27 Restaurants With Takeout Windows & Seat-Yourself Tables
27 outdoor dining options in NYC that are ideal for minimal contact.
Maybe you’re not comfortable being waited on at an outdoor restaurant right now. We get it. We talked to a few restaurant owners who aren’t comfortable waiting on you either. But there’s a specific outdoor dining set-up popping up all over the city that you should know about: the takeout window.
Many NYC restaurants set up windows or counters with outdoor tables where you can seat yourself and hang out with your food as you please. While some spots are trying this out for the first time ever, others have been operating with a counter like this for years. Either way, we want you to know your options. And if you’d still rather to do delivery, we have over 500 ideas for that too.
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. 27 Restaurants With Takeout Windows & Seat-Yourself Tables is presented by Kenneth Cole. Wear In This Together.
Thai Diner is where we first thought of the idea for this guide. We sat there eating some delicious fried chicken laab and papaya salad and thought to ourselves, “Huh, why aren’t more restaurants doing takeout windows so that servers can have minimal contact with us? This is really pleasant.” And, thus, the guide you’re reading was born. This Nolita spot has classics from the Uncle Boons, Uncle Boons Sister, and Thai Diner menus - as well as some refreshing sparkling limeade you can drink on a little wooden stool outside of their Nolita corner spot.
Read more about why Thai Diner’s co-owner, Ann Redding, decided to use this takeout model.
Back in the spring of 2019, this Dominican bakery on Staten Island opened with a menu of things like sweet maduros filled with meat, big plates of pernil, and smoothies. Now, you can stop by their store for pick-up and eat at one of the seat-yourself tables outside. If you’d rather be alone with your empanadas at home, you can always place your order for takeout or delivery online or by calling 718-816-1500.
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King Tai advertises “perpetual to-go cocktail service,” which is something we’d like to carve into a tree with a heart around it. This Crown Heights bar serves to-go rum cocktails every day between 4pm and 11pm from a little window, and there are a few tables where you can hang out with a friend, date, or friend who thinks it’s a date. Make sure to follow King Tai on Instagram so you can keep up with their rotating pop-up series. That’s another reason to keep coming here - the food menu changes every week.
James is permanently closed
A few months ago, James in Prospect Heights pivoted to offer groceries and provisions, as well as takeout cocktails and snacks. They now have a takeout window where you can pick up things like popcorn with ramp salt, little gem salads, and one of our absolute favorite burgers in the city. Take a look at their menu or order ahead through their website here.
Read more about why James’ founder, Deborah Williamson, decided to use this takeout model.
L’Artista opened in the beginning of the year by 143rd Street in Hamilton Heights. They’re now serving cocktails, seafood pasta dishes, charcuterie, and brunch from their curbside to-go window. Also, in case you need more incentive than grilled octopus and frozen cocktails, L’Artista started hosting an outdoor jazz show every Sunday called the Sugar Hill Jazz Concert. Follow their Instagram here for updates on shows, specials, and hours.
Fat Choy is permanently closed
This recently-opened restaurant is serving Chinese-inspired vegan dishes from a takeout window on Broome Street Tuesday through Sunday until 8pm. Even if you’re not vegan, you’ll probably develop strong feelings for their delicious mushroom sloppy, soft rice rolls, and perfectly-fried salt and pepper cauliflower bites. The food comes out on a tray, and there are a few tables under a covered tent where you can drink some wine while you wait.
Right now, meeting up with someone at a bar usually means having to also order a bad $4 hot dog. But, at this Japanese cocktail bar in the West Village, that’s simply not the case. Katan Kitten sells to-go drinks and snacks like frozen lemon-sake and katsu sandos, and a bunch of daily-changing specials they advertise on a little chalkboard. If you’re looking for a spot to meet up with someone for drinks near Hudson Street, this is it.
After teaming up with Contra for a joint takeout and delivery project, Wildair is now serving to-go small plates from a window at their spot on the Lower East Side. The menu has a bunch of things you’ll want to try, including their famous hazelnut chocolate tart and some new daytime dishes like a confit bacon roll with egg crepe and pickled pineapple. Wildair is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 9:30pm, and they’re fully equipped with two-tops where you can sit, drink wine, and ponder buying a giant hat at the old-school wedding dress boutique next door.
Hear more about why Wildair’s co-owner, Fabián Von Hauske, decided to use this takeout model.
Where To Eat Outside In Williamsburg
If you’ve ever walked over the Williamsburg Bridge, you’ve probably noticed some people hanging out on rooftops and thought, “Fun.” But if you don’t know anyone who owns a penthouse in Williamsburg, order a to-go drink and some chicken pho at this Vietnamese restaurant’s takeout window and walk up to the rooftop dining area.
Setting The Bar: Claire Sprouse
Bangklyn East Harlem
In addition to doubling as a cool vintage clothing store, this relaxed counter-service spot serves a wide range of Thai food, like Southern fried chicken, creamy coconut curries, and khao mun gai (steamed chicken). They have a few wooden tables set up outside their shop in East Harlem where you can sit after you get your food. Order the tamarind coconut milk noodles with crab - it’s sweet and nutty, and comes with enough crab to be confused with the vermicelli noodles they’re mixed with.
This counter-service gyro spot on Astoria Boulevard makes one of the crispiest pork gyros we’ve encountered, and they have a few cafe tables and nice yellow chairs set up outside where you can sit and admire it in all of its fat-dripping beauty. Seriously, we’re telling you to get the pork instead of chicken - even if every bone in your body identifies as a chicken person.
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We would normally advise you to camp out at this Crown Heights cafe all day and be a very happy person. But, right now, you should probably limit yourself to half an hour at one of their seat-yourself tables. The Latin food from their takeout window is better than what you’ll find at most all-day cafes, like tender pork hash with pickled vegetables and hominy, and chorizo and egg tacos that will restore your faith in New York’s breakfast taco abilities.
Hear more about why Colina Cuervo’s owner, Jorge Salamea, decided to use this takeout model.
Pies 'n' Thighs
At Pies ’N Thighs in Williamsburg, you place your order at a counter inside of the restaurant, and then wait for them to hand you your food through a takeout window. In our experience at this Southern restaurant, it’s important to prioritize the fried chicken biscuit. It has a spicy-sweet syrupy sauce, and eating one on the sidewalk will probably convince the people walking past to order one of their own.
This Ridgewood all-day spot has vegetarian and vegan breakfast dishes like BECs and BLTs with bacon that they cure in-house. Their seat-yourself outdoor area is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 3pm. If you’re in a rush, you can always call 347-889-6302 to place your takeout order so it’ll be ready when you arrive.
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At Brooklyn Beso in Bed-Stuy, you order their Carribean and Latin inspired dishes from someone behind the counter and then take your food to one of their garden patio tables. They’re serving brunch on weekends, including tres leches French toast and mimosas for two that come in mango, orange, and sorrel. Check their Instagram for the latest updates.
Noods n’ Chill
Noods N’ Chill in Williamsburg is one of our favorite Thai restaurants in NYC, and it’s the perfect meeting spot for a socially-distant hang with someone who lives in North Brooklyn and someone who lives in Lower Manhattan. They have their full menu available for takeout and delivery, and a few sidewalk tables where you can eat some fantastic duck curry and a bowl of crab and pork noodles. Also - there’s a bodega across the street where you can grab a six-pack while you eat (Noods N’ Chill doesn’t serve alcohol).
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Whenever we spend an afternoon in Red Hook, one of the first questions we ask ourselves is whether or not we’re going to Hometown BBQ. Something to consider now is that Hometown isn’t currently accepting any food orders at their restaurant, so you have to place your order online ahead of time. They have a bunch of nice picnic tables for you to eat at once you get your food.
La Esquina Brasserie
La Esquina’s Nolita counter is open with tacos, margaritas, and other Mexican snacks. There are a bunch of tables set up under scaffolding, which you can think of as an automatic cover when it randomly rains for twenty minutes.
Saigon Social’s Vietnamese food is so delicious that we would eat it anywhere where there’s gravity. That includes their corner Orchard Street location, which has a handful of tables with tiny red stools you can sit on while you eat things like bun cha, peppery garlic noodles with shrimp, and soft crab summer specials that you should pounce on. Saigon Social is only accepting Venmo and cash, and they’re closed on Tuesdays. Also - if you want to avoid large groups of people drinking across the street at Hair Of The Dog and Pizza Beach, stop by for lunch.
You could probably start an Astoria-specific fight with someone based solely on the next sentence: Duzan is the best Middle Eastern spot in the neighborhood. Come here and order the chicken shawarma, some creamy hummus, and very spicy harissa, and you can join in on the fight. In addition to their seat-yourself sidewalk setup, Duzan in Astoria has one of the most inventive approaches to takeout and customer service we’ve seen: there’s a big poster in front of the restaurant inviting everyone to Facetime with the owner. We didn’t do this because Facetiming strangers gives us social anxiety, but if anyone out there attempts it, please write us an email.
The Fly in Bed-Stuy is where we like to consume roast chicken, fries, and natural wine - and we feel confident you’ll like to consume those things here too. They recently started takeout window service five nights a week (Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm to 9pm). You can order ahead of time online or stop by and exclaim, “I’ll take one whole chicken, please” through your mask. Hang out at one of their tables for half an hour, take your chicken sandwich and wine to the north side of Prospect Park, or go home so you can be alone with your bird.
Cervo’s and The Fly are sister restaurants, and if we learned one thing from the Cheetah Girls song “Cheetah Sisters,” it’s that sisters stand together and set up matching takeout windows. This LES seafood spot has a few tables with umbrellas in a blocked-off area on Canal Street. Their menu changes often (including a weekly-rotating fish sandwich that once came with mackerel that was so riveting that we quite literally blogged about it), but don’t worry, the burger and head-on prawns are forever. Check out their website or Instagram page for details on this week’s menu.
Empellón Al Pastor
At Empellon Al Pastor on St. Marks, you order your tacos and drinks at their takeout window, seat yourself at one of their two-tops, and they’ll bring out your food when it’s ready. In addition to things like tiny, delicious al pastor tacos, Empellon is also serving bar snacks like corn dogs and an all-day breakfast burrito. They’re open at 4pm on weekdays and 1pm on weekends.
Eating a burger at Shake Shack’s Madison Square Park location is a quintessential summer NYC activity. There are trees, lots of dog and human butts for your dog to sniff, and plenty of seat-yourself tables.
photo credit: Chris Stang
This place has been around since the 1970s, and the burger is the reason you’re here. It comes with a toasted bun, a few pickles, some onions, and a patty that’s roughly one fistful of meat. You can also add bacon or cheese - and you should if you enjoy either of those things. The tables at J.G’s UES location are first come, first served, or you could always walk a few avenues over to Central Park and eat there.
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Every Sweet Chick location in NYC is running something called Lil Sweet Chick, which involves a short menu of chicken-forward things for under $15, outdoor tables, and no waiter service whatsover. You can check out the menu and hours on their website here.