Fornino
Photograph: Courtesy Fornino

The best outdoor restaurants NYC families will love

Time to go out! The best kid-friendly outdoor restaurants NYC families love the most have great food and space to play.

By Oliver Strand, Allie Early, Evelyn Derico and Danielle Valente
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NOTE: AS NEW YORK CITY ENTERS PHASE 2, SOME RESTAURANTS ARE OPENING FOR OUTDOOR DINING. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING TO A RESTAURANT, BE SURE TO CONTACT IT FRIST TO CONFIRM THAT IT'S OPEN.

New York might not have the sidewalk cafés of Paris or the beachfront tavernas of the Greek islands, this city has some fantastic outdoor dining—if you know where to look. Some of the best family restaurants in NYC and the best fun restaurants in NYC have outdoor spaces where you and your kids can enjoy a little fresh air.

Go ahead and make the most of the season! Go for a spin on one of the best bike trails for families in NYC, or a kid-sized trek on one of the best hiking trails in the city. Then after working up an appetite, head for one of these outdoor restaurants and make a great day that much more perfect.

Outdoor restaurants NYC families need to visit

Roberta's
Roberta's
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

1. Roberta’s

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Pizza Brooklyn

Roberta's still has it: The cool-kid spot that put Bushwick on the map makes delicious pizzas, amazing sides and one of the best hamburgers in the multiverse. The all-day spot is kid-friendly at all hours, but you'll probably want to pack it in when the Zoomers start showing up around 7pm. That's OK: The key to enjoying Roberta's is to show eat when your kid is hungry—show up at 6:30 and there's no wait. Grab a seat outside, order a glass of something to take the edge off the day. Life is good, and parenthood has its perks.

Rockaways
Rockaways
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Rockaway Beach Boardwalk Concessions

A beach day at the Rockaways is about the most summer thing you can do in NYC—and the food concessions on the Boardwalk make it one of the tastiest. There are three–Beach 86th Street, Beach 97th Street and Beach 106th Street—and each is distinctive. Beach 86th Street is anchored by Rippers, a burger bar that looks over the best surf spot in the Rockaways. Beach 97the Street is the biggest of the three, with a dozen different options, plus a family-friendly outdoor dance floor where DJs and live bands set up. Beach 106th Street has a Caracas Arepa Bar. In other words: You can't go wrong.

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Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
Photograph: Courtesy Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

3. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Restaurants Barbecue Gowanus

The Gowanus Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is always packed, but the food is worth the wait. Show up before 7pm on weekdays to score one of six outdoor picnic tables and on weekends, put your name in and stroll around the block until the host shoots you a text. Coloring books and temporary tattoos keep the crew busy while you wait for your grub. You and your crew can enjoy the Family Stylin' BBQ, which offers a whole chicken, three sides, a full rack of ribs, 1 pound of pork or brisket and cornbread, and serves anywhere from four to six people.

Fornino
Fornino
Photograph: Courtesy Fornino

4. Fornino at Brooklyn Bridge Park

The rooftop restaurant on Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park is perfect for families: Fornino is where you go after playing in the water park, or climbing on the playground or kicking around a soccer ball on Pier 6. It serves wood-fired pizzas and breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan.

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Time Out Market Outdoors
Time Out Market Outdoors
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

5. Time Out Market New York

Restaurants Food court DUMBO

We really like eating—we're guessing you do, too. So lucky for all of us, we've packed all our favorite restaurants under one roof at the Time Out Market New York. The DUMBO location in Empire Stores has something for everyone: thin-crust pizza, Middle Eastern bites, fried chicken, Japanese comfort food, cookie dough scoops from DŌ and more. Grab a table outside for a postcard-perfect view of the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. 

Mister Dips
Mister Dips
Photograph: Courtesy The William Vale/Noah Fecks

6. Mister Dips

Restaurants Hamburgers Greenpoint

Mister Dips is a burger and soft-serve stand operating out of a 1974 Airstream trailer parked on an elevated park of the William Vale Hotel. The RV offers four gourmet-level griddled burgers: a single or double with aged cheddar, a Swiss-topped veggie burger and a rotating special. Beyond the bun, there are waffle fries and “dairy dips,” ice-cream cones in flavors like Jacker-Crax (buttered caramel popcorn with salted peanuts) and Hawaii Five-0 (Tahitian vanilla scoops with pineapple preserve and toasted coconut).

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7. Greenwood Park

Bars Beer bars Brooklyn

Greenwood Park is part biergarten, part kindergarten: This massive indoor-outdoor restaurant and beer garden transformed an old gas station and mechanic shop into the perfect place 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, a warm pretzel, and loaded nachos. 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.

Governors Island
Governors Island
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Governors Island Food Trucks

Attractions Parks and gardens Governors Island

There are many reasons to venture out to Governors Island (open May through October), where there’s plenty to see, do and enjoy as a family, and the food is one of them. After all, you're bound to work up an appetite after exploring the 172-acre park, which has a Hammock Grove, extensive playgrounds and the longest slide in NYC. The food trucks on Liggett Terrace has everything from kimchi tacos to vegan Ethiopian to the handmade ice cream sandwiches that you can hold out as a bribe for good behavior.

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9. Harlem Tavern

Bars Pubs Harlem

Harlem Tavern is an inviting biergarten-style eatery near Morningside Park has an enormous outdoor patio you can enjoy in warmer months. Its extensive menu boasts everything from juicy burgers and buttermilk fried chicken to quesadillas, tacos and sliders—even a build-your-own mac and cheese with add-ons like grilled steak and BBQ pulled pork.

Habana Outpost
Habana Outpost
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

10. Habana Outpost

Restaurants Cuban Fort Greene

Are you here for the tasty food, or the massive outdoor space where your kids can be loud and goofy? Even better: There's stuff to do. The picnic-bench–style seating at Habana Outpost affords the perfect perch for outdoor movie screenings while you down a Cubano and sweet plantains. There are also free summer craft workshops for kids, which includes DIY sombreros, egg carton bugs and more. 

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