Before the advent of city-sanctioned outdoor dining, finding a restaurant for a big group dinner outside was kind of a nightmare. But now, pretty much any space adjacent to a restaurant is considered fair game for dining—including busy sidewalks, an area that’s basically a bike lane, the middle of the street, or a massive parking lot that has been converted into a patio.
Whether you’re looking for Korean BBQ and cocktails the color of Skittles in Gowanus, squid fried to order in Astoria, or Ethiopian platters you can share on a Harlem sidewalk, bring a big group to any of these vetted restaurants with outdoor dining.
Montesacro has an impeccable greenhouse dining room where you can have an impromptu pinsa party with seven of your friends. The pizza-adjacent pinsa here come topped with things like sausage, tuna, and broccoli rabe, and you'll want to share a bunch of different ones with everyone at your table. Despite being one of the best outdoor dining areas in Williamsburg, there are usually tables available for a last-minute group dinner here even in the summer months.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Wayla’s idyllic backyard has one of the most unique setups in the city, with rubber plants, oversized wire and wicker chairs, and outdoor rugs. It’s one of Manhattan's best options for groups, because you’ll want to try everything on the menu. Get the wok-fried shrimp with Southern Thai chili paste, the whole fried branzino, and the saucy, sweet rice noodles accompanied by a whole lobster. The portions are big, but everything's so good that you probably won’t be taking home any leftovers.
Sami’s Kabab is the perfect option for a last minute group dinner. It has long tables and big portions, and there’s rarely a wait, even for big groups. On most nights here, you’ll feel like you’ve been invited to a family function, with lively parties of six to ten sharing hummus, eggplant, and hearty lamb and chicken kabobs over heaping mounds of rice. If you don’t mind dancing around a few toddlers, come here with your real or chosen family, and pretend you don’t fully intend to bogart multiple orders of Afghan bread.
Krupa’s backyard has plenty of picnic tables, and you'll want to cover one of those picnic tables with shareable plates like ricotta gnocchi, risotto balls, and gouda-and-gruyere fondue. The well-priced carafes of wine are another big plus, and there’s plenty of shade if you go on a particularly sunny day. You can also grab a surf and turf picnic box if you want to take the party down the street to Prospect Park.
Zona De Cuba
This Caribbean spot in the South Bronx is the perfect dinner or brunch spot for extra large groups. You can enjoy some live salsa and pitchers of cocktails on their massive outdoor rooftop with tons of palm trees. If all of that doesn’t convince your friends to make a reservation, their mojo-marinated pork chops and plantains stuffed with Cuban spiced beef will.
As one would expect by the name, this huge rooftop terrace is meant for groups. Claim one of the big wrap-around couches, and order some flatbreads or a more formal dinner of duck fat confit chicken and branzino. You won’t have to worry if your group gets a little loud. That sort of energy is encouraged here, and your voice will just dissipate into the Midtown sky anyway. If it gets too breezy on the terrace, move over to the semi-indoor tented area where you can watch the game on the bar TV with a fake grass floor underneath you.
This place has some of the best Georgian food in Manhattan, and it’s somewhere you should keep in mind for any group dinner that calls for an excessive amount of melted cheese. The enclosed back patio has some picnic tables where you should absolutely be sharing khachapuri and an order or two of juicy khinkali.
If you want a solid brunch or late-night food option in Astoria, The Bonnie’s backyard patio is equipped with picnic tables long enough for six to share piles of rather large shishito peppers or a few slices of the best zucchini bread in Astoria. They don’t really have full entree options meant for groups, but the portions are big enough for everyone to get a few bites of each dish. This is a popular patio, so make sure to get a reservation.
When we want to BYOB with a big group and eat delicious Cantonese food, we go to Wu’s. This Chinatown spot moved a considerable amount of their big round tables to a sectioned-off part of the sidewalk. Start with a big vat of wonton soup for the table, then get some jellyfish, crispy chicken, and a whole Dungeness crab or two. Once you finish dinner, 169 Bar’s outdoor area is waiting for you a few doors down.
Rum and backyards make for a good combination. That’s partly why the back patio at Sally Roots is one of our favorite places in Bushwick. It’s loud and always full of people holding colorful rum drinks and eating shareable Caribbean dishes. We especially love the braised oxtails and the intense garlic sauce that comes with the tostones. You’ll need to order seconds of that garlic sauce, mostly so you can pour it on every other dish on the table.
The combo platters at Benyam in Harlem work for at least two people, which means you can share some great Ethiopian stews and spend around $18 per person. Get the meat or vegan combo platters, which come with unlimited injera, as well as multiple orders of the kitfo—Beynam’s spicy, buttery steak tartare. Their sidewalk patio has some tall plants to separate you from the street a bit, and it’s a good place to drink a St. George or one of the other Ethiopian beers they sell.
If you ever need to plan a casual group meal with a bunch of people who appreciate smoked meat, go to Hometown BBQ in Red Hook. You'll probably have to wait in a very long line to place your order at the counter—but it's absolutely worth it. They have a bunch of nice picnic tables for you to eat at once you get your brisket, several types of ribs, and lamb belly bánh mì. Bonus points if you take the ferry to get there.
photo credit: Adam Friedlander
Berimbau Brazilian Kitchen
Berimbau is the best Brazilian restaurant in the entire city (an opinion we often write about), and they also have a garden patio hidden behind their West Village restaurant space. Whenever we’re here, we order the bacon-studded farofa, smoky feijoada, a basket of stress ball-sized pão de queijo, and some not-too-sugary caipirinhas for everyone at the table. Groups of more than five people need to email email@example.com for a reservation, but they can accommodate up to 20 people in case your group dinner is more of a group banquet.
This Korean BBQ restaurant in Gowanus still makes for an excellent celebratory group spot since the whole menu works well for splitting. So the next time one of your friends finally quits their job or finds a babysitter for the night, bring a crew of people here for silky soondubu jjigae, colorful cocktails, and Insa’s incredibly crispy fried chicken. You can also sing karaoke here, if that's what you're after.
This East 70s Peruvian restaurant specializes in seafood and cocktails, like a classic white fish ceviche bathing in a zippy leche de tigre and a number of takes on the pisco sour. Plus, there are plenty of options for anyone who wants to share, including their lomo saltado and large-format cocktails. The dining room—with its wrap-around bar, indoor ivy walls, and a neon sign that reads “Tiger Milk Effect”—can feel like a club. If you’re seeking a slightly calmer energy but still want great ceviche, sit on the plant-decorated sidewalk patio (which feels secluded from the busy street).
This Greek spot in Astoria is part fish market and part restaurant, and there’s a big display in the back where you get to choose your own seafood. There’s always a big selection of things like snapper, porgy, shrimp, and octopus, and when your server delivers everything fresh from the grill, you’ll remember why simply cooked fish is the ultimate summer food. As an added bonus, this place is BYOB. The only real downside is that they get busy and don’t take reservations for their covered streetside patio. But it’s worth a wait.
Will you be the only one having a group dinner at this Italian-American spot in the East Village? Certainly not. That’s because this place has been making consistently delicious spaghetti al limone, wood-fired margherita pizzas, and chicken parm since they opened years ago. But there’s even more seating at Lil Frankies now that they’ve taken over the entire stretch of the sidewalk and put up a patio structure on 1st Avenue. Book in advance, especially if you’re looking to go on a Saturday night.
Garden Cafe in Inwood serves pastas and burgers in a casual space less than a block from the A train at 207th Street. The American-leaning food is all totally fine, but the real reason you come here is for the beautiful garden patio in the back of the restaurant. The outside space has room for several massive parties and a partially-clear awning that still lets some sunshine in. Bring your family for brunch or a group of friends you haven’t hung out with in a while.
If you need to impress a group, reserve one of the outdoor kotatsu tables at Dr. Clark in Chinatown. This Japanese restaurant focuses on Hokkaido specialties like thinly-sliced, marinated lamb jingisukan—which is grilled tableside and served with a mixture of crunchy marinated onions and bean sprouts. We’d recommend bringing a small group and supplementing the lamb with fresh seafood, like some chewy squid stuffed with uni-laced rice and a bowl of kaisen featuring assorted salmon and tuna sashimi, roe, cucumber, radish, uni, and steamed egg.
Baylander Steel Beach
This bar and restaurant at the West Harlem Piers has 4,000 square feet of outdoor space spread across multiple decks. Not to mention views of the west side of Manhattan, Jersey, and the Hudson River up to the GW Bridge. All of which seems a lot more scenic with cold drinks and bar snacks present. Baylander Steel Beach is a great spot for a group that’s interested in drinks and bar food, as opposed to a dinner where everyone gets their own dedicated entree. We especially like the peppery, perfectly charred cheeseburger, and the crinkle-cut fries with Cajun seasoning and spicy mayo.
Popina is located in the part of Brooklyn just west of Cobble Hill known by real estate brokers as the Columbia Waterfront District, and we love to bring groups here for dinner on the patio that has enough square footage to qualify as a public park. Order some of their Italian dishes with Southern-American influence like anchovy toast layered in butter, a couple pastas (like pappardelle with ham hocks), and plenty of wine.
Looking for something rowdy uptown? Corner Social in Harlem has a big outdoor patio, and it’s pretty much always a party here (especially on Saturday and Sunday when they have DJs). The menu consists of dishes like crab cakes, fried chicken, and a bacon-wrapped burger you may or may not get on your white shirt.