Space and love: two things that are hard to come by in New York City. Here’s a list of top romantic gardens for when your relationship is finally moving in the right direction, and all you need is the space to up your status to the next level.
New to the Game
Probably the first place that comes to mind when one mentions “romantic” or “garden.” The atmospheric garden behind this New-Orleans style restaurant can almost be a set on The Bachelor/ette – Iron tables, an outdoor oyster bar, creeping vines… Oysters and Absinthe are obvious choices. Order a tray of oysters – $1 during happy hour – and well, an anise-flavored cocktail like Maison Absinthe Colada made with 15 Mansinthe, Rhum JM, crème de Menthe, pineapple, and coconut. It’s a relationship in the making.
298 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg, 347-335-0446, www.maisonpremiere.com, @maisonpremiere
Don’t think meeting in “West” Chelsea will be an inconvenience for you, both. It will never be an inconvenience once you are atop the McKittrick Hotel at Gallow Green. Not much to “see” for a rooftop, but a lovely abundance of greenery, fanciful lighting and chic cocktails. Feel both summer air, and Summer Breeze made with 17 Hornitos Tequila Plata, watermelon juice, lemongrass syrup, lime and soda. Sneak into signature production, Sleep No More after.
542 W. 27th St, 212-564-1662, www.mckittrickhotel.com, @gallowgreen
Frankies (427) Spuntino
Avoid dinner dates at home. Instead, let Frank do the cooking – Delicious, bistro-style Italian (that’ll do most the talking (or burping)). And let the server recommend a bottle of vino to share. The tranquil garden will set the “easy” tone in real Brooklyn style. Return every month – until October – for Franks’ Backyard Chef Series where visiting chef friends stand in the limelight for one night. Tickets include a multi-course feast and drinks.
457 Court St, Carroll Gardens,718-403-0033, www.frankiesspuntino.com, @frankies.pm
Midnights moved in just over one year ago, and has a little bit of everything (compacted in a narrow space). There’s a long grey-washed bar, lounge-y seating, hidden DJ-booth, garden-style patio… Back of house, there’s acclaimed chef Joshua Cormier (The Mark) cranking out contemporary American fare and the bar team creating colorful cocktails. It’s only appropriate that she sips the Lucille Ball made with rosé, vodka, Lillet Blanc, citrus, pomegranate and soda while he downs the Ricky Ricardo made with Plantation Rum, mint, lime, demerara and Peychaud’s Bitters.
149 N. 6th St, Williamsburg, 718-384-2025, www.midnightsbk.com, @midnightsbk
The country-like garden at this local Astoria spot is very unique. You see… Mix-master Mike Di Tota – who curates the cocktail program – is a graduate of the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden, and curates all the plantings for the outdoor space, including a variety of tropical and subtropical foliage plants with dramatic leaf shapes and patterns. Although the garden seats 30 at six tables, it is often dotted with couples cozying up over conversation and cocktails. A refreshing, seasonal ‘tail is Big Kahuna made with Rum Blanc, créole shrubb, strawberry, guava, Cappelletti, Cocchi Vermouth Amaro, crème de pêche, tarragon, lime and bitters.
30-09 34th St, Astoria, 718-777-2570, www.sweetaftonbar.com, @sweetafton
If you couldn’t tell (until now), W-burg is where it’s at for impressing him or her. Snag a seat at a white picnic table in the leafy side yard with a *masterful cocktail in hand. *Mas·ter·ful adj. 1. powerful and able to control others. Synonyms: Pamela Wiznitzer, former Dead Rabbit bartender and Seamstress founding member in charge of the drink menu. Go green (like the winding vines) with the Devil’s Music made with Ilegal Mezcal, blanco tequila, ancho reyes, kale and lime. Have no shame – Order a basket of biscuits to soak it all up. Because drunk word slurs are never cute.
10 Hope St, Williamsburg, 718-218-6027, www.ingoodcompany.com/belle-shoals/, @belleshoals
Relation- or Situation-ship?
The Shakespeare at the William
Don’t think you’ve entered the “friend zone” when you show up to a British gastropub on Date #3. This tavern-like pub has a brilliant garden terrace – Fresh and full of color. Kick off date night earlier at the special “Much Ado About Nothing” Happy Hour – Fridays from 3:30PM to 6:30PM (until September 1st). Guzzle the Earl Grey 75 made with Brockmans’ gin, earl grey tea and fresh lemon juice; Topped with British fizz. It’s a British take on a French.
75. 24 E. 39th St, 646-837-6779, www.theshakespearenyc.com, @theshakespearenyc
Come for the vintage-y garden, and stay for the $1 oysters all day and night from 11:00AM to 11:00PM. Order a few French plates to share and sip the Fleur De Lys made with gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and hibiscus syrup. Again, you’re on a free and easy weeknight date in an ample garden. See where the night takes you, both.
221 Knickerbocker Ave., Bushwick, 929-234-2941, www.mominette.com, @mominettebistro
Sunday In Brooklyn
Spend a Tuesday in Brooklyn. The three-story Williamsburg newcomer now offers weekday brunch in its earthy space. Skip the woody barroom for the rocky rooftop garden (accessible through the upstairs dining room). Lean towards a low-ABV brunch cocktail like Champagne Problems made with vibrant Lo-Fi Gentian Amaro, bubbly, beets, grapefruit aperitif, and bushels of mint – Superb for summer day-drinking.
348 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg, 347-222-6722, www.sundayinbrooklyn.com, @sundayinbrooklyn
If someone told you to head west down Morton Street, open an unmarked green door to enter a patio connected to a restaurant, you’d be skeptical AF. This speakeasy-esque restaurant is ideal for any type of date (after Date #1) at any time of day (after 12:00PM). We like the Hudson Mule made with bison-grass vodka, ginger beer, lime and candied ginger. Because it’s available all day long.
447 Hudson St, 212-989-3255, www.hudsonclearwater.com, @hudsonclearwater
On Wednesdays, we don’t sip pink. Because Gristmill is closed. Return another night for rustic garden feels and Frosé – A blend of “Moulin de Gassac Guilhem” Rosé 2016 and Rootdown Rosé, or Trousseau 2016; Garnished with a sprig of mint for freshness. Note: There’s a cocktail garnish garden packed with all the herbs a bartender could use to add an extra dash of nature to Gristmill’s seasonal cocktails.
289 5th Ave., Park Slope, 718-499-2424, www.gristmillbk.com, @gristmill_bk
June Wine Bar
Calling all wine connoisseurs. Actually, no. Anyone who appreciates wine. This cozy hangout specializes in natural wines – plus a few brews, ‘tails and ‘tifs – offers a short, yet solid list of small dishes, and features an uber intimate garden that screams “date night.” Can’t identify the wine region? Don’t sweat it. Try to identify your relationship status instead. #DTF.
231 Court St, Cobble Hill, 917-909-0434, www.junebk.com, @junewinebk
The Heat is High with the New Flame
Define the relationship. More than a spring fling, but not quite Facebook offish… It’s fine. Figure it out over al fresco fare – think Slow Roasted Heritage Pork for two – and take a swig of the Spring Fling made with gin, rhubarb, Pamplemousse, Campari, and lemon. Again, you’re past “just sleeping together.”
The Standard EV, 25 Cooper Squ., 212-228-3344, www.narcissarestaurant.com, @narcissa
Milk & Roses
We smell romance (and flowers) in the air. Plan for a prix-fixe brunch in the picturesque garden – Lots of leafage, hints of worn brick, flickering candles… For $29 per person, indulge in either one breakfast or sandwich entree with a choice of americano, tea or soda, and…unlimited mimosas.
Pro-tip: Don’t wait until the weekend to go bottomless.
1110 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint, 718-389-0160, milkandrosesbk.com, @milkandrosesbistro
Vinegar Hill House
Vinegar Hill House is OG dining in Brooklyn. The food is consistent and delicious, and the backyard garden is beyond charming. Go for the Garden Negroni made with gin, Suze, Dolin Blanc and celery bitters. Pick on the House Charcuterie, then cut over to the Red Wattle Country Chop for juicy-tenderness – That’s what he or she said. Stroll along Brooklyn Bridge Park after, and snap kissing selfies with one of two bridges in the background. Be that couple, why don’t you.
72 Hudson Ave., Vinegar Hill / DUMBO, 718-522-1018, www.vinegarhillhouse.com, @vinegarhillhouse
Step #1: Hang out in the very herbally garden and order a bold cocktail like The Shandy made with fino sherry, blanc vermouth, Peychaud’s bitters, and sparkling rosé for effervescence; Stuffed with a sprig of thyme, strings of currant berries – freshly plucked from the garden – and a frozen rosé ice cube.
Step #2. Do dinner at the chef’s counter – Nosh on the Sautéed Soft Shell Crab, then devour the fresh brioche donuts tossed in apple-cinnamon sugar and served with house-made butterscotch. Donut skip out on these.
Step #3: Return to the botanical garden for another cocktail. Wrap up in blankets if there’s a slight chill.
659 Vanderbilt Ave., Prospect Heights, 718-552-2610, www.olmstednyc.com, @olmstednyc
An ambitious Thai restaurant in the West Village from chef Teerawong “Yo” Nanthavatsiri brings brunch-goers a new weekend menu featuring buttermilk fried chicken and lemongrass waffle plate and Lychee Mimosa made with sparkling wine, lychee puree and fresh lychee. Throw down another $20 for bottomless, and booze up in their enchanting, indoor garden with glistening chandeliers. Stumble a block to Washington Square Park after, and pass out on each other.
117 W. 10th St, West Village, 212-366-5455, www.pintogarden.com, @pinto_nyc
When visiting Bricolage, insist on a table in the eclectic garden filled with salvaged wood, mix-match chairs and plant clusters. Treat the Vietnamese pub plates as tapas. Split the Fresh Summer Rolls and Sriracha Wings, then divide the Banh Xeo. Drink the Devil in the Red Dress – Choose either gin or tequila, plus ginger, cassis, grapefruit, lime and mint (up). Play some late night games at Union Hall after. Continue the games.
162 5th Ave., Park Slope, 718-230-1835, www.bricolage.nyc, @bricolagebk
Fine dining, or dining fine? Watch dinner be prepared tableside. Pair the Italian-American meal with a bright cocktail such as The Mona Lisa made with gin, grapefruit and tonic, plus scoop of grapefruit sorbet; Garnished with grapefruit peel. After, follow your loved-one upstairs for continued cocktails and unobstructed city views at the newly-opened rooftop, Allora Alto. Get gushy on the lush couches.
145 E. 47th St, 212-754-9800, www.alloranyc.com, @alloranyc
Depict art from the dining table. Whether you’re seated in the glass-lined dining room, or on the outdoor terrace overlooking MoMa’s Sculpture Garden, take pleasure in views of works from artists like Matisse and Maillol, as well as front-row seats to the various concerts and performances in the garden during Summer Thursdays, while tasting French-New American dishes from Chef Abram Bissell like Tarte Flambée with Creme Fraiche, Onion and Bacon; accompanied by one of 3,000 wine selections, hand-picked by Master Sommelier Michael Engelmann.
Museum of Modern Art, 11 W. 53rd St, 212-333-1220, www.themodernnyc.com, @themodernnyc
Nestle in lavish blue velvet banquettes in a sexy Mediterranean-style garden area (equipped with retractable glass roof and stone fireplace). Share a few intricate tapas plates. Maybe a liter of Tinto Seco, too? That’s red sangria made with Spanish red wine, brandy, pomegranate, ginger, orange and lemon. We call this a true date night.
136 9th Ave., 212-776-1990, www.salinasnyc.com, @salinasnyc
Let the Bloody (Mary) battle begin. Challenge bae behind the DIY Bloody brunch bar. Choose from a spread of 20+ garden-grown garnishes from chef Roxanne Spruance to load up a pint glass of housemade Bloody Mary, or Maria – Few toppings are bacon strips, roasted ham, marinated octopus, shrimp, select cheeses, pickled vegetables, hot sauces, pretzels, lemons, limes, herbs and, our favorite, celery. Bask in the back garden (where the garnishes are grown and gathered) and savor the seasonal French-American brunch fare like the Praline Bacon French Toast Bread Pudding.
190 Avenue B, 212-674-4500, www.kingsleynyc.com, @kingsleynyc
Tavern on the Green
Food critics have been ruthless when it comes to this landmark restaurant. Although Tavern on the Green isn’t the strongest in the food category, the cocktail game is still competing. More importantly, no one in town has a garden courtyard as elegant and fairytale-like. It’s so picturesque you truly cannot enter without countless “oohs and aahs” leaving your lips. Relax under the strung lights and sip a borough cocktail, i.e. Queens made with Bootlegger Vodka, Velvet Falernum, hibiscus syrup, pomegranate molasses and lemon.
Note: Happy Hour just hit Sunday through Thursday, from 9:00PM to close, all borough cocktails will be half-priced at the Bar.
Central Park West & 67th St, 212-877-8684, www.tavernonthegreen.com, @tavernonthegreen
Hand-selected wines, handcrafted dishes from chef Brian Leth (Vinegar Hill House) and no hand-written tip on the check. Because no-tipping policy… Spend the evening in the rich outdoor garden with urban farm features. Enjoy a locally-sourced dinner from the (Italian) roots, plus wine pairing including three 3-ounce pours chosen specifically based on your plate. “Cheers to the love of my life.” *clink*
606 Vanderbilt Ave., Prospect Heights 718-576-6120, faun.nyc, @faun.nyc