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A view into Bistro du Midi from the restaurant's outdoor patio
Photograph: Courtesy Bistro du Midi

The Best Outdoor Dining Boston: 16 Spots for Patio Eating

Outdoor dining season is back and here’s where you can feel the sun on your shoulders while you enjoy a meal

Olivia Vanni
Tanya Edwards
Edited by
Olivia Vanni
&
Tanya Edwards
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When spring has finally sprung, and the sun is on our shoulders, crowds descend upon the best outdoor dining in Boston. It’s basically a known fact that food tastes better when eaten on a patio, roof deck or really just about anywhere that's open to the fresh air. Now that al fresco season has arrived, and we’re giving you the best restaurants in Boston with outdoor seating, good vibes and even better food. From waterfront restaurants to rooftop spots to patio bars, we’ve got your sun-drenched socializing covered.

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

Time Out Market Boston

Best restaurants for outdoor dining

  • Restaurants
  • Inman Sq
  • price 3 of 4

Oleana’s backyard garden hideaway might just be the most beloved—and in-demand—outdoor dining spot around. Grab a table on this gorgeous patio (preferably under the shade of the fig tree) and pretend you're on vacation with a spread of meze from Ana Sortun's Eastern Mediterranean menu. We’re not saying the fattoush and warm buttered hummus taste better outdoors... but we also are.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • South End
  • price 3 of 4

This Italian-style osteria and wine bar lets diners graze upon modern interpretations of Venetian cicchetti and slurp down spectacular pastas. While the food is enough of an attraction, its patio adds to the allure during the warmer months. Make it a date and invite someone special to this alfresco courtyard behind the main dining room, which is enclosed by the South End's ivy-covered brick walls.

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

We’re not shy to call the patio and open-air ground floor of Bistro du Midi a classic Boston dining experience. The sunny seating seems to exuberantly spill out onto the Public Garden, providing prime people- and urban nature-watching to hungry patrons. Pair that fresh air with Bistro’s well-curated charcuterie board, raw bar items and moules frites.

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Seaport District
  • price 4 of 4

Woods Hill Pier 4 brings farm-to-table dining to the Seaport, where the iconic Anthony’s Pier 4 restaurant once sat. As the name implies, this restaurant's patio is right on the pier, giving guests a front row seat to harbor and sparkling city views during their meals. Breathe in the fresh salt air as you tuck into Woods Hill’s organic menusplurge on the caviar service, if you’re feeling flushand enjoy a glass of rosé or signature cocktails like the Lavender Bee's Knees. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Harvard Sq
  • price 4 of 4

A Cambridge favorite for close to five decades, it’s hard to beat the food, service and, of course, welcoming patio at Harvest. With an outdoor fireplace and twinkling lights, the seriously comfortable space is a year-round go-to and is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • North End
  • price 3 of 4

Head down a North End alleyway, walk into this sleek eatery and take a seat on one of the most secluded (and, dare we say, sexy?) patios in town. With a retracting roof, you’ll get views of the sky and the historic neighborhood, paired with an excellent wine list and Italian-inspired seafood.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • East Boston
  • price 3 of 4

This East Boston spot appropriately reels in a crowd during the summertime—mainly because of its expansive waterside patio with stunning views. Because the coastal restaurant is situated in Eastie, its sprawling outdoor seating gives diners a rare look at Boston’s downtown in its near entirety. So pull up a bistro chair, nurse one of the bar’s house painkillers and feel that Harbor breeze against your face. South of the city? There’s a Reelhouse in Quincy’s Marina Bay, with pretty great views as well.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Fenway/Kenmore
  • price 2 of 4
  • Recommended

The closest thing you can get to Paris sidewalk dining in Boston, this cozy bistro offers old world classics in the South End. Take a seat on the convivial patio, sip a glass of Château Minuty rosé as you savor some salmon tartare and, if you squint a little on a sunny day, you’ll almost convince yourself you’re somewhere in France.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Back Bay
  • price 2 of 4
  • Recommended

People may come to Parish for its culinarily crowd-sourced menu of gourmet sandwiches, but they stay for its Boylston Street patio. Besides signature faves from Ming Tsai, Michael Schlow and other local chefs, there's always something new to sample (bartenders get equally creative on the cocktail list). What never changes is the kinetic energy both inside the snug, multicolored café and out on the mega-popular patio. Also, the spicy margs are excellent. 

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • Seaport District
  • price 3 of 4

The seasonal menu at this Seaport hotspot—named after our state bird—might be Mediterranean-influenced, but it features ingredients from local farms, markets and producers. The covered patio provides the perfect opportunity for people-watching, whether on a weekday when all Design Center employees scurry to and fro, or on weekends, with events happening all around. 

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  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • North End
  • price 3 of 4

Aptly named, this modern neighborhood restaurant gives folks an outdoor sanctuary tucked away in the shadows of TD Garden. While the impressive wine list and ever-changing menu of craft cocktails are enough to attract just about anyone, the view is the real clincher here. From its outdoor space, guests can gaze upon the calm waters of Boston Harbor, the Zakim Bridge or the herds of sports fans heading to a Celtics' or Bruins' game

  • Restaurants
  • Dorchester

If you’re looking for a good meal and a great time, Bowery Bar in the Lower Mills delivers. Their expansive patio, which is strung with twinkling lights and dotted with plants and umbrellas, is a lively scene on the weekends. Grab a seat outside and order crowd-pleasing favorites like spinach dip, wings, nachos and an excellent hot chicken sandwich.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Seaport District
  • price 3 of 4

There's nothing quite like dining on fresh seafood under the starsand at Jeremy Sewall's Row 34, you can do just that. This Fort Point patio is the perfect place to go big and order a full bottle of wine, so your party can savor its time outside and sip its way through the menu of prime ocean offerings.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • North End
  • price 2 of 4

A seafood lover’s paradise, this no-frills joint is perched directly above the harbor on a weathered pier. Sail Loft's kitchen is famous for its overflowing cups of clam chowder and lobster rolls filled with so much meat that they're basically bursting at the seams. Everything tastes better when consumed at one of the sunny outdoor tables as you kick back, relax and bask in that salty breeze.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • South End
  • price 3 of 4

Forget sitting elbow-to-elbow with your neighbor inside this notoriously tiny enoteca. For the quintessential South End dining experience, head outside and grab one of the bistro tables that pepper the sidewalk. There's no better feeling than watching the world stroll onby as you eat a board of delicious cured meats.

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • price 2 of 4

Branch Line is located in a historic brick building in Watertown’s Arsenal complex and boasts one of the best outdoor dining spaces around. The heated, covered patio features a pergula and ample greenery, so you can actually feel like you escaped the city for a hot second. Added bonus: A bocce court allows you to feed your competitive spirit in between courses.

More local highlights

The 50 best things to do in Boston
  • Things to do

We’re all about making the most out of what's left of 2020. (Good riddance!) Temps are dropping, but there are still plenty of cool things to do, albeit carefully, while safely getting some fresh air. Among the best things to do year-round in Boston are plenty that take place away from the elements, but given the current conditions, options like awesome hiking, sunny beaches, fun cruises, and outdoor dining should move to the top of your list.

Given the ever-changing nature of government rules and restrictions, not everything listed here might be open to the public — remember to always confirm plans with the venue in advance.

No matter where your interests lie, you can always find something to get excited about in the Hub. The best things to do in Boston run the gamut—from seriously fun to awesomely educational. Looking for culture? Spend a day exploring Boston museums. Hungry? You've come to the right place. There are tons of amazing restaurants in Boston that highlight the city's rich and diverse culinary landscape. We've searched all across the city to assemble this list of the best things to do in Boston. Follow it and never get bored here again.

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere.

You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world, or take a look at our list of the best things to do in the world right now.

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