date published: July 17, 2006

It’s summer in the greatest city in the world, so Panorama suggests if you’re planning to go out to eat that you really go out to eat, by sampling the best patio dining Boston has to offer. Come July, every restaurant in the city with a spare patch of ground sets up a few tables, throws on some tablecloths and calls it a patio. But since all patios are not created equal, we’re offering this quick rundown of what we consider Boston’s elite options for dining “out.”

Stephanie’s On Newbury
190 Newbury St., 617-236-0990 One thing that patio dining particularly lends itself to is the vantage point it gives diners to engage in that most visually delicious of pastimes: people watching. Since there’s no better place to do so than on glitzy Newbury Street, Stephanie’s patio is ground zero for gazing at the beautiful people while you scarf down delectable comfort foods such as burgers, meatloaf, salads and other favorites elevated to a high level of sophistication.

Henrietta’s Table
One Bennett St., Cambridge, 617-661-5005 Frequently lauded for its lovely outdoor patio, Henrietta’s is nestled within a courtyard 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. Henrietta’s specializes in using local fruits, vegetables and meats from nearby farms and markets, and, in fact, the Harvard Square Farmers Market can be found just down the steps from Henrietta’s, giving you the option of taking home some of the freshness for yourself.

L’Aroma Cafe
85 Newbury St., 617-412-4001 Many of us treat a cup of coffee like nothing more than a source of rocket fuel to be snatched up and consumed on the go as part of our fast-paced lives. This charming independent coffee shop takes its lead from the outdoor cafes of Europe that invite coffee drinkers to sit a spell, breathe in the energy of the city and enjoy their drink. Patrons at L’Aroma are able to enjoy distinctly Italian coffees, pastries, gelato, paninis and more while taking a break from their busy day.

Hotel Commonwealth, 528 Commonwealth Ave., 617-532-9100 Eastern Standard boasts a covered patio that provides an oasis of calm sophistication amidst the fervor of pre-Red Sox action, located, as it is, just blocks away from Fenway Park. The restaurant, one of the recent additions to the now-burgeoning and renovated Kenmore Square, may be in the heart of baseball activity, but specializes in French country-style dishes and seafood, such as oysters and clams and items like the exotic “Good Plate of Offal,” which tempts adventurous diners with small squares of delicacies such as rabbit sausage and head cheese.

The Hungry i
71½  Charles St., 617-227-3524 In contrast to many of Boston’s patios, Hungry i’s couldn’t be more removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Sometimes the value of patio dining isn’t in what you can see, but in your ability to hide away from the rest of the world with the one you love. The Hungry i—long considered one of Boston’s most romantic eateries—knows this, and that’s why their patio is a quiet and secluded spot replete with greenery and statues at the back of the restaurant. Whether you’re there for a relaxing brunch or a romantic evening, there’s no better spot in Boston to dine in tranquility and peace, away from the demands of the real world.

Hamersley’s Bistro
533 Tremont St., 617-423-2700 Located just next door to the Boston Center for the Arts, Hamersley’s has food so good that patrons enjoying a pre-show nosh can be forgiven for hoping that the leading man breaks a leg and the understudy’s nowhere to be found. Long lauded as one of Boston’s finest restaurants, Hamersley’s boasts a garden patio where guests can look out at the trendy and artsy neighborhood of the South End while enjoying French-American cuisine and seasonal desserts (such as chocolate truffle layer cake with lemon verbena ice cream and raspberries or lavender creme brulee).

Spread your
Blanket Here
If your approach to outdoor dining is more DIY, then picnicking is definitely the way to go. After you grab the wine, cheese and other sundry goodies (refer to page 24 for some suggestions on that front), a successful picnic comes down to that old adage “location, location, location.”

  • Kids’ stuff: Raymond Street Park (Walden and Raymond streets, Cambridge) offers picnic space and a large playground where kids can work off their food.
  • On the Outskirts: Larz Anderson Park in Brookline (between Newton Street, Avon Street and Goddard Avenue) offers an unparalleled view of Boston’s skyline.
  • On the Waterfront: Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park (between Mercantile Street and Long Wharf) is a scenic oasis in the bustling North End.
  • Rollin’ on the River: The Charles River Esplanade offers a picturesque view of the relaxing Charles River on one side and the charming brownstones of the Back Bay on the other.
  • Dinner and a Show: The Publick Theatre Grounds (Christian Herter Park, Brighton) offers a hidden away spot that’s lush and green—and after a picnic supper, you can stroll over and take in a Publick Theatre outdoor production (like the one pictured above) to boot.

—Sarah Brickley

Tremont 647
647 Tremont St., 617-266-4600 Dining out is lots of fun, but one big problem is that your favorite dining companion usually isn’t welcome—that’s right, we’re talking about your dog. At Tremont 647, however, the pooch problem is solved every Saturday between 2 and 5 p.m., when the funky American bistro hosts Doggie Days on the Patio. While you chow down on ribs, steaks, fish and other tasty delights from hot chef/owner Andy Husbands, your best friend can enjoy his or her own vittles, courtesy of Polka Dog Bakery—everything from canine quiche to the Dogmopolitan (made with real lamb broth) for Fido. And by night, this swank South End hot spot is perfect for cocktails and mingling with locals.

Publick House
1648 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-277-2880 By now, you’re no doubt thinking, “All that’s well and good, but what about beer? Is there no place where I can simply kick back in the open air and sample some of the world’s finest beers and maybe enjoy a few l cheeses at the same time?” Glad you asked, because we’d be remiss in omitting Brookline’s Publick House, one of local beer drinkers’ most beloved houses of worship. This restaurant/pub specializes in exceptional Belgian and Belgian-style beers you won’t find anywhere else, as well as only the best microbrews, while also delivering a menu that goes well beyond standard pub fare, boasting such dishes as the aforementioned artisinal cheese sampler and pistachio crusted scallops.

225 Northern Ave., 617-330-7430 LTK is the newest restaurant concept from New England seafood institution Legal Sea Foods, and it’s appropriately located near the South Boston waterfront so that once you place your order, they can run across the street with a rod and reel and catch your dinner there on the spot. Okay, that’s not true, but LTK does embrace modern amenities such as plasma screen menus, and individual iPod ports for their tables so that you can program individual tunes for your dining party. Given LTK’s proximity to major waterfront concert venue the Bank of America Pavilion, however, you may want to skip the iPods, sit out on the patio, and see if you can pick up the sounds of whoever’s playing that night as you munch on tasty appetizers, entrees and desserts.

Dick’s Last Resort
Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 617-267-8080 Dick’s is located in the heart of Boston’s outdoor dining mecca, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, where dining on the patio means you’re in the middle of a slew of restaurants, bars, shops and most of all, people. The somewhat chaotic vibe, though, perfectly fits Dick’s, which is known for its wacky and sassy waitstaff and generally convivial atmosphere which never takes itself too seriously. Throw in heaping amounts of tasty appetizers, wings, seafood and other delectable grub, and you’ve got a patio scene that will remind you of those boisterous backyard parties with friends from years gone by.

The Living Room
101 Atlantic Ave., 617-723-5101 An ideal spot for those who want to chill out with friends and take advantage of a Boston summer night by the water, The Living Room is located literally steps away from Boston Harbor. This relatively new establishment serves a full menu of sandwiches, appetizers, entrees and desserts, but is best known for being as relaxing a venue for a first date or a night out with friends as its cozy name would suggest. If the sea breezes get too cool, you can always step inside and enjoy the plush cushioned couches, but the seaside ambiance will likely be enough to keep patrons on this patio all summer long.

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