The moment temperatures stabilize at 50-degrees or above, there are three major changes we make to our routines:
1) We ditch hot coffee for iced coffee.
2) We gleefully swap out boots and socks for sandals and slip-on shoes.
3) We forgo dim, cloistered seating areas at bars and restaurants in favor of patios, courtyards, gardens and roofs — even if plummeting, after-sunset temperatures invariably leave us shivering in our platform wedges and shirtsleeves.
That’s why we’re always in search of establishments with superior outdoor spaces, and we’re not talking about rickety two tops on the sidewalk (although they’ll certainly do in a pinch). So let our guide to awesome, open-air eateries see you through the spring-summer season, and just say no to drinking indoors until September!
All Photos by Austin McAllister
(except where otherwise noted)
Extra Fancy: Breezy boardwalk staples like peel-and-eat shrimp, clam sliders and steamed lobsters just don’t taste the same indoors. Littlenecks and uni-adorned oysters are best slurped in Extra Fancy’s sprawling, wrap-around backyard, ringed with umbrella-bedecked tables and lush with greenery, flowers and fresh herbs. Mmmm…breathe in that sea (ok, East River) air!
302 Metropolitan Ave., (347) 422-0939
iCi: Fort Greene’s farm-to-table stalwart just oozes effortless French elegance and charm. And enjoying a light supper of Poulet au Citron and Pinot Blanc in the high-walled, ivy-draped garden, canopied by ancient, graceful trees and strung with twinkly lights, completes the très jolie picture.
246 Dekalb Ave., (718) 789-2778
The Pines: Outfitted with wood-fired grills and boasting an actual grape arbor, The Pines’ backyard functions as its own destination restaurant. Choose from a dedicated menu of smoke-kissed nibbles like kielbasa with ramp kimchi and blistered shishito peppers with furikake and yuzu, as well as a unique selection of ciders from all around the world.
284 3rd Ave., (718) 596-6560
Morgan’s: Floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto a fenced-in side patio accurately mimics the indoor-outdoor aesthetic popular at Austin smokehouses. Who cares if you’re actually on Flatbush Avenue; the hefty, dry-rubbed beef ribs, ice cold bottles of Shiner, and Frito pie smothered with bean-free red chili are pure Lone Star State.
267 Flatbush Ave., (718) 622-2224
Brooklyn Crab: We have to admit, we gave Brooklyn Crab a wide berth for almost a year after its opening, dogged as it was with reports of miserable service, inflated prices and staggering wait times. But now that at least a third of those early, clamorous crowds have dispersed in search of the next big thing, we’re finally willing and able to take advantage of this tri-level behemoth overhanging the Hudson. Is it the best shellfish in the city? It’s not even the best shellfish in Red Hook. But you can forgive a whole lot when the views are as pretty as this.
24 Reed St., (718) 643-2722
Lock Yard: Bay Ridge has long suffered a dearth of prime, outdoor areas for either eating or drinking, so we expect that even the naysayers will be angling for a bench in Lock Yard’s sizable beer garden this spring. Who knew the road to hell was paved with frickles and Kelso?
9221 5th Ave., (718) 333-5282
Bar Chord: Even if you’re not in the market for a vintage guitar, there’s a lot to love about this low-key Ditmas Park watering hole, including a terrific juke box, live bands, a solid craft beer and whiskey list, and a spacious backyard strewn with deck chairs, where you can lounge with snacks from the food trucks frequently parked out front.
1008 Cortelyou Rd., (347) 240-6033
Night of Joy: If you can’t stomach scene-y roof decks with exorbitantly priced drinks like at the nearby The Ides at the Wythe Hotel, you’ll love this musty, fusty bar, decorated with faded ottomans and threadbare oriental rugs, and unceremoniously crouched under the BQE. Because who needs to pay $14 a daiquiri for the pleasure of stargazing at The Ides, when you can do more of the same with $6 margaritas at Night of Joy?
667 Lorimer St., (718) 388-8693
Crown Victoria: It’s hard to compete with Crown Victoria when it comes to outdoor real estate; their space consists of a 1,000 square foot patio as well as a simply massive 9,000 square foot backyard. That means, in addition to regularly offering courtyard sports like ping-pong and bocce, they’re able to comfortably host fun events throughout the spring and summer, like flea markets, movie nights and pig roasts.
60 S 2nd St., (917) 719-6072
The Rock Shop: If Night of Joy is still too precious for you, it doesn’t get more unpretentious than this rough-and-ready Park Slope rock club and bar. After catching a triple bill featuring The Stink, TinVulva and King Calo Destroyer of Ships (it’s only $8), close out your evening on the rooftop patio with a game of darts, a round of pool, and $3 bottles of Bud.
249 4th Ave., (718) 230-5740