NYCGuide

Where To Eat Inside In NYC And Still Feel Like You’re In A Garden

Surround yourself with greenery while you have a meal indoors.
Where To Eat Inside In NYC And Still Feel Like You’re In A Garden image

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Sometimes, you just want to feel like you’re outside without actually being outside. There are some advantages to the indoor garden situation. One, no bugs. Two, it’s always 72 degrees and there’s no chance a gust of wind will blow a plate of food on your lap. Whether it's freezing outside and you just want to pretend like it's May for a few hours, or you just like staring at greenery in the comfort of a temperature-controlled room, here’s where you can get in touch with nature while staying indoors.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Israeli

Williamsburg

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastBrunchPeople Watching
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K’Far is an all-day Israeli cafe, bar, and full-service dinner restaurant from the team behind Laser Wolf. Like Laser Wolf, K'Far lives in the lobby of The Hoxton hotel in Williamsburg, and it's where you should go on weekdays when you want to work in one place without having to leave the building for sustenance. In the mornings, grab kubaneh, boreka, and long, flat Jerusalem bagel breakfast sandwiches. After 5pm, slide into a brown suede booth in the dining room's makeshift jungle of green foliage, and eat some lamb tartare.


photo credit: Palma

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Ask some New Yorkers what the most romantic restaurant in the city is, and at least one of them will say Palma. Most of the seating at this West Village spot is in the enclosed back area, and at night, they dim the lights about as low as they can go and light a candle on every table. One wall is completely covered in greenery and big pink roses, and the vines also cover the glass ceiling. Bring a date and share some Italian dishes. (They’re more like platters.) We like the meatballs, cacio e pepe ravioli, and spaghetti in tomato sauce with a ton of lobster.

Antidote looks less like an outdoor garden, and more like an abandoned bunker with a bunch of plants sprouting up inside it. There are a few skylights, but this Williamsburg restaurant is lit dimly, like a cave, with potted palms and hanging ferns enclosing the bar in front and scattered between tables. Antidote serves the best Sichuan food in the area, with dishes like green peppercorn fish. Come by on jazz night, when a live band performs. Surrounded by the greenery, they look like they’re playing in a clearing in the forest.


If you come to this Georgian restaurant in Greenwich Village, you must order the ajaruli khachapuri. It’s entirely possible that you’ll black out for a split-second because this dish is so good. But don’t stop there. Get some huge beef and pork khinkali filled with meat juices, as well as chicken skewers that are so moist and tender that you can easily cut through them without a knife. While it’s usually easy to get a table in the brick-filled dining room, it’s more fun to sit in the enclosed back patio with plants and stacks of rocks that looks like a scene from your last Upstate hike.


If you’re looking for a spot in North Brooklyn to have an “outdoor” pizza party with seven of your friends, head to Montesacro. The greenhouse-like dining room lets in a ton of natural light, and you’ll be surrounded by enough ficuses to rekindle the memory from that one day you thought opening a nursery would be a fantastic idea. This place specializes in bubbly, oval-shaped pinsa, and that’s what you should stick to. The toppings are mostly standard, but the focaccia-like crust will make you remember this place the next time you want pizza that’s different from what you get at your local slice shop.


Mae Mae serves a vegan Latin-inspired menu, with plenty of coffee drinks like horchata lattes. It also doubles as a shop that sells plants, which are situated all around and in between tables. This all-day cafe in Mott Haven opens early, when you can get a breakfast burrito that any non-vegan would be happy with, and some plant-based pastries. (We recommend the zucchini muffin.) For lunch, try the mushroom mole tacos or huitlacoche quesadilla made with ingredients from the owner’s upstate farm, which also produces a great pineapple hot sauce that you should put on everything here.


photo credit: Serra by Birreria

Serra by Birreria image

Serra by Birreria

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“Serra” means greenhouse in Italian, and that’s what this place on the roof of Eataly in Flatiron looks like (in a beer garden sort of way). The space is always decorated like an enclave in a forest where fairies would hang out in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the garden decor changes with the seasons. Think of this place as a less-chaotic escape from Italian Food Disney World happening 14 floors below. They have a large selection of beers and wines to choose from as well as a full food menu filled with Italian small plates and pastas.


This Palestinian restaurant in Brooklyn Heights is from the same people who run Ayat, but it's a bit more formal than its counter-service sibling. Wherever you sit in the rustic dining room, you can look up and see wooden beams and installations made out of plants or flowers. You should know that the portions here are absolutely massive, so we suggest coming with at least three other people. Order the ouzi lamb on a potpourri-like pile of rice, almonds, and peas, as well as the bamia with pleasantly bitter okra. Also, bring some wine because this place is BYOB.


If a Maman hasn’t opened in your neighborhood yet, just wait and one will probably pop up. This location near Rockefeller Center is decorated with a lot of greenery, and it feels like the room should be filled with woodland creatures instead of people eating lunch. Maman excels at baked items like croissants, loaf cakes, and cookies. Because of that, we prefer their sandwiches to their salads. One of their best is the warm roast beef and cheddar on ciabatta with wasabi mayo. You should know that laptops aren’t allowed here, but phones are fine, so you’ll be okay.

There are two main reasons to come to Aromi in Carroll Gardens: the covered back patio and the pizza. The back area (fully enclosed when it’s cold out) is filled with potted plants and even has a white picket fence, and the pies here are fluffy, chewy, and blistered. In a blind taste test, you’d be hard pressed to differentiate them from the best Neapolitan pizzas in the city. Some unique toppings are offered (fried meatballs, for example), but you should stick with the margherita. Other dishes like the grilled octopus—which lacks any char—and lumpy spaghetti alla carbonara are forgettable, so fill up on multiple pies.

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Suggested Reading

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The Secret Patios Of NYC

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The patio at Cherry on Top.

23 bars where you can relax and enjoy fresh air with slightly fewer inhibitions.

The bar inside Panorama Room.

Where to drink when you want a panoramic view of the city.

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