70-10 Grand Avenue
Enter the HUSH LOUNGE and you will very quickly forget that you are on Grand Avenue, let alone in Maspeth. And you haven’t even begun to experience it all, because you really need to push farther back towards the garden to truly do so. This is definitely one of the all-time serene outdoor experiences in the area and one of the few locales to be able to claim that their outdoor space is an actual garden. Happy Hours are Tuesday through Thursday 5pm to 8pm and Friday 3pm to 6pm, but where HUSH really shines is when the DJ gets the place cranked up a bit, and the setting sun creates an ambience almost as magical as those diaphanous orange curtains we kinda dig. (By the way, their wraps and wings are great here, too, but we especially like the Beef Medallions.)
184 North 10th Street
There may not be a more beautiful use of space in all of Williamsburg than the multi-leveled outdoor courtyard which greets you the moment you set foot inside MY MOON, nestled away on North 10th Street between Bedford and Driggs. This is the perfect place for a romantic liaison or a special night out with that special someone. Not only that, but the rather inventive cocktails they serve here (we especially like the Brooklyn Railyard and the Pom Collins) go quite nicely with MY MOON’S ambience and their Mediterranean cuisine with a Turkish twist (Chicken Kebabs, Grilled Lamb Chops, Braised Pork Belly).
BOHEMIAN HALL & BEER GARDEN
29-19 24th Avenue
Beer gardens are all the rage these days, but it’d certainly be hard for us to forget where we first fell in love with the idea. The renowned BOHEMIAN HALL & BEER GARDEN – the epitome of outdoor dining – has long been one of our favorites here at “BEST OF THE BEST.” And while certainly beer is the name of the game at BOHEMIAN HALL – Staropramen, Czechvar, Brouczech, Erdinger, Hoegaarden, Krusovice, Stella and Spaten, just to name a few – one of the things we always flip for is their food. Their Kielbasas, their Pierogies, and their unbelievable Potato Pancakes. In fact, there may not be a more escapist old-world experience than spending an afternoon inside this Czech beer garden. And if you’ve never been, we’re pretty sure next time you come, you’ll be bringing a whole mess of friends.
Rego Park/Middle Village
63-98 Woodhaven Boulevard
By now, you’ve probably figured out that we’re pretty big fans of the expanded outdoor seating alongside WOODHAVEN HOUSE, on the Rego Park/Middle Village border. And it’s not just the ornate burgundy and Copperplate logos that finely showcase the sidewalk enclosures along Woodhaven and Fleet Court that make the whole experience stand out to us. It’s that, when we’re sitting there, we just feel so downright calm in contrast to the hustle and bustle of Woodhaven Boulevard that we don’t find ourself at all compelled to be departing anytime soon. Which means – well, maybe just one more Guinness, I suppose, and how ‘bout another order of them Crabcakes, if you please.
JADE EATERY & LOUNGE
1 Station Square
For us, it’s all about the Thai Iced Tea here – this sinfully creamy orange and white concoction of tea, sugar, and condensed milk. Combine that with their top notch Asian fusion cuisine and the fact that there may be no better vantage point from which to appreciate the cobblestoned splendor of Station Square, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good reason to be spending some long and languid summer afternoons right in the heart of Forest Hills, and whether you walked here, drove here, subway-ed, LIRR-ed, you name it – you’re probably staying for a while, too, we guarantee it.
Long Island City
WATER TAXI BEACH
Water Taxi Terminal (LIC)
2-01 Borden Avenue
Is this place the best NYC idea you’ve ever heard, or what? A man-made beach with a view of the Manhattan skyline?! And great hot dogs and burgers thanks to Harry Hawk and HARRY’S WATER TAXI BEACH?! And $2 PBR’s?! Mind you, this is no longer the borough’s undiscovered gem, so be prepared for long lines and some rather brusque “security.” (But as long as you get there before 8:00 pm, it’s all free of charge still – now what could be so bad about that?)
GOWANUS YACHT CLUB
323 Smith Street
If nautical kitsch is your game, then boy-oh-boy is the GOWANUS YACHT CLUB the place for you. There’s actually no water alongside the GOWANUS YACHT CLUB (but there is a subway station, the Carroll Street F/G stop). Still, it’s the whole down and dirty sea-shack vibe of the place that’s so damn inviting – the wine and PBR in plastic cups, the paper plates, and all that atmospheric “sand.” Not to mention their $1.50 hot dogs and $4 cheeseburgers. Nothing too cheesy about those, no sir!
905 Lorimer Street
Look, let’s be honest – this hangout is all about its proximity to McCarren Park. But you know what, it just happens to be a delightful place for a weekend brunch or a light lunch, and is brought to you by the same folks behind another of our nearby faves, MY MOON. Consequently, you get a similarly Mediterranean vibe here as well, and as such we definitely recommend that you try their paninis and their Turkish beer (Efes Pilsener or Efes Dark). Oh yes, and the fries! Don’t forget the fries!
CINEMART THEATER CAFE
106-03 Metropolitan Avenue
One of Forest Hills’ best-kept secrets, the CINEMART THEATER CAFÉ is the perfect leisurely ambience for this time of year – especially if you’re going to see a movie next door. Just one look at the rattan chairs lining the tree-shaded portion of Metropolitan just east of Ascan, and you’re going to want to stop in and see what the heck this place is all about. What you’ll find, actually, is a nice assortment of crepes, some rather creative sandwiches, and an extensive variety of coffee drinks pretty unparalleled in these parts. The eclectic Mediterranean menu here is the perfect recipe for a light pre-cinema meal, and since they serve alcohol (and are open until midnight) you can always stop in after the flick for a drink, too.
71-15 Grand Avenue
Speaking of movies, it’s definitely one of our favorite things to do out back when we’re at Maspeth standout CONNOLLY’S CORNER. Always a great place to kick back with a bottle or a pint, the concrete courtyard here takes on a little extra charm on Monday evenings when it’s “Flicks On The Bricks” Night. Arrive at sunset, hoist a few with friends, and then by the time it starts getting dark, that’s when the movie starts rolling. What could be better!
32-07 30th Avenue
What a scene, what a scene! Look, you can’t miss ATHENS CAFÉ, it’s one of the first things you’ll probably notice in Astoria, especially if you’ve just gotten off the train at 30th Avenue. (And those brown and white sidewalk enclosures are visible for blocks!) Since you’re probably already too late to snag a sidewalk table, take special notice of the nice neighborhood mix of young Astorians enjoying their oh-so-tasty Frappes (you’ve gotta try these!) and groups of elderly Greeks sipping ouzo. Look, if you can’t get an outdoor table, at least head inside and indulge in some dessert, will you? And next time, make sure you get here a little earlier!
82-11 Eliot Avenue
Regular readers of these pages know what fans we are of the extensive renovation undergone by The Kelly Family at their Eliot Avenue pub. But folks, have you seen the outdoor courtyard yet? What can we say, but definitely one of the more whimsically creative (and colorful!) spaces around. By golly, it looks just like a movie set! Now that certainly takes some doing. Anyway, you’ll of course find everything that’s good about KELLYS – burgers, wings, beers – but it’s also so spacious and comfortable, you’re going to forget you’re in Middle Village. And hey, isn’t that the point, really?
22-25 Van Brunt Road
Look, when it comes to drinking outdoors, why not do it right, people, and head all the way out to the water! Broad Channel’s BAYVIEW (basically Cross Bay Boulevard until just before the bridge) lets you do just that. With its large-scale brick courtyard and Jamaica Bay all around you, it just doesn’t get much more “open air” than this. Casual and inexpensive, BAYVIEW also boasts some great burgers and fries to go with your adult beverages, so definitely make sure you save room. (And by the way, if Mimosas and Bloody Marys happen to be more your speed, they do an excellent Sunday Brunch on the Bay, too – and for just $8.95!)
EL VERANO TAQUERIA
126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue
Yeah, I know, I know… it’s not what you were thinking. But let’s face it folks, the way the Metsies are playing these days, seems like the only thing worth doing at Citi Field is grabbing a drink and soaking in the sun, right? Anyway, having said that, we highly recommend a trek out to beyond the centerfield scoreboard, and directly underneath it, across from the SHAKE SHACK, you will find the delightful EL VERANO TAQUERIA, brought to you by Floyd Cardoz, executive chef at Union Square’s famed TABLA. We cannot stress this highly enough – you want to be availing yourself of the Chili-Marinated Skirt Steak here and you definitely want to accompany it with Brooklyn Brewery maestro Garrett Oliver’s exclusive creation, Sabroso Ale, available only at Citi Field. I’m telling you, you’re going to enjoy it so much you won’t even remember how far under .500 the team is!
359 Metropolitan Avenue
354 Metropolitan Avenue
Thankfully, FETTE SAU and SPUYTEN DUYVIL, right across the street from one another, have the same owners: Kim and Joe Carroll. Because quite frankly, we sure do have a hard time deciding between the two when we’re heading down Metropolitan that-a-way. SPUYTEN DUYVIL, you should know, is one of the premier destinations for micro—brewed beers in all of New York. You may actually think you know Belgian beers, but you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve persued the chalk tablets that chronicle the latest offerings from SPUYTEN DUYVIL, organized by region – Flemish, Wallponian, etc. While the indoor bar area can seem at times excessively dark, make sure you use this time of year to check out their quaint and cozy outdoor garden. Across the street, FETTE SAU, located on the former site of an auto-body shop is one of the city’s top venues for barbecue (thanks to an impressive smoker capable of slow cooking 700 pounds of meat at a time!). Seating is open-air and picnic-style, and to complement the pork and beef ribs, the flank steak, the leg of lamb, and more, the drink list here focuses on bourbons and whiskeys, with an impressive selection of tap beers as well, including Heartland’s “Brooklyn” upstart, Greenpoint.
Long Island City
THE ROOFTOP at RAVEL
8-08 Queens Plaza South
Located atop Long Island City’s first boutique hotel, the rooftop space at RAVEL is 6,000 square feet, including a 40-foot bar. While some may see the menu as a bit price-y, rest assured, this is one of the more luxurious lounge-style experiences you’re likely to have in Queens, and with absolutely breathtaking views of Manhattan and the Queensborough Bridge. Frozen drinks (owner Ravi Patel is hoping to evoke Miami) like the Blueberry Mojito or the Raspberry Margarita are highly recommended, as are some delightful fish tacos, and mini lamb burgers (sliders, basically). DJ’s spin every night until 1:00 am, but by the way, this is also a terrific brunch destination, as well. Oh, and make sure you check out www.RavelHotel.com before you go.
35-37 36th Street
One of the newest entries to the beer garden game, STUDIO SQUARE, in the shadow of KAUFMAN-ASTORIA STUDIOS, is also one of the most impressive. Take a stroll about the grounds here and you are instantly taken with how expansive the space is. In fact, it’s almost as big as some minor league ballparks. While it may lack the Czech charm of its chief competitor, the nearby BOHEMIAN HALL, it definitely makes up for same with its open-air acreage, and the fact that there are any number of seating areas from which to choose, each with a different ambience from private and casual to cozy and “center-stage.” Similarly, you’ll also note how uncrowded the boardwalk is when purchasing your beer and food, a sharp contrast to the claustrophobia BOHEMIA is unfortunately always going to suffer from. The beer selection here is as can be expected – Spaten, Carlsberg, Pilsner Urquell, and more. But strangely, despite the fact that it’s a beer garden, what really impressed us was the house-made Sangria! You’ll also want to make sure you’re accompanying your drinking with Schaller & Weber’s Bratwurst, Kolbase, Hot Dogs, etc., priced at $8 each. (And check out www.StudioSquareNYC.com, too – what a kick! “Roll out the barrel!”)
The Shops At Atlas Park
80-28 Cooper Avenue
The colonnade atop the second story of The Shops At Atlas Park (up the escalator and around the corner from JOHNNY ROCKETS) is one of the most under-rated outdoor spaces in our area. Especially at twilight, when the ambience can be downright breathtaking as you look out over the plaza below. And it’s not just about knocking back a Half-Liter or two of their Hofbräu München or their Spaten Oktoberfest here, they’ve also got some of the best German cuisine around. You’re definitely going to want to avail yourself of the Bratwust, the Knockwurst, even the Black Forest Bacon Club. (And given how reasonable the prices are here, it’s pretty likely your memorable night out gets repeated sometime soon.)
139 North 6th Street
I think what we love about the SURF BAR is how you feel like you’re outside, even when you’re inside! (If that makes any sense.) You see, the entire place is covered with sand, and has definitely got the whole sea-shack tiki-culture vibe down. Hopefuly, it all gets you in more of a California Dreamin’ kinda mood than when you first walked in. Mojitos are nice here, as are the Pina Coladas, which are served inside coconuts. Food is decent, not exceptional, and certainly could be a little cheaper, but the Chowders (Monkfish, Shark) are intriguing, as are the Conch Fritters and the Mahi Mahi Burger. Hey, life’s a beach, you know. At least, it can be at the SURF BAR.
GARCIA’S MEXICAN CAFÉ
70-09 Austin Street
Named after Sgt. Garcia of television’s “ZORRO,” this popular Forest Hills Mexican enclave serves some of the most sumptuous Margaritas, Daiquiris, and Pina Coladas you are ever going to enjoy. And the outdoor terrace from which you get to enjoy them makes for a cozy little departure from the hustle and bustle of Austin Street two stories below you. Not only that, but in addition to the regional Vera Cruz and Puebla Burritos, Tostadas, Chimichangas and more you can get here, if you’re around Wednesday and Sunday evenings, your meal is accompanied by live Spanish guitar. Now, how’s that for a nice summer treat for you.
LA BELLA CUCINA
69-61 Juniper Boulevard South
If you’ve traveled along Juniper Boulevard South at any time during the last few weeks, no doubt you’ve noticed the rapidly evolving construction of what looks to be one of the nicer restaurants in our area, LA BELLA CUCINA. One of the crown jewels of the place is the venue’s outdoor courtyard, and having had a brief taste of same at the restaurant’s recent “soft opening” a few Sundays ago, we can’t tell you how eager we are for the place to open “officially” once and for all. With an incredible wine selection (their expansive wine rack will be one of the first things you notice upon entering the restaurant’s main dining area), what could be better than enjoying a nice Caprese salad or some Calamari or Spaghetti Puttanesca maybe, as the sun slowly starts to set on summer and Middle Village.