Spring is about three things… long days, balmy nights, and eating and drinking outdoors. Luckily, the city has tons of al fresco options, and we don’t just mean a few table and chairs spread out on the sidewalk (although that’s perfectly enjoyable too). So if you really want to make the most of the season, study up on our outdoor dining guide, featuring the bucolic garden at The Pines in Gowanus, and the sexy rooftop at Juliette in Williamsburg.
You won’t be knocking back your pint of Pinkus Organic Hefe amongst the haystacks and piggies at this farm, but in modern-day Brooklyn, any place with a 1,500-square-foot outdoor patio feels positively pastoral. The menu reads like a who’s who of favorite local suppliers, featuring seasonal Satur Farms veggies, grass-fed Fleischer’s Meats, and vegetarian-diet Nester Tello eggs.
76 St. Marks Ave., (718) 622-3276
Like a crocus signals spring, the opening of this chilled-out tropical respite means the boozy days of summer are just around the bend. The eco-conscious can feel righteous about partaking in a margarita (or two or three) blended into frosty submission by a bicycle-powered mixer. And the grilled corn with cotija cheese, mayo, chile and lime puts the street fair stuff to shame.
757 Fulton St., (718) 858-9500
Gowanus Yacht Club
The vacant lot by the entrance to the F and G trains on Smith Street undergoes a magical transformation when the weather turns warm — into a makeshift “beer garden” not unlike the one you and your college roommates cobbled together in the overgrown backyard of your dilapidated rental. Cheap suds, grilled meat, and questionable characters complete the picture. Ah, the good old days!
323 Smith St., no phone
This temple of pig is plenty popular even in the dead of winter, so just try to snag an outdoor picnic table on a beautiful spring day. It’s worth the wait; there’s no better place to chow down on smoked meat, burnt-end baked beans, or key lime pie, followed by gallons of delicious craft beer.
354 Metropolitan Ave., (718) 963-3404
- Photo by Rahav Segel for the NY Times
This cozy Cobble Hill bistro relies heavily on seafood, and in our book, that’s a great thing. Offerings include crispy brook trout with grapefruit and fennel, diver scallops with lemon and English peas, and Mayan shrimp cocktail with chipotle cocktail sauce — and the back patio is a great place to relax with a plate of East Coast oysters with a zippy mignonette.
270 Court St., (718) 855-2105
Clemente’s Maryland Crab House
Who knows where these crabs really came from, but we’ll take all-you-can-eat crustaceans of any origin, as long as we can hit them with a hammer and follow them up with a bucket of Coronas. A bayside tiki bar and outdoor lounge overlook the Venice marina — Chesapeake Bay it ain’t, but any place with a waterfront view gets a major pass.
3939 Emmons Ave., (718) 646-7373
The newly opened backyard at The Pines serves as more than just extra seating. It’s actually been transformed into a Basque Cider Bar, featuring a unique roster of items from a wood-fired grill (chef Angelo Romano’s regular dinner menu remains available inside). Look for halumi with ramps and celery mustarda, chicken skin with preserved lemon and pink peppercorn, and confit potato with coriander and baby anchovy, complemented by fruity glasses of Castanon Sidra, a traditional Asturian cider.
284 3rd Ave, (718) 596-6560
The real calling card at this whimsical Williamsburg bistro (besides rollicking Bastille Day parties and excellent moules frites) is their expansive roof deck. Complemented by antique light fixtures and hanging plants and outfitted with its own bar, “Le Roof” is the perfect place for whiling away a spring evening with a plate of Escargot Maison, a French 75 cocktail, or a chilled bottle of surprisingly affordable Blanc de Blancs.
135 N 5th St, (718) 388-9222
- Photo courtesy becomingbrooklyn.com
Given its proximity to the BQE, the Columbia Waterfront District isn’t always so attractive from the ground. But the sought-after rooftop seating at Alma, a three-story Mexican eatery, offers a breathtaking view from up above. Although the roof is actually open year round (enclosed and heated in the colder months), cucumber margaritas and house-infused tequilas are best enjoyed in the open air, accompanied by picadillo-stuffed poblano peppers, banana leaf-wrapped tamales, and vegetarian enchiladas blanketed with pumpkin seed sauce.
187 Columbia St, (718) 643-5400
Forget about Nippon Nachos (cheese and sour cream slathered dumplings), foie gras-filled donuts, or E666 (devilled eggs, of course). Do or Dine’s expansive backyard serves as a life-sized canvas for eye-popping graffiti art, that provides an even better look into the unbridled, occasionally twisted imaginations of owners George McNeese and Justin Warner.
1108 Bedford Ave, (718) 684-2290