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Grandlife guide

Dining Al Fresco in Downtown New York

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Hot New York days call for cool drinks, bare legs, and al fresco dining. Frozen cocktails to go have kept us refreshed and merry over the recent weeks, and now, with Phase 2 in full swing, we can settle in at local spots offering outdoor dining and enjoy a meal and a drink to stay. 

To celebrate, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite downtown venues open for al fresco dining. 


Adjusted Hours: Mon through Thurs, 3pm – 10pm; Frid & Sat, noon – 11pm; Sun, noon – 10pm

Gilligan’s (pictured) is SoHo’s salve for the warmer months in New York. Open May through late September, the spacious outdoor bar-restaurant brings a taste of the tropics to downtown Manhattan. Lush palms and nautical touches complement décor with a distinct island vibe and the food and drink to match. Ingredient-driven dishes are the order of the day, every day; we recommend the seafood dishes, which have been sourced from the best farms and fishermen on Long Island; the signature pizzas served straight from the kitchen’s stone oven are also a must; and, of course, the famed frozen watermelon margarita.

310 West Broadway, SoHo; T. (212) 965 3271


Adjusted Hours: Tue through Thurs, 5pm – 9.30pm; Fri through Sat, 3pm – 10pm; Sun, 3pm – 9pm

In a city that offers every bell and whistle you can imagine, sometimes you just want to keep things simple. Emmett’s is just that. With a no-frills yet welcoming atmosphere, Emmett’s serves Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, albeit a modified version that won the hearts of even the most purist of pizza aficionados, that pairs perfectly with a cold beer (available on tap). 

50 Macdougal Street, SoHo; T. (917) 639-3571

The Odeon 

Adjusted Hours: Daily from 4pm – 9pm 

The Art Deco neon sign alone has been a beacon for Manhattan nighthawks since the early ’80s—Warhol, Basquiat, DeNiro, and Belushi were avid Odeon-goers, to name a few. And lest we forget that Keith McNally (of Balthazar and Pastis) was an original owner, one of the firsts to bring the French brasserie concept to New York. The three-martini lunch stays alive and well here; everyone enjoys the ambiance and serious service. We’re particularly fond of the Croque monsieur and French onion soup gratinée. 

145 W Broadway, TriBeCa; T. (212) 233-0507


Adjusted Hours: Mon through Fri, 12pm – 8pm; Sat & Sun, 10am – 8pm 

A favorite among locals, Chloë Sevigny included (“I get the blue plate special: half tuna sandwich and a cup of split pea”), Veselka is a true New York institution. Since 1954, this East Village spot has been serving up classic Ukrainian fare in a casual setting with tables spread out along East Ninth Street. We love the perogies, Ukrainian-style dumplings handmade daily in the kitchen and served boiled or fried with sauteed onions and sour cream. The borscht is also a must, as are the potato pancakes. 

144 2nd Ave, East Village; T. (212) 228-9682

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Adjusted Hours: Thurs through Tue, 12pm – 7.30pm 

The one that started it all. Opened in 1920, operating first as a bakery and tea parlor, Nom Wah feeds hungry patrons dim sum delights like scallion pancakes, egg rolls, fluffy roast pork buns, and turnip cakes with ponzu sauce. Located deep in Chinatown, Nom Wah is now open for outdoor dining with seats and tables on Doyers Street, which is currently closed to vehicular traffic. Head over for a cold Tsingtao beer and some authentic Chinese cuisine. 

13 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013; T. (212) 962-6047


Adjusted Hours: Wed through Sun, 4pm – 8pm 

Beyond its charming sidewalk terrace now open for aperitivo hour, King has many things going for it, namely its seasonal Southern Italian fare and summer cocktail menu. This favorite SoHo eatery keeps patrons happy with the freshest seasonal produce—a mix of meat dishes, seafood delights, healthy salads, pasta, and desserts alongside an extensive drink menu. 

18 King St, SoHo; T. (917) 825-1618

Sant Ambroeus

Adjusted Hours: Sun through Thurs; 12pm – 10pm; Fri through Sat, 12.30pm – 10.30pm

The original Sant Ambroeus opened its doors in Milan in 1936. Its New York homage is aptly nestled on West Fourth Street in SoHo with two-top tables lined up along the sidewalk ideal for people-watching. Ever emulating Old World Milanese authenticity, the pasticceria, confetteria, and espresso bar make Sant Ambroeus a popular breakfast and lunch spot among locals. The menu consists of traditional dishes such as artichoke and parmesan salad, risotto, exotic fruit salad, tiramisu, and pear gelato with pear liqueur. The icy gelato could cool down the hottest of days—heavenly and perfectly balanced, the patron saint of Milan would be proud. 

259 West 4th Street, West Village; T. (212) 604-9254


Adjusted Hours: Mon through Fri, 12pm – 12am; Sat & Sun, 10am – 12am

There are few New York institutions with a legacy as rich as Dante’s. The century-old bar and restaurant in the Greenwich Village made a name for itself in decades past as a hangout for cultural icons like Anaïs Nin, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, among many other beatniks, artists, and writers. Now a registered New York City historic landmark, Dante has most recently received attention for its “world’s best bar” accolade making its outdoor tables arguably the hottest seat in town. 

79-81 MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village; T. (212) 982-5275




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