RECOMMENDED: All our listings for the best brunch in NYC
The wait for an outdoor table on a Saturday night can be intense, but the backyard, enclosed by a tall wood fence, is fairly easy to enter during the day. That's because there's little shade: So slather on some sunscreen, don a hat, and gobble up locally sourced American grub like fried chicken and waffles, eggs over easy with short-rib hash, and a grass-fed burger. 190 Ave B at 12th St (212-388-1990, backfortynyc.com). Sat noon–3:30pm, Sun 11:30am–3pm. No reservations. Average main course: $10.
The skinny, planked outdoor area of this West Village hot spot accommodates a handful of street-facing tables for two. Enjoy unparalleled people-watching while dining on simple, well-prepared brunch classics, like banana French toast, a shrimp cobb salad, and baked eggs with spinach and pancetta. 259 W 4th St at Perry St (212-691-9359, extravirginrestaurant.com). Sat, Sun 11am–4pm. Reservations available for parties of six or more. Average main course: $11.
This is the only location of the charming French-caf minichain that has a garden out back. Most everything on the menu is a treat, but nothing quite compares with the pain perdu—a crispy plate of crusty bread lightly battered with egg and orange. 556 Vanderbilt Ave between Bergen and Dean Sts, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-789-5171, legamin.com). Sat, Sun 8am–3:45pm. No reservations. Average main course: $10.
Reserve a spot in the intimate backyard garden, where tables sit atop stone slabs, ivy climbs the walls, and little sculptures of fairies and nymphs peek out from ample greenery. The menu is reminiscent of Southwestern France: baked mussels in garlic butter, sauted snails in phyllo dough, and eggs Benedict made with sausage or gravlax in lieu of ham. Each of these come with a $20 prix-fixe with a mimosa, Bloody Mary or a glass of juice. 158 Eighth Ave at 18th St (gascognenyc.com, 212-675-6564). Sat, Sun noon–4:30pm. Reservations suggested for garden seating. Prix fixe: $20.
This Latin-American locavore's paradise has two outdoor tables on the charming front patio, and one secluded table for two in its Zen garden—complete with hand-stacked stone walls and a fountain. The menu changes depending on what's fresh; local ingredients are at hand, but you can expect some kind of hearty, spicy egg dish, and for milder palates, challah French toast topped with homemade whipped cream specked with flecks of vanilla bean. The $15 prix fixe—which includes an entre, coffee, and a mimosa or juice—should fit all tastes. 652 Union St between Fourth and Fifth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-636-6311, palosanto.us). Sat, Sun 10:30am–3pm. Reservations accepted. Prix fixe: $15.
Hidden in the back of this Meatpacking District restaurant is a glass-topped outdoor garden; chandeliers hang from the rafters and a gentle breeze blows in from the sides. The space features all the comforts of the indoors, with all the charm of the out, and the provenal menu runs the gamut of breakfast choices from eggs Benedict to what Paradou dubs "a really big burger" with fingerling potatoes. It's all offered as part of a prix-fixe setup ($29–$45 per person depending on group size), which includes unlimited champagne cocktails—although your sitting is limited to two hours. 8 Little W 12th St between Ninth and Washington Aves (212-463-8345, paradounyc.com). Fri–Sun 11am–4pm. Reservations strongly suggested. Prix fixe: $29–$45.
This sprawling, cavernous resto is better known as a late-night spot, but its enormous outdoor garden, or "park," has alfresco appeal in the daytime, too. A high greenhouse ceiling allows hungry patrons to gorge on omelettes amid trees, in both sunny and rainy weather. 118 Tenth Ave between 17th and 18th Sts (212-352-3313, theparknyc.com). Sat, Sun 10am–4:45pm. Reservations accepted. Average main course: $12.
This narrow restaurant can feel cramped and noisy, but the mood is entirely different in the bi-level garden, where colorful umbrellas shield diners from UV rays and neighboring brownstones provide a protected, private feel. The brunch menu suits not only all ages, but also all price brackets. The bird in a nest (a fried egg set inside a piece of sourdough toast) with bacon is just $5, and the French toast—made with raisin challah bread and bananas—is a mere $6. 365 Fifth Ave between 5th and 6th Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-788-2830, theperchcafe.com). Sat, Sun 8am–4pm. No reservations. Average main course: $8.
Snag a quiet table under the sidewalk canopy, where dogs take naps at diners' feet. Then choose one of seven preparations of Belgian waffles, a savory omelette or a sandwich. 401 E 20th St at First Ave (212-727-1505, petiteabeille.com). Sat, Sun 9am–4:30pm. No reservations. Average main course: $10.
Sweet Melissa Patisserie
Eschew heavy American fare in favor of delicate European treats, like a slice of the day's quiche, a gourmet grilled cheese ("rarebit" here), a plate of meat and cheese, or a flavorful bowl of seasoned granola with nuts and seeds. The bi-level garden in the back is filled with small tables and slatted folding chairs. A high fence and a few umbrellas shade most of the area. 175 Seventh Ave between 1st and 2nd Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-502-9153, sweetmelissapatisserie.com). Daily 7am–10pm. No reservations. Average main course: $13.