Searching for an outdoor-dining option that makes you feel as though you’ve been buried alive? This Upper West Side staple features café tables nestled under construction scaffolding that’s been in place for so long that it’s protected by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Don’t miss the sweet-and-savory chicken and waffles, best enjoyed while nineteen people wait in a cluster next to your seat and loudly comment on how close they think you are to being finished. Be warned: if you order dessert, that mom with three hungry kids will punch you in the face.
Care to indulge in a nice pint of Guinness at one of New York’s finest dumpster-adjacent tables? Then this Brooklyn tavern’s the spot for you! Atlantic Avenue Pub boasts a bustling back yard/alley that’s also ground zero for the city’s rat population. You’ll never lose sight of your waiter, because he’ll be constantly toting bags of wet garbage from the kitchen and tossing them into a nearby receptacle. It’s always happy hour in the Splash Zone!
Pete Julio Ristorante
This Chelsea red-sauce joint specializes in the type of hearty Italian fare that would make Nonna proud. Tucked between a vape shop that still sells mango Juul pods and a McDonald’s with a hypodermic-needle-disposal box, this charming bistro failed to secure an outdoor-dining permit, but the owners aren’t letting that stop them from placing two tables on top of a shaky metal grate. Primo locale! If a cop comes by, the waiter will throw a sheet over you and pretend you’re a pile of trash.
Hudson River Pier Café
A year-round waterfront eatery with a killer fried-fish sandwich. You’ll ask yourself, How did they make this sandwich so good, and what’s that smell wafting from the Hudson? You’d forget you were even in New York City if not for the fact that your table is in the middle of the West Side Highway. Keep an eye on the river and you might see an N.Y.P.D. boat retrieve a bloated corpse. Move over, Benihana—this is the new dinner and a show.
This spot, in the heart of Washington Square Park, offers the best burgers in the city. But be careful—the pigeons are street-smart, and they love fries. They take all that they view as rightfully theirs. (A favorite with N.Y.U. students.)
75 Rooftop and Lounge
No New York outdoor-dining list is complete without a spectacular rooftop option, like this dreamy bar perched seventy-five stories above the city streets. Savor jaw-dropping views as you sip mimosas and discuss how you’re definitely not afraid of heights. It’s a bit windy, so try to construct sentences that will still make sense even if your companion hears only every third word. Finish chewing that bread stick before peering down at the city below, because if a piece falls over the edge it will flatten a pedestrian’s skull. Vue magnifique! There’s no railing. ♦