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Photograph: The William Vale

The 13 best waterfront restaurants in NYC

Take in gorgeous city views with dinner and drinks at the best waterfront restaurants NYC has to offer.

By Bao Ong and Time Out New York contributors

One of our favorite things to do outside in NYC is to take advantage of the city’s stellar outdoor dining options, including restaurants on the water. In 2020, views of the Hudson and East River are in more demand than ever before. It feels like there's only a limited amount of time to enjoy the weather for al fresco dining, so we sought out everything out from dinner cruises to boat bars. For all of your seaside dining needs, check out these top-notch waterfront restaurants in NYC. Thirsty for the best activities, outdoors included, in the city? Check out the 101 very best things to do in NYC.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Time Out Market New York's panoramic city views

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The Rooftop Terrace at Time Out Market

Restaurants DUMBO

We curated every last detail at the Time Out Market: the food, the cultural experiences, the drinks, the space—everything including the breathtaking view, which is the perfect backdrop for the “best in New York City” experience. At the Rooftop Terrace at Time Out Market, you can discover impressive bites from culinary rockstars while relaxing sipping cocktails overlooking the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge.

Best waterfront restaurants in NYC

Photograph: The William Vale

1. Westlight

5 out of 5 stars
Bars Hotel bars Greenpoint

The breathtaking views from the 22nd floor is now open for outdoor dining and drinks on the sprawling, wraparound terrace. There’s also more space one floor above with equally great views for sunset cocktails. 

Grand Banks
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

2. Grand Banks

Restaurants Seafood Tribeca

By the peak of summer even New York’s most venerable boat bars can become flooded by a sea of frat-tastic curios, watered-down brews and Lonely Island references. For a more refined seaside escape, step aboard Grand Banks, the historic schooner turned oyster bar docked at Tribeca Piers (where tables have been set up as well). Waitstaff outfitted in navy-striped shirts deliver top-notch nautical plates including raw oysters and soft shell crab while you get to gaze at the glittering World Trade Center and spotlit Lady Liberty.

Outdoor seating and view at The River Cafe
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp / Eileen G.

3. The River Café

Restaurants American Brooklyn Heights

Many people consider the River Café to be the best restaurant in Brooklyn, and it is probably the most expensive. The romantic waterside eatery, which could easily skate by on its gorgeous views of downtown Manhattan, has spawned a long roster of great chefs, including Charlie Palmer (Aureole), David Burke (davidburke & donatella) and Rick Moonen (RM, Oceana). Stellar dishes include crisp oysters with smoked salmon and caviar, rack of lamb or lobster specials.

Island Oyster
Photograph: Alexander Pincus

4. Island Oyster

Restaurants Seafood Governors Island

Governors Island pays tribute to New York Harbor's bivalve legacy with this outdoor oyster bar and beer garden from the same crew behind Grand Banks. Slurp down sustainably harvested shellfish sourced both near (Long Island) and far (British Columbia) at the white-marble bar or order fish tacos to one of the mahogany communal tables — then wash it all down with local craft beers (Montauk, Brooklyn) or fruity summer cocktail

Beauborg at Le District
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp / Jake F.

5. Le District

Restaurants Sandwich shops Battery Park City

This industrial-styled French-food complex spans 30,000-square-feet, divided into a bakery-café, meat and cheese stalls, an open-air grocery shop, the sit-down brasserie Beaubourg, and cocktail den Le Bar. For the best seaside views, dine al fresco on the terrace along Battery Park City Esplanade as you sip frosé and watch yachts set sail out of North Cove Marina.

Courtesy Harriet’s Rooftop & Lounge

6. Harriet's Rooftop & Lounge

Bars Brooklyn Heights

Located on the 10th floor of the 1 Hotel, right next to the Brooklyn Bridge, is Harriet's Rooftop and Lounge. Enjoy a panoramic view of the bridge and Manhattan beyond as you enjoy a classic cocktail like an Old Fashioned or a Ricky Rose. 

Baylander Steel Beach
Photograph: Courtesy of Baylander Steel Beach

7. Baylander Steel Beach

Restaurants Seafood Battery Park

Restaurants and bars are popping up everywhere these days, from greenhouses to closed off streets to hidden backyards. Now New York can add a restaurant aboard what was once the world’s smallest aircraft carrier to the list. The Baylander Steel Beach, a Navy ship used during the Vietnam War, is now stationed at the West Harlem Piers in Upper Manhattan off 125th Street. There’s a 4,000-square-foot outdoor deck where you can order lobster rolls, burgers and drinks.

Steamed blue crabs at Brooklyn Crab
Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson

8. Brooklyn Crab

Restaurants Seafood Red Hook

Along with expansive views of the New York's Upper Bay, this three-story, 250-seat crab shack-meets-lawn games court offers both feast and fun. The menu is anchored by seafood specialties like peel-and-eat shrimp, crabcakes and steam pots brimming with lobster, potatoes and corn on the cob while the bar serves up patio-appropriate buckets of beer and frozen daiquiris. Enjoy it all over a round of miniature golf, a game of bocce ball, or a cornhole (beanbag toss) match, in Red Hook's waterfront sunshine.

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

9. North River Lobster Company

Restaurants Seafood Hell's Kitchen

Once summer hits its peak, Hudson-docked boat bars often drown in a bustling sea of bros and watery beer. But North River Lobster Company at Pier 81, a former Florida gambling ship rejiggered with New England charm, offers a calm alternative to those stormy waters with fast-casual cruises. Plus, the fully functioning ship actually sets sail on 30-minute jaunts that offer pandoramic views of Manhattan's West Side and the George Washington Bridge.

Jeffrey Gurwin

10. Clemente’s Maryland Crabhouse

Restaurants Seafood Sheepshead Bay

Have a seat on the deck overlooking Sheepshead Bay, and enjoy Clemente’s all-you-can-eat crab special. You may end up with more meat on you than in you, but the tasty critters—coated with Old Bay or steeped in garlic and butter—are more than worth the mess. (The bib-averse can opt for crab cakes, fried calamari, and other classic seafood dishes.) If you’re going for the record, plan to stay a while: a Marylander once downed more than 11 dozen crabs in a single afternoon.

Boardwalk seating at Tatiana Grill
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp / Kate S.

11. Tatiana Grill

Restaurants Cafés Brighton Beach

You’ll get “zdravstvujte” before “hello” at this serene Russian waterfront spot, a ten-minute boardwalk stroll from bustling Coney Island. The casual, beach-friendly sibling to nearby Tatiana Restaurant slings Eastern European staples like cold green borscht and puffy pelmeni dumplings. Sporting ship wheels and novelty anchors, the eatery unsurprisingly cooks up plenty of seafood as well, such as whole pan-fried flounder, shrimp- and scallop-studded paella, and balsamic-glazed salmon.

Ruby's on the Coney Island Boardwalk
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp / Jazz F.

12. Ruby’s Bar & Grill

Restaurants American Coney Island

Boston has Cheers, Coney Island has Ruby’s. The raffish open-air dive has been a neighborhood treasure since the namesake Ruby Jacobs opened it in 1976, making it the oldest bar and grill on the boardwalk. When it’s not serving as headquarters for zany traditions like the Mermaid Parade, this seaside watering hole offers beachgoers a campy reprieve — complete with Harpo Marx figurines, framed photos of bikini babes, beer sloshed into plastic pint cups, and unabashedly greasy eats. Summer-job teens dispatch all things fried: crunchy, golden corn dogs; generously breaded jumbo shrimp, and waffle fries. Just wait 30 minutes before you take a dip in the Atlantic.

Frying Pan
Photograph: Clotilde Testa

13. Frying Pan

Bars Dive bars Midtown

This “lightship” — a floating lighthouse once used by the Coast Guard — sank while docked in Maryland and spent three years underwater. Later salvaged, she is now a floating bar near Chelsea Piers that slings burgers and buckets of beer seasonally from May to October. Walk right on to the bi-level railroad barge from Pier 66 to order booze and nautical bites like fish and chips or lobster rolls, then kick back aboard the Frying Pan or its accompanying fire boat caboose, which are moored alongside.

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