun trickles through. Enjoy their lamb meatballs with ricotta salata while sipping on The Tall Grass, which is vodka with cucumber and apple topped off with champagne.

3. Aurora

Restaurant, Italian

Panna Cotta
© mrsjpvan2/Flickr
Aurora will whisk you away to Tuscany with their rustic décor paired with romantic, ivy-lined walls. This is a popular spot for the hip Williamsburg crowd, so we recommend making reservations. Get the tagliatelle al ragú, and finish it off with the smooth and creamy panna cotta.

4. Bar Pitti

Restaurant, Italian

© star5112/Flickr
Bar Pitti’s outdoor seating is not only simple and elegant, it’s also a great spot for people watching, which is every New Yorker’s most beloved pastime. On a warm, sunny day, watch as crowds bustle around to get from point A to point B while you dine on a plump burrata appetizer and a fresh plate of parapdelle alla fiesonala.

5. Birreria

Restaurant, Italian

Serra Alpina by La Birreria in New York
© Eataly
Everyone raves about Eataly’s extensive selection of cheeses, pasta, meats, oils, and more. When the weather is clement, they have one more thing to boast about: Birreria, which is a scenic rooftop restaurant. Although it is open year round thanks to a retractable roof, nothing beats the fresh, warm air. Enjoy the tagliata di manzo, grilled Bohemian wagyu steak with arugula, or the pasta del giorno.

6. Tartine

Bakery, Bistro, Restaurant, French

tartine love
© jenly/Flickr
A little French corner bistro/bakery tucked away in the West Village, Tartine offers diners authentic French fare and indulgent French pastries. Opened 20 years ago by chef Thierry Rochard, locals swear by this go-to eatery. Seating is limited both inside and out, but on a sunny day, spend your lunch hour like the Europeans do.

7. Zum Schneider

Restaurant, Bar, German

Apfelstrudel nach original Wiener Rezept
© Pimpinellus/Wikicommons
Everyday is Oktoberfest at Zum Schneider. This Bavarian bierhaus and German restaurant boasts a festive atmosphere with an impressive selection of beer. Their outdoor seating can get crowded very quickly depending on the day (they hold a lot of events) so try and get there early. Get the schweinswürst’l, a dish comprised of Nürnberg sausages. For dessert you have to get Mama Schneider’s apfelstrudel.

8. Salinas

Restaurant, Spanish

Arroz de Pulpo Socarrado
© Salinas
If you need a good date night spot, Salinas is the way to go. Not only is their food spectacular, but the ambiance oozes romance. Their outdoor seating offers an intimate setting tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Sit back on their comfy, blue velvet chairs as you enjoy the Seco platter with chicken, bomba, scallops, and shiitake mushrooms, and the torrija caramelizada, a bread pudding with coco and pomegranate infused with sherry.

9. Shake Shack

Restaurant, American

Concretes Aerial_Evan Sung
© Evan Sung
Shake Shack has some of the city’s most beloved burgers, and the lines of loyal customers prove it. If you go to their Madison Square Park location, you can enjoy your burger outdoors, surrounded by atmospheric string lights.

10. Gran Eléctrica

Restaurant, Mexican

Located right under the Brooklyn Bridge, Gran Eléctrica’s fresh Mexican fare will leave you wanting more. Their outdoor seating, while nice during the day, is absolutely magical at night, with twinkling lights fostering a truly romantic atmosphere. Try the chorizo con papas or opt for a classic taco, and no matter what, pair your meal with the margarita helada de guava picante.

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