Even before the current crisis, there’s always been chatter about how New York was dying and how it’s officially over. No matter where you fall on the debate, this much is true: more of the city’s notable restaurants have shuttered in recent months, there’s an increase in the number of people moving away and rents have dropped—even in Manhattan.
But if you were to pass one of these restaurants or tried booking a reservation, you’d never know. It’s a tough time for the restaurant industry overall but diners are still clamoring for seats at a handful of restaurants out of the thousands in New York City.
We wanted to know which restaurants with outdoor dining spaces are the hottest right now, so we reached out to reservation platforms such as Resy, Tock and OpenTable to get a sense of what’s popular. Time Out editors have dined al fresco a handful of times, but we’ve also been scanning those IG posts, traded notes with our in-the-know friends about the most in-demand tables of the moment and keep waiting for that notification from Resy—which provided us a ranking of the most notifies set for the last 70 days— when we’re trying to snag a reservation. Here’s where you’ll want to book early for outdoor dining before it gets too cold.
It just opened, but it’s already one of the hottest reservations in town. Kimika serves up a carb lover's dream Italian-Japanese menu with plenty of pastas, crispy flatbreads and other seasonal dishes by all-female led kitchen.
The tables at Missy Robbins’s Williamsburg restaurant were booked the instant they opened up. It’s not surprising given that in the Before Times it was nearly impossible to get a table unless you wanted to dine super early or late.
One of Time Out New York’s best restaurants continues to bring back customers who can’t get enough of Jody Williams and Rita Sodi’s Italian food. (You’ll also notice a theme on this: everyone wants Italian food.)
Frenchette, one of the most lauded French bistros to open in the past few years, reopened on August 11th with outdoor dining. The trendy Tribeca spot hasn’t lost any momentum with its hard-to-come-by reservations.
The red sauce classics at Carbone have been a hit throughout the current crisis, whether it was for delivery or people wanting to dine al fresco on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village.
In 2020, Pastis still remains a go-to spot ever since Sex and the City solidified this Keith McNally French bistro.
The team behind Kimika opened Wayla last year, and the demand for regional Thai food here keeps bringing fans to their backyard patio in the Lower East Side.
They do allow walk-ins but don’t plan on it. Everyone seems to want Italian or a burger these days.
The outdoor set-up at I Sodi is just like Rita Sodi’s Tuscan fare: simple, elegant and still as popular as ever.
Put pasta on the menu, and they will come.
The husband-and-wife team of Scott Tacinelli and Angie Rito haven’t lost a step with their modern Italian-American menu moving outdoors.
David Chang’s most upscale restaurant, Momofuku Ko, opened Ko Extra Place on August 28th and reservations are already difficult to find. You’ll be able to order a la carte, which you could only do at Ko Bar before.
This Greenwich Village mainstay was ranked the best bar in the world in 2019. You’d believe it seeing the people crowding the sidewalks for the Negronis and Mediterranean plates.
Can we just hang out on Le Crocodile’s garden café and eat desserts all day long? We’d have to score a table first, but there’s so much to love about the French-inspired brasserie.
There are reservations already booked through nearly the end of September for one of New York’s best bars but if you get on the reservations early, you can still get one of the 20 seats (about half are reserved for walk-ins).
A summer camp theme has overtaken Olmsted and it’s one of the most innovative and fun pivots we’ve seen since indoor dining was banned.
If it’s not pasta or burger, it’s pizza. The backyard space is perfect for a socially-distance afternoon hang.
You can rent a “backyard” here on the waterfront at Pier 17 wit your own lawn chair and all the accoutrements.
Many of the restaurants with the most in-demand outdoor seats are fairly new, so it’s nice to see an oldie but goodie still bringing in a crowd.
It’s not one of the most talked about Italian eateries in New York, but it’s been a favorite for southern Italian fare since opening in 1994.
Fine dining seems tricky when you’re going al fresco in Midtown. But Aquavit introduced outdoor dining for the first time and rolled out specials like picnic packages and even crayfish boil.
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