Dining sheds have been a big part of life in NYC since the pandemic shutdown the city in 2020. With the city open again, many restaurants want to keep their tiny outdoor spaces to bring in more customers during bad weather and winter months. If you followed our last piece about dining sheds, you know that New York is home to a wide variety of outdoor dining experiences including yurts, cabins, and greenhouses. These, however, were mostly located in Manhattan. But what about the other boroughs? What if you’re giving a tour of Queens to a hot date? Where do you take them? Well, never fear, the list is here. The best dining shed in Queens are:
– Ovelia: Queens is known for their phenomenal Greek food, especially in Astoria. If you want to enjoy classy Greek cuisine in a cozy outdoor spot, Ovelia is where it’s at. While tables aren’t separated into private rooms, the shed is heated with decorative lamps and provides a simple, yet sophisticated atmosphere that’s sure to charm you and your party.
– Tacuba Cantina Mexicana: If you’re looking for a great margarita in a cozy private room, then you won’t have to travel too far into Queens. Right on the boarder of Long Island City and Astoria is Tacuba Cantina, a wonderful Mexican restaurant with one of the most well-organized dining sheds I’ve ever seen. They have both open space and private rooms, meaning it’s a perfect spot for larger parties or private dining. It’s also right across the street from the Museum of the Moving Image, so you can grab a cute cocktail after learning about Jim Hensen and cinema history.
– Blend Astoria: Blend Astoria is in…Astoria. Surprise! This Latin American staple is very popular for its great food and drink selections. Its outdoor space may not seem like such a big deal during the day, but at night the sleek white and purple lights make this spot a vibe and a half. It’s as if you’re in a night club all while sitting outdoors next to the exotic plants that also decorate this space.
– Ruta Oaxaca: If you haven’t seen this Mexican Restaurant in Queens, then you haven’t been out in a while, cause it’s hard to miss. Bright pink and spacious, Ruta Oaxaca has a fun, vibrant feel to it that makes you feel like you’re at a party. With a ton of margarita options and a new special Mole sauce each day, this restaurant is the perfect stop on a bar tour or a cute night out.
– Sweet Afton: Ever want to escape to a secret garden away from the world. The city can be a tough place on anyone, which is why Sweet Afton in Astoria offers an escape in their backyard covered patio. Beautifully lit and decorated with a painted mural to one side, this classy cove provides the perfect ambiance for a rainy New York Day.
– La Espiga: Though a bit out of the way in Corona, NY this Mexican restaurant has some of the best homemade tortillas in the city. Rustic and simple, this dining shed has three picnic tables where parties large and small can gather and feast. The unique aesthetic of this shed makes you feel like you’re attending a small, backyard, family gathering.
– Trestle: All American in more ways than one, Trestle is a family-owned business that is distinctly Queens. The 5th generation family is proud of all they’ve accomplished, including the outdoor dining structure they built during the pandemic. Resembling the steel beams that keep most of NYC standing, this structure invokes a feeling of strength, perseverance, and industry. With a wide variety of food and beer, Trestle embodies the American spirit in looks and taste.
– Carla: Whether you’re looking for the perfect date spot or you’re just a fan of tasteful decoration, Carla is the spot for you. This woman-owned business opened just this year and has made big waves throughout the Astoria community. The outdoor space, with decorated with beautiful flowers and plant life, provides a rare natural feel in a concrete jungle. People have also been raving about their burgers and tacos, so definitely check this spot out before it’s impossible to get a table.
– Luna’s Kitchen and Bar: Located in Jackson Heights, this place is a jack of all trades. It hosts classy brunches with signature cocktails during the day, and lets its hair down with Karaoke and other events in the evening. The outdoor space has access to these events and others, like enjoying a nice mimosa while listening to a guy jam on the saxophone. With plenty of space for friends and family, Luna’s provides a fun atmosphere that encourages the community to come together.
– Blend on the Water: It wouldn’t be a top ten outdoor dining list without mentioning a waterfront restaurant. In Queen’s case, the top spot in this category goes to Blend on the Water in Long Island City. This high-end restaurant and cocktail lounge are a bit pricy, but nothing beats the slick black and gold lining with white lights that decorate the shed of this classy spot. Even more impressive is their view of Midtown Manhattan, which is breath taking both day and night. If you’re looking for a waterfront experience, then put on your Sunday clothes and head to the Blend.
As with last week, these are just a few of the dining sheds and gardens that pepper Queens. Known for Greek, Mexican, and seafood, Queens has a wide variety of places to enjoy. Most of these restaurants and bars have outdoor seating, each with their own quarks and charms. The ones listed above are my favorite haunts, but the only way to find your own is to explore. So, gather some friends, some family, a date, or even your dog and hit those beautiful Queens streets. No matter what you find, this borough will keep you coming back for more.
Russell is a writer and comic based in New York City. His plays have been featured at Penn State’s Cultural Conversation’s Festival, The NYC Thespis Festival, and Imaginarium’s Inaugural Theater Festival. Follow him on TikTok and Instagram @pooleparty528