When we’re trying to find the best new bars and restaurants in NYC, we typically look for several things. Great food, for example, or an atmosphere that makes us want to stay until someone kicks us out. And we put all the qualifying places on our Hit List and Bar Hit List. But when it gets warm outside, another factor comes into play: outdoor space. Here are all the best new bars and restaurants where you can eat or drink outside. Memorize this list and check back over the course of the summer to see where else you should be taking full advantage of the climate.
the Outdoor spots
This summer, you might want to make some new friends or meet someone who might one day share a cell phone plan with you. If that’s what you’re looking for, try the patio at Magazine. This neighborhood bar in Greenpoint is relatively new, but it already feels like it’s been around for several years, and it gets busy on weekends when there’s a DJ hanging out beneath a disco ball. It feels kind of like a house party, but in a bar, and when you need some fresh air, you can head out back and make conversation with strangers.
Some rooftops feel like pre-apocalypse parties where everyone just learned how to drink. Others feel like upscale airport lounges where cocktails are priced like it’s the year 2036. Last Light falls somewhere in between - which is the best case scenario for a rooftop. It’s on top of Sister City (a hotel on the Lower East Side), and it’s a fun place to grab a drink with a couple of friends and enjoy a nice view, without having to shout over a song featuring Ed Sheeran and Gucci Mane.
Some things just taste better when eaten outside, like ice cream and corn on the cob. Barbecue is another good example of this, and the best new place to eat smoked meat outdoors is Mothership Meat Company in Astoria. It’s from the same people behind Jon Brown Smokehouse, and after you order at a counter inside, you can take all your food to the big back patio. The brisket is solid, but our favorite things here are the ribs and sausage, both of which pair well with alcohol. Stop by with a group on a weekend afternoon, maybe bring a board game or a deck of cards, and hang out for an hour or two.
There’s only one place we know of where you can eat a lobster meatball on a stick, drink an affordable glass of wine, then play the French version of bocce known as pétanque, and it’s Maison Yaki. This is the latest spot from the people behind Olmsted, and the menu is a mashup of French and Japanese food. There are a lot of little skewers of things like pork belly, duck a l’orange, and ribeye, and there are also some small plates like tempura frog legs and cauliflower okonomiyaki. And pretty much everything is worth ordering. But portions are pretty small, so we recommend using this place for mainly drinks and snack. A very good snack that precedes a round of pétanque.
Above all else, Bar Pisellino is an excellent business decision. This Italian bar and cafe is from the team behind Via Carota - and it’s located directly across the street on 7th Avenue. So now, when you’re quoted a two-hour wait at Via Carota, you can walk 20 steps and be in the immediate vicinity of a negroni and some arancini to tide you over. Except, of course, if you have to wait for a table at Bar Pisellino - which is something you should expect at peak times (its full hours are 7am to midnight). But if you’re a fan of Via Carota’s piece-of-Italy-in-the-West-Village experience, you’ll want to check this place out too. It’s like that, but with the addition of sidewalk seating, and a tiny interior that looks like the movie version of an Italian train station in 1942. The menu is short, and consists of snacks that are both very Italian and very small, so this is not a place for a full dinner - it’s a place to stop by during the day, or kick off your night.
If you want to drink a good cocktail on a front patio this summer while you silently judge pedestrians, go to Paper Daisy, a new cocktail bar on St. Marks. The inside is set up like a cafe, with a bar in one room and some seating in the back, but there’s also a curbside space where you can sit down for a drink with ingredients like rum, coconut water, and cold brew. There are also some solid small plates, like ricotta and chicken liver toast for when you need something that isn’t alcohol. So if you’re looking for a new go-to first date spot, Paper Daisy is perfect.
One of the best new restaurants in the city also has a backyard that’s better-furnished than your living room. It’s called Wayla, and it’s a Thai restaurant on the Lower East Side where you can eat some fried branzino, noodle-wrapped meatballs, and a bunch of other stuff that’ll make you want to build a small home inside this place. With its brick walls and dim lighting, the dining room is a perfectly pleasant place to eat this food, but if it’s even moderately nice outside, you should sit in the backyard. It’s full of potted plants, string lights, and expensive-looking furniture, and it feels like a photoshopped version of your daily existence.
A handful of restaurants from famous chefs are set to open on Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport, but the first big one is The Fulton, a new Jean Georges spot right on the water. While most of the dining area is indoors (sit upstairs if you want to look out at the Brooklyn Bridge), there’s also a pretty large outdoor section right on the water. The seafood-heavy menu has a bunch of crudos and tartares, raw bar items, grilled fish entrées, as well as a few options for those who prefer to eat things that don’t swim.