In 2020, the great outdoors in New York has become one big dining room. The city recently designated 22 streets—with more to be added—throughout the five boroughs that will close off to traffic on weekends so restaurants can expand outdoor dining.
The move is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Open Streets plan, which aims to cordon off 100 miles of streets dedicated to pedestrians and bikers. Ever since New York entered Phase 2 of reopening and official delayed indoor dining for Phase 3 last week, more and more restaurants are setting up tables and chairs on sidewalks and streets. The new initiative allows more restaurants to set up shop on Friday nights from 5-11pm and weekends from noon-11pm through August.
While the number of participating restaurants is constantly changing, here are the current streets where you can find some of the city’s best outdoor dining.
Bronx: Arthur Ave. (E. 188th St. to Crescent Ave.)
Little Italy in the Bronx has transformed the main thoroughfare of Arthur Avenue into a piazza-style space. You’ll find some of the city’s most comforting red-sauce restaurants from mom-and-pop kitchens.
Chinatown in Manhattan: Doyers St. (Bowery to Pell St.)
Chinatown businesses have taken an especially big hit in the current crisis (many closed even before the state mandated the shuttering of indoor dining as racial tensions and hate crimes flared). On this winding stretch of Doyers, diners will find dim sum (check out Nom Wah) and other Chinatown favorites, from noodle soups to curries.
Lower East Side in Manhattan: Orchard St. (Grand St. to Delancey St.)
Austrian, Vietnamese and Australian are just a few types of cuisines you’ll find on a bustling stretch of the Lower East Side. There are plenty of bars for to-go cocktails as well.
Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan: West 46th St. (Eighth Ave. to Ninth Ave.)
Nestled between the heart of Times Square and Broadway, Restaurant Row provides a little bit of everything for everyone: old-school French and Italian restaurants, upscale sushi, Chinese, gay bars, jazz lounges and many other go-to spots for a diverse crowd including tourists and neighborhood locals.
Meatpacking District: Gansevoort St. (Hudson St. to Washington St.)
These days, the restaurants dotting the cobblestone streets in this neighborhood are known more for clubby vibes and a bridge-and-tunnel crowd looking for a raucous weekend. But that’s all changed in the time of social distancing. Pastis, a Keith McNally restaurant helmed by the Starr Restaurants, is by far the flagship restaurant on Gansevoort with its popular French bistro fare.
Dumbo, Brooklyn: Washington St. (Front St. to Water St.)
For a dinner with a view, it doesn’t get much better. Tourists flock to Washington Street for one of the most IG-friendly shots of New York with the Manhattan Bridge framed just so. You can dig into a salad from Sweetgreen, tacos from Los Tacos Al Pastor or ice cream from Oddfellows.
Park Slope, Brooklyn: Fifth Ave. (Dean St. to Park Place)
Sure, Park Slope may have a reputation for its stroller-filled streets, but with Fifth Avenue opening up, there’s plenty of room to spread out. You can feast on Artichoke’s pizzas or Caribbean dishes from BK9 along this busy (and family-friendly) street known as “the other Fifth Avenue.”
Reed Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn: Reed St. (Conover St. to Van Brunt St.)
Hometown Bar-B-Q serves some of the city’s best barbecue, which makes this block of Red Hook a worthy destination even if there’s no direct subway access. With the street closure, Brooklyn Crab and the dive bar Sunny’s around the corner join in on the party.
Bayside, Queens: Bell Boulevard (from 39th Ave.-41st Ave.)
It’s only a short ride on the LIRR from Penn Station to Bayside, Queens, where you’ll find nearly 20 businesses taking part in the Open Streets program. And if you want a little more peace and quiet, there are additional restaurants within a short block in any direction with al fresco dining.
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