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The Barking Crab
Courtesy The Barking Crab/Chris McIntosh The Barking Crab

The best restaurants for outdoor dining in Boston

These delightful alfresco dining spots include blooming gardens, gorgeous patios and sidewalk cafes

By Eric Grossman
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The best destinations for outdoor dining in Boston are on everyone’s mind whenever the weather allows. And now that we live in the era of social distancing, knowing the best places to dine alfresco will come in handy whenever you're planning a first date or special occasion. To help you score the most coveted outdoor tables, we’ve rounded up our favorite local restaurants with outdoor seating, including both casual and fine dining spots. From waterfront restaurants and rooftop bars to patio bars, we’ve got your sun-drenched socializing needs covered.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best food and drink in Boston

6,000 sq ft of outdoor space for enjoying the best of the city

Time Out Market Boston
Photograph: Eva Sakellarides

Time Out Market Boston

Restaurants Fenway/Kenmore

Like some variety when you go out to eat? Time Out Market Boston has you covered. Boston's first contemporary culinary hub boasts a tantalizing variety of curated food offerings, two top-notch bars and lots more. There is plenty of seating—both indoors and on a roomy, sun-splashed patio—and some of the biggest culinary names in Boston are delivering a varied assortment of delicious dishes and killer bites. Housed in the 401 Park Drive building, an Art Deco masterpiece built in 1929 as a Sears, Roebuck and Company warehouse, Time Out Market Boston follows in the footsteps of the wildly popular Time Out Market Lisbon, which opened in 2014 and is now Portugal’s most visited attraction with more than four million visitors annually.

Best restaurants for outdoor dining

B&G Oysters
Photograph: Courtesy B&G Oysters

1. B&G Oysters

Restaurants Seafood South End

Searching for a quick fix of bubbles and bivalves? There may be no better option than Barbara Lynch’s subterranean South End eatery, which carries a daily selection of more than a dozen different east and west coast oysters. The sunken backyard patio has long been a South End favorite for alfresco slurping.

Bar Mezzana
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Bar Mezzana

2. Bar Mezzana

Restaurants Italian South End

Chef Colin Lynch, a Barbara Lynch protege, whips up inviting coastal Italian fare in style. Order a spritz, grab a space on the sidewalk patio, and watch the South End residents parade on by.

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The Barking Crab
Courtesy The Barking Crab/Chris McIntosh

3. The Barking Crab

Restaurants Seafood Seaport District

Set right on the water along Fort Point Channel, this red-shingled seafood shack and open-air tent serves as party central all summer long for locals and tourists. Join the crowds at the picnic tables beneath lamps made of Christmas light-strung lobster traps. Plastic buckets of fried clams or peel-and-eat shrimp help keep the beer-fueled festivities going.

Boston Sail Loft
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Cory F.

4. Boston Sail Loft

Restaurants Seafood North End

A seafood lover’s paradise, the no-frills Sail Loft is perched directly above the harbor on a weathered pier. The kitchen is famous for its overflowing cups of clam chowder and lobster rolls that burst at the seams. Everything tastes better from one of the sunny outdoor tables, perfect for kicking back and enjoying the killer water view. 

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Branch Line
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Andres P.

5. Branch Line

Restaurants American creative

Branch Line is located in a historic brick building in Watertown’s Arsenal complex; the restaurant is well-positioned, as its surrounding space will be completely revitalized in the coming years. The heated, covered patio and bocce court is popular with neighboring workers looking to blow off steam.

Chickadee
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Alicia K.

6. Chickadee

Restaurants Mediterranean Seaport District

The seasonal menu at this Seaport hotspot—named after the Massachusetts state bird—is Mediterranean-influenced, but features ingredients from local farms, markets, and producers. The covered patio provides fun people-watching opps considering all the Design Center employees scurrying to and fro.

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Coppa
Photograph: Courtesy Coppa

7. Coppa

Restaurants Italian South End

Never mind sitting elbow-to-elbow with your neighbor at this shoebox of a wood-and-brick enoteca. For the quintessential South End outdoor dining experience, grab one of the tiny sidewalk tables and watch the world walk by.

Lone Star
Photograph: Courtesy Lone Star/Jennifer Trebino

8. Lone Star Taco Bar

Restaurants Mexican Allston/Brighton

Head to Allston to enjoy gourmet tacos and fine cocktails while surrounded by hordes of local students and post-grads. The sunny back patio has been joined by a handful of sidewalk tables.

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Myers & Chang
Photograph: Gary Wong

9. Myers + Chang

Restaurants Pan-Asian South End

This hip South End maintains a trellis-lined patio along busy Washington Street. Grab some friends and sample from the assortment of Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes, courtesy of the James Beard Award-winning chef-owner Joanne Chang.

Oleana, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher

10. Oleana

Restaurants Mediterranean Inman Sq

Oleana’s backyard, garden-like hideaway might just be the most beloved — and in-demand — outdoor dining spot in the region. Grab a table underneath the fig tree on the gorgeous patio and enjoy an assortment of Ana Sortun's Eastern Mediterranean cooking.

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Pagu
Photograph: Matt Li

11. Pagu

Restaurants Japanese Central Sq

One of Central Square's largest patios can be found at Pagu. Carve out some time to enjoy Tracy Chang's creative plates and you'll likely find yourself surrounded by the successful scientists and brainiacs who work and live nearby.

Row 34
Photograph: Morgan Ione

12. Row 34

Restaurants Seafood Seaport District

There's nothing like enjoying fresh seafood under the stars, and at Jeremy Sewall's Row 34, you can do just that on its Fort Point patio. Since this is the team behind Island Creek Oyster Bar, you know you won't find fresher bivalves anywhere else.

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SRV
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Yuan J.

13. SRV

Restaurants Italian South End

Boston’s first Venetian-style osteria and wine bar, SRV (“Serene Republic of Venice”) lets its customers gorge on modern interpretations of Venetian cicchetti (small plates) and slurp down spectacular pastas. Make it a date and invite someone special to the courtyard-like back patio, with views of the South End's ivy-covered brick walls.

Tuscan Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Diane H.

14. Tuscan Kitchen - Seaport

Restaurants Italian Seaport District

Tuscan Kitchen’s Seaport location now offers “Il Giardino,” a 22,000 sq ft, garden-inspired tented area. Guests can enjoy artisanal Italian cuisine and craft cocktails under the tent in the more formal dining space, complete with leather chairs and wooden tables. Or you can sprawl out on the patio and lounge sets.

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