New York City is home to a variety of unique dining experiences. You can taste diverse flavors from around the world, time travel to the heyday of soda fountains, and enjoy your meal with stunning views of the city skyline as you sail the waterways of NYC. There are countless restaurants that offer great views, and many are on the waterfront, but here, we take a look at the floating barges and boats that get you out on the Hudson and East Rivers and New York Harbor. From a former aircraft carrier to a 1920s luxury yacht, discover 9 bars and restaurants on the water in NYC:
1. The Baylander, West Harlem Piers
The Baylander Steel Beach, docked at West Harlem Piers near 125th Street, is one of the most unique restaurants on the water in New York City. The USS Baylander is a Vietnam War-era ship that once held the title of the world’s smallest aircraft carrier. Military artifacts, such as storage containers that held meals for the troops in Afghanistan, are incorporated into the restaurant as furniture and decor.
The Baylander went into service for the US Navy in 1968. It was originally used as a harbor utility craft that moved men and materials around the delta regions of Vietnam. In the 1980s, it was converted into a helicopter landing trainer in Florida. After hosting 122,000 landings, the ship was sold at auction and brought to New York in 2012. It opened as a restaurant in 2020. Learn more about the history of the ship here!
2. La Barca Cantina, Pier 81
La Barca Cantina is New York City’s only Mexican restaurant on a boat and one of the city’s newest restaurants on the water. Docked at Pier 81 in Manhattan, the restaurant sets sails for 1 and 2-hour cruises every Thursday through Sunday. Aboard the vessel, which is decked out in art by Tlisza Jaurique – the first Mexican-American woman to exhibit at the Met Museum – you can order refreshing tequila cocktails and food inspired by the flavors of Oaxaca.
This restaurant will open for the 2023 season on May 4th. You can book passes now for individual cruises or the whole season for a summer full of tacos and margaritas!
3. Pier 66, Hudson River Park
Pier 66 Maritime in Hudson River Park is made up of a collection of historic vessels. First, visitors walk across a wood and iron rail float bridge from the 1800s, originally part of the historic Baltimore & Ohio Railroad float transfer bridge. Until the 1970s, railroad cars would be transferred across the river by barge and linked up with tracks on land in New York to be transferred to nearby warehouses.
Once over the bridge at Pier 66, you’ll be on top of a former Lackawanna railroad barge where you’ll find The Pier 66 Maritime Bar & Grill. Don’t miss the authentic 1900′s caboose on your way to the bar! Next to the barge visitors will see the Lightship Frying Pan and the Fireboat John J. Harvey, a retired fireboat that served the city of New York from 1931 to 1994. The restaurant and bar are open now from 11:00 am until sunset. The 2023 season kicks into full swing on Memorial Day to Labor Day when this restaurant on the water will be open 7 days a week depending on the weather.
4. Classic Harbor Line Cruises, Chelsea Piers
Classic Harbor Line Cruises offer waterway tours of New York City paired with fun brunches and cocktail experiences. You can watch the sunset while listening to live jazz, enjoy cheese and wine parings while admiring the Lower Manhattan skyline, or enjoy classic cocktails as you sail past the Statue of Liberty.
Harbor Line Cruises
Classic Harbor Line cruises depart from Chelsea Piers in Manhattan aboard a fleet of vintage-inspired vessels. The food and drink pairings as well as the tours offered vary throughout the year. Check out all of the options here!
5. North River Lobster Company, Pier 81
Since 2014, the North River Lobster Company has set sail as the city’s only floating lobster shack. Located on West 41st Street, the restaurant menu features lobster rolls, a fresh raw bar, and some non-seafood options along with a refreshing menu of beverages.
Open from April through the fall, the boat sets sail six times a week over the summer for 2 and 1-hour cruises. Daytime cruises sail up the Hudson River while dinner cruises head to the Statue of Liberty and back.
6. Grand Banks, Pier 25
One of the most popular restaurants on the water in New York City is Grand Banks at Pier 25 in Tribeca. This floating restaurant sits aboard the Sherman Zwicker, a large wooden schooner that was hand-built in 1942. The boat was part of the Grand Banks fleet used for cod fishing in the North Atlantic and is the last original salt bank fishing vessel in existence.
Before moving to New York and becoming a restaurant, the ship was moored for nearly 30 years at the Maine Maritime Museum. The Grand Banks restaurant on board was inspired by the historic oyster barges that once lined Manhattan’s waterfront. The menu showcases sustainably harvested oysters and nautically inspired cocktails.
7. Shearwater, North Cove Marina at Brookfield Place
The Shearwater Classic Schooner is a restored sailing boat from 1929 that now takes visitors on tours of New York City’s coastline. The luxury yacht has sailed around the world and won yacht races in New York and New Zealand.
The Shearwater offers a variety of different cruises that include food and beverages. You can enjoy wine and cheese pairings, or pop champagne on a “bubbles and bites” brunch cruise. The boat is also available for private charters.
8. Pilot, Brooklyn Bridge Park
Pilot, docked on the north side of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6, is a sister restaurant to Grand Banks (you can tell by their matching yellow and white striped awnings). This restaurant sits aboard another historic and rare Grand Banks-style schooner. The ship was originally commissioned as a racing vessel in 1924 and still retains many of its historic elements including the hull, topsides, pilothouse, deck, cabin top, and rigging.
After its career as the country’s longest-serving pilot ship and two circumnavigations of the globe, the ship came to rest in New York City. Today, you can climb aboard to indulge in sustainably harvested oysters and seasonal plates by nationally acclaimed chef, Kerry Heffernan. Pilot will open for the 2023 season soon!
9. William Wall Clubhouse
Honorable William Wall is the floating clubhouse of the Manhattan Yacht Club which is open to the public from May through October, Tuesday through Saturday. Anchored in the New York harbor just near Ellis Island, you need to take another boat, “Admiral’s Launch,” to get there. The Admiral’s launch departs from the Manhattan Yacht Club in Jersey City every half hour.
This unique clubhouse was designed for viewing sailboat races, so there are no frills. The bar serves wine, beer, liquor, and standard mixed drink. You can bring your own food. The first floor of the vessel, once exclusively open to club members, houses club memorabilia and a small library. Races are best viewed from the top balcony.