Air Time: NYC’s Best Places to Eat Outdoors with Kids

Kids eating outside in Chinatown Mimi O'Connor
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It’s summer! And that’s just one reason why you might be looking for a restaurant with outdoor dining.  But we know you can’t just take the kids anywhere there’s a cafe set up on the sidewalk. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best, most kid-friendly restaurants with outdoor dining NYC has to offer. Whether you want your own personal bubble or hut, a cozy backyard or maybe even a river view, we have something for you and your brood. For more of our picks on where to eat in NYC with kids, try these brunch spots, our favorite places for pancakes and for an extra special treat, these NYC theme restaurants.

Outdoor Dining in the Bronx

The Black Whale
Located on the scenic City Island, The Black Whale has a vast menu catering to any appetite. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 4 p.m., The Whale will sate your hunger whether you’re in the mood for a light sandwich or a hearty steak. Of course, you’ll want to sample the seafood fare here, as City Island is known for its fantastic fresh fish — and The Whale has plenty of fishy options for seafood connoisseurs. Plus, you can enjoy your meal in the rustic garden, surrounded by greenery and a quaint atmosphere. Make it a day trip and enjoy the fresh air on the island, and be sure to pick up some just-caught fish on the way back for a treat back home.

279 City Island Ave.
City Island
718-885-3657
Online: theblackwhalefb.wixsite.com

Zero Otto Nove
In this Italian restaurant, even eating indoors feels like you’re outside thanks to the open-air Italian bistro-inspired motif — complete with fake brick storefronts. Stepping inside really feels like stepping out into the streets of Italy, and the food matches the presentation, featuring Southern Italian-inspired options from an impressive variety of pizza types to hearty pasta plates. Kids will get a kick out of seeing the interior, though if you prefer to eat in the actual outdoors (and not the mock plaza inside), Zero Otto Nove’s got you covered, literally, with covered streetside seating.

2357 Arthur Ave.
West Bronx
718-220-1027
Online: zeroottonove.com

Icehouse Café
Icehouse combines Italian and American food, and throws in some seafood and wings for a menu that’s a little bit of everything and undeniably New York. There’s a small kids menu and special deals on certain nights, like steak and salad days and lobster specials. For a $45 fee, the adult in the party can even get their fortunes read on certain days, along with an entree, a dessert, and a coffee (call to make a reservation). The patio overlooks the water, with nice views of docked boats and Throgs Neck Bridge.

140 Reynolds Ave.
Throgs Neck
718-863-5580
Online: icehousecafebronx.com

Outdoor Dining in Brooklyn

Bricolage
Although this cozy Vietnamese restaurant has a kids menu, the little ones will want to sample the main menu dishes right along with the adults. The house specialty is family, street and French-influenced Vietnamese fare like Vietnamese crepe appetizers, a variety of meat and vegetarian mains (many of which are also gluten-free), and rich veggie sides. Outdoor seating is available in the cute garden, surrounded by lush plants and fenced in so parents can rest easy and enjoy the food.

162 Fifth Ave.
Park Slope
718-230-1835
Online: bricolage.nyc

Brooklyn Crab

Whether you need to wind down after a trip to IKEA, or just looking for a family night out with good nosh to boot, Brooklyn Crab is one of the most family-friendly dining experiences in NYC. Select from seafood picks like clam chowder, crab and lobster rolls, and kid-friendly sides like mac and cheese, corn on the cob, and fries. There are plenty of refreshments for accompanying adults, too, and Happy Hour is every Friday from 3-5 (featuring $1 oysters and $6 Bluepoint toasted lagers).

The “shack” has several spacious outdoor seating options which overlook the Rood Hook Channel and Hudson River. There’s a huge roof deck with a mostly open-air dining experience, a patio outfitted with picnic tables and a retractable awning for rain or shine eating and amazing views of the sunset, and Reed Park, the Brooklyn Crab’s beer garden that’s honestly more like a fairground. Getting up and moving around isn’t just ok, it’s encouraged thanks to the lawn games set up for everyone to use. Try your hand at bean bag toss, foosball, or 18-hole mini-golf!

24 Reed St.
Red Hook
718-643-2722
Online: brooklyncrab.com

Fonda

If you find your family begging for Mexican night every night, treat yourselves to a family-friendly yet a relaxed and affordable neighborhood spot that serves contemporary Mexican cuisine. At Fonda, the tortillas are hand-pressed and the guacamole is made to order. They’ve definitely got your favorite tacos and enchiladas for the little ones while grown ups might want to try out something more adventurous like tortillas with braised duck or cod in a black bean sauce or even a mole!

434 7th Ave.
Park Slope
718-368-3144
Online: fondarestaurant.com

Westville

If it’s a simple and healthy farm-to-table dining experience your family is looking for, Westville has got you covered. With outdoor dining now available in almost all Westville locations, safety is of utmost importance. In addition to spacing tables six feet apart, they’ve also instituted handmade wooden dividers and made masks readily available just in case you’ve misplaced yours. Because Westville prides itself on the freshest of produce, the menu changes daily to reflect that. On most days though, you’ll find a market bowl special and daily sandwich as well as a slew of deliciously-prepared vegetable sides such as broccoli and tofu sauté and yuca fries. Westville is that perfect place where your kids are eating vegetables but they don’t even know it. Each location has its own daily menu which you can check out on their website before heading there.

Westville Dumbo
81 Washington St.
718-618-569
Online: www.westvillenyc.com

Outdoor Dining in Manhattan

Ellington in the Park
Ellington is the place to go for gorgeous Riverside views and picnic-style, family tables as well as some smaller tables and even some couches. Take a break from a day in the park playing beach volleyball, soccer, and softball to rest up in the middle of Riverside Park. The menu is simple and no-frills, for a down-home dining experience, and a kids menu at $9 has all the kid favorites to choose from and comes with a juice box (100% juice!). Since this is an outdoor-only restaurant, it’s only open April through October. Bring Spot along — it’s also dog-friendly!

Riverside Dr, W 105th St
Upper West Side
917-280-4533
Online: ellingtoninthepark.com

Kits eating outside in Chinatown

Pell Street, Chinatown
Dining in Chinatown is never a bad idea, especially if you’re headed to Pell Street. Thanks to the Chinatown Business Improvement District, it’s always closed to traffic on weekends from 11 a.m. – 11 pm. That means it’s a festive and colorful spot to dine outdoors and have a true NYC experience. Try Joe’s Ginger for soup dumplings, House of Joy for Dim Sum, Vegetarian Dim Sum House for meat-free eats and newcomer Three Roosters for Thai chicken and rice.

Gina Mexicana
Taco Tuesday can be any day when you head to Gina Mexicana. Kids and adults alike will enjoy chowing down on meat or seafood tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and other Mexican favorites. The outdoor space is a little oasis of relaxation, with trees and greenery, a couch, and even a pretty pink hammock in the corner. Stop by in the evening for an especially magical meal brightened by string lights hanging from umbrellas above the tables.

145 E 61st St.
Upper East Side
212-527-3700
Online: ginamexicana61st.com

Jones Wood Foundry
This Upper East Side restaurant features locally-sourced British fare and a sidewalk terrace and a “hidden garden” with a retractable awning. Feel like you’ve crossed the pond by ordering some British-style fish and chips, or opt for the crispy Chicken Kiev — plus, for every one of these dishes ordered, Jones Wood Foundry will donate $10 to Ukraine humanitarian aid. Weekend brunch serves up more British classics like the Yorkshire pudding pop-over and even an entire plate of traditional British breakfast. To complete the British pub ambiance, adults can order from a long list of draft, canned, or bottled beers.

401 E 76th St.
Upper East Side
212-249-2700
Online: joneswoodfoundry.com

Cafe du Soleil

Ever wish you could sit in a bubble and watch the world pass you by? Cafe du Soleil can do that for you with its cute outdoor seating pods. What started as an exercise at social distancing has persisted because of how cozy these heated/air-conditioned pods are. The French family-owned bistro aims to transport diners to France with its classic dishes. Kids will enjoy the Friday and weekend brunch menu — which includes burgers, egg breakfasts, Nutella crepes, pancakes, and french toast, and more— while adults can partake in the more unusual fare, like garlic parsley escargot and pan-seared swordfish steak.

2723 Broadway
Manhattan Valley
212-316-5000
Online: cafedusoleilny.com

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Bring your terrible T-Rexes to the Dinosaur BBQ and snag one of the picnic-bench-style seats outside for a family lunch everyone will love. Besides being home to some of the best meats in the city, the BBQ house also boasts one of the biggest and most expansive kids menu for the under-12 crowd we’ve ever seen. For $8, kids can chow down on sliders, chicken wings, BBQ chicken fingers, mac and cheese, or fried rice, as well as two sides (choices include coleslaw, Creole potato salad, BBQ beans, and more), and a drink. Woah!

700 W 125th St.
Harlem
212-694-1777
Online: dinosaurbarbque.com

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MIZNON

It’s hard to go wrong eating at Chelsea Market, but we’re highlighting MIZNON because of its standout Israeli cuisine—and they offer reservations for outdoor tables! (Make yours here.)  If you know you are heading to Chelsea, we suggest going sooner rather than later, as they do tend to sell out of certain dishes quickly. Best known for their pita-filled delicacies such as lamb kabab or the perfectly simple pita pocket filled with cauliflower and tahini, MIZNON also serves a vitamin-filled whole sweet baked potato the kids are bound to love, as well as Israeli meatballs with mashed potatoes. A good choice for walking off a hearty meal is a stroll on The Highline.

435 West 15th St.
Chelsea
646-490-5871
Online: miznonnyc.com

Tavern on the Green

Originally built in the 1880s to house sheep, Tavern on the Green has been serving meals to visitors since 1934 — and it’s a must-try at least once in your NYC life. Located in southwestern Central Park, the place is known for its fantastic outdoor seating and family-friendly meals. There’s a fairly lengthy children’s menu with classic options like mac and cheese, crispy chicken fingers, beef sliders, and a few more choices. Sit in the main courtyard or relax in the beer garden in front. In the warmer months, you can also order to go and take your food anywhere in Central Park!

W 67th St.
Central Park
212-877-8684
Online: tavernonthegreen.com

Sarabeth’s

This cozy, cute cafe is just a stone’s throw from Central Park. It’s an especially good spot for breakfast and weekend brunch dishes with a twist, like a skillet-warmed cinnamon bun with earl gray cream cheese icing, or the lemon and ricotta pancakes topped with organic maple syrup. Sides and savory picks are also sure to be crowd-pleasers if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth. The cozy outdoor seating looks out at the park, where kids can spot an occasional horse-drawn carriage ride past and adults can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

40 Central Park South
Midtown
212-826-5959
Online: sarabethsrestaurants.com

Lolo’s Seafood Shack
If you’ve found yourself daydreaming lately about being stranded on a Caribbean island, we totally know the feeling. While plane travel may not be in the cards any time soon for your family,  you can still get your fill of those Caribbean vibes at Lolo’s Seafood Shack in Harlem. The minute you walk it into Lolo’s, your family will feel transported as the light blue and green colors of the water dominate the restaurant’s decor and you feel like your about to eat lunch at a beachside wooden shack with some friends. Lolo’s is well known for its peel and eat shrimp and crawfish boils, but you’ll also find some hearty warm grain bowls with a variety of proteins to choose from. If you decide to come for brunch, it’s the grits you’ll want to try! Lolo’s only has a few tables, so it’s worth calling the restaurant directly to book a seat at this island getaway.

303 West 116th St.
Harlem
646-649-3356

The Terrace and Outdoor Gardens
Escape from the hustle and bustle of Times Square by heading up, to The Terrace gardens on the roof of the Times Square Edition Hotel. This dining experience is on the classier (and, yes, more expensive) side, but it’s a unique treat for families who want something a bit more upper class but still family-friendly. Your jaw might hit the floor when you uncover this hidden garden in the middle of the city — palm trees and hanging plants decorate the interior while outside feels like a Parisian park with potted trees and shrubs. The space is especially stunning at night, when it’s lit by candles. The Terrace and Outdoor Gardens serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as weekend brunch.

701 7th Ave.
Times Square
212-398-7017
Online: editionhotels.com

Pier I Café

A seasonal outdoor café located along the Hudson River in Riverside Park South, there is plenty of umbrella-covered seating that provides beautiful river views while you peruse a menu that includes everything from lobster rolls, to burgers and even a watermelon salad. There’s no table service here, but an easy ordering-system instead, keeping things casual. Sit and watch the boats go by or take in a sunset as you sip freshly-made lemonade and the kids nosh on an ice cream sandwich.

West 70th Street in Riverside Park South
(park entrance at W 68th Street & Riverside Blvd)
212-362-4450
Upper West Side
Online: piericafe.com

Junior’s Times Square

For something a bit more approachable than The Terrace, Junior’s offers the classic American diner experience. Outdoor seating lets you enjoy your meal while watching the throngs of New Yorkers and tourists pass you by. There’s a “Junior Menu” for $10.95 for kids under 12 consisting of all the kid menu staples and served with soda, juice, or milk, but the full menu is exhaustive and sure to be a hit with kids, whether they prefer a loaded sandwich or Hungarian beef goulash (and why not). Junior’s also serves breakfast fare and, of course, the dessert menu — with everything ro their signature famous cheesecakes to “mountain-high sundaes” — is to die for. Tip: Junior’s will give you a free slice on your birthday if you join their Birthday Club mailing list and visit the restaurant on that day!

1515 Broadway, 45th St. B/W Broadway & 8th Ave
212-302-2000
Times Square
Online: juniorscheesecake.com

Bubby’s

Brunch is always a favorite with kids thanks to its mashup of sweet and savory flavors, and Bubby’s does brunch best. Pick up pancakes made just the way you like them, sandwiches and burgers, breakfast classics and more. And make sure you leave room for dessert, because you’ll want to get a slice of Bubby’s amazing homemade pies. Bubby’s has set up plenty of outdoor seating intended for family sharing. Say hi to the cute cow statue (who was kidnapped and subsequently reclaimed in 2014)!

120 Hudson St.
Tribeca
212-219-0666
Online: bubbys.com

S’MAC

Mac and cheese is taken up a notch at S’MAC (Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese), a specialty restaurant full of personality. This cozy nook serves up steaming hot mac and cheese right on the skillet (keep those little hands well away!) from the relatively tame cheeseburger mac to more creative combinations of flavors like the Parisienne (brie, roasted figs, shiitake mushrooms, and rosemary) or the Masala (mac with Indian spices). Vegan and lactose-intolerant diners, don’t fret — the cheesy shop has a vegan version for you!

The outdoor seating is just as fun and on-brand. On nice days, the walls are opened up, turning S’MAC into a covered, open-air space. When you’re ordering for yourself, consider buying a donation meal for $11.90. For each meal donated, S’MAC will put three meals into the community fridge just outside the restaurant, which offers free meals for those who need them.

197 1st Ave.
212-358-7912
East Village
Online: eatsmac.com

Taco Vista

When you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, Governors Island is just a seven-minute ferry ride away. Make a left as you exit the Manhattan ferry landing (stopping, of course, to let your kids ring the bell by the entrance to the visitor’s center), to find Taco Vista, an outdoor taqueria with a relaxed beachside vibe. Tackle traditional tacos like carne asada and carnitas, or choose one of their burritos or burgers (a plain kids burger option is available for any picky little ones). Relax on picnic benches by the water with Manhattan views, and make a day of exploring what the historic island has to offer.

And if you get hungry for more, Governors Island also has food trucks located at Ligget Terrace, where kids can play in a water fountain and in a natural-style playground, as well Little Eva’s Beer Garden and Grill, and Island Oyster (open only in the summer).

140 Carder Road
Governors Island
Online: tacovista.co

Outdoor Dining in Queens

Mom’s Kitchen and Bar

Coming to Mom’s really feels like coming home, with delectable comfort food, all-day brunch, and humongous, absolutely bonkers shakes — think vanilla shake topped with fruity pebbles, lollipops, and a mini-muffin on whipped cream (for $7, adults can add some boozy goodness to theirs). Dine on delish classics like house-special burgers or chicken and bacon waffles, or dig into some of the more unique picks, like the mac and cheese pancakes or a sausage, egg, and cheese stuffed pancake burrito. All this is served with a side of 90s nostalgia (just look at that menu!). Outdoor seating is fairly standard, with tables and chairs along the venue’s side and in a covered detached spot on turf.

3301 31st Ave.
Astoria
718-267-0142
Online: momsastoria.com

Anable Basin

This steakhouse and bar is ideal for winding down with a drink while the kids (and dogs — the space is dog-friendly) explore and play in the large waterfront patio. Picnic tables and regular seating are spaced out and family-sized, and the space is often used for children’s parties. The menu is simple but there’s something for everyone: Kid favorites include corn on the cob and hot dogs, while accompanying adults might prefer the steak, chorizo or any of the nice selection of beer, wine, and cocktails. Note that this spot is cash only (though an ATM is available on-site).

4-40 44th Dr.
Long Island City
718-433-9269
Online: anablebasin.com

 

Bungalow Bar

Can’t get enough of the water? Bungalow Bar is another waterfront outdoor dining experience the fam won’t want to miss. While the vibe gets more adult in the evenings as the outdoor Tiki bar serves up drinks and live music and DJ sets, during the day the patio is a great hangout for families who want a casual spot to just sit and chill. The kids’ menu consists of pizza, chicken fingers and fries, a burger, and pasta (with tomato sauce or butter) for $8 each, and there’s plenty of other American finger food to keep them sated. Weekend brunch is also a popular option for families. There’s tons of space outside to sit or explore, including a little turf lawn with comfy seats facing the breathtaking views of the water.

377 Beach 92nd St.
Rockaway Beach
718-945-2100
Online: bungalowbarny.com

Outdoor Dining in Staten Island

The Stone House at Clove Lakes

If you’re in the vicinity of Clove Lakes Park, the Stone House is a must-visit. Situated on a little island in the middle of Clove Lake, this rustic restaurant is absolutely gorgeous, surrounded by water and nature. The restaurant serves up lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, as well as desserts and drinks galore. There’s plenty of space for kids to explore outside, and the venue often hosts live music and other events. After your meal, you can rent a rowboat or paddleboat from The Stone House and enjoy the scenery from a different perspective.

1150 Clove Rd
Staten Island
718-808-8835
Online: thestonehousesi.com

Marina Cafe

Staten Island has no shortage of waterside venues, and the Marina Cafe is one of the most beloved ones. Gaze out on Great Kills Harbor’s docks and water as you and the family nom on upscale seafood dishes and the adults enjoy a drink from the famous Tiki Bar, which has a separate entrance and a more limited food menu. Plus, if you stop by for lunch, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg — lunch mains are only $18 and come with a seasonal soup or house special salad. Dinners do get quite a bit pricier, especially for the more high-end specialty treats like the Zuppa di Pesce (a seafood mix in tomato-basil broth served over squid ink pasta). Plus, you can enjoy this venue outside all year long thanks to their “endless summer” heated tents that’ll keep you nice and warm — even when the weather outside isn’t.

154 Mansion Ave.
Staten Island
718-967-3077
Online: marinacafesiny.com

 

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