date published: July 27, 2009

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


Dante, 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 and sinfully delicious “hell” entrees.

vlora, 545 boylston St., 617-638-9699. No weekend shopping trip can start without a full satisfying meal, and that’s what Mediterranean-influenced eatery Vlora offers, enhancing its full menu of traditional breakfast favorites like pancakes, waffles and omelettes with unique offerings like vegetarian moussaka, spinach and feta pie, gnocchi, kebabs and more.

The Asgard, 350 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-577-9100. Located between funky Central Square and MIT, this Irish pub/restaurant can be packed during the work week. But for its weekend brunch, the Asgard 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.

scollay square, 21 Beacon St., 617-742-4900. This Beacon Hill eatery is a popular spot anytime of day or night, but for Sunday brunch, diners can catch a glimpse of Boston’s center of government at a rare quiet moment and take in Boston’s impressive classic and modern architecture. The menu is packed with upscale takes on brunch favorites—like citrus buttermilk pancakes with fresh strawberries and cream or crab cakes eggs Benedict—and is known for its “Make Your Own Bloody Mary” bar.

drinks after work (or anytime!)

charlie’s beer garden, 10 Eliot St., Cambridge, 617-492-9646. For years, Harvard Square denizens in search of cheap and tasty food have frequented Charlie’s Kitchen, but it wasn’t until last fall that the eatery opened its delightfully European stonewalled beer garden, a spot where folks of all sorts can be found sampling any of a rotating selection of 16 drafts and 32 bottled beers as they enjoy the tasty diner-style grub for which Charlie’s is known.

bond, The Langham Hotel, 250 Franklin St., 617-956-8765. One of Boston’s trendiest new restaurants boasts a swanky terrace that gives clientele a view of Boston’s Financial District and a great view of the city skyline as the sun sets and evening fun begins. Professionals loosen their ties and nightlife fans clamor for custom cocktails like The Reserve and The Fed (Bond is housed in a former bank building, after all) and upscale snacks.

game on!, corner of Brookline Avenue and Lansdowne Street, 617-351-7001. The nightclub/restaurant located inside Fenway Park itself is a popular post-game nightspot, but its delicious pizzas, sandwiches, nachos and excellent beer selection also draws revelers to soak up the post-workday, pre-Sox game atmosphere on its spacious patio.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

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 satisfy those appetites at McCormick & Schmick’s, which boasts a prime location for outdoor dining. Guests can 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.

kingfish hall, 188 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 617-523-8860. Superstar chef Todd English’s seafood restaurant offers the freshest daily catch—including a new sushi bar—and lets patrons enjoy their meals amidst the vibrant hustle and bustle of Fanueil Hall Marketplace.

newbury street

Sonsie, 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 wide in good weather to turn Sonsie into a virtual 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.

ben & jerry’s, 174 Newbury St., 617-536-5456. This summer, chill out on Newbury Street as you enjoy some of the sweetest, most delectable ice cream creations this side of Vermont. B&J’s has plenty of Boston-area outposts, but few better for soaking up the outdoor, summer-in-the-city atmosphere as you lick a cone, sip a smoothie or dig into a dish of your favorite creamy treat.


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 boasts a 48-seat patio on the corner of Charles and Stuart streets. The streetside pace is bustling, particularly in those moments leading up to showtime, 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.

da vinci ristorante, 162 Columbus Ave., 617-350-0007. This top-notch Italian eatery serves lunch, dinner and cocktails and overlooks the bustling activity of Park Square, just blocks away from the Theatre District—ensuring you’ll have ample time to enjoy Chef Peppino’s grapefruit fava bean salad or fusilli bolognese while still making the curtain in plenty of time.

Romantic dining

The Hungry I, 711/2 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 Ballarin’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.

ruth’s chris steak house, 45 school st., 617-742-8401. Tucked away from the heart of downtown, just off the Freedom Trail, is Boston’s Old City Hall, a classic stone edifice that’s now home to the Hub outlet of this phenomenally popular steakhouse chain. Ruth’s Chris boasts a lovely patio surrounded by greenery without ever losing its distinct urban feel. It’s a classy and romantic enviornment in which to dine on the restaurant’s rich and deliciously decadent cuts of beef, sumptuous desserts and selections from a stellar wine list.

Casa Romero, 30 Gloucester St., 617-536-4341. Tucked away in a quiet alley between the main drags of Newbury and Boylston streets, 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.


Legal Sea Foods, Charles Square, 20 University Rd., Cambridge, 617-491-9400. The city’s first name in seafood has an abundance of locations, many of which boast patios with phenomenal views and ambience. The Charles Square location is no exception, with a picturesque terrace where seafood lovers can sample all the traditional favorites, as well as a special “summer-only” al fresco menu including dishes like a delicate crabmeat roll and a mini raw bar.

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.

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 its patio in the heart of the Back Bay.


the barking crab, 88 Sleeper St., 617-426-2722. There’s no need to request a spot outside at this Boston waterfront institution—the whole thing is outside. At the Crab, patrons line picnic tables underneath a long tent overlooking the Harbor. The mood is relaxed and casual, with no fancy airs to distract from the essentials: heaping portions of fresh seafood and shellfish served against a perfect summertime harbor setting.

the living room, 101 Atlantic Ave., 617-723-5101. This popular nightspot on the edge of the North End overlooks Boston Harbor and is a comfortable spot to curl up with good friends and a cocktail or two. Watch the sunset while boats bob on the water, enjoy a diverse menu of pub food and live it up until last call.

Sushi-Teq/Miel, InterContinental Hotel, 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 French brasserie that serves everything from escargot to a fully stacked raw bar and is complemented by the waterfront’s only outdoor wine bar. The menus may be different, but the two eateries do share one truly stunning view of Boston Harbor that’ll enhance the flavor of whatever you choose to eat.

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