I don’t want to jinx it as we head into a long weekend but WOW – the weather we’ve been having is absolutely PERFECT. As New Yorkers we (well most of us), don’t always have outdoor space, so when warm weather strikes a rooftop bar or garden terrace is extra special. Besides, what is better than cocktails al fresco!? Outdoor season (May through October) is a big deal for us city-dwellers!
I don’t like being super hot so for me, spring, late summer and early fall are my favorite times of year to eat, drink, and listen to live music outside. Today I’m rounding up a few (okay not a few – eighteen!) favorites. Additionally, I would highly recommend all of them. Alos, I will warn you that it’s a little bit Williamsburg heavy but that’s where I live! I tried to highlight some other really good spots too.
(Let me know if I missed your favorites / I always love learning about new hidden gems!!!)
The 18 best outdoor bars in NYC and Brooklyn
My Favorite Waterfront Bars
So, Grand Banks is a waterfront restaurant (and bar) known for its seafood and oysters located at Pier 25 on the Hudson River Park. It’s located on an old ship (the Sherman Zwicker) with a beautiful waterfront view. The average price point is around $28 for an entree and they offer a sustainably sourced seafood menu. It’s pretty much made for instagram… the yellow and white stripes and picturesque sunset views will make you feel like you’re on vacation!
Located on the Upper West Side (at Riverside Park), this was my SPOT in my early and mid twenties… that and Central Park! It’s a more casual (and less expensive) alternative to Grand Banks with a similar vibe and great views of the Hudson River. Grab a burger, have a beer… it’s super casual, but also really nice and fun. The tables by the water fill up fast, so go early and stay all night!
Next, The Frying Pan (in Hudson River Park, between 26th and 27th streets) is another place that makes me think of my twenties and outdoor drinking… we were there a LOT. It’s similar to Grand Banks but a little less classy as it’s more of a dive bar. A dive bar on a boat. Great views, medium food, lots of fun.
This has been my new favorite spot as it’s located in Williamsburg in Domino Park! It’s very casual and basically a taco stand. I loooove Mexican food and the tacos (and guac) are so good. It’s $10 for a margarita and $5 for a taco and it’s just lively and fun. A great spot to sit and watch the sunset over the East River after a long day!
The Brooklyn Barge (in Greenpoint) is another summer favorite. It’s a floating seasonal bar & grill and the perfect place to watch the sunset. It’s similar in vibe to the Boat Basin (casual and fun) with an easy menu and picnic tables but it’s still unique and special because it’s located on a historic barge. Also, dogs are allowed!
The Watermark Bar is located at Pier 15 in the city, right on the East River. It’s a great place to go for a good happy hour and highlights all American food (burgers, pizza, bar food) in a low-key setting. And sometimes they have live music! If you’re not going for the happy hour, try their (shareable!) cocktail: The Siren: it’s a 100 oz. frozen margarita sangria swirl with edible orchids and it’s $80. Wow.
Celestine is in DUMBO, located right under the Manhattan Bridge. They feature wood-fired Mediterranean food and beautiful views of the city. Go here for a nice dinner and get the grilled octopus!
My Favorite Rooftop Bars
This is a fav spot in Soho! If Gitano sounds familiar to you, you may remember it from Tulum! It’s the very chic (and very tropical – there are palm trees!!!) restaurant and lounge from Tulum. I love it here, but it is very expensive. You literally feel like you are in a rooftop jungle. They have a DJ downstairs for more of a club vibe when you’re not being jungle-y on the roof!
Dumbo House is a member’s club (part of Soho House) which made me hesitant to include it but it’s truly my favorite place to go in the summer because the patio is enormous. The pool area upstairs has been a little much for me (a bit of a scene!) every time I’ve tried to go but I love lounging on the patio with a glass of rosé or a cocktail. Such a good spot and makes a Soho House membership worth it in my eyes.
Gallow Green is a beautiful rooftop bar / restaurant located just above the McKittrick Hotel (also home to Sleep No More). I love the brunch here! You feel a bit like you’re in a secret garden… it’s so pretty…. beautiful greenery, twinkle lights, etc. It’s an absolute treasure.
Mr. Purple is located on the roof of the Hotel Indigo in the Lower East Side. It’s a very fun spot. I’ve been to a few dinners here and it has such a cool vibe. The inside is beautifully designed and the outdoor bar has a great view of the city. It’s definitely a bit of a scene but it’s a lot of fun!
Lemon’s is the newly redone rooftop cocktail bar at the Wythe Hotel and it’s a treat as it is just SO PRETTY and very elegant. You will feel like you’re in Italy. I love all of the citrus-hued decor (it’s designed really well). Get some spritzes and some appetizers and indulge in a little people watching (and great views of the city!!!)
Westlight probably has the best view in all of Williamsburg. It’s the rooftop bar at The William Vale and the views are like nothing else. (I also like going up to the second floor roof bar, up top). The food isn’t great (just my two cents) and the drinks are a little bit overpriced, but it’s worth going just for that view!!!! (And the hotel itself is really cool/well-designed.)
My Favorite Garden Terraces
Gilligan’s (right next to the Soho Grand Hotel) is one of my most FAVORITE summer spots in New York City. I’ve had countless birthday parties here and waayyyyyy too many of their frozen watermelon margaritas! It has a beachy vibe (honestly you feel like you’re in Montauk) with palm trees, picnic tables, and buoys etc! Love love love and writing this post now I realize I haven’t been at all this summer which is very sad.
This is a newer little gem of an outdoor spot in the East Village and I added it to the list because we went this past weekend and had such a nice time. They have a hookah lounge too which isn’t my thing but looks kinda fun? I will say that the drinks are a little too sweet. BUT they have a good wine list and the french fries are so yummy. The garden area outside is just so pretty (Love the brick wall and all of the botanicals) though and it’s never too crowded, so I wanted to include it in the mix.
This is another old favorite. I love a good beer garden in the early fall and this is one of my favs. The biergarten serves up (really delicious) German food. I always end up eating a pretzel when I go. There are fun games (foosball and ping-pong) and in the summer they have special tables (called Stammtisch) where you can actually pour your own beer from three different taps built into the table!
Okay Maison Premiere is one of my absolute favs in Williamsburg but it’s so hard to get a table. The cocktail bar inside is so packed that you may not even realize there’s a beautiful garden and outdoor patio out back. It’s one of my favorite places for oysters (and seafood in general). You feel like you’ve stepped back in time. They’re also famous for their crafted cocktails which are always very fancy (try an absinthe cocktail!!)
Pig Beach isn’t a garden terrace but I wasn’t really sure where to put it. It’s a lot of fun, super laid back, and it’s in Gowanus, Brooklyn. We went for my brother in law’s birthday and I had such a good time. I love the open-air backyard beer gardenand the BBQ is SO GOOD. Still dreaming of their pulled pork slider (which is so big that it feels more like a full on sandwich than a slider). It’s a great relaxed place to hang out and drink beer (or rosé in a can!)
photography by Carter Fish.