It’s summertime, and Bay Ridge is full of places to eat and drink outdoors. Walking along Third and Fifth avenues, it’s easy to spot the obvious ones: we’ve all seen the patio seating of Cebu packed during brunch. But there are lesser known gardens and backyards throughout the neighborhood for which you might not need to wait in line. Here’s a few of them for you to make your weekend. You’re welcome, Ridgites.
Coszcal de Allende
I don’t know about you, but my outdoor margarita urges are to be taken seriously—and this place, the old Pancho’s (6824 Third Avenue), does not mess around. This is a true mom-and-pop joint, and, as far as I can tell, everyone who works here is family. Get the Barracca margarita with cilantro and cucumber, and sit under an umbrella in the casual garden. The guacamole is fresh and the handmade quesadillas are not to be missed. The vibe is very laid back, and service can sometimes be a little slow, so this is a place for relaxing—don’t go if you’re in a hurry.
Let’s just get this out of the way in the beginning: the backyard at Lock Yard (9221 Fifth Avenue) is unmatched in this neighborhood, period. It’s a large, sunny space with small two-tops or big picnic tables for larger groups, and it’s open all year, with heating in the winter. A craft-beer and liquor bar, it features brews that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in Bay Ridge, if not in southern Brooklyn. Plus, you can snack on fried pickles, or have a full meal of pulled pork and po’boy sandwiches. Summer can be a bit busy, especially with private parties, so make sure to call ahead if you’ve got your heart set on sitting in the yard.
Another small, family establishment, Somethingreek (7616 Third Avenue) is popular largely as a takeout and delivery spot, and only has a handful of indoor tables available. But their garden is sunny and pleasant, and the plywood ceiling overhead makes you feel like you’re eating in one of those barn-turned-restaurants that you only find upstate. It’s rarely ever packed, so you can almost always get a seat. The food is simple and no-frills, but fairly reliable. Stick to the basics and you won’t be disappointed.
LeNar (7214 Third Avenue) is a hookah bar that beats out all others in Bay Ridge. It’s frequented by mostly twenty- and thirtysomethings, and the vibe is much more relaxed than other places in the neighborhood. The interior is simple, and a little bare, but the backyard is totally spacious. The hookah is done right, with attentive staff working on the coals, and plenty of flavor options to boot. With a full menu available, you can sit, smoke, and snack outdoor for hours.
Another totally solid option for outdoor margaritas, but with a little more swank. Blue Agave (7215 Third Avenue) is fairly new to the neighborhood, but it’s been surprising people because the pan-Latin food is seriously impressive. Their backyard is cute and pleasant—wicker chairs and wooden tables, with a white picket fence surrounding it all. The margaritas can get much more experimental—mango mezcal?!—but are also reliably delicious. Also, we hear that the brunch, which comes with a free cocktail, is not to be missed.
Red White and Brew
On the other end of the spectrum lies Red, White, and Brew (8910 Fifth Avenue). This is a no-nonsense Bay Ridge bar that has a decent draft selection, friendly staff, and darts. The backyard is excellent because it’s just as simple—bare-bones, with big wooden picnic tables and virtually no décor. Sometimes you just want to drink a cheap beer and play Cards Against Humanity with your friends, and be certain that no servers will bother you. And this is the place for that. Friday and Saturday nights can get a little sloppy though, so I’ve particularly enjoyed going during afternoons, evenings, and weeknights.
An outdoor breakfast option! Omonia (7612 Third Avenue) is super intimidating, because the gaudy exterior looks like it’s something straight out of Vegas. But if you can get past the front door, you’ll discover it’s a well-staffed, European café where you can sip on strong Greek coffee, eat a crepe, and also get a cocktail. The garden is frankly adorable: it’s walled-in with an open overhead, abounding with terra cotta pottery and small, intimate tables. If your apartment lacks a terrace, you can come here in the morning to sit outside, drink coffee, and read a book. The garden is open all day long, but later in the day, you’re more likely to hear Europop blasting from outdoor speakers, and you won’t be able to escape clouds of cologne. Unless that’s your thing, in which case you can hang out outside till late night.
Back to that no-frills bar concept, except the Irish Pub version. Harp (7710 Third Avenue) is friendly, casual, and is turning into quite the hot spot at night. The backyard is a great option if you’re looking for a casual night of drinking outside. But, like we said, this place is catching on. So beware of weekends if you’re looking to avoid the crowd.
Casual and friendly with totally solid burgers, Burger Bistro (7217 Third Avenue) is probably not a secret to many folks in the neighborhood, but its outdoor space is delightful. Reminiscent of Lock Yard’s vibe, but less than half the size, this fenced-in space feels more like sitting in a friend’s backyard than being at a restaurant. Long picnic tables are available with umbrellas overhead. The service is prompt, and if you’re not a meat eater, you’ve got plenty of delicious options, like corn-on-the-cob, buffalo tater tots and a vegan veggie burger.
Yes, I too think of this place as the bar with the most TVs in one room that I’ve ever seen. Yes, it can certainly get loud and sloppy. But the fact is that this bar (7915 Third Avenue) has one of the best selections of draft beer in the neighborhood, surprisingly good bar food, and a tiny, quaint little backyard with a single TV. So it’s still pleasant to sit back there without being bombarded by sports noise (hello, Lone Star!), but also a good option if you want to sip casually on a drink and watch a game while enjoying the fresh air. There are a maximum of six or eight tables, though, so get a seat early.
Full dislcosure: the author is a server at Lock Yard.