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Henry Public
Photograph: Courtesy of Edgar Ortigoza

Let me tell you—Now is the time to enjoy NYC’s best outdoor dining destinations

Many arrangements may disappear forever this November.

Amber Sutherland-Namako
Written by
Amber Sutherland-Namako

"Let Me Tell You" is a series of columns from our expert editors about NYC living, including the best things to do, where to eat and drink, and what to see at the theater. They are published every week. Food & Drink Editor and Critic Amber Sutherland-Namako has previously asserted that confusing reservation options aren't only in your head.

New Yorkers have become accustomed to the sight of outdoor dining structures over the last four years. Alternately known as “streeteries,” “sheds,” “setups,” or just “outside for two,” these are the al fresco installations separate from backyards and sidewalk seats. They’re the roadway builds that take up parking, or make the five boroughs feel a little more European, depending on who you ask. 

Some outdoor dining structures erected since the pandemic’s force of necessity struck are so solid they seem to split the difference between semi-permanent and the promise of practically forever, incidentally amplifying the existential question of what those eternal words even mean. After dozens of months of debate and incremental updates dictating how they’re allowed to live, many of these structures will disappear this November, when the newest rules mandate that they return from whence they came—or at least, maybe, some storage facility, somewhere, until the following April 1st. 

It’s likely that many of the most solidly constructed roadway cafes will never return to their original form, onerous as dismantling, stowing them away and eventually mending them may be. Outdoor dining will still ebb and flow in other ways, and just last week the Department of Transportation gave a glimpse of what some more temporal arrangements could look like. But the overall landscape will undoubtedly change. 

The weather is warming on the eve of the last seasons of outdoor dining as we know it, and the time to visit some of the genre’s best contenders is now. While anywhere can be perfect when the light hits right and the breeze is nice, these are a few of my favorite streeteries to swing by this spring and summer.

Henry Public 

This handsome annex on Henry Street near Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill brings Henry Public’s saloon aesthetic outside with particularly distinguished environs. I’ve sat under its roof amid heat lamps on some of winter’s coldest days quite comfortably over the kitchen’s famed turkey leg sandwich and some of the finest scrambled eggs in town.  


Not too far away in Carroll Gardens, Lucali is known as much for its world-class pizza as its long wait times. Ever-closer to two decades after opening, pie-desirers still line up like clockwork for a chance at the relative few tables inside. Did the introduction of curbside service allay those delays? Not really, but it didn’t hurt, either. 


Over in Manhattan, Bandits emerged in 2021, post-vaccine, but pre ‘-nothing to see here’. Its streetery’s vintage-inspired decor nearly paused a dinner companion of mine in his tracks as we were walking through the West Village not too long after, and, this time next year, it’s likely they literally won’t make ‘em like they used to. Pair your tots with the vodka-based Bradshaw on Bedford cocktail for a blast to the even more distant past. 


I’ve been a personal fan and professional proponent of Kochi since it first opened in Hell’s Kitchen in late 2019. The Korean skewer-tasting destination was quick to pivot with outdoor seating in the otherwise inopportune months that followed, going on to earn a Michelin star and a position on my list of NYC’s 50 best restaurants

Zaab Zaab

It wasn’t raining hard when I first visited Zaab Zaab in 2022, but it was raining inconveniently. The four-star Thai restaurant, one of that year’s best new openings, will have to remove its outdoor area’s roof to comport with the new regulations by the fall, but its inviting interior, like at all of the above, is still a welcome port in any storm.

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