Best of Boston

BEST Al Fresco Restaurant

2014 BEST Al Fresco Restaurant
Photo provided

Commonwealth

Cambridge

Commonwealth already had a lot going for it—Full-service market! Parking!—but this spring, the Kendall Square restaurant upped its game further with a sprawling, Broad Canal—facing patio. Anything you order—may we suggest the flatiron steak from Maine’s Pineland Farms?—will be a… read more »

2013 BEST Al Fresco Restaurant
Photo by Jesse Burke

Hamersley’s Bistro

Boston

Massive decks and skyline views have their charms, but for a truly romantic meal en plein air, nothing beats the secret-garden feel of the lantern-lit patio at Hamersley’s. Chef Gordon Hamersley’s pâtes, asparagus with chopped egg and truffle vinaigrette, and… read more »

2012 BEST Al Fresco Restaurant

Sam’s at Louis

Boston

We’ve been known, on those perfect 72-degree days, to work an “emergency” business lunch at Sam’s into our schedule. Neither Newbury Street’s sidewalk cafés nor Cambridge’s funky hidden patios can match the scenic respite from the daily grind that this… read more »

2011 BEST Al Fresco Restaurant
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Harvest

Cambridge

Like to eat while on display, with the entire passing world gawking at your menu choices? Pull up a sidewalk seat on Newbury. Prefer to dine discreetly en plein air, where you can focus on the meal, the company, and… read more »

2009 BEST Al Fresco Restaurant
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B&G Oysters

Boston

When summer finally arrives in Boston, every restaurant with a patch of sidewalk scurries to put out a few wrought iron tables and hang its ‘al fresco’ shingle. Sure, we’ll take every ray of sun we can get, but our… read more »

2009 BEST Al Fresco Restaurant, Affordable

Sophia’s Grotto

Roslindale

In a mere four years this precocious trattoria has grown up into an authentic Old World beauty, its cloistered brick courtyard now mature with ornamental trees and grasses and a massive climbing hydrangea. Prices, though, have barely changed at all,… read more »

2007 BEST Al Fresco Restaurant
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Oleana

Cambridge

We were worried when we heard they were making over our beloved patio at Oleana. After all, it’s the drooping wisteria, fragrant herbs, and sparkling white lights that create the transporting backdrop for Ana Sortun’s distinctive eastern Mediterranean fare. But… read more »

2007 BEST Al Fresco Restaurant, Affordable
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Tavern On the Water

Charlestown

The spectacular views and lengthy menu—casual staples like chicken fingers, grownup entrees like ahi tuna—at this dockside cafe easily trump any pretentious, cheek-by-jowl patios elsewhere in the city. read more »

2006 BEST Al Fresco Restaurant
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Oleana

Cambridge

If Ana Sortun’s celebrated Mediterranean fare isn’t enough to transport you, her back patio will: Two dozen tables are surrounded by a fragrant garden that blazes with color and, on cool nights, heat lamps. A wooden fence blocks noise from… read more »

2006 BEST Al Fresco Restaurant, Martha's Vineyard
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Sweet Life Cafe

Oak Bluffs

Ten bucks says if you were asked to imagine your ideal evening of outdoor island dining, you’d pick something with a water view. Oh, naive soul: On the Vineyard, the most delicious outdoor experience happens in Sweet Life’s fragrant garden,… read more »