Brunch is obviously a worthwhile occasion any time of year—if just for the mimosas. But there’s something about digging into a towering stack of pancakes on an outdoor patio that makes us smile with satisfaction—vitamin D and all that. In fact, having an alfresco brunch attitude in the summer is the way to go for three reasons: you maximize your chance of seeing a Corgi waddle down the sidewalk, ensure sun exposure so you can get your glow on, and get tons of natural light for your Instagram food porn. (We all know how important that last one is.) Our recommendation? Make like the Europeans and relinquish yourself to the sun at our pick of the best outdoor brunches in NYC. Cheers to an endless summer…
1. Llama Inn
Sometimes you need to get the F out of dodge but don’t have any funds to travel. Head to Williamsburg to the Llama Inn for some urban oasis vibes courtesy of its rooftop patio that’s overflowing with plants, decorated with Peruvian décor, and just generally gorgeous. It doesn’t hurt that the food is inventive and delicious. Don’t sleep on the spicy pork shoulder sandwich; it’s one of our favorites. 50 Withers Street, Williamsburg.
2. Harlem Tavern
Into soccer on the big screen? Into large outdoor patios with picnic tables and umbrellas and pitchers of craft beer? Into being within walking distance of Central Park and Columbia? Yes, yes, yes! Great, head to Harlem Tavern, a restaurant and beer garden at 116 and Frederick Douglass Boulevard that will make you wonder why you don’t go uptown more often. During the live jazz brunch on the weekend, all brunch entrees include a free a drink, so you can buy three more and not feel guilty about spending money. 2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd, Harlem.
3. Mermaid Inn
So someone told you you’re In need of some Omega-3s, and now you’re freaking out. Head to brunch at the Mermaid Inn on the Upper West Side for a seafood-filled occasion that will drown out your worries in no time. This neighborhood staple just launched a new brunch menu that includes one of the best smoked fish boards we’ve come across in the city, which makes heading up there worth having to weave in and out of families with strollers and octogenarians with grocery carts. Sit outside on the sidewalk patio right on bustling Amsterdam Avenue and see how many oysters you can slurp down before the waitstaff starts to look at you funny. It’s fun, we promise. 570 Amsterdam Ave., Upper West Side.
You can’t talk about New York and not mention this iconic West Village institution with walls that open up to allow fresh air from the Hudson (it’s a stone’s throw away) to filter through the restaurant on warm summer days. You’re basically eating elevated Italian food in a garage, but it will be the best garage brunch you’ve ever had in your life—guaranteed. Start with a breakfast pizza, and don’t you dare skip dessert. 775 Washington St., West Village.
Head to Gilligan’s in the summer to get shipwrecked on their delish frozen watermelon margaritas. This seasonal outdoor pop-up at the SoHo Grand Hotel will have you feeling so tiki chic, you’ll forget we all actually are all stranded on a tiny island we can’t afford to leave, just like the folks in this spot’s namesake TV show. Our favorite part of this brunch locale? Getting dusted by misting fans while stuffing our face with lobster rolls. 310 W Broadway, SoHo.
6. Grand Banks
Pretend you’ve been whisked away into a French Riviera daydream while brunching on board Grand Banks. You’ll be surrounded by finance bros and attractive wannabe finance wives within the confines of a thoughtfully decorated sailboat—and to us, there’s nothing better. Sip on a heavy pour of rosé and shoot some of the freshest oysters in the city with an impeccable view and aspirations of one day getting to brunch without 50 random strangers on your schooner. Hudson River Park Pier 25, Tribeca.
7. Magic Hour
Magic Hour is this cheeky rooftop at the Moxy Hotel that is guaranteed to make you oddly uncomfortable and incredibly intrigued with its urban amusement park theme and a provocative putt-putt course cleverly named Foreplay. They recently launched brunch (look out for our review in July) with over-the-top versions of classic brunch dishes like a stack of 20 pancakes, Jenga-style stacked French toast, and a 200 oz. spritz—FYI, that’s gigantic. So whether you want to drink away your summertime sadness alone under the Empire State building or bring your lame friends from your hometown to an unforgettable rooftop brunch, we suggest Magic Hour. Oh and if you get too tipsy, you can literally order a mini hotel room labeled “crashpad” on the bar menu. 485 7th Ave 18th floor, Times Square.
8. Gallow Green
Live your best garden party life with your ladies at Gallow Green’s brunch. You’ll feel as if you’ve been dropped into a theatre production as you’re escorted up a silent elevator to a dark train station and finally emerge into a lush, secret garden-esque rooftop. Best part? This brunch comes with unlimited coffee, cocktails, and farm-to-table food in an elevated, non-germy buffet way. You’ll enjoy carbs on carbs and Southern fried chicken all with 360-degree views of the city and the Hudson river. Feeling posh under the sun and avoiding the summer stench of the NYC streets, the joy rooftops bring us is truly unbelievable. 542 W 27th St., Chelsea.
Images: Bitches Who Brunch (4)
Thanks to the spontaneous but confusing betch known as Global Warming, the weather in NYC hasn’t totally switched over to fall yet, and our fave leather jackets are still patiently waiting in the closet. Most days, the weather is still in the 70s, and that constitutes outdoor seating weather in our book. I mean, if we can’t use the Bryant Park skating rink as a profile pic backdrop yet, we might as well make the most of this weird, barely-sweater-weather time of the year. If you’re looking to get your last dose of outdoor dining and bomb Instagram lighting, here are the trendiest places to eat outdoors in New York right now:
It takes a lot for us to make the trek to Brooklyn these days, but if you’re sick of your regular Manhattan spots, Aurora is worth the trip. It’s in Williamsburg, so you can expect to see a ton of man buns and recyclable totes, but don’t let that distract you from the restaurant’s amazing food and chill vibe. The outdoor patio is filled with walls of green ivy, and the food itself is almost too pretty to eat. The menu is basically filled with trendy Italian food, so don’t expect avocado toast. Bring friends and share the pasta. Nothing like complex carbs and a good backdrop.
Narcissa is one of those places that is perfect for people with a real appetite, or for models that just need a side of Brussels sprouts post-show. And we’re not just saying that because Karlie Kloss has been spotted here multiple times. Narcissa is trendy and delish, but make sure you sit outside, because the seating is half the experience. People complain that you’re “paying for the atmosphere,” but IDK when that became such a bad thing. The restaurant is kinda hidden inside The Standard East Village, but once you find it, make a reservation and sit outside.
We usually don’t venture to 10th avenue unless it’s 2am and we have a table at Marquee, but Cookshop is one of the better restaurants in Chelsea right now, and the outdoor seating area is everything. Cookshop is perfect for big groups and boozy brunch, so you can enjoy your fourth Bloody Mary while sitting under the restaurant’s photogenic green awnings. They also offer specialty baked goods everyday, so you’ll basically HAVE to order the croissant of the day, or you’re majorly missing out. That would just be a shame.
4. The Pavilion
The Pavilion is one of those restaurants that makes you briefly forget how tragic Union Square really is. It’s set in the middle of the park, and it’s only open in the summer months, so now is basically the last time to get a reservation until next May. The Pavilion’s orange table umbrellas are hard to miss, so if you want to sit outside in Union Square, this is the place to do it. The ambiance is super cute, and it’ll make you disregard the fact that people are doing outdoor public Zumba like, 10 feet away.
5. Untitled at The Whitney
Whether you’re actually down for modern art or just want the trendy geotag of Untitled, you’ve gotta sit outdoors at The Whitney at some point in your brunch career. The restaurant itself is amazing, and it’s basically the go-to outdoor seating in the Meatpacking District if you want to avoid the basic bitches at Catch on a Sunday. Plus, your Instagram of that Milk & Cookies dessert is literally the artsiest thing in the museum to date. You’re so cultured.
Santina is one of those places where you literally forget you’re in NYC, because it’s so damn pretty. First of all, it’s owned by the same team as Carbone, so the food is OBV amazing, and the actual restaurant is this chic, glassed-in space right under the High Line. Plus, they have outdoor seating with pretty lights and umbrellas that are more colorful than your entire wardrobe. Go before it’s too cold to appreciate it.
As much as we’d love to act like we can eat at trendy restaurants year-round, sometimes we need our parents’ help to support our expensive taste (and obsession with finding Amy Schumer at Carbone). I mean, I spent last month’s paycheck on alcohol and Uber, so how do you expect me to eat celeb-status food three nights a week? If your parents are in town, it’s your right to milk their visit as hard as you can. This includes putting your debit card in a drawer for the week, finally getting around to getting those Stuart Weitzman boots, and taking them out to the best (and most expensive) restaurants. This also applies to dates where you can tell he’s rich. Here’s where to go:
Babbo is Mario Batali’s Italian restaurant located in the West Village, so you’re basically eating designer ravioli, which makes every calorie completely worth it. I mean, you’re not saying no to carbs when the bread bowl is worth more than your rent. Babbo’s setting is also adorable, so you basically feel like you’re getting drunk off Italian wine in a little yellow house. The menu is amazing, so if you can’t decide between the caprese salad and the black spaghetti, just get both. You’re not paying, so it doesn’t really matter.
2. Sushi Yasuda
There are a ton of exclusive sushi restaurants in the city, but if you’re dining with your parents, Sushi Yasuda should be your go-to. First of all, it’s not as loud and trendy as Morimoto or Gari, but who wants to be in a loud room with David Guetta blasting in the background when you’re out with your parents? Sushi Yasuda is quieter and the lights are actually on, so you can see the single piece of sushi that was imported straight from Japan. The menu is all Omakase and they serve traditional sushi, so don’t expect to order a spicy tuna crispy rice roll as a starter. Act like you’re above all that shit and you’ll fit right in.
Bobby Flay might be the most pretentious guy on the Food Network, but he’s honestly kinda hot, so we’re down to eat at his restaurant. GATO serves Mediterranean food in a super sleek atmosphere, so you kinda feel like you’re in Europe. But then you realize everyone at the table next to you is Snapchatting their meals, so you realize you’re back in the great USA. If you’re a vegetarian, you might be better off staying home, but if you’re down to try cool Mediterranean food, get the lamb pizza and the seared yellowtail. You’ll (maybe) start to understand why there’s a show about challenging this guy’s cooking skills. His food is dope.
If you’re really down for Italian food but never indulge because you’re trying to lose three pounds, you’ll love the dishes at L’artusi. It’s basically a fancy Italian restaurant with tiny portions, so you can try one piece of every pasta on the menu and not feel guilty. L’artusi is a West Village classic, and it hasn’t even become touristy or trendy over the years because only legit New Yorkers know about it. (Until now. Shit.) You’ll eat housemade ricotta desserts, order a $600 bottle of wine, and love every second of it. Thanks, mom and dad!
5. Gramercy Tavern
Gramercy Tavern serves American food based on seasonal ingredients, so the menu changes depending on when you’re going, which is clutch because you can convince your parents to keep going back. The menu is built on fixed priced options, and tips are included, so you’re basically just buying a ticket to a restaurant. Because all their cheese is straight from local farms, they’re SUPER into it, so it’s probably not the time to stick to your dairy-free diet. I mean, the waiters can literally talk for 20 minutes about their specialized cheeses from specific pastures in the countryside, so you’d be letting them down by not eating it.
In case the name didn’t give it away, Boucherie is one of the most posh, high-class French bistros in the city. They serve traditional French dishes, so expect steak, butter, and a lot of random words on the menu you can’t pronounce. The atmosphere itself is also super French, so try not to speak too loudly or do anything that you would do at like, Joe’s Pizza. Basically, get your parents to leave their 2008 Nikon camera at the hotel for the night. Or just get rid of it completely. It’s embarrassing.
7. The Palm
The Palm is one of those places where the Filet Mignon doesn’t have a price listed on the menu, but you order it anyway because you’re at The Palm. Celebs like Kim Kardashian, Jonathan Cheban, and Rita Ora have been spotted here, so you better make a reservation at least two weeks in advance. If you really have money to spend, you can even become a club member, which allows you to try feature cocktails that change every month at the restaurant. The Palm is one of the most exclusive dining experiences in the city, and if your parents are in town for a special occasion, it’s worth going just to say you’ve been.