During most of the year, date night might mean a little, dark, romantically vibey restaurant where you can hide away from the cold. But summer date night means doing it outside, ideally in some sort of garden. Cue the twinkly lights, and read on for our favorite places to do date night outdoors.
Lilia has a good amount of cafe seating right on the sidewalk. Which means that you can bring a date here, then point to the crowds waiting by the front door in order to prove how hard it is to get a reservation here. And the food will only make you seem more impressive. Get some cacio e pepe fritters, get some pasta, get some grilled clams, and (we’ll rarely tell you this) don’t fill up on dinner. You should get dessert(s) here. Also, make sure you really like the person you’re bringing because a) it isn’t cheap and b) you’ll want to fully enjoy these memories.
This place is French, but you don’t have to wear a jacket here. It’s lively, good-looking, and there’s outside seating. And that’s pretty much all you need from a date spot. Reservations at Sauvage also aren’t too hard to come across, so if you make plans last-minute and want to seem like a real adult human being, this is the place. The outdoor seats here are on the sidewalk, so it’s a good place to eat some steak while you stare at pedestrians who aren’t eating steak. For dessert, get the chocolate tart. You should leave with that taste in your mouth.
It’s your third date with someone, and you want to communicate to this person that you’re interested in more than just making out on their stoop. Take them to LaRina. This Clinton Hill spot has one of the best backyards for eating pasta, and it’s never too hard to get a table here. Order the very affordable pasta tasting menu (three pastas for around $38), and save room for the panna cotta. Do all of this on the back patio, and you’re now fourth-date material.
Outdoor date night in the West Village isn’t the easiest to pull off. Everyone wants to hang out there - tourists, finance dudes, probably even Obama when he isn’t parasailing with Richard Branson. But, for some reason, Gottino flies somewhat under the radar. Maybe because they only serve wine. Or maybe because the soundtrack here doesn’t include Journey or The Chainsmokers. The narrow interior is perfectly fine for date night, but if you get a table in the little backyard, the odds of having a successful date climb about 50%.
If you want to temporarily feel like your life is a modern fairy tale or a movie montage, go to Olmsted. Before dinner, you can have a drink and snack in the backyard (where they grow vegetables and store a few birds), and, after dinner, you can head back out there for some DIY s’mores. It’s also worth noting that all of your food will be both look and taste like something you’ve never had before. Unless you ate pea sushi and a carrot crepe for breakfast.
Covenhoven might be a bar, but it feels more like a cafe, and there’s a backyard with lawn furniture and grass. They also have a lot of obscure beers on tap and a bunch of self-serve bottles in a large fridge. If it’s nice out, order at the bar, then head out back. The little tables out there are a decent distance apart, and you might even feel like you’re hanging out in the suburbs (in a good way). There’s also a station inside where you can build your own meat and cheese plate, which happens to be a great date-night activity.
The West Village is charming, which means that you don’t have to try as hard there. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t put in a good effort on your date, but maybe you had a long week and you’re fighting back some yawns. Go to Malatesta. Sit outside, eat some pasta, and watch people walk down Christopher Street while your date takes in the ambience and starts to mentally photoshop you into his or her holiday cards. The setting here is quaint and the food is simple and affordable. Just be aware that it’s cash-only.
We love Blueprint for two kinds of date night moves. Hit it before or after dinner at Al Di La for an awesome one-two punch, or make it your main event with several small plates and the (not-optional) giant house charcuterie plate. Either way, Blueprint will deliver on outstanding cocktails and a small but highly pleasant back patio.
If June Wine Bar isn’t already on your date night radar, you’re doing your love life a disservice. This place has all the stops for a romantic-but-not-cheesy evening: excellent cocktails and an interesting wine list, great small plates, a beautiful interior, but most importantly - a beautiful back garden with comfortable seating and lots of twinkly lights.
Hotel Delmano is a magical place. We mean that both figuratively and literally, because we’ve spent hours here without realizing it. It has everything you need for a killer date night: excellent cocktails, an impressive raw bar, and sidewalk seating that ensures you’ll at least have the Williamsburg people watching to discuss.
Maison Premiere sparked many imitators, but no Williamsburg-themed fancy cocktail joint is quite as impressive as the original. Yes, the cocktails are fantastic - but everything else about the place is what makes it special. From the amazing back patio to the raw bar - Maison Premiere is a pretty perfect date night spot.
Remember when Barbuto was supposed to close? That’s definitely not a thing anymore. But we’re also not complaining, because Barbuto is one of the absolute best places in the city to eat a bowl of pasta and/or a roast chicken outside.
Whether you’re really into mezcal, or you enjoy a nice margarita, or you just want to sip on some straight-up tequila, you and your date are sure to find something that appeals on Leyenda’s cocktail menu devoted entirely to Latin-inspired drinks. Get here on the early side to take advantage of the small but great back patio.
The modern Vietnamese food is good, and the cocktails are tasty, but the real reason Bricolage gets a spot on this list is its patio. Just look at that thing. It’s just waiting for your third date.
Need a classy outdoor date? Spend an hour at The Whitney, then eat at the connected (and fantastic) restaurant Untitled, and then take a stroll down The Highline. Top Notch Summer Date Night: Level Unlocked.
Most Spanish restaurants in Chelsea: cramped, and filled with uncomfortable bar stools. Not the case at Salinas, which is quite large and has one of the best, most comfortable outdoor situations in the city: a dining room with a retractable roof. Plush couches and an all-around fun time.
Charlie Bird is quietly New York’s coolest restaurant - hip hop soundtrack, perfect service, great food, and an always-awesome vibe overall. In the summer, they take over a pretty big chunk of sidewalk and bring the party outside.