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

11. Houdini Kitchen Laboratory

A funhouse of a restaurant where Brooklyn meets Queens, the Houdini Kitchen Laboratory has an overgrown post-industrial garden where kids can wander under your watchful eye. The food is Italian (delicious pizzas, tasty snacks, handmade pastas), the scene is laid-back and cool. You might even want to come here on date night, and enjoy your grownup time. As for the name: It's a tribute to Harry Houdini, who is buried nearby.

Shake Shack, Madison Square Park
Shake Shack, Madison Square Park
Photograph: Courtesy Peter Mauss Esto Photography

12. Shake Shack

Restaurants Hamburgers 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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87.wholefoods003.jpg
Photograph: Courtesy Whole Foods Market

13. The Roof at Whole Foods

Restaurants

The Whole Foods in Gowanus is more than just a supermarket.  Head up to The Roof, the bar and restaurant that sits above the store, and you’ll get great views of Gowanus and Carroll Gardens to go along with your burgers, hot dogs and chicken tenders. Added bonus? You can bring food upstairs from the hot buffet. Plus, picnic table seating makes this one of the best outdoor restaurants NYC offers. 

astoria restaurants
astoria restaurants
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Georgia R.

14. Loukoumi Taverna

Restaurants Greek Astoria

Loukoumi Taverna is an original: One of the first Greek restaurants to open in NYC, Loukoumi's classic Greek fare features signature dishes from the Mediterranean such as charcoal-grilled chicken kebab, tzatziki dip and fresh seafood. Sit as a table in the lush backyard and order some fried cheese and you could be on a Greek island

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Saraghina
Saraghina
Photograph: Tia Ryan

15. Saraghina

Restaurants Italian Bedford-Stuyvesant

Pizzaiolo Edoardo Mantelli twirls the dough at Saraghina, a charming pizzeria and trattoria. Classic Neapolitan pies, pastas and fresh market salads are the draw—choose from nine simple versions, including marinara, Margherita, prosciutto and funghi. The diminutive white-painted spot features a wood-burning brick oven, shelves lined with glass bottles and an outdoor garden.

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865.fd.brooklyn_crab01.jpg
Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson

16. Brooklyn Crab

Restaurants Seafood 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 fish and chips, crispy popcorn shrimp and crab cakes, plus yummy sides like fries to fill little bellies. There’s a huge deck with picnic tables overlooking the Red Hook Channel and Hudson River, but the real reason to go is for the outdoor games: Bean bag toss, fussbal, an 18-hole mini-golf setup in the back.

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79thstboatbasin01.jpg
Photograph: The Drunken Photographer

17. 79th Street Boat Basin Café

Restaurants Cafés Upper West Side

While this waterfront café is a favorite UWS happy-hour joint, families know the 79th Street Boat Basin Café also a great place to grab a bite earlier in the day. It offers plenty of kid-friendly food, ranging from your chicken fingers, mac 'n cheese and burger sliders. Show up before 5pm, and you’ll have plenty of room for the whole brood, plus a great view. There are tons of four-person tables under the rotunda, in the open air by the water and around the restaurant’s massive fountain.

Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson

18. Gueros

Restaurants Southwestern American Crown Heights

Get tacos and margaritas at Gueros, a Crown Heights Mexican joint with sidewalk seating. Choose from combos like house-made chorizo with potato, grilled hanger steak with refried beans and avocado, or a scrambled-egg breakfast taco made with your choice of two extras.

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19. Ogliastro

Ogliastro is a wood-fired pizza joint on the border of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights comes complete with a charming shaded patio dining area, great for dining out with the fam. They serve up traditional pies like a Margherita, as well as more gourmet pie options like the Gorgonzola. A great feel-good fact about Ogliastro is that they use organic meat and locally sourced produce and eggs. If you aren’t feeling pizza-y, stop by on the weekend for brunch, when they serve various delectable egg dishes and antipasti. 

20. Mom’s Kitchen and Bar

Mom's Kitchen and Bar is an American-style restaurant in Astoria has all day brunch and comfort food that the whole family will love, and features expansive outdoor sidewalk seating to boot. The kiddos will love the kids meals like chocolate chip pancakes or waffles, a cheeseburger or mac and cheese. Mom’s also has a variety of awesome milkshakes anyone would love! Choose from colorful and fun creations such as the Rainbow Bright (vanilla ice cream with Fruity Pebbles) or Mr. Fluffleupagus (chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup, Reese’s cups, marshmallow fluff).

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