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Eat and Drink

Where to enjoy an outdoor brunch in NYC this summer

From rooftops to street-front patios, restaurants like Gemma, Flora Bar, Cafe Clover and more offer great dining options in the sunshine.

The RH Rooftop Restaurant is Restoration Hardware's flagship

The RH Rooftop Restaurant is Restoration Hardware's flagship New York eatery. Photo Credit: RH Rooftop Restaurant

New York is bursting with people of different cultures, tastes and backgrounds. But there are two things that all 8.6 million of us seemingly have in common: we all but live outside when the warmer months arrive, and we love a good brunch. So, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that restaurants across the city thought to combine our two great loves to serve brunch outdoors.

From sprawling patios and rooftops with delicious burgers to cozy backyards with the best eggs in town, here are our favorite spots for enjoying everyone’s favorite meal in the sunshine.

Cafe Clover

Cafe Clover’s health-conscious menu and Southern California aesthetic might seem like a tough sell for the West Village, where $2 pizza slices and giant cookies reign supreme, but the Sixth Avenue spot somehow just works nonetheless. The restaurant is perfect for diners who are watching what they eat or just those who need a break from the chocolate chip pancakes and bacon that are usually synonymous with brunch.

Cafe Clover is famous for its Spaghetti Squash Latke, served with pear butter and Greek yogurt, and its Lavender Waffle topped with honeyed ricotta, blackberry compote, bee pollen and spiced honey syrup. It also has more savory options like the Beet & Mushroom Veggie Burger, a yummy, meat-free alternative to its popular cheeseburger, and a variety of salads and egg dishes.

In addition to a variety of cold-pressed juice offerings, the restaurant has a number of brunch cocktails, including classics like the Bloody Mary and Bellini as well as inventive drinks like Two Hungry Blondes, a blend of lunazul blanco, grapefruit, sage and lime la croix.

The expansive patio is ideal for large groups and intimate gatherings alike, and Cafe Clover is one of few outdoor spots in the area to take reservations, so you won’t waste hours of your day waiting in line.  

10 Downing St., Manhattan

Restoration Hardware

It seemed odd when Chicago, Nashville, Toronto, Palm Beach and even Napa got Restoration Hardware restaurants and New York didn’t. But when the furniture behemoth opened its new flagship in the Meatpacking District in the fall, complete with a 10,000-square foot rooftop, it quickly became clear that it was worth the wait.

The RH Rooftop Restaurant is headed by famed restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff, the man behind Au Cheval and 4 Charles Prime Rib. This means that in addition to brunch mainstays like avocado toast, served here on delicious sourdough with roasted tomatoes and a farm egg, the RH Burger is an absolute must. Other menu highlights are the Truffled Grilled Cheese, the Roasted Half Chicken, the buttery Lobster Roll and the Shaved Vegetables salad.

The space is decorated with none other than Restoration Hardware tables, booths and chairs, and there’s an endless row of sparkling chandeliers. All of the glass doors around the room open onto a massive rooftop patio, where, although food is not yet served, guests are encouraged to bring their wine and snacks from the downstairs bar to enjoy the sweeping views of Manhattan.

9 9th Ave., Manhattan

Cecconi’s Dumbo

Cecconi’s, the Soho House-owned elevated Italian restaurant with locations around the globe, opened its first New York spot two years ago in the center of Dumbo. Situated in the same building as Dumbo House, the members-only club’s Brooklyn outpost, the restaurant is open to the public and has a wide-ranging menu of Italian favorites. For brunch, there’s the famous wood-fired pizzas, a variety of fresh pasta dishes, salads, and more morning-friendly bites like the Ricotta Hotcakes and Eggs Royal with smoked salmon. The real draw of this place though is its awning-covered patio that sits right on the river and boasts incomparable views of the Manhattan skyline.

55 Water St., Brooklyn

CATCH Roof

Located atop a historic building in the Meatpacking District, CATCH Roof has been a summer destination for New Yorkers since it opened in 2011.

The restaurant is known for its “Hit Me” Chocolate Cake and nightlife-hungry clientele, but its rooftop brunch is the perfect opportunity to focus on what makes this place so great: the food. Chef John Beatty has curated CATCH’s brunch with sweets like Cinnamon Roll Pancakes and The Anytime Waffle Tower (this is not only a tower of waffles but also of ice cream in between), a wide variety of salads and bowls, and unexpected bites like the Roast Beef French Dip and to-die-for Lobster Mac & Cheese. The menu also includes some favorites from the restaurant’s seafood-focused dinner menu, like the tuna tartare-topped Crunch Rice Cakes, Seared Australian Yellowfin Tuna and Grilled Spanish Octopus. And all of this can be enjoyed while sipping one of CATCH’s signature cocktails, like the Pineapple Trainwreck of “Detox Retox,” and overlooking the surrounding area from four stories up.

21 9th Ave., Manhattan

Lafayette

Since it opened its doors six years ago, Lafayette has all but replaced Balthazar as everyone’s favorite French brasserie, but that shouldn’t really come as a surprise since the man behind it is two-time James Beard-winning chef Andrew Carmellini. The NoHo restaurant sits in a colossal street-front space on, you guessed it, Lafayette Street, and offers customers four dining options. There’s the bar, the bakery, the grand café and the street-front patio and yet, this place is so popular that a reservation is practically required, especially for weekend brunch.

Guests are invited to relax on the sun-soaked patio and choose from a smattering of baked goods, savory dishes like the Brisket Burger and Croque Madame, and sweet bites like Bananas Foster French Toast and Lemon Pancakes. Lafayette is also famous for its oysters and Niçoise Salad, both mainstays on the brunch menu.

380 Lafayette St., Manhattan

Flora Bar

For those in search of an outdoor brunch with a side of culture (but don’t worry, also a side of potatoes), look no further than Flora Bar.

Located in the basement level of the Met Breuer on the Upper East Side, this restaurant was opened just a few years ago by chef Ignacio Mattos following the booming success of Estela and Cafe Altro Paradiso. Flora Bar is massive, with soaring ceilings, a seemingly endless bar, and an outdoor patio as big as the dining room, and yet, even with its minimalist design, it still feels intimate.

What makes the restaurant so wonderful though is its menu, full of delicious dishes that are as worthy of a spot in the aforementioned museum as the masterpieces that hang there. It all sounds simple, maybe even deceptively so — the Marinated Olives, the Purple Endive Salad, an Egg and Cheese Sandwich — but every item served here is rich with flavor and taste. Brunch at Flora Bar is infinitely savorier than those found at most New York restaurants, but foods like the Wagyu Beef Burger, complete with pepper marmalade and Taleggio, and the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich make forgoing waffles and French toast well worthwhile.

945 Madison Ave., Manhattan

PUBLIC Kitchen

Stationed inside the ground floor of Ian Schrager's downtown hotspot, PUBLIC Hotel, this restaurant draws inspiration from the global travels of its renowned chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Though often a nighttime destination for Manhattan's elite, PUBLIC Kitchen serves a delicious brunch of sustainable seafood and meat and fresh greenmarket fruits and vegetables. The menu includes savory favorites like Spicy Tuna Tartare atop Puffed Rice Crackers and a slew of homemade pizzas and pastas, as well as morning-friendly dishes like Cinnamon Spice Brioche French Toast and bagels and lox from nearby Russ & Daughters. The modern restaurant opens up to the Bowery Garden, an expansive outdoor space inspired by Paris's Jardins des Tulleries and the gardens of Italy. Enclosed by an English ivy private fence and reminiscent of old-world dining, the terrace is an idyllic spot for enjoying summer brunch.

215 Chrystie St., Manhattan

Gemma

Nestled at the front of the Bowery Hotel in the East Village, Gemma has long been a favorite for New Yorkers in search of a large patio and a delicious brunch.

The Italian restaurant offers yummy classics like Soft Boiled Eggs and Soldiers and Spaghetti Carbonara as well as dishes with inventive twists, including Baked French Toast, topped with summer peaches and sliced almonds. The real appeal of this spot, though, is its sidewalk dining. Sitting on one of the busiest and most storied streets in downtown Manhattan, Gemma is the perfect place to see and be seen — so be sure to save this one for when you’re not hung over and hiding behind sunglasses.

335 Bowery, Manhattan

The Leroy House

Formerly known as Hardwood on Hudson, this Hudson Street restaurant is the quintessential West Village spot. It’s cute, cozy, welcoming, and best of all, has a wide-ranging brunch menu full of delicious items.

Diners can choose from a variety of omelets, salads like Kale & Brussels sprout, and sweet bites like the waffles, available as either Chicken & Waffles or Belgian waffles with Nutella mascarpone. And for those looking to get boozy, The Leroy House also has several specialty brunch cocktails, like Breakfast of Champions, a blend of whiskey and homemade cinnamon-infused syrup, and the ever-summery Persephone’s Fields, made with vodka and aperol blood orange prosecco.

430 Hudson St., Manhattan

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