Dining al fresco used to be one of New York’s most endearing attractions. That was before COVID came along and forced restaurant goers literally out onto the sidewalk regardless of the temperature.
If there’s one bright side to the outdoor dining scene this winter, it’s that restaurateurs had a year to practice — to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Here are some locations that have found ways to attend to diners’ creature comforts on even the coldest of nights.
Badshah, in Hell’s Kitchen (788 Ninth Avenue, bet. 51st and 52nd Sts., 646-649-2407) has created a cozy environment by fully enclosing its outdoor dining space while keeping tables a healthy distance apart. Heat lamps chase away the chill, but if you crave additional warmth, order the goan vindaloo, which will ignite a blast furnace in your mouth.
Some restaurants have spared no expense, creating fantasy enclosures. Industry Kitchen, a neighbor of South Street Seaport (70 South Street, at Maiden Lane, 212-487-9600), has capitalized on its compelling river view by erecting a small village of heated, glass-enclosed huts. A brief, eclectic assortment of dishes includes wood-fired pizzas, steaks, and salads.
Similar structures are employed by Philippe Chow at its two locations (3 East 60th Street, bet Park and Madison Aves., 212-644-8885, and 355 W. 16th Street, 212-885-9400). Many come for the $95 four-course tasting menu of which the main event is Peking duck.
Futuristic bubbles keep the warmth in, the pathogens out, at Upper West Side veteran Café du Soleil (104th Street and Broadway, 212-316-5000). The food is reliably French, featuring such bistro classics as cassoulet, boeuf bourguignon, and choucroute garnis.
Jungsik, the Michelin-starred “modern Korean” restaurant in TriBeCa, has been something of an upscale work in progress since its inception. In its current incarnation, it is featuring a seven-course tasting menu that the COVID-conscious can partake of in private “chalets” fitted out with heat lamps.