Pure Food and Wine Most outdoor gardens are muggy oases of overgrown flora with wobbly wrought-iron furniture. The 1,500-square-foot terrace in the back of Matthew Kenney’s raw-food restaurant breaks the mold: It’s clean-swept, cool, and feels like a polished spa cafeteria. Sit on a cushion at the wraparound wooden bench in the back-left corner under the hurricane lamps, and observe the scarily healthy crowd
54 Irving Pl., nr. 17th St.; 212-477-1010.
Paradou Beyond the handwritten street sign, past the tiny tables in the impossibly crammed dining room, through the short corridor, there’s a clandestine tropical garden, stuffed with greenery and lively diners. A romantic gazebo houses a table for eight, but the best seat is the farthest from the entrance, way back to the left, where a slightly more spacious area houses scattered wrought-iron furniture, lots of ivy, a palm tree, and tropical-looking white flowers
8 Little W. 12th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-463-8345.
L’Impero This informal front patio is so close to the bucolic parks of Tudor City, it’s as though chef Scott Conant packed you a picnic. The best of the six small tables on the terrace is the left-side front-row for-two, beside flowers and pristine topiary trees. Because it’s adjacent to the East River, a constant breeze blows through the terrace, and with trees lining the one-way street, it’s the closest you’ll ever get
to a cul-de-sac in Manhattan
(45 Tudor City Pl., nr. 43rd St.; 212-599-5045.
La Bottega at the Maritime Hotel Bathed in the color of a burning cigarette end, the scene at this outdoor terrace seems more Miami than Manhattan. Orange lights illuminate potted trees, a peach glow emanates from the bar, and golden paper lanterns float above blue-and-white umbrellas. The best seats are in the middle of the terrace: You’re closer to the breeze from the Hudson
88 Ninth Ave., nr. 7th St.; 212-243-8400.
Jules The petite terrasse in front of this French bistro lets you feel
in touch with the street without being overwhelmed by it:
It’s on the basement level, with
a bamboo-lined fence and
vines of ivy that protect diners from the street but let its sounds drift down. Choose to sit on
the right sideóit’s small and isolated with five tables,
and the entrance is on the left
65 St. Marks Pl., nr. Second Ave.; 212-477-5560.