When it comes to eating dinner outside on the UWS this summer, you and your social pod could probably sit in Central Park with nothing but a bag of chips and it would still feel more exciting than being in your apartment. But we’re here to tell you that you probably shouldn’t eat Cheetos for dinner (tonight), and that there are some fantastic restaurants open for outdoor dining. Whether you’re looking for dim sum brunch, blueberry pancakes on a Wednesday, or a jello shot topped with whipped cream from an Israeli restaurant, know that these neighborhood places are ready for you.
Awadh specializes in dishes from the northern part of India, like clay pot meats and biryani draped with naan, and it’s a great place to take someone for a nice but relatively low-key outdoor meal. Their outdoor patio is open every day for dinner between 5pm and 11pm.
Barney Greengrass has been open for over 100 years and, as far as we know, they’ve never had outdoor table service available until now. If you want to be a part of UWS history (and eat some delicious nova, sturgeon, and whitefish), you can check out their sidewalk seating starting at 8am every day except Monday. In case you prefer takeout bagels and lox, call 212-724-4707 to place your order.
Cafe Du Soleil is a neighborhood French bistro with a long list of French wines in the $20 range and food that’s highly buttery and delicious. If the idea of sitting on one of their wicker chairs, and eating mussels in a dijonnaise sauce on a cool summer night makes you want to smoke a cigarette, we get it.
This old-school Italian spot should be at the top of your list for a Sunday night dinner out with your family. They’re famous for their seafood risotto, and you’ll do very well with a simple spaghetti pomodoro or veal chop. Stop by their outdoor dining area from 4:30pm to 9pm every day.
If you’re near 96th Street, know that this fun Japanese spot is running outdoor service with cocktails, bottles of sake, and Japanese dishes like gyoza and mapo tofu. They also recently launched brunch where you can become rather intimate with a plate of karaage chicken and syrupy, matcha waffles. Text 646-541-2506 for reservations.
In addition to their Israeli dishes (like lamb kebab and tabouli), Gazala’s has been selling smoothies, frozen cocktails, and jello shots topped with whipped cream. Whenever you successfully convince someone that they could use a jello shot and a plate of shawarma hummus, swing by Gazala’s sidewalk seating. Also important: Gazala’s has a kids section of their menu with dishes that all cost $12.
Jing Fong is serving their classic dim sum at some nice-looking wooden tables outside at 78th and Amsterdam. We especially like the siu mai, fried taro, and bacon-wrapped shrimp during their weekend dim sum, but you can also get some pan-fried noodles and sesame chicken for dinner.
Another option for weekday blueberry pancakes is Community Food & Juice in Morningside Heights. Their sidewalk area has a bunch of first come, first served tables where you can hang out between 9am and 9pm every day. And if you’re not the type who’s looking for blueberry pancakes, know that Community’s vegetarian options are all great.
It’s possible all you’re looking for is a quiet sidewalk table where you can eat grilled octopus, duck liver mousse, and drink enough wine to convince yourself that traveling isn’t that cool anyway. This French bistro on 79th Street is one such place. Their outdoor dining is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.
This neighborhood cafe has first come, first served tables available on their corner patio from 4pm to 10pm every day except Monday. The food here is mostly Italian with some Mediterranean influence, including a thin-crust pizza with burrata and za’atar, and a dish with mussels, clams, and chorizo.
If you live in the West 80s, you may already know Jacob’s Pickles as an extension of your living room. Except instead of a TV that only sometimes works, this part of your living room comes complete with fried chicken, dry-rub ribs, and poutine. You can stop by Jacob’s Pickles’ sidewalk area for lunch and dinner every day, just be sure to make a reservation online first (they’re not accepting walk-ins).
In a perfect world, there would be a Daily Provisions in every neighborhood (and not just by Union Square and on the UWS). This all-day counter-service spot has a few high tops on their sidewalk where you can bring your excellent pastries, juicy rotisserie chickens, and simple but delicious sandwiches. Make sure to come early if you’re set on trying the crullers, and no matter what time of day, get a sandwich - the BEC, the BLT, and the roast beef are our favorites.
photo credit: The Mermaid Inn
The Mermaid Inn
If you’re in the mood for oysters, lobster rolls, and cocktails, firstly we want you to know that’s a very reasonable mood to be in. Secondly, you can head to Mermaid Inn’s sidewalk patio for weekend brunch, as well as daily dinner and Happy Hour.
You could certainly spend time brainstorming ways to recreate Miznon’s famous “run-over” potato at home without injuring an innocent wine bottle or rolling pin. You could also stop by Miznon’s UWS location for outdoor dining in their secluded back patio. If you’d also like to stock your fridge, you can pre-order things like fresh fish, dips, wine, and pantry goods here.
Your options at this Greek restaurant on 85th Street range from salads to lamb chops to a whole grilled fish - just be sure to start with a few of the dips (we especially like the hummus), and try to not fill up on the complimentary bread. Also, they’ve been hosting live jazz events on weekends. You can make a reservation for one of their sidewalk tables online so you can get a front-row seat.
Playa Betty’s is where you go for tacos, chips and queso, and frozen margaritas under string lights and colorful umbrellas. You can stop by their outdoor area on weekdays from noon to 9pm and weekends from noon to 10pm. Also - in case you’re looking for a brunch option, Playa Betty’s serves their brunch menu every single day from noon to 3:30pm.
Viand Cafe’s is the Upper West Side’s finest diner, and we’d love for you to email us if you disagree. The giant menu here ranges from omelettes to meatloaf, but the most important thing to know is that they roast their turkeys in-house. Have a moment with your turkey sandwich in their outdoor area.
Motorino is a great option for when you’d like to have Neapolitan pizza, but you don’t want to order in because you need to spend time in a place that isn’t your home or office. The UWS location on Columbus Avenue set up a nice outdoor dining area in their parking lane space with a bunch of marble tables.
The Smith Lincoln Center
The Smith is good for almost every situation, even if you and your next-door neighbor haven’t agreed on how casual you want your outdoor dinner experience to be. This American spot’s Lincoln Center location has reservations available for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch outside (which you can book through their website here.
OK this is slightly north of the UWS but it’s noteworthy enough to mention to anyone in the neighborhood. This new restaurant on an aircraft carrier near the West Harlem Piers is run by the same team behind the UWS neighborhood bar, Prohibition. And since it’s an aircraft carrier, you can drink cocktails on its massive top deck while eating lobster rolls and wondering when the engineers working on the simulation you call your life will fix all of the glitches. You can bring your dog or your bike on-board, and make a reservation ahead of time on their website here.
This Mexican spot is serving things like carnitas tacos, enchiladas rojas, and cups of shrimp ceviche under several massive purple tents right on Columbus Avenue. They also have sidewalk seating under some matching purple awnings. So, if it rains, you and you shrimp ceviche won’t get soggy.
Red Farm’s UWS location on Broadway is open every day for outdoor dining starting at 3pm, and they’re serving their typical menu of pac man dumplings, crispy duck salad, and lobster fried rice. They’re holding some tables for walk-ins, but you can also book an hour-and-fifteen minute time slot online or by calling 212-724-9700.
The Natural History museum is closed, but at least you can still fulfill half of that visiting ritual by eating a burger at Shake Shack on Columbus Avenue. Here’s how it works: order at their window, claim a seat, and enjoy without dealing with any waiter service.