It’s a warm night, and for the first time in over a year, you don’t want to stay home and put on four sweaters so it feels like you’re being hugged. NYC restaurants and bars are steadily reopening, and you’re feeling ready to get back out there. Plus, a few of your ex-coworkers, old roommates, and childhood friends who witnessed your emo phase in 2008 have been reaching out about getting drinks and catching up. So we’ve put together this list of places (some new spots, others are old favorites) that are perfect for hanging out past your new 8pm bedtime you’ve begrudgingly accepted.
The next time you’re meeting up with one or two other people who only want to talk about and drink pet-nats, try Skin Contact. This natural wine bar on the LES has a decent amount of sidewalk tables set up, as well as a backyard where they run wine tastings every week. There’s even a “$25 bottle dealer’s choice” section where they’ll choose a sparking white or a chilled red for you.
While the roof at Elsewhere is usually an open-air dancefloor, it’s now one of the few spots in Bushwick where you can sip a daiquiri and take in views of Manhattan. There are tons of socially-distant tables that you can reserve for free on the bar’s website, but if you have commitment issues and would rather live life in the moment, they’re also taking walk-ins.
At Mister Paradise, you can sit on a leather ottoman and drink a cocktail made with tequila, watermelon, fermented habanero, and garlic (among other things). And unlike the mysterious combinations of things you’ve thrown in a shaker and called a cocktail this year, the drinks here actually taste great. Mister Paradise is one of our go-to casual cocktail spots in the East Village, especially since you can also get some fancy bar snacks like crab toast and a cheeseburger with bacon-infused cheese in addition to the excellent drinks.
Ode to Babel looks like your living room if your living room had wooden banquettes and a fully-stocked bar. But it’s actually closer to a lounge in Prospect Heights, where you might hear a DJ playing a very good vinyl set involving songs you’d also hear on the Boogie Nights soundtrack. It’s the kind of place you’d go for a quiet first date, plus there’s a little backyard with yellow benches and shapely patio chairs that’s perfect for having an actual IRL conversation with the people in your group chat.
This Italian bar and cafe is from the team behind Via Carota - and it’s located directly across the street on 7th Avenue. If you want an excellent Negroni or some crispy arancini to help ease your nerves while you meet someone you’ve only spoken to virtually, this is the place to get them. It’s also great for meeting up for a quick hour-long check-in, since the menu is mostly just snacks. Just be aware you may have to wait for a patio table during peak hours.
The Bonnie is one of our favorite bars in Astoria for several reasons. First off, its tiled floors and big booths make us feel at home. It also has a backyard with picnic tables, as well as some better-than-average bar food. So if you find yourself hanging out with a few friends longer than expected, you can confidently order burrata and steak or tacos and cheese fries for dinner.
Now that Alewife moved from Long Island City to Sunnyside in 2020, they have a new sidewalk patio with plenty of outdoor seating for you, your dog, your baby, and maybe even a few friends. You can try around 30 draft beers here, including a bunch they brew themselves, and if you stop by over the weekend you might catch a food truck parked out front. Check their Instagram before you arrive for the latest updates, but in the past food vendors have served everything from lobster rolls and birria tacos to pastrami sandwiches and empanadas.
Imagine a vineyard, but on a roof. That’s essentially what you’ll find at this rooftop wine bar in Brooklyn Navy Yard, which has rows of grapevines that you might want to touch. To drink wine with a few people at a picnic table, while pretending to be 14-years-old on a bench swing, or alone in a hammock at Rooftop Reds, you’ll have to make a reservation on their website. They also serve beer, just in case you’re inviting someone who considers wine a sedative.
People can’t resist an alcoholic slushie (or three), and Mother’s Ruin knows it. In addition to the rotating selection of frozen drinks, they also serve wine on tap, and have a large outdoor area that works more for a fun night out than a super intimate heart to heart. But you absolutely should plan to order the fried chicken sandwich and Old Bay waffle fries.
Did you know that a film adaptation of a 148-tweet Twitter thread is coming to theaters in June? Now you have a good ice breaker for your next drink meet-up. And if you and your date happen to discover a mutual affinity for the silver screen, you can make a monthly plan to hang out at Syndicated. This Bushwick bar and restaurant, which has a theater in the back, is currently offering free showings on their sidewalk every day.
If you’re on the Upper West Side, and you need a place to eat a burger and play Jenga, go to E’s Bar. It’s a big, long space with a bunch of tables, a jukebox, and a stack of board games. And it’ll probably feel like a little piece of heaven for the competitive Monopoly-player in your life.
You want to day drink by the water, but so does everyone else in the city, which makes most spots feel just as crowded and sweaty as a subway platform in the summer. But Anable Basin is at the end of a side street in a quiet part of Long Island City. So even though it’s on the East River overlooking Midtown, you’ll rarely have trouble finding room at one of the picnic tables in the big, all-outdoor space.
Once a month we have the same dream: It’s us in a field, chasing butterflies and rabbits and all the other animals that live in fields. What’s it mean? Probably that we’re lusting after some experiences in nature. If you’re feeling the same (with or without the dreams), you should head to Nowadays. This big outdoor bar in Ridgewood has enough space for trees, tables, fire pits, and heated yurts - and you can book your visit ahead of time for a group hang with a maximum of 10 people. They also host outdoor movie screenings, DJ sets, and other socially-distant events that you can check out on their website.
Harlem Tavern specializes in burgers, frozen drinks, chicken tenders, and other fried food typically eaten during parties and happy times. Even with social distancing between tables, there are plenty of options for both covered and fully outdoor dining here. Also, Harlem Tavern set up speakers under their tent so you can still have a (responsible) good time with a few of the people in your social bubble even if it’s raining.
The rooftop patio at this cocktail bar has always been one of our favorite outdoor drinking options in Williamsburg. And now that it’s officially reopening on April 21, we’ll probably make our way here for all future drink meet-ups in the neighborhood. It’s got dim-lighting and a bunch of velvet loveseats that make you feel laid-back, a huge rooftop with string lights and plant-covered walls, and in the past, they’ve even put some tables on the sidewalk out front in case the roof gets full.