Stephanie’s on Newbury
Outdoor Seats: 80
Rumor has it that this scene-y stalwart is open year round, but we wouldn’t know. This is a summertime haunt—the ideal pit stop during an all-day shopping marathon. Patio hopefuls start lining up at 11 a.m. and are rewarded with comfortable rattan chairs, a lengthy cocktail list, and a huge number of seats to choose from. The gargantuan salads are just so-so, but the Stephi burger is a deftly executed classic.
Getting a Table: The nine tables along the front rail make for prime pedestrian gawking. On weekends, arrive as early as 4 p.m. for dinner seating. Any other time, order a Fallen Apple cocktail to keep hydrated while you wait.
190 Newbury St., Boston, 617-236-0990, stephaniesonnewbury.com.
The Tavern at Granite Links Golf Club
Outdoor Seats: 40
From any one of the 17 tables on this course-side lookout, diners can visually feast on Boston Harbor, the city skyline at sunset, and a new 45-foot fountain being installed in the quarry below. A well-mixed martini and the Tavern’s terrific red pepper and mozz Fenway sausage are par for the course.
Getting a Table: Priority goes to members and regulars, so it doesn’t hurt to look the part. We’re betting pressed chinos (or a wrap dress) and a pre-meal G&T—mixed with proactive small talk at the bar—will reduce future wait times. Otherwise, order to-go and hit the new snack bar patio, where you can enjoy drinks and the same views.
100 Quarry Hills Dr., Quincy, 617-689-1900, granitelinksgolfclub.com.
Tavern on the Water
outdoor seats: 200
Fresh-from-work yuppies and postcard photographers gather here for cheap beer, decent pub fare, and a breathtaking view of the Zakim Bridge across the harbor. Graze on calamari and oysters on the half shell at the bar, then dig into fried catfish and a Marina burger once seated. The biggest plus: With 200 chairs to choose from, you’ve got an excellent shot at sitting down.
Getting a Table: The place gets quieter on Sunday afternoons and most Monday nights. Or hang out at the downstairs bar. Though slightly obstructed, the waterfront backdrop is pretty spectacular.
One Eighth St., Charlestown, 617-242-8040, tavernonthewater.com.
Outdoor Seats: 25
Tremont 647′s patio is big enough to accommodate
you and your neighbor’s Bugaboo. Its west-of-center location translates into fewer honking cabs, which makes it a favorite spot for weekend brunch (the "Pajama Brunch" theme means staffers wear their Nick & Noras, but you don’t have to). Favorites include the gingerbread pancakes and the huevos rancheros, served with homemade tortillas.
Getting a Table: Since South End night owls tend to sleep in on the weekend, you’ll have a competitive advantage if you arrive by 10:30 a.m.
647 Tremont St., Boston, 617-266-4600, tremont647.com.
Outdoor Seats: 35
The overchilled vibe of this loungey haunt—named for the optimal martini temperature—takes a turn for the warmer once the cozy patio opens up. It’s only then that it dawns on us how competent the kitchen is, with inventive spins on hackneyed bar classics (pulled-pork "sliders") and super-fresh ingredients (handmade burrata). The whimsical martini lineup is good, but the wines-by-the-glass list is an unsung masterwork.
Getting a Table: Yes, you can make reservations! Whether it’s for a full meal at one of the 15 tables, or a cucumber mojito and $1 Island Creek oysters (between 5 and 7 daily), just call a few hours ahead.
One Appleton St., Boston, 617-728-0728, 28degrees-boston.com.
Outdoor Seats: 50
Via Matta captures a particular brand of Italian spirit: the chic, chatty, dolce vita one. And the busy patio—screened by latticework fencing and some well-placed bushes—combined with the buzz of Park Plaza traffic behind it, does a good job of giving you that dinner-on-the-piazza feel. Housemade pastas and antipasti are perfect for hot summer nights.
Getting a Table: Dinner service begins at 5:30, but if you arrive at 5, you can snag a patio table for cocktails, then loiter for an early dinner. Aim for the corner tables—they’re quieter and more private.
79 Park Plaza, Boston, 617-422-0008, viamattarestaurant.com.
Go on to the next page to find out the best ways to eat three very messy Boston specialities…