We’ve been turned away from 230 Fifth more times than we’ve been let in, but it’s the rare spot where it actually feels worth the $15 for a cocktail. Do not make the mistake of staying for more than one, though—this place is meant for soaking up the view and closing the deal.
230 5th Ave. (betw. W. 26th & W. 27th Sts.), 212-725-4300.
This Upper East Side eatery dishes up an authentic Italian menu with a side of modern elegance. Dine inside or alfresco (the outside café seats 60) and have your way with hefty, moderately priced dishes like the Spaghetti Lobster or the Mediterranean Orata—then head over to the Sunday night party where dancing comes after dinner at midnight.
1439 2nd Ave. (at E. 75th St.), 212-288-8555.
Boat Basin Café
Despite a habit of attracting wholesome buttoned-up types, there’s something about this place that lures us back each summer. Perhaps it’s the readily available snacks, the huge-for-New-York space or the view of the setting sun burning off the toxic Jersey air—whatever it is, it’s worth the trip.
West 79th Street & West Side Highway, 212-496-5542.
Cavatappo Wine Bar
Corks off to Cavatappo for giving us a wine bar that doesn’t intimidate the varietal-challenged. With at least 75 wines (labeled under easy-to-understand headings like “Soft, Supple and Easy Drinking”), Italian cheeses, meats, finger sandwiches and a small outside seating area that accommodates 12, Cavatoppo is a full-bodied taste for wine enthusiasts or beer pongers trying to upgrade their style without donning dress shoes and a tie.
1728 2nd Ave. (at E. 90th St.), 212-426-0919.
Central Park Boathouse
You’re going to need to go here eventually, either for drinks with out of towners or some sort of event that requires a tie. You might as well get used to it now and stop in for a glass of white and some seasonal snacks.
Central Park, enter park at East 72nd Street & Park Drive North, 212-517-2233.
If you don’t want to burn through your budget, frequent this Upper West Side tavern (with sidewalk seating for 25) for cheap margaritas, tap and bottled beers, and a selection of quesadillas, sandwiches, gourmet-style pizza and Buffalo wings. A fun firehouse-themed décor (sans live Dalmatian) welcomes everyone from pint-sized patrons to New York’s Finest.
522 Columbus Ave. (at W. 85th St.), 212-787-3473.
Hudson Beach Café
If you closed your eyes, you’d swear you were at a neighborhood barbecue, with better service and better tasting food. Part of the P.D. O’Hurley’s chain, the outdoor Café is perfect for appetizers or entrées from sea or land, while watching New Yorkers get their sport on in Riverside Park.
Riverside Park, enter park at West 103rd Street & Riverside Drive, 917-370-3448.
Now open for its second year, Hudson Terrace will be hosting more than just its infamous late-night action. The rooftop club will have a summer full of theme nights—hello, Taco Tuesdays and Beer Garden Fridays—underneath its new retractable roof, insuring that your gluttony won’t be ruined by rain.
621 W. 46th St. (betw. 11th & 12th Aves.), 212-315-9400.
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden
Escape the tourists milling about the Metropolitan Museum of Art and take the elevator all the way to the roof. In addition to the Big Bambú installation, you’ll find a great view and a small bar that serves margaritas, mojitos, mixed drinks and ice cream.
1000 5th Ave. (at E. 82nd St.), 212-535-7710.
It’s time for another summer of basking in the sun outside this Upper West Side bar. P&G might have lost its iconic neon sign when it moved, but the current location is bigger and, with an upgraded terrace, better for the warm weather.
380 Columbus Ave. (at W. 78th St.), 212-874-8568.
The Pier i Café
Take in scenic Hudson River views while enjoying burgers, freshly squeezed blueberry lemonade or fresh fruit sangria in this alfresco café. For a full day, time your visit with any number of summer events happening in the ever-improving Riverside Park South.
Riverside Park, enter at West 70th Street, 212-362-4450.
The Private Roof Club and Garden
The Gramercy Park Hotel is glamorous and supposedly impenetrable, but the rooftop boite, featuring a retractable roof and food prepared by Nick Anderer, the executive chef of Danny Meyer’s Maialino, is actually open to the public. Still, try dressing up if you don’t want to be turned away.
2 Lexington Ave. (at E. 21st St.), 212-920-3300.
The only thing illegal at this Upper West Side restaurant (with live music) is not having a good time. Enjoy live rock, blues, jazz and hip-hop (with no cover), menu selections that accommodate the serious diner (try the grilled salmon in a balsamic glaze) or the casual sampler (mini cheeseburgers). Dine inside with a 1920s swagger or on the 22-seat sidewalk café. The backroom, with pool table, can be booked for private parties of up to 70 people.
503 Columbus Ave. (at W. 84th Street), 212-597-3100.
Rare View Chelsea
Starting this Memorial Day, get your kicks looking down on Chelsea from the new rooftop bar of the Fashion 26 Hotel. Unfortunately, no one from below can see how stylish you look sipping a frosty, fruity cocktail and gazing longingly at the awesome view of the Empire State building and the grit of this part of Broadway.
152 W. 26th St. (at 7th Ave.), 212-807-7273.
Tradition trumps trends at Reif’s Tavern. Drink beer, play pool, throw darts, or if you call ahead, you can BYOM—Bring Your Own Meat—for the outdoor grill on the backyard patio. The tight-knit regulars welcome a new face but it might be wise to keep your Red Sox shout-outs to yourself at this sports bar.
302 E. 92nd St. (betw. 1st & 2nd Aves.), 212-426-0519.
The Tangled Vine
If more than 160 bottles of mainly sustainable and organic wine doesn’t excite you, the rich food menu and airy bar table seating will. Open only for a few months, this new wine bar will soon feature an outdoor café to add to the luxury of summer tippling.
434 Amsterdam Ave. (at W. 81st St.), 646-863-3896.
The Underground Lounge
A reasonably priced menu features fresh Turkish-style hummus, Corona-battered fish ‘n’ chips and paninis. Get gritty with live comedy shows with no cover, an after-work Latin Party, and live musicians and bands. The outside café seats about 30 but remember, what happens underground stays underground.
995 West End Ave. (at W. 107th St.), 212-531-4759.
Uptown Restaurant and Lounge
Get down at Uptown with a live acoustic band on Monday nights, a three-piece jazz trio on Tuesday nights, or DJs on Fridays and Saturdays. Select from a diverse menu that includes coconut shrimp and goat cheese pizza, while you enjoy daily happy hour specials in a cozy nook or on the sidewalk café for about 20 people.
1576 3rd Ave. (betw. E. 88th & E. 89th Sts.), 212-828-1388.