Eating Out in New York, Block by Block

28 Nov
Written by Adam Wile

The weather is getting warmer and all around sun-starved New Yorkers are leaving their winter shelters, throwing on their sundresses and shorts, and heading outside to enjoy the greatest city in the world during the most perfect season. The flower-filled market has returned to Union Square and boats once again float in the Central Park Lake. The city awakes from its winter hibernation and New Yorkers get to enjoy something they have not had the pleasure of for many months – nice weather. This may not sound like much, but the city offers a lot to do in the warm weather, and dining outside is the highlight. To help you enjoy spring in NYC to its fullest extent I’ve compiled a small list of where to go, what to do, and where to eat outside in New York City.

1. Lower East Side
What to Do: Explore one of the city’s most colorful and eclectic neighborhoods. The Lower East Side is often considered a microcosm of New York with so many different cultures living so closely together. Stop by the Tenement Museum (108 Orchard street), but opt for the guided walking tour of the LES which lasts about 90 minutes.

Where to Eat: Jeeb Thai Tapas, 154 Orchard Street between Rivington and Stanton
The LES is filled with great Thai options, but perhaps none better than Jeeb. While the name is somewhat of a misnomer now (true tapas are not served anymore), the quality of food, low prices, and garden setting still make this one a great find. 

2. West Village
What to Do: Grab your acoustic guitar or moleskin notebook and head on down to Washington Square park where you can mingle with NYU students, artists, and street performers in one of New York’s most famous public spaces. Play a game of chess or just sit and contemplate as the Washington Square arch frames the New York City skyline in the background.

Where to Eat: Home, 20 Cornelia between Bleecker and West 4th street
Only a short walk away from Washington Square is Home a 30 seat restaurant with a Midwestern-American comfort food menu and a romantic garden. Choose the garden and snack on comfort favorites such as mac and cheese and chocolate pudding while you and your date consider if everything west of the Mississippi is this good. 

3. Gramercy/Flat Iron
What to Do: Enjoy Madison Square Park. Throw on that new spring outfit and enjoy one of New York’s most beautiful parks without having to fight your way through midtown traffic. As the weather warms up MSP holds events such as book discussions, art exhibits, and even live music performances.

Where to Eat: Shake Shack, Madison Ave @ 23rd Street in Madison Square Park
Enjoy Danny Meyer’s infamous burgers and even more out of this world shakes and frozen custards. The lines may be insanely long, but with food this good and the sun shining above your head who cares? (Tip: If you live close by, check Shake Shack’s website for an up the video feed of the line so you can minimize your wait. You can also call ahead to order now as well!) 

4. The Meat Packing District
What to Do: Wander the cobblestone streets of the Meatpacking District during the day and find old New York mingled with new as fashion designers and cafes spring up next to old meat warehouses. Grab dinner after the sun goes down, but still early enough to be able to enjoy the night afterwards.

Where to Eat: Spice Market, 403 West 13th Street
Treat yourself to Asian food Jean-Georges style at the behemoth Spice Market. Sit outside or enjoy one of the tables on the entrance level, which while covered, still affords an outdoor-esque experience thanks to the large glassless windows and Southeast Asian décor. In the mood for some Latino flavors? Son Cubano around the corner at 405 W. 14th Street is another al fresco choice with a smaller outside area but just as much funk.(I added this cause he listed a bunch of asian places, so i thought we should mix it up) 

5. Central Park
What to Do: Spend a whole day in Central Park. Bring your favorite book or a Frisbee and just enjoy one of the most spectacular parks in the world. Visit the Central Park Zoo and take a boat ride or carriage ride if you must, but just take one day and experience Central Park. Check scheduling for events. As the weather gets warmer musical performances and theater shows become increasingly frequent.

Where to Eat: Pack a blanket and your favorite snacks and find a tree to set up under. If you’re traveling a long way and don’t want to bring groceries stop by Columbus Circle and pick up your meal of choice from Whole Foods. Just make sure you eat in the park. If you are truly opposed to feeding yourself, enjoy dinner at the Boathouse restaurant located at the northern end of the lake. 

6. Upper West Side
What to Do: Leisurely stroll the upper west side river walkway or really get some exercise and utilize the bike/runners path. Make sure you stop by the 79th street boat basin and take it all in with a seat on the dock.

Where to Eat: Boat Basin Café, West 79th street along the river.
Go Monday through Friday and enjoy $2 off any drink for happy hour. Coincidentally this happens to be right around sundown. If you don’t mind the wait grab a seat overlooking the river. While the entire restaurant is al fresco, there are few things in this city better than enjoying cheap drinks and barbecue with friends while overlooking the Hudson River at sundown. 

7. Soho
What to Do: Window shopping in Soho. Soho is often viewed as New York’s best shopping district so enjoy a day of walking around and admiring the work of some of New York’s new young designers. Try your best at bargain hunting, but definitely make sure you save some cash for the meal.

Where to Eat: Kittichai, 60 Thompson Street between Spring and Broome Streets
Ian Charlermkittichai’s modern Thai restaurant is a must for al fresco dining in Soho. Snag a table on the patio and indulge with do it yourself Thai iced teas in a setting so picturesque, you’ll think you’re in Thailand.

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