date published: May 19, 2008

Boston’s best spots for dining al fresco
by Josh B. Wardrop

, 40 Edwin H. Land Blvd., Cambridge, 617-497-4200. This popular eatery’s prime patio position overlooking the Charles River is enough to make it a fine choice for a meal anytime. But brunch is where Dante has really sizzled since the inception of its $20 Inferno Brunch. Guests can enjoy selections from “heaven” (breakfast pastries), “purgatory” temptations like fresh fruit and creamy cauliflower bisque, and sinfully delicious “Hell” entrees like brioche French toast, bacon cheeseburgers and poached eggs Italiano with prosciutto.

Henrietta’s Table, One Bennett St., Cambridge, 617-661-5005. Frequently lauded for its lovely outdoor patio, Henrietta’s is nestled within a sort of quad in the middle of The Charles Hotel. But what really makes the spot popular is that its food is as fresh and natural as its surroundings, as Henrietta’s specializes in using local fruits, vegetables and meat from nearby farms and markets.

The Kinsale, 2 Center Plaza, 617-742-5577. Located just across from City Hall Plaza, this Irish pub/restaurant can be packed during the work week. But for its weekend brunch, the Kinsale is a refreshing spot to enjoy a variety of tasty breakfast and lunch items—including a full Irish breakfast (complete with black and white puddings) for fans of the Auld Sod.

The Hungry I
, 71½ Charles St., 617-227-3524. Ritzy Beacon Hill is a beautiful neighborhood filled with great restaurants, but for the most part diners are confined indoors as few places have patio seating. A notable exception is The Hungry i, Chef Peter Ballerin’s enduring romantic French country eatery. Here, couples can eat their venison or rabbit in a semi-enclosed, sun-drenched rear garden courtyard away from prying eyes.

La Voile, 261 Newbury St., 617-587-4200. Many would say that the French have cornered the market on romantic dining. Relative newcomer La Voile—one of the most authentic French eateries in Boston, having imported most of the staff and furnishings directly from France—is no exception. The patio, overlooking chi-chi Newbury Street, allows lovebirds to enjoy the top-notch Gallic cuisine in the heart of Boston’s truly beautiful Back Bay.

Casa Romero, 30 Gloucester St., 617-536-4341. Tucked away in an alley between the main drags of Newbury and Boylston Street, Casa Romero’s lovely outdoor brick-paved courtyard is a perfect place to steal away from it all and enjoy authentic, classic Mexican cuisine with the one you love.

South End
The Beehive, 541 Tremont St., 617-423-0069. Picnics can be ruined by invading armies of ants or cartoon bears with tiny fedoras stealing one’s picnic basket, but nothing ruins one faster than bland, boring picnic food. That’s why popular South End eatery The Beehive is sprucing up the picnic lunch with its “urban picnic” concept. Simply pick your gourmet items from a special menu of delicacies such as lobster cocktail or spiced hummus with olive oil, lemon and tahini, and servers will bring them to you, along with fresh bread, tucked in picnic baskets. Then, you can choose your spot on Beehive’s 80-seat courtyard (what they call “The BEEch”) and nosh to your hearts’ content.

B&G Oysters, 550 Tremont St., 617-423-0550. There’s lots to see on Tremont Street, but sometimes privacy trumps all. That’s what makes the sunken stone garden patio at B&G Oysters—home to one of the Hub’s best raw bars—a hidden jewel for those who love outdoor dining.

Stella, 1525 Washington St., 617-247-7747. The occasionally chilly spring evening is no problem here, as Stella provides diners with outdoor heaters and cozy warm blankets along with delicious, upscale Italian fare.

Faneuil Hall
McCormick & Schmick’s
, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, North Market, 617-720-5522. Faneuil Hall Marketplace attracts throngs of people every day to shop to their hearts’ content—which, as anyone can tell you, works up a sizable appetite. Lovers of fresh seafood tend to satisfy those appetites at McCormick & Schmick’s, a popular seafood chain which boasts a location in Faneuil Hall that’s prime for outdoor dining. Guests can sit in comfort with the cobblestone streets beneath their feet and sample pretty much anything that swims while enjoying live, free entertainment with their meals from the street performers that take up residence outside the Quincy Market building.

Dick’s Last Resort, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Quincy Market Building, 617-267-8080. People come to Dick’s for the buckets of delicious no-frills grub and the antics of the mouthy waitstaff, but they come to Faneuil Hall to kick back in the open air while they watch the world go by and admire centuries-old buildings where American democracy was born. Since moving from the Prudential Center to this location—complete with large outdoor seating area—Dick’s has helped customers enjoy the best of both worlds.

Plaza III, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 1 South Market St. #101, 617-720-5570. Enjoy delicious steaks, chops and seafood in the great outdoors without losing any of the traditional steakhouse ambiance and flair.

Cactus Club, 939 Boylston St., 617- 236-0200. The cuisine is popular at this Boylston Street eatery, but many hombres and senoritas look forward all winter to drinking margaritas and mojitos on the restaurant’s patio located smack in the heart of the Back Bay nightlife scene. A perfect place to lift a glass (or pitcher) with friends and celebrate the arrival of longer, warmer nights.

Sunset Cantina, 916 Commonwealth Ave., 617-731-8646. Located in the heart of the Boston University student community, the Cantina is a perfect spot for getting the gang together to sample the restaurant’s 112 varieties of tequila, or enjoy tasty Mexican cuisine, prior to a show at the Paradise or the Agganis Arena—both of which can be spied from the cozy patio.

Cottonwood Cafe, 222 Berkeley St., 617-247-2225. This popular eatery offers contemporary Southwestern cuisine—including killer traditional enchiladas and modern creations like poblano macaroni and cheese—and boasts some of the city’s best margaritas.

Avila Modern Mediterranean
, One Charles St. South, 617-267-4810. Located just around the corner from the main theatre drag on Tremont Street, and in direct eyeshot of the Stuart Street Playhouse, premiere Mediterranean eatery Avila recently unveiled its new 48-seat patio—complete with wrought-iron tables and chairs—on the corner of Charles and Stuart streets. The streetside pace is bustling, particularly in those moments before the curtain goes up, but you’ll want to linger over delicious dishes like paella Valenciana and lamb tenderloin souvlaki.

P.F. Chang’s, 8 Park Plaza, 617-573-0821. Sit in the shadow of the impressive horse statues that flank the doors to this popular Chinese eatery, and you’ll be able to enjoy traditional Asian favorites and creative cocktails just moments away from whatever show you’re planning to attend.

Via Matta, 79 Park Plaza, 617-422-0008. The very definition of dining “al fresco,” this top-notch Italian eatery serves lunch, dinner and cocktails on a charming patio that will have theatre fans giving a standing ovation.

Newbury Street
, 327 Newbury St., 617-351-2500. No patio, per se, exists at this perennial Back Bay favorite that’s been frequented by Hollywood stars for both dining and filming over the years. But the large front windows open up in good weather to turn Sonsie into an upscale street café, providing a breath of fresh air and a chance to gaze upon Newbury’s blend of fashionistas and art students.

Stephanie’s on Newbury, 190 Newbury St., 617-236-0990. Another great locale for peeping at the beautiful folk, Stephanie’s 100-seat patio is as expansive and welcoming as the top-notch upscale comfort food served here—everything from meatloaf to mac and cheese to lobster pot pie.

Cafeteria, 279 Newbury St., 617-536-2233. Poised on the corner of Newbury and Gloucester, this modern Italian restaurant and recent arrival features a 75-seat patio where guests can enjoy seasonal dishes and cocktails.

Legal Sea Foods
, 255 State St., 617-742-5300. Patio dining at this Long Wharf outpost of Boston’s premiere name in all things seafood gets you as close to Boston Harbor as you can get without dining aboard an actual ship. Sit outside and watch families en route to the nearby New England Aquarium, or stop by in the evening for a romantic dinner. Either way, you’re guaranteed to get the freshest fish with the best view of Boston’s waterfront.

Sushi-Teq/Miel, 510 Atlantic Ave., 617-747-1000. The InterContinental Hotel along the Fort Point Channel boasts not one, but two, outdoor dining options: the Mexican-Japanese fusion menu of Sushi-Teq (yes, it stands for sushi and tequila, which basically make up the restaurant’s menu) and Miel, a 24-hour French brasserie that serves everything from escargot to a fully stacked raw bar. The menus may be different, but the two eateries do share one truly stunning view of Boston Harbor and the Channel that’ll enhance the flavor of whatever you choose to eat.

Skipjack’s, 199 Clarendon St., 617-536-3500. Whether you’re looking for fried or grilled fish, shellfish or surf and turf, Skipjack’s delivers it all deliciously at a patio in the heart of the Back Bay.

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