Bartaco does outdoor dining right in Port Chester. Photo by Manny Vargas
Reserve a table under the sky and indulge in a hearty helping of fresh air, with a side of sunshine or starlight.
By Cristiana Caruso and Michelle Gillan Larkin
It’s that wonderful time of year when the sun takes on that warm, long-awaited golden hue and foodies everywhere morph into the outdoors type in search of their next, best, sky-topped meal. Whether it’s at a restaurant with a hopping patio, deck, or tougher-to-score porch or blossoming garden (reserve early if there’s a water view), all thoughts turn to unsheltered dining on sunny days and cool, breezy nights. Our restaurant scene offers open-air options as vast and dazzling as the heavens (well, almost), and we combed the county, both north and south, from the Sound Shore to the Rivertowns, and everything in between, to bring you this curated guide to eating, drinking, and enjoying all that Westchester offers en plein air.
Chiseled fountains, sculptures, and stone benches almost bellow “garden!” yet the scene is oh-so serene and civilized with fine Croatian cuisine providing a borrowed portal to the loved and longed-for homeland of the proprietors’ youth. The soul-soothing aromas of simply prepared fresh, grilled whole fish and succulent roasts waft through the space, adding to the gently tugging sensation that you’ve been secretly transported to the European countryside.
The place to be and be seen at lunchtime (or, really, anytime), the nautical-themed deck at this upscale waterside taco heaven is perennially packed and endlessly overflowing with upbeat, positive vibes. Feast on fresh-made guac and chips, tacos, and rice bowls at a sun-soaked table along the calmly rippling Byram River or settle in atop a shaded, blue-and-white outdoor sofa where you won’t feel the least bit out of step sipping a zippy marg while munching a signature ice cream cone.
Just picture it: a tiki drink in your hand, toes in the sand, someone delivering snacks to your beach chair… in Rye. That is correct, folks; you get to have a beach-dining experience that doesn’t require a plane ticket or beach club membership. From frozen cocktails to lobster rolls, the good times keep coming as live music from 107.1 The Peak rolls in all summer long. So now, when the group chat blows up with the question: “I want to drink near water; where do we go?” — you’ve got your answer.
Don’t let this hidden gem’s location fool you: While Lunello is a part of Imperial Yacht Club, it’s open to the public and nonmembers. Dine yacht-side on an expansive menu of Italian comfort food and myriad salads, exceptionally crisp and light after a day on the water. (Disclaimer: Westchester Magazine is not responsible for financial decisions made after a bottle of wine while perched next to dozens of yachts.)
On the spacious elevated deck overlooking the Byram River, the only big decision here is bottles or pitchers and whether or not to top your classic bar pie (with that legendary cracker-thin crust) with the signature hot oil that put this Irish pub on the map. No matter how you slice it, the open-air setting is a safe sunny-day bet for outdoorsy diners who enjoys easy eats paired with lively surrounds and liquid vistas.
Occupying the former La Panetière space, Ocean Blue Prime is adding “rooftop dining” to its repertoire. Now offering elevated eats, literally, diners can feel sublime breezes off Long Island Sound while swan diving into dishes like fluke crudo, Prime, dry-aged steaks, and lobster spaghetti. Save room for one of the award-winning wines in stock.
Westchester’s only Sultan tent — with retractable sides that offer a warm swaddle on cooler nights — may have put this exquisite Moroccan establishment on the map, but the simmering aromatics of signature tagines and kebabs bouncing upon the breeze prove just as alluring. For a fully open-air experience, an intimate stone patio and grassy garden (complete with a toasty firepit and hookah space) shine equally bright.
The Hudson River can’t get much closer here, considering you’re free to rise from your seat in the sophisticated, sheltered patio and stroll acrosss the lawn right to it. Back at the table, your dining mates will be dipping into elevated, highly shareable plates of grilled shishito peppers and sushi that tease the palate and pave the way for entrées of branzino, filet mignon, and risotto; all of which complement — even compete — with unbeatable, almost touchable, watery vistas.
When trolling for a hip locale with in-the-know clientele, this chic gathering spot meets all your needs. With tables so close to the water you’d think you’re dining with whitecaps and a view of New York City, this modish restaurant serves top-tier pizza and features a lounge and 15-seat bar that fills up. Swing by for happy hour — Mondays through Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays from noon to 3 p.m. — with a youthful (and thirsty) multitude enjoying $2 oysters, $7 craft beers, and $10 cocktails.
Bridge View Tavern does some heavy lifting for the culinary scene: a classic pub offering a multitude of beers on tap and everyone’s favorite bar grub while dotting the menu with upscale and out-of-the-box dishes (do not gloss over the elk burger). Head out to the beer garden for an Oktoberfest feel with just as much endless beer.
In a carved out miniature forest, caressed by cool Hudson River breezes and the intoxicating fragrance of seasonal blooms, open-air dining (or, simply, effortless nibbling) occurs on an unparalleled scale. Rabbit scarpariello is a staple of the Italian-dominant menu that’s speckled with satisfying pastas and brick-oven pizzas, cheese plates, and a raw bar, all perfectly paired with a wide-array of wines and an inspired line-up of craft cocktails. (Secure a spot in the spectacular, new greenhouse and let us know how it is!)
The cool waters of the Hudson River in view won’t illicit shivers reminiscent of the off-season when you’re lounging by the firepit on the cozy patio of this American bistro that’s artfully ensconced within the historic Dobbs Ferry Metro-North train station. Craft cocktails, shareable apps, salads, sandwiches, and mains of roasted spaghetti squash and slow-roasted brisket delight and warm from the inside out.
It may seem like nothing could be finer than the lush green lawns of the Tarrytown House Estate’s King Mansion — with bedazzling string lights and louge seating in front and a patio, garden tables, and glowing firepits out back — but the fairytaleesque setting is decidedly second to chef Dale Talde’s fancified spin on classic Cantonese fare. Must-eats from this highly creative, fun-loving James Beard-nominated chef are dry-aged beef potstickers, fall-off-the-bone Kung Pao chicken wings, and every noodle and fried-rice incarnation under the stars.
Reminiscent of dining on the bow of a ship, the second-story deck of this brick-faced bastion of innovative Thai and Malay cooking attracts river gazers and scene seekers like sirens to sailors (but with a better ending). Here, all the exotic and alluring favorites are covered, from myriad curries and noodle dishes (try the one called Drunkman) to such house specialties as the roasted Penang duck, Thai coconut mussels, and jackfruit-and-potato curry.
The blue-stone patio nuzzles right up onto the illustrious Riverwalk with gorgeous views from every point on the compass. A showcase of the restaurant’s northern farm is the use of fresh seafood and produce that crosshatch a New England feel with a Westchester locale. The charred chili prawns, whole-roasted branzino, and crab “BLT” are some can’t-miss options when dining on some of the most innovative menu items this side of the Hudson.
The hidden patio behind Harper’s is one of the county’s not-so-secret secret spaces where locals pack the house most nights for dinner in the shadow of one of the original Croton Aqueduct walls, surrounded by potted herbs, flowers, and climbing ivy. The casual comfort of a local bistro is charming, but if you’d like to bubble and sip on the extensive bar programs, do yourself a favor and make a reservation.
Rustic, welcoming, and warmed by firepit, locals and regulars concur: A cold one or a warming whiskey go down easy on the patio of this neighborly gastropub known for its beer list and eclectic, regionally sourced fare. No doubt they’d recommend the simple pleasure of a burger that packs a powerful punch with house-blended seasoned brisket on a puffy brioche bun, or the more outside-the-box serving of succulent grilled lamb sliders with tzatziki and tomato jam.
A hot scene and mentally cooling Hudson River views illuminate the sweeping patio at this Tarrytown mainstay where Best of Westchester-winning handcrafted cocktails tango with artisanal wood-fired pizzas and the standout, locally sourced cheese plate that blooms via Hudson Valley farms. Pasture-raised lamb meatballs are another no-brainer pick and so easy to pop while gazing at the boats that go sailing by.
As the sun dips into the River, savvy diners in-the-know snag a prime spot on the patio aside this 1910 red-brick restored-factory hotspot and dig into elegantly prepared modern American entrées (consider the seared scallops with fava beans) or French-inspired bistro staples of moules frites, steak frites (hangar or 16 oz bone-in dry-aged NY strip), or a signature burger. (Just in case, there’s a view from almost every seat in the house too.)
Brews and views are on the agenda at this Hudson hotspot. From pilsners to IPAs, all craft bevvies are brewed on location and feature seasonal specials. For nibbles, barbecue platters and appetizers like popcorn shrimp and Irish nachos provide a good coat for the stomach (a good drinker is a good eater, as the saying goes). Sip as the sun goes down, and don’t be surprised when that pint glass becomes a six-pack.
Dine at a piece of Tarrytown maritime history. Started by village residents who wanted to boat for sport in the Hudson, the boat club has transformed into the ideal gathering place for alfresco evenings on the waterfront. Recently under new ownership, enjoy the likes of steak frites, Buffalo calamari, and the mouthwatering crab cake po’boy, with front-row seats to a stunning summer sunset.
Perch under the pergola for stunning views of the Hudson in the garden courtyard of this renovated abbey along the river. Dining from a menu that’s thoughtfully curated with ingredients sourced from local farmers and purveyors (Barolo-braised short rib or local burrata, anyone?), Apropos offers up an idyllic Hudson Valley day for the books.
South of 287
Secreted away from the village’s log-jammed main thoroughfare and reminiscent of a quaint Tuscan enclave, this county staple boasts not only a patio, but also a secluded storybook courtyard where just a handful of petite tables are tucked amid climbing ivy, flowering plants, and the melodic chirping of birds. Regionally inspired, fine Italian cuisine is highlighted by house-made pastas, local produce and imported specialty ingredients, and a hard-to-miss hint of romance in the air.
At this modern interpretation of a traditional wood-fired pizza joint and wine bar, Sunday brunch comes with a side of live jazz on the patio, which also happens to be a perfect spot on all other days (or nights) of the week for crisp, crusty pizza, an array of tummy-tempting pastas, blossoming pressed paninis, and people watching along always bustling Garth Road. Don’t be ashamed to do so while hoisting a lightly blackened slice in one hand with a coup glass in the other.
Ever see a canopy of bistro lights from the Saw Mill and wondered, What’s over there? The answer is La Lanterna. But don’t let the parkway-adjacent location deter you: The wine garden is quite charming, with tall, light-filled trees and cozy iron tables. If you’re dining outside on a temperate summer night, you’ll be treated to the stunning fireplace, amping up to a cozy factor that’s almost as good as a hug from Nonna.
Encircled by vibrant greens and blooming plants, the outdoor option at Donjito feels like you should be sipping on afternoon tea and not a watermelon full of tequila (which we highly recommend, btw). This Latin-fusion favorite not only dishes out mouthwatering meals, like the lomo saltado and roasted pernil (and Latin sushi, if you’re feeling adventurous), but the tropically themed and well-dressed cocktails level up the experience.
For an alfresco meal like no other in Westchester (really, no other), grab a table on the pool deck at Lake Isle Country Club, then sit back and watch how glowing firepits kill any chill while ushering in a chic vibe with every ripple on the water. The menu is varied and made for sampling with small plates of grilled octopus and short-rib arancini, but for heartier appetites, there’s the whopping Wagyu burger and a lineup of Prime steaks and chops.
From the street, the red-brick façade denotes a hip, urban den (which, no doubt, it is), but ‘round back, tall trees and lush greenery envelope an intimate patio illuminated by string lights, tiki torches, and the heady aroma of house-made pastas, inventive yet unfussy Italian entrées (don’t miss the butternut squash cutlet parmigiana), and fresh-baked, knock-your-socks-off bomboloni.
Mainly an outdoor venue, as most of the eatery’s seating populates an expansive patio that sprawls smack-dab at River’s edge, this is one of lower Westchester’s prime spots for lounging about and chowing down en plein air along the Hudson. The vibe is cool and laidback with a menu to match, dominated by tacos (order the slow-cooked birria and poached shrimp), salads, and transcendent sights and sounds.
North of 287
This Tuscan-farmhouse-style eatery has been a fixture in the well-heeled hamlet for four decades, and its expansive terrazzo is a sizzling outdoor draw for old-school bowls of pasta, crisp artisan pizzas (the sauce, fresh mozz, and dough are all scratch-made), and Italian classics of tangy chicken scarp and zuppa de pesce. It’s a memorable meal indoors, too, but somehow it tastes even better under the grapevine-strewn pergola amid thriving tomato plants, leafy greenery, and a rushing stream.
Homey vegetable gardens and lush landscaping separate the 50-person patio from the road at La Vista. Outside seating comes with the same old-world pomp as inside, including tableside presentations, a roving dessert cart, and generous pours of homemade grappa. Below the swaying Edison bulbs, dine on favorites like veal scaloppini and grilled octopus — and peep the produce on your plate, as you may just be dining adjacent to where it was picked mere hours earlier.
Behind the indoor dining space, a peaceful patio awaits, facing a petite interior garden dotted with flowering trees and a gurgling fountain that’s made for leisure and lingering, perhaps over a splash of red and a plate of luscious burrata. Expect that plus all the Italian comfort classics under the sun, along with elevated specials and the warm graciousness that permeates the air of a family owned and operated neighborhood fave.
There are some who believe there’s no garden like a beer garden, and in this case, they’re entirely correct. Traditional German specialties, cooked with family pride and kissed with a hint of French flair, are complemented by beer, wine, cocktails, and Austrian schnapps and liqueurs, to be savored on traditional picnic-style set-ups and regular tables and chairs.
The wraparound porch is a head turner that draws diners in from the road, but the inventive, New American dishes of duck confit dumplings, truffle mac ’n’ cheese, and cauliflower steak with edamame purée turn them into regulars on the spot. Burgers and steaks, craft cocktails, and beer and wine round out the experience and make for an all-around good time.
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle and settled into the serenity of the neighboring lake, this gastropub has the perfect nibbles for an afternoon in the open air. Philly cheesesteak spring rolls and Buffalo cauliflower are at your disposal — unless you’re opting for something a little lighter, that is, like the tuna crudo or a dozen fresh Blue Point oysters. Whatever your stomach is telling you, the result is set to be satisfying.
A festive, friendly patio decked out with faux-ivy walls and hand-painted murals celebrating Mexican culture feels just right for a sky-dive into traditional Latin/Mexican fare that tempts, satisfies, and sways decidedly gourmet. Authentic street tacos and rice bowls share menu space with entrées of steak and shrimp ranchero, all complemented by more than 100 tequilas and mezcals behind the bar.
Enjoy genuine Italian fare on Ristorante Lucia’s outdoor patio, bursting with lush greenery on all fronts. The sweeping canopy of vines and twinkling lights feels right out of the Amalfi Coast, while the ample menu of pasta, fish, meat, and vegetable dishes require little to no convincing that you’ve left the country. With a spritz in your hand, we dare you to spot the difference.
For a taste of what is arguably Westchester’s most unique alfresco dining setting, snag a coveted seat (there are only about two dozen) at one of the quaint, rustic picnic tables perched atop the front porch of this 1776 farmhouse, which boasts a rustically refined foodie vibe and four acres of terraced farmland under cultivation. No matter the season, hyper-fresh produce appears on every plate (thanks to a stocked root cellar), with mains of beef, poultry, and fish sourced from ethically minded family farms and co-ops.
It may not be the south of France, but a broad patio adorned with cascading vines, perennial gardens, and the shade of a grand, old maple tree is a pretty sweet spot to revel in some classic je ne sais quoi in the heart of one of the county’s most picturesque hamlets. Don’t be alarmed if a whiff of the American South is in the air — among the quiches, Nicoise and ratatouille salads, mussels, and sautéed sole is some smokin’-hot barbecue; namely, the St. Louis ribs.