Brooklyn al Fresco: The Borough's Best Restaurants for Outdoor Dining
Visiting New York City during the summer can be a blast. It can also be hot and stressful, especially if you don't venture beyond the most tourist-clogged areas of Manhattan. The solution? Relaxing in one or more of these nine Brooklyn restaurants with great outdoor seating.
This small restaurant is a special delight tucked away in Bushwick. The humble facade resembles a parking garage, but once you enter the building, the smell of pomodoro sauce wafts from the kitchen, tipping you off to the wood-fired pizzas and other Italian dishes in store. Order a beer from the outdoor bar as you wait for your pasta under twinkling string lights.
Roberta's: 261 Moore St.; tel. 718/417-1118
Though on the pricey side, many of the dishes at this Vietnamese gastropub are worth the expense (try the peeky-toe crab glass noodles—you won't regret it). In the restaurant's backyard, several outdated televisions are mounted on the walls and pipes zigzag overhead, yet the whole place is overgrown with greenery, giving the impression that the space once belonged to some now-vanished society of techies. Who knew a post-apocalyptic landscape could feel this inviting?
Bricolage: 162 5th Ave.; tel. 718/230-1835
Pig Beach is situated right on the edge of the Gowanus Canal, and the outdoor area truly feels like you’ve happened upon some seaside locale. There’s sand-colored concrete, a fully stocked bar, and the open blue sky stretching overhead. But this beach has what many real ones lack: the intoxicating smells of pit-smoked barbecue. Take that, Cancún. The restaurant is popular with hipsters and families alike, and can always accommodate large groups because it's massive.
Pig Beach: 480 Union St.
After stuffing yourself at Pig Beach, head up the street to Ample Hills Creamery for a sweet finish. This ice cream shop is part of a Brooklyn-based chain that originated in 2011 and has had lines around the block ever since. Don't worry—the wait is usually only a few minutes. Flavorwise, it's hard to go wrong, but Salted Crack'd Caramel is the one that put Ample Hills on the map. The shop's rooftop deck is the perfect spot to end a night. Gaze out at the Brooklyn Clock Tower from the comfort of lounge chairs as you slurp your creamy confection.
Ample Hills Creamery: 305 Nevins St. (and many other locations); tel. 347/725-4061
The view is the main draw at this peaceful cafe at the Red Hook location of the Fairway Market chain of grocery stores. While you chow down on foodstuffs acquired inside, you'll hear waves lapping against the pier and spot Lady Liberty sparkling off in the distance to your right.
Fairway Market Red Hook: 480-500 Van Brunt St.; tel. 718/254-0923
The garden in the backyard of this Park Slope eatery isn’t just intended for ambiance. All the plants are used in Olmsted’s dishes. That results in some incredibly fresh creations such as a crepe made with carrots and sunflower. Before you leave, pay a visit to the chicken coop in the back corner, where the hens that supply the kitchen's eggs are housed.
Olmsted: 659 Vanderbilt Ave.; tel. 718/552-2610
Between volleyball courts and soccer fields on Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6 sits a small building that houses the only public restroom in the area along with the fabulous Fornino. A wood-fired oven blazes on the roof, turning out a steady parade of pizzas for large crowds. Though the pies are tasty, the restaurant's popularity stems from the view—from a seat on the rooftop, you can see the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline, providing an incongruously dramatic backdrop for the beach volleyball unfolding in the foreground. Fornino's bar, also located on the roof, gets busier as the night goes on.
Fornino: Pier 6 Brooklyn Bridge Park; tel. 718/422-1107
Serving Mexican and Cuban cuisine, this Fort Greene restaurant closes shop in the winter months. But when spring hits, the doors reopen to Brooklyn's taco-hungry hordes. In keeping with the summery ethos, the decor is bright and colorful: Rainbow umbrellas are everywhere, murals grace yellow walls, and the grub comes from a fake food truck painted bright red.Habana Outpost: 757 Fulton St., tel. 718/858-9500
As you enter Mia's in Boerum Hill, your attention will be immediately grabbed by enormous display cases containing what appears to be every baked good known to humankind. If you can tear yourself away from that tempting spectacle, head to the backyard, which has table service for all the goodies available up front. The outdoor space is not large, but the ivy coating the walls and the lights strung overhead make this an appealing atmosphere for chilling out with a book and a slice or six of cake.
Mia’s Brooklyn Bakery: 139 Smith St.; tel. 347/987-3194