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The Outdoor Hit List: New Places To Eat & Drink Outside

PHOTO: Noah Devereaux

We have a Hit List for restaurants, and we have a Hit List for bars. This one has been created specifically for the summer - it’s the new outdoor spaces that make you forget about all those times you considered answering that Craigslist ad for a dolphin trainer just so you could move to San Diego. So pick a spot, and go enjoy the weather somewhere you’ve never been. As long as it’s warm out, you can count on this list to bring you great new ideas for places to eat and drink outside.

Check out the rest of our 2017 Summer Guide here.

bars

Diamond Reef meets two very important summertime needs: tropical vibes and outdoor drinking. This is a bar in the southwest corner of Bed-Stuy, and it’s vaguely tiki themed. It’s also from the same people who run Attaboy (the speakeasy-type cocktail spot on the LES), but it’s way more casual. So feel free to roll up here with a group. You can grab a booth (if you get there early), or you can all go hang in the backyard. The cocktails are top-notch, and we can personally vouch for the frozen one with scotch and ginger. Get a few of those in your system and stare up at where the stars would be if the city weren’t so bright.

Harold's Surf Shack

SoHo
231 Hudson Street
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The name is a little misleading. This isn’t a shack - it’s a rooftop bar with an indoor lounge and a decent-sized patio. Also, it isn’t really surf themed. Sure there are a few lawn flamingos, some slushy drinks, and a kiddie pool, but that’s about the extent of tropical vibes here. The good news is. this is a great place to get some rooftop drinks downtown and not have to deal with a line of tourists and/or teens with unconvincing fake ID’s. Bring some friends, get the slushy drink that tastes like a creamsicle and hang out on the patio. It should be lively on weekends, but you aren’t going to have to buy a bottle.

On last year’s summer guide, the Ides rooftop at the Wythe Hotel won the top spot on our Patio Power Rankings. One year later, and there’s a new Williamsburg rooftop that feels like it could eat the Ides rooftop for breakfast. The Westlight is the rooftop cocktail bar of the big, fancy new William Vale hotel - and while some people might have feelings about the fact that there’s a bouncer and a line and it feels like a place you’d find in Manhattan, it’s hard to deny that the views here are incredible. Drinking a cocktail here on a warm night at sunset feels like you’ve won. So if you like feeling like a winner, come here. Make a reservation if the thought of standing in a line offends you.

The Heights

Nomad
11 E 31st St
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We’re always on the lookout for places to drink near Penn Station that don’t give us visions of a dystopian future in which the only remaining shirts are Rangers jerseys. That’s why we like The Heights. It’s the rooftop bar at Arlo Nomad, and it’s an actually-nice place to hang out (when the weather is nice). It isn’t the vibiest rooftop, but it also isn’t tacky, and there’s a patio with some couches and great views. There’s also a little section off floor made of glass, and you can look straight down at the street below. Go ahead and Instagram it already. Why not? You’re drinking on a roof. Anything goes.

restaurants

Faun

Prospect Heights
606 Vanderbilt Ave

Eating pasta outside is one of life’s greatest pleasures. And because we don’t all own villas in Tuscany, it’s important that you find places in New York City that allow you to do so. Faun is such a place. It’s a neighborhood restaurant in Prospect Heights that calls itself American with Italian influences - but for our purposes, it’s a place to eat pasta on their greenery-covered back patio. You should too.

7.9
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Mr. Dips is in a hidden park up a set of stairs beneath the William Vale Hotel. The park feels like a mini High Line, and it’s one of the best kept secrets of Williamsburg. In part because Mr. Dips is there. This place is from the same chef behind Locanda Verde, Lafayette, and Leuca (the restaurant inside the William Vale), but it’s more fun and relaxed than any of those. It’s just an vintage airstream trailer serving burgers, waffle fries, and soft serve. The food is all take-out, but there’s a seating area with about 10 tables, all of which have a view of the Manhattan skyline. Bring a date who’s down with fast food, and be sure to end your meal with ice cream.

Boucherie is at one of the busiest corners of the West Village, and it’s huge. Like, 300-seats huge. The chef here used to work at the now-closed Pastis in the Meatpacking District, but this place is a little less trendy. It’s more of an old-school French brasserie (escargot, steak au poivres, lardons salad, etc.), and it isn’t exactly cheap. You can still come here in a t-shirt, but you probably aren’t going to swing by on a Tuesday for a casual ribeye. Although if someone else is paying, go for it. The food is great, and there’s a patio out front where you can eat some fries and watch the West Village do its thing.

Gilligan's

SoHo
310 W Broadway
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Gilligan’s is the beach-themed summertime pop-up at the Soho Grand, and it’s a surprisingly nice escape. So stop by for an after-work drink and pretend that you and your boss have switched places, and you’re the one in the Hamptons. It might be a little cheesy, and you might even feel like a Real Housewife while you drink a frozen watermelon margarita from a mason jar, but, at the same, it’s summer. Anything goes. They also do a full menu of things like tuna crudo and a lobster roll, although we’d rather sit at the bar and spend our money on rosé while it’s seasonally appropriate. Feel free to bring friends. The space is pretty big, and it’s one of the best options for an outdoor hang in Soho.

8.4
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When you find an amazing new outdoor space, you’re torn. You simultaneously want to tell every single human you know about it, and to keep your mouth wired shut so that no one else finds out about it. Lucky for you, it’s our job to tell you about such places, and as much as we’d like for LaRina to continue to be as blissfully easy to walk into and grab a table outside at, you deserve to know about it. On pretty much any night, we’d like to be eating pasta and drinking wine here. This is one of our Summer 2017 HQ’s, and we bet it will be for you too.

7.8
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Park Slope is an absolutely beautiful neighborhood, but it isn’t exactly a hotspot. Unless you live amongst the brownstones, you’re probably not here too often. But the next time you do a day in Prospect Park, or you want to check out some apartments you might be able to afford in 15 years, or you’re considering joining the Park Slope Food Coop, come to Gristmill. They’re doing really great, really interesting food (there’s pizza, but also way weirder stuff), and we’d count eating one of their insane sundaes on their back patio as one of this summer’s best ice cream experiences.

Photo: Kaylee Dopkins

Olmsted

Prospect Heights
659 Vanderbilt Ave
8.9
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By this point, you likely already know about Olmsted, the super-seasonal restaurant in Prospect Heights that was one of of our Best New Restaurants of 2016. But if you haven’t gotten around to trying it yet, now is the time - it’s at its best when you can start your experience in their back garden, where they grow many of the things you will eat in the restaurant. Either put your name down and head back, or just build in outdoor time before your reservation starts. You’ll want plenty of time to have a glass of wine and try stuff from the snacks menu that is designed to be eaten in the garden. The whole place feels really special without any stuffiness, and is a slam dunk date or special occasion move.

Flora Bar is the restaurant in the new Met Breuer, a.k.a. the old Whitney museum on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side. The food’s by the people behind Estela, and the menu here is similarly made up of fairly intricate small plates. Think things like “red shrimp with sea urchin and nori” or “lobster and crab dumplings in yuzu broth.” They get expensive, but everything’s very goo. It’s a nice place for a fancy-ish lunch on that rare day off where you go to a museum (this probably happens once every 10 years, but dare to dream). Or come for a date night. The new outdoor area is especially nice because it’s a sunken garden below street level, where you’re far away from the dog pee and other charms you encounter while eating on a sidewalk.

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