The Vogue Editors’ Guide to Outdoor Dining in New York City

Outdoor dining in New York City wasn’t supposed to be a permanent thing. In fact, it was supposed to be a very temporary one—a slapdash, short-term solution cobbled together to help struggling businesses safely eke out something of an income during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Case in point: when Mayor de Blasio announced his reopening plan for restaurants on June 4, 2020, he gave them just three weeks to establish their outdoor setups.

But the moment New York’s eateries unveiled their sidewalk cafés and charming, creatively appointed courtyards, it became clear that it definitely should be a permanent thing. Sipping an Aperol Spritz is that much more enjoyable when simultaneously people-watching on Lafayette Street. Wandering around the West Village’s many cafés is a downright idyllic exercise when its narrow, brownstone-lined streets are closed to cars. And Brooklyn backyard spaces can become outdoor oases, able to transport you to Naples or Oaxaca for an evening. Soon, the obvious became official: Open streets, and outdoor dining were here to stay.

It’s May 2023 in New York. The weather is warmer, the days are longer, and all over New York, sidewalk tables, secret garden patios, and rooftops abound.

So we decided to ask Vogue editors where they’re eating out and drinking up during this jubilant time. As it turns out, the answer is everywhere, from Bed-Stuy cafes to SoHo hotspots and New York institutions. Below, our picks.

Aurora, Williamsburg

“I was introduced to Aurora through its outdoor space, and it certainly left a lasting impression. Not only is the space beautifully lined with florals, but the enclosed patio is big enough to accommodate a larger group—a must-have for celebratory dinners. Not to mention, the Italian menu is tasty with a great assortment of wines and cocktails.” —Kiana Murden, commerce writer

Aita, Clinton Hill

“I recently had a dreamy springtime dinner at Aita, a cozy and rustic Italian spot nestled on a beautiful people-watching corner in Clinton Hill. They have an extensive aperitivo menu (don’t sleep on the house negroni!) and unique homemade pasta dishes, like the lush, pillowy oxtail ravioli, that will—quite literally—have you thinking about them for days to come. It’s the kind of place where every sip and bite feels both sacred and comforting. A sweet indulgence after a long, crazy year!” —Lauren Valenti, senior beauty editor

Bar Camillo, Bed-Stuy

“Bar Camillo is my new neighborhood spot with a cute little garden outside. Nowhere I’d rather be drinking a glass of funky orange wine at the end of a long day. Pizza’s great too.” —Sarah Spellings, fashion news editor

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Bar Pitti, Greenwich Village

“Bar Pitti is perhaps the original outdoor dining hotspot in New York City—since the 1990s, New Yorkers have flocked to the cash-only Italian spot’s sidewalk for a bottle of wine and their pasta of choice off the specials menu. 30 years later, it’s still happening.” —Elise Taylor, living writer

Beco, Williamsburg

“A mere stone’s throw from my front doorstep, Beco offers laid-back outdoor seating, delicious Brazilian cocktails, and a diverse (but not oversaturated!) all-day menu. The scene is about as varied as it gets: from tiny babies and large dogs to first dates and solo diners—everyone is welcome. The weekend is best for peak people-watching as you get to enjoy a complimentary side of live music with your stares. In all honesty, none of the above matters. . . as once you’ve enjoyed your first bite of the Dulce de Leche Empanada, the rest of the world fades away.” —Jasmine Contomichalos, experiences editor

Bed-Vyne Cocktail Bar, Bed-Stuy

“Bed-Vyne is my go-to for a spring and summertime drink. Its backyard patio is quaint, the drinks are exceptional, and the vibes are always high.” —Kiana Murden, beauty commerce writer

Blend on the Water, Long Island City

“Dinner with a view? Say no more! This Latin-American restaurant sits right along LIC’s waterfront with floor-to-ceiling windows, offering stunning skyline views of Manhattan and the East River. As you sit outside catching a summer breeze, consider pairing their poke tacos or pernil plate with a strawberry mojito.” —Clarissa Schmidt, commerce producer

Café Altro Paradiso, SoHo

“Identifying the best Italian food in New York is not an easy task—the competition is high. While Via Carota is much-talked-about for its salad, I would argue that an even better one can be found at Altro Paradiso. Made of shaved fennel and Castelvetrano olives, it’s about as good as it gets—but it’s just one of many stand-out entrees you’ll find. Come dessert, the panna cotta is unmissable.” —Lilah Ramzi, commerce editor

The Crosby Hotel Terrace, SoHo

“The Crosby Hotel, located in the heart of Soho, brings an eclectic charm to an area best known for its flashy designer stores. The elegant terrace is my favorite place to meet for a champagne brunch or afternoon tea. Inside the walled garden, you’ll forget the hustle and bustle surrounding you. If you’re feeling indulgent, try the Croque Monsieur and the signature “Eden” cocktail.” —Ian Malone, experiences manager

Corner Bar, Lower East Side

It’s admittedly difficult to snag a sidewalk table at Corner Bar—the Ignacio Mattos restaurant at Nine Orchard is still one of the most sought-after reservations in town—but it’s worth every effort, thanks to the excellent burger and even more excellent people-watching. —Elise Taylor

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Dante, West Village

“Dante serves the best cocktails in the city, America, and the world. I’m not grandstanding here—in 2019, it was officially crowned as the best bar in the world. Their West Village location, with its classic bistro tables and claw-footed glass booths, feels more like something you’d find on the boulevards of Paris rather than the streets of New York. Make sure to try the Champagne Ramos—a cocktail made with the unusual, yet delicious, ingredient of burrata water.” —Elise Taylor

Dr. Clark, Chinatown

“Where else can you sip gin martinis under a disco ball? Be sure to get the uni pasta and multiple orders of the Addictive Cabbage (the name really says it all).” —Madeline Fass, market editor

Darling, Central Park South

“High atop the Park Lane Hotel is Darling, a new rooftop lounge and patio with sprawling views of Central Park. A pink chandelier hangs from the ceiling, and botanical motifs dot the colorful upholstery—a nod to the leafy oasis 47 stories below. It’s perfect for visitors and seasoned New Yorkers alike who want to soak in the sprawling skyline.” —Elise Taylor

E.A.T, Upper East Side

“I’ve long loved E.A.T.—if memory serves, my dad and I went directly there for matzo ball soup after I had my braces taken off—and throughout the last year, it’s remained my go-to spot for casual weekend lunches with friends. Its outdoor dining set-up isn’t anything fancy, but it totally works, which pretty perfectly matches the vibe there in general. Order the cucumber and goat cheese on ficelle.” —Marley Marius, associate features editor

Fanelli Cafe, SoHo

“I love wrapping up an afternoon in SoHo with a plate of French fries and a glass of wine at one of Fanelli’s outdoor tables. It’s the perfect place to watch the world go by and feel like a visitor in your own city.” —Mai Morsch, associate market editor

Gitano, Governor’s Island

New York’s roving Gitano restaurant has popped up for several summers on Canal Street and for the past two years, it’s been a quick ferry ride away on Governor’s Island. Back as of last month, Gitano Island (which famously originated in Tulum) is better than ever. Expect the same disco balls and dance tunes, palm trees and sand, but also a new and improved menu—the Lubina sea bash is a must-order. As the entire restaurant is out of doors, it’s undoubtably one of the more festive spots to dine alfresco this summer. Nearby views of the South Manhattan skyline and a sandy lounge area is quite the juxtaposition—talk about urban jungle! —Lilah Ramzi

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Jaffa, Williamsburg

I visited Jaffa, the new spot at the Hoxton in Williamsburg, on one of the first summer-y evenings of the year. The space has resort-like chill vibes and gets a perfect slice of direct sun—invaluable, given it sits in a portion of the neighborhood that has been taken over by high-rises. We tried their chef’s sampler, which is just right for when you’re looking for a fresh bite to have with a drink (or two! Don’t sleep on their “Fizzy Bubbelech”). A must at Jaffa, in addition to their oysters, are their glistening challah rolls. One final note: Make sure to go just before sunset. —José Criales-Unzueta, fashion news writer

Kiki’s, Lower East Side

“I’m never not in the mood to sit outside at Kiki’s. It’s perfect for a late weekend lunch or early dinner after work. The Greek fare is reliably delicious and it’s easy to spend hours here without even realizing!” —Mai Morsch

Laser Wolf, Williamsburg

“A newcomer to New York’s restaurant scene, Laser Wolf has quickly become the hottest table in the town. With unparalleled views of Manhattan’s skyline in a vibrant, open-air atmosphere, this Israeli eatery knows exactly how to serve up an exceptional dining experience. If you can manage to secure a spot on this rooftop, you won’t be disappointed.” —Eliseé Browchuk, production and marketing manager, experiences

Little Ways, SoHo

“Located on West Broadway, Little Ways serves up a spread of American fare with a tasteful twist. The coconut milk mussels are a must paired with the Harry Styles cocktail, which is made with fresh watermelon juice, of course. Stemming from the same team behind the LES’s staple late-night spot, The Flower Shop, Little Ways steps up in style without sacrificing a buzzy scene. Don’t forget to check out the infinity-mirrored bathroom before bidding the night adieu.” —Eliseé Browchuk

LaLou, Prospect Heights

“During the summer, the quaint backyard space at LaLou is one of my favorites to grab a light bite—like the meat and cheese plates—and some great wine (they have a great natural wine selection). It’s relaxed, chic, yet not pretentious.” —Christian Allaire, fashion news writer

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