In response to the coronavirus pandemic, almost 10,000 NYC restaurants now offer outdoor dining. Earlier this month Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city’s Open Restaurants program, which allowed restaurants and bars to expand socially distant outdoor seating in sidewalks, streets and parking spaces, was “here to stay.”

“It’s time for a new New York City tradition,” he said in a statement. “Outdoor dining has been a lifeline for an industry that has been hit hard by COVID-19.”

But with so many places to choose from, which offer the most interesting open-air experience? FT readers’ recommendations range from West Village cool to haute cuisine on the East River — with a midtown stop-off at an artistic oasis.

Where California meets New York for oysters

A short ferry ride to Island Oyster on Governor’s Island leads you to a dreamy, pastel-hued oyster bar with views of Lower Manhattan across the water. It’s seaside sipping at its finest and feels like a true getaway.

— Marlisse Silver Sweeney, university instructor, Vancouver, BC, Canada

A gourmet waterfront destination serving up glorious views

The Fulton by Jean-Georges, in lower Manhattan, offers a magical and only-in-New York City experience: delectable and sophisticated fare (primarily fresh seafood) may be enjoyed waterfront on the East River with sweeping views of three iconic bridges (Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg) and the juxtaposition of the glorious modern downtown skyline and the historic Seaport district.

— Natalie N, attorney, New York, NY, US

Chic and cheery in Brooklyn

Named for its location in an old garage space, Le Garage is one of my favourite local spots, located in Bushwick a few streets away from the hipster graffiti centre of the neighbourhood. It’s run by mother/daughter duo and is a great combo of neighbourhood charm and French style.

We were desperately worried we’d see it go the way of many businesses during the pandemic but once open air dining was allowed in New York, up popped a lovely street-side set-up, complete with bistro tables and the usual cheery but chic greeting. The menu is classic French, and well constructed: I love the leeks vinaigrette and duck fat potatoes, and they’ve just extended to opening Wednesday and Thursday evenings too with a prix fixe option, including unlimited moules — what’s not to love?

— Katie Hankinson, brand consultant, New York, NY, US

Peace and loveliness at MoMA

© 2019 MoMA/Heidi Bohnenkamp

The sculpture garden at MoMA: an oasis of calm a minute’s walk from Fifth Avenue. Position a chair where you want and relax. [Food and drink can be purchased from the museum’s restaurants and cafés.] Amazing art and calming water features. Inside there are toilets, free WiFi, air conditioning and places to sit. Oh, and I nearly forgot, great art too!

— Robin MacDougall, dentist, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Garden of palazzo-style delights at an Italian-American legend

© Barbetta

The garden at Barbetta restaurant on W 46th Street: elegant, serene, old-fashioned, trees with hanging lights, great Italian-inspired cocktails and excellent food. Go after dark and it's like eating and drinking at a palazzo garden in Italy. Any garden drinking spot in New York is a respite and a treat but this one’s special.

— Richard Lyon, attorney

Live jazz with a bellini brunch

The new branch of the classic Caffe Dante in the West Village is the ideal spot for drinks after weekend brunch. All details are carefully crafted and you are likely to see a live jazz quartet play as you enjoy bellinis. (Even during the darker times of coronavirus.)

— Cem Polat, analyst

Classic Italian meets that West Village vibe

Bar Pisellino is one of the most charming outdoor cafés in NYC, with a corner location in the West Village. This celebration of a classic Italian bar that you’d find only in Italy offers outside seating daily from 4-11pm, making it the perfect aperitivo spot or all-evening destination for iconic Italian cocktails like Negronis done right, as well as tasty bar snacks. Pisellino is playful and full of character yet sophisticated with its attention to detail. A presto!

Nessi Erkmenoglu, FT head of US luxury advertising, Brooklyn, NY, US

What’s your favourite outdoor watering hole in New York? Share your tip in the comments

We’re also looking for the best boutique hotels and hip hideaways in the eight cities we cover. Do you have a favourite small hotel? Share your tip via this short survey; a selection of the best answers will be published.

For more stories like this, visit ft.com/globetrotter, or follow FT Globetrotter on Instagram at @FTGlobetrotter for insider tips for exploring and enjoying great cities

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