Going into 2021, most of our favorite restaurants and bars needed to find creative ways to transform their outdoor dining areas into enclosed spaces that could withstand the unpredictable New Jersey winter. With the coronavirus continuing to limit indoor dining capacities, restaurant owners needed to think of quick yet efficient ways of adapting their outdoor seating. Igloos and greenhouses have been popping up throughout the state as fun solutions to this dining dilemma, but some eateries have thought outside these plastic bubbles—crafting amazing pavilions, patios, courtyards, and gardens for their guests to dine in.
Heated floors, live music, and personal servers are just some of the unique features these one-of-a-kind enclosures include! Though some restaurants require rental fees, spending minimums, or reservations, we think it’s worth it for an extraordinary evening out. Here are 21 of our favorite New Jersey outdoor dining restaurants to visit this winter if you’re willing to bundle up and brave the cold!
1. Frankie – Jersey City
Located in downtown Jersey City, Frankie is an Australian-inspired bar and eatery which recently transformed its vibrant sidewalk space into a modern outdoor dining nook. The towering space heaters which line the middle of the outdoor dining enclosure keep guests warm while partitions between each table ensure guests’ safety while they dine. This little alcove’s unique partially open roof allows fresh air to circulate, creating a natural way of ventilating the space. Open every Wednesday through Sunday, you won’t want to miss Frankie’s iconic brunch, dinner, and natural wine selections.
2. Faubourg – Montclair
Cold nights call for warm cocktails! At Faubourg in Montclair, guests can gather around the crackling fire pit in the restaurant’s partially-covered outdoor patio while they dine on modern French cuisine. Partitions separate socially distanced tables and booths, but if you prefer to sit at the bar, their cozy indoor lounge is open every Wednesday through Saturday evening from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. For fireside dining, reserve a table through their website.
3. Asbury Ale House – Asbury Park
With 17 spacious greenhouses and 12 comfy bubbles to dine in, there’s no wonder Asbury Ale House has the largest outdoor dining area in Monmouth County! Each heated enclosure comfortably seats four to eight guests and comes with a private Bluetooth speaker so you can personalize your own dining playlist. Personal servers are also provided for each greenhouse. Bubbles are first come first serve but greenhouse reservations can be made on the Ale House’s website. Just note that there is a 90-minute dining limit per reservation.
4. Northern Soul – Hoboken
This Hoboken hotspot has garnered a great deal of attention recently for its trendy “Soul Shacks,” Instagram-worthy greenhouses that have built-in infrared heating, LED lights, and Bluetooth speakers. The smaller “Soul Shacks” are the perfect size for parties of two to four guests while groups of six to eight can reserve a larger greenhouse. To ensure the safety of all patrons, these huts are double sanitized with disinfectant and high-intensity ultraviolet light after every use, making them a COVID-safe space to dine. Whether a vegetarian, vegan, or omnivore looking to try something new, the healthy comfort food served at Northern Soul is guaranteed to keep you warm this winter. Reservations for a “Soul Shack” can be made online.
5. Elia Mediterranean Restaurant – East Rutherford
Longing to escape the cold, bleak New Jersey winter? Take a trip to Elia, an authentic Mediterranean restaurant located in East Rutherford. Their heated winter tent resembles a warm summer day on a Grecian beach with its umbrellas, palm fronds, and cushioned benches. Guests dine under glowing chandeliers and mood lighting that sets the elegant tone for this upscale establishment. If you love fresh seafood and homemade sangria, Elia is the perfect place to experience a little slice of paradise! Reservations can be made today via the restaurant’s website.
6. Rustica – Cliffside Park
Dine under the stars in the newly-built Skylight Winter Garden at Rustica, an Italian-American fusion restaurant located in Cliffside Park. This strong steel structure can withstand 100 lbs of snow, 120 mph winds, and can comfortably seat 150 people at a time. To ensure the safety of all guests, the patio features a hospital-grade HEPA filtered ventilation system and air circulation fans. Additionally, each wooden pergola has newly-installed infrared heaters and insulated privacy dividers. Whimsical lanterns and foliage create a serene ambiance in the enclosure, making this an ideal spot for an enchanting evening out. Make your reservations now by calling the restaurant.
7. Setaara – Atlantic City
If you miss traveling as much as we do, you must visit Setaara in Atlantic City. This Afghan French fusion restaurant opened its beautiful, outdoor heated courtyard this past summer in anticipation of the chilly fall and winter seasons. In this Moroccan riad-inspired structure, guests can dine under twinkling lights imported from Morocco, Egypt, and Turkey while listening to tranquil rose petal fountains. Heat lamps and fire pits warm the enclosure so guests can dine comfortably without their coats or jackets. Open rain, snow, or shine for dinner every Thursday through Saturday, Setaara is the closest thing to international travel! Satisfy your wanderlust and make reservations today on their website.
8. The Frog and Peach – New Brunswick
Considering a new Sunday brunch spot that’s concealed from the cold? Look no further than The Frog and The Peach located in New Brunswick. Enjoy a winter luncheon in The Garden Room, the restaurant’s semi-outdoor space that is heated and enclosed in the wintertime. This idyllic spot is decorated with lush, green foliage making it feel like a warm spring day year-round. Grab some of your friends and reserve a table now through the restaurant’s website.
9. Birravino – Red Bank
Birravino’s long-awaited outdoor greenhouse village is finally open! The BirraVillage features four large, heated private dining greenhouses for parties of up to 10 and two heated private dining cottages for groups up to four. Additionally, the restaurant offers tables in their socially distant, fully heated dining tent. At night, the quaint enclosures reflect the warm glow of the string lights hung above, causing this picturesque village to look like the set from a Hallmark movie. For dinner seating, there is a two-hour limit per party to accommodate all reservations. To enjoy a one-of-a-kind dining experience in a greenhouse or cottage, guests can call Birravino or make a tent reservation through their website.
10. The Hamilton Inn – Jersey City
One of the more creative solutions to outdoor dining in New Jersey goes to The Hamilton Inn, which turned their open-air seating area into CAMP Hamilton! Complete with individual cabins, outdoor heating lamps, and curtains for privacy, guests can unwind and dig into delicious American fare at this pretend campsite. Adding to the camping atmosphere, patrons can place their order for lunch, brunch, dinner, and drinks at the RV stationed on the patio. Six to eight guests can easily fit into one of the picnic tables located inside of the cabins. Go “camping” in the winter and reserve your cabin today on The Hamilton Inn’s website.
11. Washington House Restaurant – Basking Ridge
Grab a blanket and head on over to the Winter Tent at the Washington House Restaurant in Basking Ridge. Unlike other temporary outdoor enclosures, this al fresco dining hall features a radiant heat flooring system. Additionally, the Winter Tent offers live entertainment by local musicians from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every night. Socially distanced tables for four are available to reserve while rustic picnic tables can accommodate larger parties. To enjoy a wonderful evening of food and music at the Winter Tent, make reservations online through their website.
12. DeNovo European Pub – Edgewater
Admire breathtaking views of the New York City skyline and George Washington Bridge from inside the heated igloo at DeNovo’s in Edgewater! Located on the restaurant’s outdoor patio, this private oversized enclosure can easily accommodate parties of eight to 12 guests. Serving authentic European cuisine every Tuesday through Sunday, you don’t want to miss out on these delectable dishes and stunning sights!
13. Fox and Crow – Jersey City
The owners of popular pub and parlor spot, Fox and Crow, have transformed their sidewalk dining space into a cozy wooden pavilion for the wintertime! Colorful lights and festive garland adorn the enclosure, making it a welcoming space to crack open a cold beer on a Friday night. The large doorway, open slats along the walls, and operable windows allow for plenty of fresh air flow! Enjoy delicious pub classics like nachos, wings, and burgers every Wednesday through Sunday.
14. Corto – Jersey City
Looking for a hearty bowl of pasta to keep you warm on a cold Jersey night? Corto in the JC Heights neighborhood can satisfy your cravings! In their covered backyard patio, guests can enjoy authentic Italian dishes by the comfort of a blazing fire. Twinkling lights illuminate the tent and replicate the beauty of stars in the night sky. To ensure a table, please make reservations online; walk-ins are also welcome!
15. Fig and Lily Garden – Morristown
Spend a magical evening at one of the most popular igloo dining destinations in New Jersey, the Fig and Lily Garden! Amazingly, these heated plastic bubbles were some of the few installed pre-pandemic. Their unique structure and independent flooring make these outdoor dining enclosures durable to all kinds of inclement weather; watching the rain or snowfall from inside one of these igloos is an experience like no other! With two windows, a door, and frequent sanitizations, dining at the Fig and Lily Garden is entirely COVID-friendly. There are no reservation fees, but guests should be aware of the minimum spending limit ($150 for 1-2, $200 for 3-4, and $250 for 5-6 people). For reservations, please call or email the restaurant directly.
16. It’s Greek to Me – Ridgewood
The four frosted greenhouses that line the outside patio of It’s Greek to Me in Ridgewood are some of the cutest winter dining enclosures we’ve seen! Each equipped with heating, air ventilation, and a weighted base for high winds, these huts can seat up to four people at once. However you pronounce it, eating gyros in a greenhouse should definitely be on your 2021 bucket list! Reserve your greenhouse in advance by calling the restaurant.
17. ManaFirkin Brewing Company – Manahawkin
Grab a couple of cold ones and appreciate happy hour from inside one of these heated igloos! The “Firkin Wonderland,” this New Jersey brewery’s creative solution to winter outdoor dining, is a small igloo village nestled under tall trees and sparkling lanterns. Each enclosure can entertain up to eight guests and is sanitized by hand between each seating. Just note that each igloo comes with a $50 rental fee. And either a $50 or $100 tab minimum depending on the size of your group. Reservations for these drinking domes are filling up quickly, so book your bubble today!
18. Emma Bistro – Edgewater
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than dinner in one of the chic greenhouses at Emma Bistro! This Argentinian American fusion restaurant originally started with one greenhouse but due to its popularity, they’ve installed additional sidewalk enclosures. These intimate, two-person clear cottages are individually heated and sanitized for your safety. Guests are encouraged to “dine wild” at Emma Bistro, and try something new from either their brunch, dinner, or dessert menu; mocktails are also offered, as the restaurant is BYOB. Due to the high demand for these outdoor dining nooks, there is an hour and a half dining limit for each seating. Reservations for these romantic greenhouses are filling up quickly, so call the restaurant as soon as possible.
19. Bin 14 – Hoboken
Bin 14, Hoboken’s first and only wine bar, has one of the most expansive outdoor dining areas in New Jersey! In their backyard patio, small groups of guests can safely dine at the socially distanced, plexiglass divided tables. Individual heat lamps are suspended over each dining space to keep patrons warm as they eat. For larger parties, picnic tables located in the restaurant’s heated front patio can be reserved. If the patios are booked, check out the restaurant’s enclosed front deck! Shared with The Madison Bar and Grill next door, this rustic pavilion is a warm haven for an evening out. A contemporary blend of upscale Italian tapas and an extensive list of wines by the glass and bottle can be enjoyed in any of these outdoor dining spaces! Reservations are a must at Bin 14, so visit their website to snag a table today.
20. Kitchen Step – Jersey City
Give your followers FOMO by visiting the charming greenhouses at The Kitchen Step! Located in the historic Van Vorst District of Jersey City, this modern-American bistro has installed six, fully-heated greenhouses perfect for the winter. Inside these spacious shacks, guests can savor cutting-edge cocktails that pair perfectly with a vibrant menu crafted by executive chef, Ryan DePersio. Visit their website or call today to experience the unbelievable brunch and dinner specials from the safety of one of these greenhouse sanctuaries.
21. Marcus at NoHu Rooftop – Weehawken
With the sparkling lights of the Manhattan skyline as your backdrop, Marcus at NoHu Rooftop is the perfect place to spend an eventful evening out. Their newly installed rooftop igloos debuted this past New Years’ Eve as an additional dining option to their already heated patio. Unlike other outdoor igloos, these enclosures are furnished with comfortable loveseats, decorative rugs, and modern end tables. The swanky layout of these bubbles is akin to a cozy lounge rather than a traditional dining room. Six guests can relax warmly inside each dome, and enjoy the heavenly menu designed by critically acclaimed chef, Marcus Samuelsson. To make a reservation, email the restaurant directly at [email protected].
Know of another unique outdoor dining space in New Jersey? Let us know in the comments below!
Main photo via Birravino in Red Bank, NJ