Now that spring has finally arrived in New York -- or so we pray (we’ve been burned before) -- we asked the owners and chefs of some of New York's top restaurants to reveal their own favorite outdoor spots to enjoy a bite to eat. But we’ve held them to one rule: responses must include a venue or two that’s not their own.
Mario Batali (Babbo): We love da Silvano and El Toro Blanco because our kids can play hoops on and off during our meals and the food is great. We also love Smorgasburg and Buvette's little garden area.
Daniel Boulud (Daniel): This past winter Ladurée opened a second NYC location -- a large shop in Soho, with a restaurant in the back. The back room has floor-to-ceiling windows, which open to a French garden. My wife and I recently had lunch in this garden, and it could have been Paris! The food and feel is very Parisian, very romantic, and in addition to the beautiful ambiance, you pick up beautiful macarons on the way out.
Graydon Carter (Waverly Inn): Well, there is simply nothing to compare with a picnic in Central Park on a nice spring day. And then a rowboat ride. Most of the people who do this are from out of town. Only rarely will you spot an actual New Yorker in one of the rowboats or out on the lawn with a hamper and food.
Wylie Dufresne (WD-50): The best place for outdoor dining is really Yankee Stadium. I love getting a hotdog and watching the game! But as far as a restaurant -- and this is not technically outdoors -- I am a fan of Bar Veloce on 2nd Avenue and 12th Street. All of their front doors and windows open, so in the warm weather it's great. They have so much frontage that it feels like you are outside. Not to mention, they have the best tramezzini in New York!
Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park): My favorite outdoor spot in New York, really one of my favorite places in this entire city, is Madison Square Park. It has special meaning to me as I've looked out of Eleven Madison Park's windows into this beautiful park since 2006, watching it become one of the more stunning green spaces in all of NYC. I love to grab a seat on one of the park benches and take it all in, people watch, conceptualize new dishes, and most often have a bagel from Russ & Daughters topped with trout roe and horseradish cream cheese.
George Mendes (Aldea): I love Cafe Orlin on St. Mark's Place. It's popular but still feels a little bit under the radar. It's cheaper than a lot of other places, serves a great brunch and has tables looking out onto a hip, cool street.
Matthew Rudofker (Momofuku Ssam Bar): I frequent Blue Ribbon Izakaya year round but in the spring and summer I also hit their beer patio. Delicious sushi with an extensive sake list is a great way to eat and drink light while being immensely satisfied.
Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster Harlem): The second the weather warms up, I like to head down to Barbuto when they roll up the sides, put some tables on the street, and you're in the heart of the action. There's nothing like Jonathan's roast chicken and a glass of wine on a nice day in the Village.
Rich Torrisi (Torrisi): Yankee Stadium is my favorite place to eat outdoors.
Michael White (Marea): We just opened the outdoor patio at Ristorante Morini on the Upper East Side. And I love eating a Nicoletta pie while people-watching in the East Village. But besides Altamarea Group locations, the outdoor garden at Montmartre is a standout. On a sunny warm weekend, nothing is better than a boozy brunch in an outside oasis and one of Michael Toscano's killer dry-aged burgers on toasted bread with creamed spinach and bechamel cheese.