17 New Leaf Café
1 Margaret Corbin Dr., Fort Tryon Park; 212-568-5323
An uptown Tavern on the Green, the café has a large slate courtyard that’s an ideal place for sunset snacks. Try pairing the highly addictive portobello-mushroom fries with the organic Pinkus pilsner.
18 Nice Matin
201 W. 79th St., at Amsterdam Ave.; 212-873-6423
Request a sidewalk table in the section facing less-fume-heavy Amsterdam Avenue, and order the burger: Comté cheese and aïoli is the best thing to happen to ground beef since Daniel Boulud started stuffing his patties with foie gras.
209 E. 49th St., nr. Third Ave.; 212 751-4545
Falstaffian tenor Placido Domingo’s midtown Mexican gem offers two outdoor options: There’s a tranquil second-story terrace (a miracle on noisy 49th Street) and, in the office building next door, Pampano Taqueria for takeout—eat it at the pocket park on 51st near Third Avenue.
20 Shake Shack
Madison Square Park, enter at 23rd Street and Madison Avenue; 212-889-6600
Overhyped and overrun, but still deserving of a spot on this list.
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
To the chagrin of a couple of curmudgeonly residents—and to the delight of the rest of us—Smith Street has blossomed into an outdoor diner’s paradise. Check out the picnic tables at the Gowanus Yacht Club (323 Smith St., at President St.; 718-246-1321), the lovely backyard at Grocery (288 Smith St., nr. Union St.; 718-596-3335), and the quirky patio at Robin des Bois (195 Smith St., nr. Warren St.; 718-596-1609).
22 Stone Street
The financial district
The cobblestoned restaurant row has three superior spots with sidewalk tables: Adrienne’s for deep-dish pizza (54 Stone St., nr. Hanover St.; 212-248-3838), French comfort food at the Financier Patisserie (62 Stone St., at Mill Ln.; 212-344-5600), and the just-opened Brouwers (45 Stone St.; 212-785-5400), a fish restaurant.
3152 Brighton 6th St., at Brightwater Ct., Brighton Beach, Brooklyn; 718-891-5151
There are about a half-dozen similar cafés on the Brighton boardwalk—and this one is the best. Order the chicken Kiev for yourself, a smoked-fish platter for the table, and wash it all down with homemade kvass, an alcoholic Soviet-era refreshment that tastes a lot like root beer.
24 Terrace 5
Inside MoMA, 11 W. 53rd St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-708-9400
With a vast overhang that could keep diners dry in a hurricane, Terrace 5 is open rain or shine. If you need a quickie, try the gelato cart in the sculpture garden instead.
25 The Yard
Next to the Soho Grand, 310 W. Broadway, nr. Grand St.; 212-965-3588
A little slice of suburbia in what used to be a service corridor running between West Broadway and Thompson Street: With an outdoor grill, humongous margaritas, and dogs rolling around in the grass, it’s a nonstop backyard barbecue party for the whole neighborhood.