If you like to eat outside with the kids, you’ve got more options than ever before in New York City this fall. More than 10,000 businesses have sidewalk cafes now, thanks to NYC’s Open Restaurants program, and the city’s more than 100 miles of Open Streets host tons of outdoor dining spots as well. Here are our favorite places to eat outside with kids in NYC, including some brand new spots and old standbys. (And yes, you’ll find a “side” of hand sanitizer and social distancing at all of them!)
Café Du Soleil
Café Du Soleil may be worth a stop even if you're not hungry, thanks to its space age solution to social distancing. (Sidewalk bubble alert!) The good news is the popular Upper West Side bistro serves lots of tasty, authentically French dishes, so you and the kids will both be happy here. From sweet and savory crepes to quiche, Benedicts, salads, frites and much more, you'll feel like you're in Paris...in 3020.
Chinatown: Mott, Doyers & Pell Streets
There's something quintessentially New York about eating incredible Chinese food in a cramped maybe not so well-lit restaurant in Chinatown. But outdoor dining on the open streets of Chinatown in the crisp fall air is kind of...amazing? Several streets are closed in this neighborhood, and the proprietors are bringing it, with tables with umbrellas, plants (both real and faux) and all the same delicious ramen, dumplings, noodles, dim sum, etc.
Many of Chinatown's icons and stars are serving al fresco right now. Dim sum classic Nom Wah is outdoors on Doyers Street; Pell Street offers Joe's Ginger (great soup dumplings) and Vegetarian Dim Sum House, and Mott Street has legend Wo Hop, Peking Duck House, Noodle Village and Ajisen Ramen.
And that's just the tip of the noodle!
PIER i CAFE
If you didn’t have a chance to make it to the beach this summer, you can still sit waterside at PIER I CAFÉ. A seasonal outdoor café located along the Hudson River in Riverside Park South, there is plenty of umbrella-covered seating that provides beautiful river views while you peruse a menu that includes everything from lobster rolls, to burgers and even a watermelon salad. There's no table service here, but an easy ordering-system instead, keeping things casual. Sit and watch the boats go by or take in a sunset as you sip freshly-made lemonade and the kids nosh on an ice cream sandwich.
West 70th Street in Riverside Park South
(park entrance at W 68th Street & Riverside Blvd)
Upper West Side
Schaller’s Stube Sausage Bar
Many call it the ultimate summer food or even the ultimate New York nosh but really, the hot dog is the anytime food and no one does it more famously than Schaller’s Stube Sausage Bar. Schaller & Weber butcher shop dates back to 1937 when Yorkville was home to many of New York’s German immigrants. They became internationally known (and still are) for their sausages and cured meats. Now a third generation family owned shop, Schaller’s Stube Sausage Bar was born in 2014 and it's a place where you can get everything from a simple bratwurst with mustard and sauerkraut to a chicken sausage with a kimchi cabbage. The bar fashions itself after Berlin-style street food, so it’s a simple setup with a window for ordering and a gated standing only area with a couple of tables. They’ve also got plenty of drinks to go and a classic soft (huge!) German pretzel. No place to stand for you and the family? Not to worry. All hotdogs are put in to go boxes that are perfect for transporting to Central Park only a few blocks away.
1652 2nd Ave.
Upper East Side
The Chelsea Market food scene is back! One of New York’s most popular destinations has lined its sidewalks along 15th and 16th Streets with more than 115 socially-distanced tables. You’ll now find red bistro tables with black chairs placed in six-foot circles to encourage proper distancing. There are QR codes at each table, in addition to two kiosks on 15th Street for ordering, with menus for all the participating vendors.
It's hard to go wrong eating at Chelsea Market, but we’re highlighting MIZNON because of its standout Israeli cuisine—and they offer reservations for outdoor tables! (Make yours here.) If you know you are heading to Chelsea, we suggest going sooner rather than later, as they do tend to sell out of certain dishes quickly. Best known for their pita-filled delicacies such as lamb kabab or the perfectly simple pita pocket filled with cauliflower and tahini, MIZNON also serves a vitamin-filled whole sweet baked potato the kids are bound to love, as well as Israeli meatballs with mashed potatoes. A good choice for walking off a hearty meal is a stroll on The Highline, but don’t forget, you need a reservation for that popular spot as well now.
435 West 15th St.
Always known as a go-to downtown brunch place for families, Bubby’s is now serving their in-demand comfort food all day in a new outdoor space with easy slide-on benches that are super kid-friendly and spaced apart for safety. At Bubby’s you will find dishes that will please both you and the kids including: granola with fresh fruit, avocado toast and of course their famous fried chicken with biscuits. (And be sure not to miss the restaurant's deviled eggs. )If you are a pizza lover, Bubby’s also now hosts a "Pizza Happy Hour" during the week. While you can’t make reservations for brunch, weekday reservations are welcome and recommended to secure your spot for outdoor dining.
120 Hudson St.
Lolo’s Seafood Shack
If you’ve found yourself daydreaming lately about being stranded on a Caribbean island, we totally know the feeling. While plane travel may not be in the cards any time soon for your family, you can still get your fill of those Caribbean vibes at Lolo’s Seafood Shack in Harlem. The minute you walk it into Lolo’s, your family will feel transported as the light blue and green colors of the water dominate the restaurant’s decor and you feel like your about to eat lunch at a beachside wooden shack with some friends. Lolo’s is well known for its peel and eat shrimp and crawfish boils, but you’ll also find some hearty warm grain bowls with a variety of proteins to choose from. If you decide to come for brunch, it’s the grits you’ll want to try! Lolo’s only has a few tables, so it's worth calling the restaurant directly to book a seat at this island getaway.
If it’s a simple and healthy farm-to-table dining experience your family is looking for, Westville has got you covered. With outdoor dining now available in almost all Westville locations, safety is of utmost importance. In addition to spacing tables six feet apart, they’ve also instituted handmade wooden dividers and made masks readily available just in case you’ve misplaced yours. Because Westville prides itself on the freshest of produce, the menu changes daily to reflect that. On most days though, you’ll find a market bowl special and daily sandwich as well as well as a slew of deliciously-prepared vegetable sides such as broccoli and tofu sauté and yuca fries. Westville is that perfect place where your kids are eating vegetables but they don’t even know it. Each location has its own daily menu which you can check out on their website before heading there.
81 Washington St.
If you find your family begging for Mexican night every night, treat yourselves to a family friendly yet a relaxed and affordable neighborhood spot that serves contemporary Mexican cuisine. At Fonda, the tortillas are hand-pressed and the guacamole is made to order. They’ve definitely got your favorite tacos and enchiladas for the little ones while grown ups might want to try out something more adventurous like tortillas with braised duck or cod in a black bean sauce or even a mole! Fonda Park Slope is only open for dinner on weekdays and brunch on their weekends and tables are being spaced accordingly to abide by safety rules. Reservations can be made right on their website.
434 7th Ave.
DeKalb-Open Air Market
So someone wants dumplings for lunch and somebody else wants a pastrami sandwich and somebody else wants to only eat donuts, what’s a family to do? DeKalb’s open air market at City Point is bound to put a smile on everyone’s’ s face and fill up everyone’s tummy too. In addition to being a foodie's dream, the open air market gives kids a chance to run around a bit while you peruse the various food vendors which include hand-pulled noodles, polish dumplings, Mochi ice cream and Thai style street food. Vendors, who are really relying to customer support right now, will rotate to give everyone a chance to exhibit their food while maintaining social-distancing protocols. So while not all food options will necessary be available when you visit, there is bound to be something to tempt you as you take in some fresh air and chow down.
DeKalb-Open Air Market
445 Albee Square West
Brooklyn Crab calls itself a "shack", but it's more like a (charming) behemoth offering tasty food, good times, and great views of the water. The casual restaurant serves up sustainable seafood over two sprawling levels that include the funky beer garden area dubbed "Reed Park." There are amusements aplenty here for you and the kids, including cornhole and yes, a mini golf course. While you slurp down oysters or crack into lobster, the kids can choose from the kids menu featuring items such as hot dogs, chicken tenders, and fish and chips ($15, with fruit or french fries, drink and dessert). (Stop by
24 Reed St.
Whether it’s the Applewood smoked bacon cheeseburger or the French toast, you can’t go wrong at a meal served at this cozy Harlem mainstay that features wraparound sidewalk seating. Brunch is your best bet for the picky eaters in your family. Then again, any kid who tries the Pipette Pasta & Taleggio AKA mac n cheese will want to come back to this stylish spot again and again
2211 Frederick Douglas Blvd.
Who needs a dedicated kid's menu when you can hang out on the patio and dive into the huge sandwiches, salads and burgers at Duke’s, one of the liveliest spots in Murray Hill. If your kid’s a rabid Yankees or Mets fan, he or she will go nuts at the chance to chomp down on an al fresco burger or mac-n-cheese while watching the game: every TV in the house faces the outdoor patio. It’s the next best thing to being at the game!
560 Third Ave. (between 37th and 38th St.)
Take a step off the Hudson River Park paths and zip over to Yves, a corner bistro with sidewalk seating that’s in prime people-watching territory. We recommend visiting here for this sweet spot’s signature pancakes served with chocolate chips or blueberry a la mode.
385 Greenwich Street
— Vanessa Shuster-Raizberg & Lambeth Hochwald