50 Fantastic Al Fresco Dining Spots to Visit This Summer
Great places around town to graze, nurse a beer, and just soak up the sun.
A killer patio has the ability to overcome almost anything: poor service, an obnoxious clientele, the list is endless. In Boston, however, dining outside requires no such compromise. From Fort Point’s first outdoor patio to a Somerville spot spinning vintage surf tunes, here’s our pick of 50 ideal dining spots to spend sultry summer days (or nights) in the hub.
Named after the downtown Dallas, Texas neighborhood famous for good food and live music, this Allston hangout specializes in amazing Belgian and local craft beer, curated by co-owner and bar manager Max Toste. Chef Rian Wyllie’s menu changes seasonally, so this summer don’t miss out on his Pearl hot dogs covered in house-made kimchi.
477 Cambridge St., Allston
Atlantic Fish Co.
What this white tablecloth throwback lacks in hipster street cred, it more than makes up for with old school classics like lobster fra divolo and beautifully executed surf and turf.
761 Boylston St., Boston
Deuxave’s sleek and ample patio, located at the crossroads of Commonwealth and Massachusetts Avenue, exudes the same unpretentious luxury as executive chef Chris Coombs’ contemporary French cuisine.
371 Commonwealth Ave., Boston
The Salty Pig
Chef Kevin O’Donnell’s wood-fired pizzas and house-cured pig parts partner perfectly with the restaurant’s wide selection of craft beers and cocktails. On the weekends, during Red Sauce Sundays, enjoy the Back Bay scenery while gorging on Italian American favorites like chicken parm and veal saltimbocca.
130 Dartmouth St., Boston
Bistro du Midi
Enjoy chef Robert Sisca’s French fare (and an epic roast chicken for two) from a gated perch overlooking the Public Garden.
272 Boylston St., Boston
The Rattlesnake Bar & Grill
Brian Poe’s game-heavy comfort food tastes even better atop this rare rooftop deck in the heart of Boylston Street. There are only 12 highly coveted tables, so get there early to have any chance of snagging one.
384 Boylston St., Boston
Towne Stove and Spirits
Just a stones throw away from the Prudential Center, Towne Stove and Sprits offers a romantic respite after a day of Back Bay window shopping.
900 Boylston St., Boston
This three-story behemoth is a stunner in all seasons, but summertime is where it really excels. Grab a pint at nearby Harpoon before hitting up Legal’s picturesque patio for some steamers, New England fried clams, and freshly shucked shellfish.
270 Northern Ave., Boston
This brand new 44-seat patio just became the first of its kind in booming Fort Point. Choose a selection from Francisco Millan‘s smoked and cured seafood menu then head next door to Trillium Brewing for a growler of JC Tetreault’s latest IPA or sour beer.
383 Congress St., Boston
One of the most gratifying ways to wile away an afternoon is on Sam’s second story deck, which offers an unparalleled Waterfront view.
60 Northern Ave., Boston
Trade seems to be hitting on all cylinders lately. First came their Trade Creates interactive cocktail program, then a full rosé wine list for summer, and now they’ve rolled out a patio that ties them all together.
540 Atlantic Ave., Boston
Over a dozen varieties of hand-shucked bivalves are always on display at Barbara Lynch’s oyster bar. Order a platter to go along with Lynch’s divine B.L.T. with lobster, from a seat on the slightly subterranean patio out back.
550 Tremont St., Boston
Chef Marc Orfaly’s full summer menu is available on The Beehive’s 80-seat bricked patio. So take that plate of duck au poivre with schmaltz fried rice into the fresh South End air.
541 Tremont St., Boston
Located on Harrison Avenue, smack dab between SoWa’s vintage market and the insane lines snaking around the adjacent food truck court, Cinquecento’s patio is like an island paradise in a sea of shoppers. Do some crowd-watching while sipping on a Negroni flight or explore Cinquecento’s impressive amaro menu.
500 Harrison Ave, Boston
The 24-seat sidewalk patio at Coppa more than equals its cramped interior. In warmer weather, take advantage of that unmistakeable blue furniture and soak up some rays while munching on bone marrow pizza and Jamie Bissonnette’s duck prosciutto.
253 Shawmut Ave., Boston
This Parisian-inspired brick patio, with its lantern-lit gate and trellises entwined with climbing plants is almost as famous as Gordon Hamersley’s roast chicken, and for good reason.
553 Tremont St., Boston
Merrill & Co.
This latest concept from BiNA Family Hospitality, the same group behind JM Curley and Bogie’s Place, has been a welcome addition to the South End. Outside seating is shockingly easy to come by, chef Jason Cheek throws one hell of an oyster roast, and bar manager Kevin Mabry’s Pimm’s Cup Slushie is dangerously drinkable, especially alongside weekend karaoke.
1 Appleton St., Boston
Myers + Chang
This miniature, 12-seat patio overlooking Peters Park is downright serene during Karen Akunowicz’s Dim Sum brunch. Or take a date away from the crunch inside at night and huddle over a boozy scorpion bowl.
1145 Washington St., Boston
Most people know about Picco’s pizza proficiency, but what often gets overlooked is its incredible selection of craft beers on draft. Grab a relaxing pint or if you’re feeling extra sinful, the Cow Tipper Frappe, a blend of Left Hand Milk Stout and house-made vanilla ice cream.
513 Tremont St., Boston
This haven for dog lovers is one of the few places to dine with your pooch. Come during brunch service to experience Andy Husbands’ graham cracker-crusted French toast sticks, scratch-made Pop Tarts, and crab rangoon scramble.
647 Tremont St., Boston
Strangely, you’ll often find shorter wait times outside at Ken Oringer’s jam-packed tapas spot. So join the party at the bar for a quick Pisco Sour, then head outdoors to nosh on grilled corn and patatas bravas.
1704 Washington St., Boston
Located in Dorchester’s historic Lower Mills, in the space formerly occupied by Ledge Kitchen & Drinks space, this television-free oasis hosts pig roasts, barbecue buffets, and serves greens picked fresh from its rooftop garden.
2261 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester
The one major advantage Franklin Cafe’s Southie outpost has over the South End original is its spacious al fresco dining area. Order a bowl of smoked Maine mussels and unwind in this little swath of heaven.
152 Dorchester Ave., South Boston
The same team behind Trina’s Starlite Lounge — Beau Sturm, Jay Bellao, and Josh Childs — took over the former Audubon Circle spot this spring. The menu underwent a much needed makeover thanks to chef Suzi Maitland, but the fantastic, bamboo-shrouded patio remains unscathed.
838 Beacon St., Boston
Citizen Public House
A chic way to enjoy pre-game festivities. Go for Fernet on draft, punch bowls fit for four people, and family-style pig roasts.
1310 Boylston St., Boston
Eastern Standard remains the crown jewel of al fresco dining in Boston. You can’t go wrong with a plate of oysters and a Whiskey Smash, but don’t overlook Eastern Standard’s reserve beer list.
528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston
Recently named one of Esquire‘s best bars in American by David Wondrich, this elegant bar and lounge also has one of the coziest outdoor dining areas with plush sofas, low coffee tables, and of course, Jackson Cannon’s array of expertly shaken and stirred cocktails (like our favorite, the Aperol-laced Paper Plane).
500A Commonwealth Ave., Boston
The Lower Depths
Skip the Fenway Franks and overpriced beer and get your pre-game fix at this petite patio offering tater tots and foot-long hot dogs smothered in garlic mayo, guac, and countless other options.
476 Commonwealth Ave., Boston
Sweet Cheeks Q
What’s better than a heaping tray loaded with brisket burnt ends, fried chicken, and Tiffani Faison’s softball-sized biscuits? Devouring said tray at Sweet Cheeks’ outside bar with a cold can of Dale’s Pale Ale and a mason jar filled with booze.
1381 Boylston St., Boston
Co-owners Damian Dowling and Josh Sherman, alums of the nearby Washington Square Tavern, have been bringing warm service and upscale pub grub to Brookline for over four years now. Their cozy patio shines at night when you can enjoy plenty of people watching with a hearty bowl of bison bolognese.
1657 Beacon St., Brookline
Barcelona Wine Bar
The rustic wooden patio at this Washington Square tapas spot always feels like a party. The raucous ambience is only heightened by chef Emilio Garcia’s selection of tasty bites and the bar program’s extensive menu of Spanish Tempranillos, Garnachas, and Albarinos.
1700 Beacon St., Brookline
This quaint Brookline eatery is secretly harboring one of the best bar programs in the city. Sit back on the shaded patio with Fairsted’s signature cocktail, No Sleep to Brookline (bourbon, amaro, lemon, sugar, and bitters), and chase it down with a $3 tall boy of Hamm’s.
1704 Beacon St., Brookline
The Publick House
There’s a reason why this Brookline institution is perpetually packed. Not only are the oven-roasted sriracha wings one of the best bar snacks in Boston, but The Publick House specializes in rare tappings from craft beer giants Allagash, Pretty Things, and Trillium.
1648 Beacon St., Brookline
The only thing that could have improved upon Tim Maslow’s masterful cooking and Theresa Paopao’s wine list was a hefty dose of the outdoors. Debuting last month, Ribelle’s intimate patio is an ideal setting for amaro-laced cocktails and Maslow’s burnt cinnamon rolls, a favorite on his weekend-long brunch menu.
1665 Beacon St., Brookline
Taberna de Haro
Boston’s first authentic Spanish restaurant, this snug tapas spot feels much more festive outside. Take advantage of Taberna de Haro’s incredible sherry menu and be sure to pair it up with their legendary natillas, a vanilla cream custard that will have you swooning.
999 Beacon St., Brookline
The main draw at this no-frills neighborhood spot is the large outdoor patio where you can enjoy an underrated burger, a basil grape mojito, and on Monday nights, $1 oysters.
435 South Huntington Ave., Jamaica Plain
Newly installed executive chef Nevin Taylor has implemented a seasonal menu that utilizes produce and seafood from some of New England’s best purveyors. Now the tapas are as tempting as the vinyl soundtrack and the verdant patio.
470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain
A sporting game of cornhole or oversized Jenga is entertaining at any hour, but we suggest going during Brass Union’s new brunch hours, when bar manager Paulo Pereira is slinging his smoked Bloody Marys and passion fruit mimosas.
70 Union Square, Somerville
Filled with luscious hanging plants and rustic wooden picnic benches, Bronwyn’s petite outdoor biergarten is the perfect spot for enjoying chef-owner Tim Weichmann’s giant pretzels and a towering stein of cold German lager.
255 Washington St., Somerville
One of Somerville’s best pubs with friendly bartenders, good food, and tons of great craft beer. Pick a night when The Independent hosts one of the DJs from Stereo Jack’s Records in Cambridge and savor the sounds of vintage surfer music.
75 Union Square, Somerville
The pizza gods have mercifully bestowed a bevy of good pizza joints onto Boston this year, but Posto’s Neapolitan-style pies are still some of the best. Tucked between Davis and Porter Square, parking is also much easier to come by.
187 Elm St., Somerville
Spoke Wine Bar
Take a lesson in funky, Old World grape varietals at Felisha Foster’s newly opened patio just off the Davis Square T station. Chef John daSilva’s chickpea panisse frites and fried quail beckon.
89 Holland St., Somerville
Belly Wine Bar
This summer, the sunken patio shared between Belly and its sister restaurant The Blue Room is featuring grilled lunch specials, fried chicken, and Liz Vilardi’s unparalleled selection of rosé and orange wines. So, get your hands dirty and take a slug of from a Spanish porron.
One Kendall Square, Cambridge
The not-so-secret beer garden at this Harvard Square spot almost makes you nostalgic for your undergrad years. The only way to enjoy this charming greasy spoon is with a basket of waffle fries, some cheap beer, and the live music, which happens every Monday night.
10 Eliot St., Cambridge
Chef Nookie Postal’s sprawling patio can accommodate over 100 guests and overlooks the nearby Broad Canal. Take a seat outside during Commonwealth’s Marky Mark and the Funky Brunch or enjoy a Happy Ending with up to 20 different flavors of Postal’s house-made ice cream.
11 Broad Canal Way, Cambridge
This East Cambridge restaurant hosts one of the most stunning views of the Charles River. The quiet, idyllic setting is perfect with Chef Dante de Magistris’ selection of antipasti or a glass of Falanghina.
40 Edwin H. Land Blvd., Cambridge
Located off a cobblestone path in the heart of Harvard Square, Harvest’s enclosed outdoor dining area is one Cambridge’s best date spots, particularly on chilly nights when they light up the stone fireplace.
44 Brattle St., Cambridge
One of the most coveted seats in town, Oleana’s patio, adorned with a gurgling fountain, is the perfect way to enjoy Ana Sortun’s inventive fare. Plan ahead and make a reservation to sit under the foliage of a fig tree while ensconced in the perfume of Sortun’s nearby herb garden.
134 Hampshire St., Cambridge
Russell House Tavern
Down an alley, away from the bustle of tourists in Harvard Square, is this patio straight out of Lady and the Tramp. Even if you’re not hungry, bar manager Sam Gabrielli’s cocktail menu, with over 50 types of whiskey, is a perfect excuse to get off your feet.
14 JFK St., Cambridge
This Kendall Square hub shines in the summertime thanks to its outdoor bar stocked with chef Matt Gaudet’s boudin blanc dogs and bar manager Chris Danforth’s outstanding arsenal of cocktails.
One Kendall Square, Cambridge
In an earlier version of this piece, "Franklin Southie" was mistakenly listed under the "Dorchester" heading. The text has since been updated.