Just as summer continues into September, so, too, will the region’s gorgeous crop of tomatoes. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take full advantage of this festive long weekend—summer’s cultural last hurrah, and peak tomato season. Order tomatoes wherever you see them on menus this weekend, whether that’s in a great BLT, on a Benedict at brunch, or with fresh Atlantic seafood en brodo. Choose any “heirloom tomato salad” you see, such as these beauties at Oak Long Bar and Kitchen, Toro, or the Buffalo Jump café (if you find yourself in Falmouth this holiday weekend); on 80 Thoreau’s seventh annual corn and tomato menu (should you find yourself at Walden Pond). At the Table at Season to Taste, these local heirloom tomatoes with romesco (pictured) is a first-course option on the current four-star dinner experience, and it’s also available a la carte at the walk-in-only, standing wine bar. Order all the tomatoes; you’ll miss these plump fruits in March.
Backyard Betty’s Brunch
Feeling a little nostalgic for Labor Day weekends past? Head to South Boston’s retro, Americana-inspired Backyard Betty’s for cookout-style cuisine—and beginning this weekend for the first time, weekend brunch. Betty’s wood-fired grill is being put to use on a couple breakfasty flatbreads; grilled cinnamon-vanilla French toast; huevos rancheros; fried chicken and waffles; and more. Morning-friendly cocktails include vodka-spiked sweet tea on draft; and a spicy, stacked, Bloody Sunday. More of a breakfast cereal person? Those nostalgic flavors appear in a new line of $12, boozy milkshakes, such as Fruity Pebbles, with Stoli Razz and strawberry; and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, with rye whiskey and Rumchata. Brunch continues every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
170 W. Broadway, South Boston, 617-766-8955, backyardbettys.com.
Beer Outside, Obviously
Beer garden season does not end with Labor Day. But again, we’re taking full advantage of summer’s cultural last hurrah, which means—along with a dip at Revere Beach or a rooftop pool—we plan to drink outside this weekend. Check out our updated list of seasonal beer gardens, decks, and patios, including Cisco Brewers’ brand-new Seaport spot with Loco Taqueria tacos and oysters. Beyond the usual suspects, Upper Cape Cod’s Naukabout Brewery is celebrating its first Labor Day weekend with a Nauktoberfest party. All day long on both Saturday and Sunday, the 4,000-plus-square foot, lakeside beer garden will host activities like face-painting and stein-hoisting, and more; alongside special beer releases, food, and more. Looking for a Boston-area beer garden open on Monday, Sept. 3? The Downeast Cider Back Porch at Dewey Square and the Patios at City Hall Plaza plan to be open as usual on Labor Day, and Trillium Canton’s lovely patio has some Monday fun planned, too.
A Labor Day Picnic
Stock up on snacks this weekend to treat your friends to a local Labor Day picnic. All this week, Curds & Co.—acclaimed bartender Ran Duan’s favorite cheese shop—has been celebrating its first anniversary in Brookline Village with tastings and specials every day. The deals continue with “perfect pairing trays” of mix-and-match products for sale on Friday, and free mini cheese flights (!) on Saturday, so pop in to wish them a happy birthday and choose some cheeses. Then, head to the South End location of Formaggio, which still has some of Row 34 and Boston Smoked Fish Co.’s smoked trout pâté in stock, made with sustainably sourced New Hampshire fish. Finally, fill the cooler with Harpoon Brewery‘s new release, Rec. League. The sessionable pale ale is a unique recipe featuring buckwheat, chia seeds, and Mediterranean sea salt for a refreshing twist on the hazy New England style. And at only 3.8 percent alcohol-by-volume and 120 calories, it’s perfect for day-drinking.
Back-to-School Midnight Snacks
Labor Day weekend also signals an influx of students in Greater Boston. With five restaurants and bars around Harvard Square (and another spot on the Boston waterfront), the Grafton Group is certainly looking forward to welcoming these folks back. To celebrate, beginning Saturday, Sept. 1, Park Restaurant and Bar, the Hourly Oyster House, and Temple Bar are all rolling out half-priced favorites nightly after 10 p.m.—the Park patty melt for $6, the Hourly burger for $7, and $7.50 pizzas at Temple Bar. Sister spots Russell House Tavern, Grafton Street Pub, and State Street Provisions all offer $1 oysters nightly after 11 p.m., too. Late-night study fuel, anyone? The deals are year-round at every spot.
Park Restaurant and Bar, 59 JFK St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-491-9851, parkcambridge.com.
South End neighborhood favorite the Gallows has the brunch menu on from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with breakfast tacos, Sunrise Poutine, Blackbird Doughnuts, and more—plus, kids eat for $5. Barcelona Wine Bar also has South End brunch going on, as well as in Brookline on its lovely patio. In Downtown Boston, the Merchant will break out the brunch menu on Monday, and is also shucking $1 oysters all day, all weekend long. Monday brunch favorites like Deep Ellum, Mamaleh’s, Trina’s Starlite Lounge, and State Park are slingin’ eggs as usual, too.
A JP Barbecue, Complete with Red Solo Cups of Craft Beer
At Jamaica Plain’s only record store/tapas restaurant, Labor Day means part-summers’ end clearance sale, part-cookout and kegger. From 11 a.m.-5 p.m., the Tres Gatos patio will be covered in “a storm of beautiful and strange treasures from the archives,” with $1 vinyl, a lemonade stand run by the owners’ kid, free coffee, and more “weird goodies.” At 5:30, it transforms into a house party with four special kegs from Amesbury’s BareWolf Brewing, and a summer barbecue by chef Stephen Marcaurelle. The $15 entry fee secures your red Solo cup, and it’s pay-as-you-go for dishes like barbecue chicken with cascabel chili, membrillo, oregano, and lemon; potato salad with romesco and smoked onion; veggie bocadillos with shiitake mushrooms, lemongrass, spicy miso, and avocado; and more. No reservations are required.
Labor Day Yard Sale, Monday, September 3, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Summer House Party With BareWolf Brewing, 5:30-10 p.m., Tres Gatos, 470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, (store) 617-477-9209, (restaurant) 617-477-4851, tresgatosjp.com.
Pagu Pig Roast
From French cochon de lait to Filipino lechon baboy, cultures around the world gather with friends and family on special occasions to share a suckling pig. It makes sense, then, that chef Tracy Chang’s Spanish-Japanese-American-everywhere restaurant, Pagu, has made its own tradition of pork on the patio. The next feast closes out Labor Day weekend with a Spanish-style whole hog, and sides not available on the regular menu. Tickets include unlimited roast pork, Pagu tapas, and dessert, plus one drink ticket and gratuity. Space is limited, so order your tickets soon. ¡Salud!
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