Kid-friendly NYC restaurants with outdoor seating
Whether it's sidewalk seating or a backyard patio, we love an open-air meal.
Fri May 21 2010
As the weather heats up, you'd rather be anywhere but in front of the stove. Escape that oppressive sauna of a kitchen and take the whole brood for a bite at one of these outdoor perches. The atmosphere will almost make up for the fact that you're still in the city rather than away somewhere on summer vacation.
426A Seventh Ave between 14th and 15th Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-369-8315, anthonysbrooklyn.com).
Baked clams, gooey calzones, and manicotti—typically too heavy for summer appetites—go down easily when you're catching a fresh breeze on the brick patio out back. The old-world touch extends to the dreamy, Neapolitan-style pies, served fresh out of the brick oven with thin crusts, pools of mozzarella, and fresh garlic ($1 extra). Bite in and imagine you're dining on a shaded Napoli piazza.—Alia Akkam
Boat Basin Caf
79th St and the Hudson River (212-496-5542, boatbasincafe.com).
This two-tier restaurant overlooking the Hudson has the vibe of an impromptu backyard barbecue without the mosquito bites or the charcoal mess. Kids can sip on all-natural apple juice and marvel at the rocking boats, while you grab a grilled chicken sandwich ($10) or salmon ($20) and toast the setting sun with an icy swig of Absolut Citron--spiked Electric Lemonade. Just call ahead if the skies look stormy—the caf sometimes closes up when it rains.—Sarah Robbins
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
Fulton Ferry Landing Pier at Old Fulton St, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-246-3963).
The eight flavors served in this classic ice-cream parlor may seem as old-school as its 1920s fireboat house location, but these scoops ($4 for a single) are made from the freshest, highest-quality ingredients. Take in the postcard views of Manhattan from Fulton Ferry Landing Pier, or grab some extra napkins and toddle over the Brooklyn Bridge. You'll have walked off the sugar high before you reach the other side.—SR
Express Caf at the Central Park Boathouse
Central Park, enter from 72nd St and Park Dr North (212-517-2233, thecentralparkboathouse.com).
Whether you've been playing catch on the Great Lawn or conquering the slides at any of the 21 playgrounds, a Saturday in Central Park is going to leave you hungry. Take a ramble toward the boathouse, and check out the storefront outside the upscale Boathouse caf. The menu is simple—wraps and sandwiches ($6.75), burgers ($5) and hot dogs ($3.25)—but you can eat while scanning the Model Yacht Club fleet for signs of Stuart Little. Plus, the noshes are reasonable, leaving you ample money to rent a rowboat.—SR
Johnny's Famous Reef Restaurant
2 City Island Ave at Long Island Sound, City Island, Bronx (718-885-2090).
A mere half-hour from smoggy, sweating midtown awaits City Island—an old fishing village cooled by the breezes off Eastchester Bay and Long Island Sound. Check your city-slicker attitude as you cross the 100-yard bridge onto what many call the Bronx's best-kept secret, and then promenade down the main drag until you reach Johnny's, a cafeteria-style seafood shack where you can snap up seaworthy fare like littleneck clams ($10 for a dozen), a cracker-meal-coated soft-shell crab dinner and a solid batch of French fries. After you've flopped down at an outdoor-patio picnic table, take great gulps of the salty sea air as your little ones listen to the honking gulls and pelicans; you may actually fool yourself into thinking you're on vacation.—SR
La Lanterna Caffe
129 MacDougal St between 3rd and 4th Sts (212-529-5945, lalanternacaffe.com).
In the evenings the covered garden, playfully lit by the namesake light fixtures, teems with amorous couples—but afternoons are kid-friendly affairs. Panini are popular with all ages: Parents can try the Cognac-splashed version with smoked prosciutto and melted mascarpone, while the buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and basil will earn raves from tykes—though they'll race through it to get to the whipped cream--dolloped iced cocoa.—AA
The Mermaid Inn
568 Amsterdam Ave between 87th and 88th Sts (212-799-7400, themermaidnyc.com).
The sidewalk seating at this nautical noshery is prime people-watching territory: Park your family out front and watch as the stroller brigade ambles by. Once ensconced, prove to the kids that there's more to seafood than frozen fish sticks with a dish like spaghetti topped with littleneck clams, mussels, chili and saffron.—AA
New Leaf Restaurant & Bar
1 Margaret Corbin Dr, Fort Tryon Park (212-568-5323, newleafrestaurant.com).
It doesn't get much more scenic than the patio at this Fort Tryon Park eatery. The restaurant, an initiative of the New York Restoration Project—dedicated to the city's parks and community gardens— offers a great lesson in farm-to-table cuisine. A peep at the brand-new herb garden's greenery will give children a glimpse of what may season dishes like St. Louis--style spareribs, roasted free-range chicken or the classic burger-and-fries combo.—AA
Madison Square Park, enter from 23rd St and Madison Ave (212-889-6600, shakeshack.com)
Sure, it's got shakes, but Danny Meyer's wildly popular concession stand in Madison Square Park is most famous for churning out top-notch burgers to an endless line of hungry New Yorkers. Carnivores of all sizes love the burgers made from fresh-ground sirloin and brisket and tucked inside a pillowy potato roll; vegetarians will be more than happy to sink their teeth into a satisfying portobello cap stuffed with cheese and onions. Though the single patties ($4.50) are kid-sized, a ten-spot will get Mom and Dad a Shackburger and a Budweiser: happy hour with the swing set. If it's just the food you crave, not the outdoor seating, you can visit the local chain's other outposts, including the Upper West Side (366 Columbus Ave at 77th St (646-747-8770), Upper East Side (154 E 86th St at 3rd Ave (646-237-5035) and the Mets' Citi Field (12301 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, Queens).
64-13 39th Ave between 64th and 65th Sts, Woodside, Queens (718-899-9599, sripraphairestaurant.com).
Thai specialties here are considered among the city's best— and the sprawling back patio is pretty killer, too. Distract tots from the gurgling fountain with fried chive dumplings and subtly flavored coconut rice. Like it spicy? Try ground pork--laden drunken noodles or whole red snapper slathered in garlic, chili and lime.—AA
Bryant Park, enter from 40th St at Sixth Ave (212-780-0577, wichcraftnyc.com). Click here for additional locations, although none have outdoor seating.
Don't want the kids to waste a bright summer day in an air-conditioned diner? The sandwiches at 'wichcraft provide the perfect alternative. Step up to Tom Colicchio's kiosk and find a dressed-up egg sandwich with bacon, Gorgonzola and frise ($7), or a triple-decker PB&J on Pullman bread ($5) that'll suit more-persnickety eaters. Sun yourself on the cool stone steps of the New York Public Library, or make it a Bryant Park picnic, accompanied by French cabaret music from the carousel nearby.—SR
Additional alfresco dining options
Apartment 138, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Applewood, Park Slope, Brooklyn
Caf Asean, West Village
Cowgirl, West Village
Fetch, Upper East Side
Five Points, East Village
Henry's, Upper West Side
Il Bambino, Astoria, Queens
Moustache, East Village