Just because it’s not the weekend doesn’t mean you can’t pretend it is. And the best way to do it? With an easy, casual dinner outside.
Here are some of our favorite places for a laid-back, midweek meal outdoors. With minimal effort, you can do a whole lot better than sub-par sushi on your couch.
To check out the rest of the 2016 Summer Guide, click here.
It’s a simple fact: tacos taste better outside. Right off the Metropolitan G/L stop, Zona Rosa is a great place to meet up with a few friends over tacos, margaritas, and guacamole on its awesome roof. You might encounter a bit of a wait on particularly nice nights, but it’s never too hard to get a seat outside.
Seamore’s is here for you with prime sidewalk seating (sturdy chairs, big striped umbrellas, and excellent Nolita people watching), plus the kind of healthy, semi-light food that’s ideal for eating when it’s ridiculously hot outside.
Our favorite Chinese food in Brooklyn happens to have an awesome back patio on which to enjoy it. Come for a laid-back early in the game date, or maximize your menu sampling potential by coming with a group. As long as you get an order of long dumplings, there’s no wrong way to do King’s County.
On any given summer night, you can count on Habana Outpost’s patio to be the biggest party in Fort Greene. Tons of people, strong frozen margaritas, and the city’s best Cuban sandwich make for the perfect casual but still very fun (and very affordable) dinner.
You probably know Five Leaves as the place where people gather in mobs to eat the Instagram-famous avocado toast and ricotta pancakes. But what you might not know is that by nighttime, the crowds have dispersed - leaving the sidewalk tables available for you to enjoy Five Leaves’ very solid dinner offerings.
Head to the back of the Mermaid Inn and you’ll quickly forget that just moments ago, you were sweating your way down 2nd Avenue. This classic seafood spot is a good move anytime, but it’s a particularly great move during Happy Hour, which takes place all night Monday, from 4-7 on weekends, and from 5-7 every other day. Oysters are $1, fish tacos are $3, cocktails are $8.
For all those times when you’d rather be eating a lobster roll in a place where people use “summer” as a verb, Lobster Joint is here for you. It might not be near a beach (unless you count the East River), but Lobster Joint excels at both beach shack vibes and seafood on buns. Try the crispy oyster roll.
Walk through the back of what you’d easily assume is just a fancy grocery store and you will find an excellent back patio situation. Mekelburg’s has an impressive craft beer selection, great wines by the glass, tasty sandwiches, and the best baked potato you’ve probably ever eaten.
Need to get some tasty but not too pricey food in your body before a night of running around the East Village? Start with one of the sidewalk tables at Esperanto on Avenue C, an always-fun Latin restaurant serving up exactly the food you want to eat all summer: guacamole, ceviches, citrusy salads, and main courses topped with fantastic mango salsa. Also: caiprinhas and mojitos. Lots of them.
Krupa is a power move for any post-Prospect Park meal, but this restaurant is good enough that it’s worth the trip even if you didn’t spend your day in the park. You might not know if from the highly laid-back feel of the place, but these people are turning out some really excellent food.
A good, kind of trendy, but not fancy restaurant in the East Village/Noho area where you and your friends can probably get in on a moment’s notice? That’s Bar Primi for you. The outdoor seating on Bowery is prime real estate.
If you’ve ever been on a third date or to a casual dinner with your old roommate on the Upper East Side, you’re probably familiar with Uva and its reliable Italian food. Next step: get familiar with its back patio.
Bar Bolinas is very good for exactly one thing: eating a burger outside. The ivy-covered back patio is the ideal place to get involved with the thick burger on Dutch Crunch that they serve here.
Not, in fact, fancy - but a Brooklyn interpretation of an East Coast crab shack. We’ve always loved grabbing lobster rolls on their back patio, and now that they’ve opened an even bigger outdoor bar space, we plan on hanging here even more this summer.
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