It's been a cool spring -- but it's starting to stay warm enough in early evenings to grab a drink outdoors. The decks, rooftops and open courtyards are opening up, at least some of the time, for patrons who want to get a jump-start on the season.
Here are five spots with dynamic outdoor settings -- each has space to retreat indoors, too, lest you need to consider Plan B.
1. Chi Dining Lounge
103 Post Ave., Westbury
INFO 516-385-3795, chidininglounge.com
IF IT'S WARM Surrounded by stone walls, the Chi rear courtyard blocks out noisy Post Avenue traffic roaring by only feet away. Recently renovated, it boasts potted bamboo, a bubbling waterfall, a full bar, lounge couches and low tables, making for a trendy, Miami-like feel. On a recent good-weather evening, a crowd of well-dressed professional types were packing the space. An eclectic menu of eats is available outdoors, too, namely, brick-oven pizza.
STILL CHILLY? Chi has an indoor bar and dining room where restaurant patrons sit among dim lighting and sheer white curtains.
94 Dune Rd., East Quogue
IF IT'S WARM The restaurant and bar on the edge of the Shinnecock Bay hardly fears the spring chill -- its March opening was marked by snow. Since then, "we've had a few brave people sit outside on the warmer days, sipping a nice bottle of Cakebread with some local oysters," says owner Larry Hoffman. These days, expect sizable groups of patrons -- ages range from 20-something to 50 -- sitting on the deck lounge's couches and other tables set under an awning. And good news: The dress code is casual.
STILL CHILLY? Dockers has indoor tables, plus an interior bar, to boot. The mood is nautical -- white decor, colorful boating flags and such.
117 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO 631-385-1515, restaurantprime.com
IF IT'S WARM The upscale restaurant's outdoor fire pit invites patrons to sit outside year-round for cocktails, should they desire. But the real outdoor scene started picking up on nice days late last month. There are several tables for dining and drinking protected by an overhang -- all offer views of Huntington Harbor. The restaurant's outdoor Cabana Bar opened for the season last week, weather permitting.
STILL CHILLY? Not only does Prime have a large, formal dining room, it has a chic tavern (The Wave Bar) in addition to a ski lodge-style lounge with a large fireplace of its own.
327 River Ave., Patchogue
INFO 631-207-0370, dublindeck.com
IF IT'S WARM This open-air tiki bar and grill along the Patchogue River is already drawing a consistent crowd to its outdoor space, nevermind that it hasn't exactly been warm. Most patrons are 20- and 30-somethings who come for live music nights (country on Wednesdays, '70s on Fridays).
STILL CHILLY? Dublin has an enclosed area equipped with a large, four-sided bar and lots of standing room, all housed under a massive thatched roof.
5. RoofTop 32
23 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre
IF IT'S WARM One of the rare LI spots actually on a bona fide roof, the tight but lively space already has eked out a few nights of business. There's a new lounge area, plus spruced up menus of specialty cocktails and entrees (chilled salmon, anyone?). The space isn't always open -- best to call ahead or check the Facebook page for the all-clear.
STILL CHILLY? You're hardly out of luck -- RoofTop 32's downstairs companion, Kasey's, is a full nightlife venue on its own, and all of Rockville Centre's bars and restaurants are within an easy stroll.