NYC garden restaurants: Dining in a secret oasis
It's the season of eating outside. From rooftops to sidewalks to gardens, there's a place to dine and swill wine right around the corner.
But there are also some hidden gems out there, spots you might not know have hidden or tucked away outdoor spaces. Those are the best places in which to dine outside, because everyone loves a secret.
Here are some of our favorites.
The Pines(Credit: The Pines)
Looking into the window at The Pines, you'd never guess that tucked back behind the restaurant near the Gowanus Canal would be a garden straight out of a movie, you know the kind of movie that features leisure-enthusiasts drinking wine for hours on a rough-edged but alive with plantings patio? Well, that's what it's like behind the Pines. Bonus: A pop-up called Josephina just opened at the Pines, serving tacos and more. 284 Third Ave., Gowanus, thepinesbrooklyn.com
iCi(Credit: iCi via Facebook)
At the pioneering Brooklyn farm-to-table restaurant iCi, located in a Fort Greene townhouse, the garden is the star. It's a romantic spot -- bring a date here if you want to really turn on the charm. The garden is enclosed by a blue gray wooden fence, evoking summer nights in the south of France. Because it's in a traditional Brooklyn townhouse backyard, there's plenty of light. Dine on charcuterie, local mushroom fricassee and olive oil brandade. 246 Dekalb Ave., Fort Greene, icirestaurant.com
Lolo's Seafood Shack(Credit: Lolo's Seafood Shack)
Lolo's Seafood Shack, the Caribbean/Cape Cod-style seafood restaurant in Harlem, also features a "secret" outdoor space. The blueish green-washed deck and colorful tables transport you to the beach pretty easily, and the food, from steamers to soft shell crabs, help fulfill the fantasy. 303 W. 116th St., lolosseafoodshack.com
Maison Premiere(Credit: Maison Premiere)
The beautiful and leafy backyard garden at Williamsburg oyster and absinthe hot spot Maison Premiere is hidden behind a similarly beautiful inside bar area. Even when the sun is shining it can be a tough choice choosing whether to sit in or out. 298 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg, maisonpremiere.com
Palma(Credit: sparklesense_ via Instagram)
The West Village is teeming with top-notch pasta spots, but none transport you to Italy quite like Palma. If the music and ambiance (exposed wooden beam ceilings, white stucco walls) don't do the trick as soon as you step inside, head out back into the ivy-covered garden and grab a table among the abundant fresh flowers and herbs. The garden's roof is open during the warmer months. Palma's menu is centered around traditional family techniques and recipes using organic ingredients. Start with the crispy, cheesy arancini and then dive into a homemade pasta. 28 Cornelia St., palmanyc.com
Milk and Roses(Credit: Milk and Roses)
Not only is this idyllic restaurant tucked away in the nether regions of Greenpoint, it's garden courtyard is hidden from sight, too. This is the place for a glass of fine Italian wine amongst lovers and friends. A $29 prix-fixe weekend lunch, with an entree, coffee or tea and unlimited mimosas is particularly enchanting. 1110 Manhattan Ave., milkandrosesbk.com
Pok Pok NY(Credit: Pok Pok NY)
Pok Pok's second location on Columbia Street features a garden that's less of a garden and more of a patio, but it's still a magical spot, especially once the food starts arriving. (Did someone say Ike's Vietnamese fish sauce wings? If you don't know what I'm talking about, run to Pok Pok.) The vibe here is easy, carefree and no frills and the plastic-lined and brightly-colored tablecloths help translate that. So do the painted milk crates lined with garbage bags and filled with dirt so plants can grow. It's all very ramshackle-chic, which is likely just how chef and owner Andy Ricker wants it. 117 Columbia St., pokpokny.com
Sweet Afton(Credit: Alexandra Foley )
If you live in Astoria, you're probably well aware of Sweet Afton, a local favorite that's great for drinks, dinner or a hang with friends. The small but comfortable backyard garden is dotted with plants that make it feel country-like indeed. Sweet Afton is affordable and fun, with live music some nights and the famous mac and cheese with scallions, New York state cheddar, muenster and gruyere every night.30-09 34th St., Astoria, sweetaftonbar.com
La Lanterna di Vittorio(Credit: La Lanterna di Vittorio via Facebook)
Tucked away behind its quaint MacDougal Street facade is La Lanterna di Vittorio's hidden gem, a cozy, intimate garden seating area with ivy-covered, exposed-brick walls, a glass ceiling that welcomes natural light and antique-style, wrought iron tables and chairs that would be just as at home on the Tuscan countryside as they are in Manhattan. Try one of the authentic, thin-crust pizzas or rich lasagna. 129 MacDougal St., lalanternacaffe.com
Frankies Spuntino(Credit: Frankies Spuntino via Facebook)
One of Brooklyn's most highly-regarded restaurants, Frankies Spuntino also features a beautiful backyard. It is often closed for weddings and events on weekends, but during the week it's a must visit, especially during the lunch hour if you can swing it. The sun peeks through the trees, the F/G train faintly rumbles in the distance as it makes its way up and over the Gowanus Canal and did we mention the food? Frankies serves some of the freshest and most delicious bistro-style Italian food in the city. Always start with the bufala mozzarella and arugula salad. 457 Court St., frankiesspuntino.com