Eager diners, get ready for an al fresco bonanza at these inviting patios, decks and courtyards
Perhaps the Hub’s nexus for outdoor seating, the Back Bay’s main thoroughfares of Boylston and Newbury streets are booming with great spots for dining in the open air. Stephanie’s on Newbury is one of the more popular locales for people-watching while supping on its menu of upscale comfort food, while Piattini offers a great wine selection to complement its rustic Italian specialties. Also on Newbury Street, La Voile entices patrons to its patio with fine French fare. On Boylston Street, mainstays Abe & Louie’s—a classic steakhouse—and fresh seafood emporium Atlantic Fish Company offer inviting outdoor spaces, while the Prudential Center boasts the Back Bay outpost of Earls, which features a rooftop courtyard on which diners can sample delectable tavern fare and craft beers. Another rooftop dining spot next to the Pru is Jody Adams’ Mediterranean-inspired seafood destination Porto, which re-opened April 1. Across from the Public Garden, another Mediterranean hot spot, Bistro du Midi, recently re-opened its doors, not to mention its gorgeous street-side patio. Just off Boylston Street, Michael Serpa’s beloved seafood bistro Select Oyster Bar recently re-opened, complete with a new patio. For a bit of Southern charm, check out outdoor seating at Jason Santos’ Buttermilk & Bourbon on Commonwealth Avenue, or head over to Gloucester Street for the romantic, Mexican-accented vibe on the garden courtyard of Casa Romero.
Thanks to new rules enacted during the pandemic, diners have more options than ever for sitting and supping in the sun in this generally outdoor-dining-unfriendly neighborhood. Pre-COVID-19, patios and decks did exist, however, at favorites like the seafood-focused Mare and the venerable Ristorante Fiore, which are poised to be as popular as ever.
Fans of its homemade pasta and wide variety of cicchetti (small Italian snacks) can now rejoice at SRV (pictured), which boasts a beautiful interior courtyard. Speaking of which, the below-street-level courtyard at Barbara Lynch’s B&G Oysters is a great spot for sampling raw bivalves and the like, while nearby Black Lamb offers its creative takes on American favorites on its street-side space. Black Lamb’s sibling, the acclaimed Italian eatery Bar Mezzana, reopened along with its sister spot on April 1, while farther down the same road, Michael Serpa’s Spain-and Portugal-inspired Atlántico came out of hibernation that same day, both with outdoor seating overlooking Harrison Avenue. Over at the Boston Center for the Arts, Asian fusion favorite Banyan Bar & Refuge features one of the neighborhood’s largest and most popular patios, which opened as the restaurant’s sole dining space, six days a week, on April 21.
Roof decks are always a blast, and such is the picnic-style space at the global food hangout Coppersmith, which is highlighted by a bar crafted from an Airstream trailer. James Beard Award-winning chef Karen Akunowicz hosts outdoor seats at her lauded Fox & the Knife, where patrons can nosh on her house-made pasta creations, while a few doors down, those hungry for upscale American fare and craft beer can get their fill on the expanded patio at Worden Hall, which recently came back from winter hiatus. The unique outdoor experience continues at Publico Street Bistro & Garden, which is home to—as the name suggests—a garden space on which to enjoy Publico’s global street food-inspired fare.
Hopefully you won’t need the winterized igloos featured during the colder months at Woods Hill Pier 4. Regardless, you can enjoy farm- and ocean-fresh fare here along with views of historic Boston Harbor. Another waterfront destination is the latest outpost of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse, which boasts a spacious outdoor dining area. Farther down the waterway lies Legal Harborside, the giant flagship restaurant of the Legal Sea Foods empire, which hosts open-air spaces on two of its three levels. Head toward the Fort Point area for fine Mexican fare and margaritas on the channel-side patio at Lolita Tequila Bar, while the nationally recognized brewery Trillium recently re-opened its restaurant, which offers both a street-level outdoor space and a third-floor roof patio. Other outdoor space-sporting eateries in this locale include the Boston location of the urban ale emporium City Tap Kitchen & Craft and the fresh seafood and oyster hot spot Row 34, which just reopened after a long winter hibernation.
Just in time for the Red Sox season, Japanese-style tavern Hojoko welcomes visitors to its outdoor space, while closer to Fenway Park, Cheeky Monkey offers its own craft beers alongside creative pub fare on a patio overlooking the historic stadium. A longtime Fenway favorite, Audubon Boston recently reopened to serve dishes from its internationally inspired menu on its cloistered rear patio.
Historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace is perhaps the city’s favorite locale for outdoor dining, and is bursting with fun options, from Mexican (Mija) and Irish (Ned Devine’s) to seafood (Salty Dog) and Asian noodles (Wagamama). Nearby, the Samuel Adams Tap Room has started welcoming back customers to its roof deck to savor both tasty treats and cold brews. Down by the water at the Boston Harbor Hotel, patrons of the Rowes Wharf Sea Grille can enjoy some of the most scenic terrace dining in the city.
Cambridge & Somerville
The two smaller cities just to the north of Downtown Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, have a lot to offer across their diverse dining scenes. Cambridge’s famed Harvard Square is home to two patio dining stalwarts: Harvest, which boasts a garden courtyard that is partially covered and heated, and longtime favorite Henrietta’s Table—which pioneered farm-to-table fare more than two decades ago—at the Charles Hotel. Other Harvard Square mainstays with outside seating include the bargain-hunter’s favorite Grendel’s Den and dive bar and beer drinkers’ destination extraordinaire Charlie’s Kitchen (beer garden, anyone?). In East Cambridge, Bambara Kitchen & Bar at the Kimpton Marlowe Hotel takes over the hotel's courtyard this spring and summer, dubbing it Bambara's Backyard. The space includes outdoor games like bocce and corn hole, and, starting in early May, live music and other fun events all weekend long to complement the restaurant's Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Over in Somerville, The Neighborhood has been satisfying customers with its home-baked Portuguese-American treats since 1983, and does so on an inviting, vine-encrusted patio, to boot. At Assembly Square’s enormous Assembly Row development, there is no shortage of great dining options, yet the large patio at River Bar overlooking the Mystic River remains the ideal spot for enjoying creative, street food-inspired dishes along with a refreshing craft cocktail.