The city's parks are a delight at this time of year.
You can always pack a picnic, of course, or pick up a hot dog from a cart and eat on the go. But there are other options, too: a seat at a table overlooking the water in Central Park; lunch amid the greenery in midtown; a casual cup of coffee and pastry iin the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Here, are 10 places to chow down in the parks.
Gigino in Wagner Park.The terrace is the place to be if you want specatacular views out over the Hudson. This is a casual laid-back place, a good choice for a weekend lunch. The menu sticks pretty close to the tried-and-true: pastas, salads, chicken and fish. (20 Battery Place; 212-528-2228; expect to pay between $35 and $45 for a three-course dinner)
Battery Gardens How wrong can you go here, with a fantastic view over the harbor and the statue and greenery as far as the eye can see. The menu is simple -- a few pasta dishes, plus fish, steak and a burger -- and the vibe is relaxed. Desserts get a little more elaborate, with a lemon panna cotta and a mixed-berry napoleon. (Inside Battery Park, opposite 17 State Street; 212-809-5508. Expect to pay between $35 and $55 for a three-course dinner)
Bryant Park Grill. Right behind the library in Bryant Park, the grill has good salads, fish, chicken and pastas. Perhaps the nicest time to go is on a weekend for brunch, when the menu offers the likes of buttermilk, steak and eggs, and a seafood omelet. There's both rooftop and patio seating, and if you're looking something a little more casual, there's the Bryant Park Café next door. (25 West 40th Street ; 212-840-6500; expect to pay between $32 and $55 for a three-course dinner)
Shake Shack Danny Meyer's perfect road food stand in the heart of the city offers burgers, dogs and fries, plus sundaes with home-made toppings like hot fudge or warm caramel. And if that's not enough, there are shakes, floats, and concretes -- even a special treat for your pooch. (23rd Street and Madison Avenue, in Madison Square Park; 212-889-6600; open from 11 am)
Tavern on the Green.There are probably more tourists here than natives, but that doesn't matter on a spring evening when the trees are lit up and the lanterns swing softly in the breeze. The dinner menu includes standbys like crabcakes, rack of lamb, salmon, and prime rib. A Prix-fixe dinner menu is also available for $39 (pre-theater) and for $36 at lunchtime. (Central Park at West 67th Street; 212-873-3200; expect to pay between $45 and $75 for a three-course a la carte dinner)
Boathouse Restaurant. For a lot of people, Central Park is one of the big reasons to live in New York. If you're one of those people, the Boathouse is a little bit of heaven: fabulous views over the Lake, and if you want romance, there's always the gondola. Weekend brunch is delightful, and the dinner menu is nicely varied, from fish dishes to pastas to a sirloin to a grilled veal chop. (East 72nd & Park Drive; 212-517-2233; expect to pay between $45 and $75 for a three-course dinner)
New Leaf Cafe. This is the house that Bette built: Bette Midler is the woman behind the restaurant in Fort Tryon Park, and also behind the renovation of the park itself. The cafe is a cheery, pleasant place with a menu that includes pastas, fish, chicken and duck. Sunday brunch is a bargain at $14.95, with a selection of omelettes, waffles, salmon cakes, and steak and eggs among the choices. (Ft. Tryon Park; 212-568-5323; expect to pay between $35 to $50 for a three-course dinner)
Lake Club. This is one of the prettiest locations in Staten Island: just inside Clove Lakes Park, with views over the lake. There's Sunday brunch, and the dinner menu is varied, with dishes like crab cakes, salmon, filet mignon, and pastas. The service is friendly and efficient. (Clove Lakes Park, 1150 Clove Rd.; 718-442-3600; expect to pay about $55 for a three-course dinner)