The best outdoor restaurants NYC families need to visit

Why stay cooped up inside? The best outdoor restaurants NYC has to offer provide great meals and beautiful views!
Photograph: Courtesy Peter Mauss Esto Photography
By Allie Early, Evelyn Derico and Danielle Valente |
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Don't try to deny it: You might have a ball visiting NYC's best attractions, but at some point, the kiddos are going to wipe you out. When you stop to refuel, make sure to take your lunchtime pit stop seriously. Thanks to the best outdoor restaurants NYC provides, you and your crew can enjoy a great meal and the best scenes in town. 

Between a variety of cuisines offered throughout each borough, you can't go wrong with these options...even if you have a picky eater on your hands. When it comes to the best outdoor restaurants NYC families can rest assured that we've got them covered. 

There's no shortage of things to do in NYC, especially for families. Why not take the whole crew for a trip to one of these kids attractions? While you're en route to the museum, make quick visit to one of the best  kids playground NYC has to offer. But don't call it quits too early—stop for a game at one of these kids bowling locations. Strike! 

Outdoor restaurants NYC families need to visit

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Photograph: Courtesy Roberta's/David Weissman
Restaurants, Pizza

Roberta’s

icon-location-pin Bushwick

Share a pie with the family at this Bushwick pizzeria that offers everything from the classic Margherita ($16) all the way to more adventurous selections like the ShroomsDay Device ($19) with taleggio, oyster mushrooms, picked onions, scallion, black pepper and cream. Picky eaters can create their own pizza masterpiece with over 20 different toppings to add to their pie ($1–$5 per topping). Roberta's garden and radio station catapult the venue to one of the best outdoor restaurants NYC could ask for—and one of the most unique. 

Time Out says
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Shake Shack, Madison Square Park
Photograph: Courtesy Peter Mauss Esto Photography
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Shake Shack

icon-location-pin Flatiron

The original Shake Shack location, right in the heart of Madison Square Park, is one of the best outdoor restaurants NYC offers—and kiddos can't get enough of it. In lieu of brick-and-mortar, you’ll find plentiful greenery and a stellar view of the Empire State Building. Few restaurants can boast a city park as their outdoor space, and even fewer can boast of a better burger. But be prepared: Danny Meyer’s wildly popular concession stand is mobbed with crazy long lines, particularly during the summer. Angus beef is ground daily for excellent patties, and the franks are served Chicago-style on potato buns with a “salad” of toppings and a dash of celery salt. Frozen-custard shakes hit the spot, and there’s beer and wine, to boot.

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Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Bryan Bruchman
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Soho Park

icon-location-pin Nolita

Fast-food grub and an outdoor garden make this chill spot a go-to for families in need of a quick bite. The former garage’s decor—park benches, dangling lightbulbs—couldn’t be simpler, nor could the reasonably priced Classic Park Burger ($5.75), a juicy bite with the usual lettuce, tomato and onions. Pair it with hand-cut Belgian fries ($5.50), a few fancy dipping sauces—the garlic aioli is a safe and tasty bet for kids willing to branch out from ketchup—and an old-school soda. This is one of the best outdoor restaurants NYC families gravitate toward when in search of comfort food...or a quick lunch after a stroll through McNally Jackson's shelves.  

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habanaoutpost01
Restaurants, Cuban

Habana Outpost

icon-location-pin Fort Greene

Families love the flavorful Mexican eats and friendly atmosphere at Habana Outpost, but the real highlight is the kid-friendly programming in Habana’s huge courtyard. Picnic-bench–style seating affords the perfect perch for outdoor movie screenings while you down a roast pork burrito ($9) or tacos ($3.50–$7). There are also free summer craft workshops for kids, which includes DIY sombreros, egg carton bugs and more. 

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Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson
Bars, Beer bars

Greenwood Park

icon-location-pin Windsor Terrace

Housed in an old gas station and mechanic shop, this massive indoor-outdoor restaurant and beer garden is perfect for families during daylight hours—large tables afford room for big crews and all their stuff, and the menu boasts straightforward American fare like burgers ($10–$16), a warm pretzel ($4.50), and loaded nachos ($13). While the kids scarf down lunch, be sure to try one of the 60 beers on tap. This is certainly one of the best outdoor restaurants NYC can't resist, but be mindful if you're planning a family outing that kids aren't served after 7pm.

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Restaurants, Italian

Bar Toto

icon-location-pin Park Slope

The delicious personal pizzas and antipasto plates at this charming Park Slope hotspot regularly attract Mayor de Blasio and his family, and the quaint gated area outside is sure to beckon your brood as well. Enjoy traditonal Italian eats like a grilled Margherita pizza ($14) or bianca pizza ($16) under the shade of Toto’s umbrellas while counting the number of adorable puppies that walk by. 

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Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson
Restaurants, Seafood

Brooklyn Crab

icon-location-pin Red Hook

If you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the labyrinth that is IKEA, walk a few blocks to Brooklyn Crab instead of downing Swedish Meatballs. Enjoy crispy popcorn shrimp ($13) fish and chips ($21) and and yummy sides like fries ($6) to fill little bellies, plus adult entrees like the dungeness crab ($38) and snow crab ($32). There’s a huge deck with picnic tables overlooking the Red Hook Channel and Hudson River, plus there’s 18-hole mini golf out back, so obviously Brooklyn Crab deserves a spot on our roundup of the best outdoor restaurants NYC families love.

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Restaurants, Barbecue

Fette Sau

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

This BBQ pit offers an unbeatable spread of smoked meats with a menu that rotates daily—you’ll smell it from the street and quickly find yourself at one of the courtyard picnic benches or a table under the open-air garage. You might see menu items like Duroc pork ribs ($25/lb) or hand-pulled Berkshire pork belly ($25/lb). Bring the kids for lunch on a weekday to avoid the hipster rush, and if you find yourself in need of a beer, Fette’s substantial beverage list has you covered.

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Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Food court

Gotham West Market

icon-location-pin Hell's Kitchen

With nine different food purveyors to choose from, there's something to please an entire family of varying tastes and appetites at Gotham West. The bustling Hell's Kitchen market spans 15,000 square feet, and the food-court-style seating means you can all eat together once your kids have chosen from Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, Genuine Roadside, Ample Hills ice cream, Choza Taqueria and five other premier artisinal eateries. In addition to the communical tables at each of the busy food stalls, garage doors open up to sidewalk seating for alfresco dining. Try a tasty, kid-friendly lunch of pizza at Corner Slice, followed by some Nonna D’s oatmeal lace ice cream at Ample Hills for dessert. After you eat, rent a bike at Velo, Gotham Market's full-service bicycle shop (or just browse the killer selection of bikes and gear).

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Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/garrettziegler
Restaurants

Luke's Lobster

If you’re in the mood for some amazing lobster or crab rolls, Luke’s Lobster is the way to go. Hit this scenic backyard with adventurous eaters for a good ol’ crab roll slathered in lemon butter ($13) or lobster mac 'n cheese ($15). Camp out at a small table or perch on the wide wall that surrounds the space. You can’t go wrong with one of their classics like Luke’s Favorite (lobster roll, chips, slaw for $20) or the North Atlantic (shrimp roll and a small chowder for $15). This is one of the best outdoor restuarants NYC can't get enough of during the summer months.

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