The Al Fresco Way: A Guide to Outdoor Dining
Introducing the definitive guide to outdoor dining in downtown Manhattan (and we broke it down by neighborhood):
Greenwich Village: Bar Pitti
A wide sidewalk on Sixth Avenue makes this NYC classic a perfect place to people-watch. The Tuscan-inspired restaurant opened in 1992 and has been consistently packed ever since. Known as a celebrity hangout, the tables spill onto the sidewalk with plenty of room for street traffic and mingling. Though you will likely wait for an outdoor table, the experience is “quintessentially New York” and the exquisite food makes it well worth your time.
268 Sixth Ave, Greenwich Village
Nolita: Café Select
This casual, stylish Swiss eatery attracts a fashionable crowd. The Lafayette location across from Lt. Petrosino Square makes it a convenient and ideal place for people-watching, especially if you’re able to snag one of the four outdoor tables. Whether you come for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, the restaurant is sure to be packed. Offering schnitzel, bratwurst, muesli, Ovomaltine, the menu is decidedly European, and a unique space in a sea of Italian and French bistros and brasseries.
212 Lafayette, Nolita
TriBeCa: The Odeon
Offering delectable French-American cuisine, The Odeon’s major appeal comes not from its food but from its storied history. The historic restaurant was once a glittering haven for celebrities and artists in Tribeca whose streets were much darker than they are today. On its opening in the ’80s, The Odeon’s famous neon sign was about the only bright light in view. Stories of John Belushi, Warren Beatty, Robert DeNiro, and Basquiat pepper The Odeon’s lore while Jay McInerney solidified its notoriety in his classic Bright Lights, Big City. While the art deco bar or its bistro-style tables may call your name, The Odeon also offers streetside dining for a little bit of history mixed with the streets of a modern age.
145 W Broadway, TriBeCa
SoHo: Sant Ambroeus
In 1936, Sant Ambroeus opened in Milan to a welcoming local intelligentsia who enthusiastically embraced the cafe as its now-legendary meeting place. The New York version exists today in the heart of SoHo, and it’s certainly worth the visit for its prime sidewalk seating. Famous for its coffees and gelato, the espresso bar remains a strength alongside addictive Italian pastries. With a kitchen that opens as early as 7:30am, Sant Ambroeus is a welcoming breakfast spot as well as an intimate choice for lunch, dinner or even brunch. The Milanese fare is true to its roots while incorporating some of today’s most popular dishes (what would brunch be without avocado toast?). Its sidewalk boasts two-top tables with both seats facing the street for some ideal people-watching.
265 Lafayette Street, SoHo
West Village: Via Carota
Another spot offering Italian cuisine on a calm, West Village block, Via Carota is a must—even without all the history. Inspired by 17th-century Florence, this gastroteca calls to mind an old-world Italian kitchen. Cozy and rustic with light brick-lined walls anchored by rustic, wooden floors, the ambience is comforting even while being perpetually packed. Eight outdoor tables decorate the sidewalk offering a delightful springtime alternative among the trees of Grove Street.
51 Grove Street, West Village
Gilligan’s is SoHo’s salve for the warmer months in New York. Open May through late September, the spacious outdoor bar-restaurant brings a taste of the tropics to downtown Manhattan. Lush palms and nautical touches compliment décor with a distinct island vibe and the food and drink to match. Ingredient-driven dishes are the order of the day, every day; we recommend the seafood dishes, which have been sourced from the best farms and fishermen on Long Island; the signature pizzas served straight from the kitchen’s stone oven are also a must; and, of course, the famed frozen watermelon margarita.
310 West Broadway, SoHo