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The patio at ReelHouse East Boston
Photograph: Michael Diskin

The best restaurants for outdoor dining in Boston

These delightful alfresco dining spots include blooming gardens, gorgeous patios and secluded courtyards.

By Olivia Vanni and 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 — especially the best Boston restaurants with heated outdoor dining — 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

Best restaurants for outdoor dining

Woods Hill Pier 4
Photograph: Woods Hill Pier 4

1. Woods Hill Pier 4

Restaurants American creative Seaport District

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 views during their meals. As you dine on organic dishes made with the finest ingredients from local purveyors, order a glass of rosé and breathe in that salt air.

B&G Oysters
Photograph: Courtesy B&G Oysters

2. 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 more than a dozen different east and west coast oysters daily. The sunken backyard patio has long been a South End favorite for outdoor eating. 

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The patio at ReelHouse East Boston
Photograph: Michael Diskin

3. ReelHouse

Restaurants Seafood East Boston

This East Boston spot appropriately reels in a crowd during the summertimemainly 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.

Oleana, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher

4. Oleana

Restaurants Inman Sq

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.

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The Barking Crab
Courtesy The Barking Crab/Chris McIntosh

5. The Barking Crab

Restaurants Seafood Seaport District

Set right along the Fort Point Channel, this red-shingled seafood shack and open-air tent serves as party central during the summer months for locals and tourists alike. Gather at the spot's picnic tables, beneath lamps made of lobster traps strung with Christmas lights, for steamers, fried Ipswich clams or a full New England seafood bake. Just remember to stay hydrated and really push those Dels Shandies. 

The patio at The Beehive
Photograph: Courtesy The Beehive

6. The Beehive

Bars Lounges South End

The Beehive may be best known for its lineup of live jazz, but for South Enders, it’s the snazzy patio that’s truly the cat’s pajamas. The Tremont Street spot seems like a secret garden, sheltered from the street with overflowing flower boxes, vine-covered trellises, oversized umbrellas and strings of soft bistro lights. Despite all appearances, these outdoor seats are still smack dab in the middle of the city, so folks can peek at trendy passersby in between sips of their Queen Bee cocktails.

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Alcove
Photograph: Emily Kan

7. Alcove

Restaurants American creative North End

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.

8. Atwood's Tavern

Bars Inman Sq

With Atwood’s firm focus on the neighborhood, it’s honestly no surprise that dining on its outdoor patio feels like you’re just hanging out next door. The “mostly covered” space is removed from the street and furnished with familiar backyard items like picnic tables, wrought iron chairs, strung lanterns and potted plants. Keeping in line with its friendly spirit, this spot’s outside seating is first come, first served and closes at 10pm sharp so that no one disturbs its fellow East Cambridge residents.

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9. Chickadee

Restaurants Mediterranean Seaport District

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, especially once all of the Design Center employees are once again scurrying to and fro.

Row 34 patio
Photograph: Emily Hagen

10. Row 34

Restaurants Seafood Seaport District

There's nothing quite like dining on fresh seafood under the stars and, 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 sip its way through the menu of prime ocean offerings.

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11. Branch Line

Restaurants American creative

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 that allows you to feed your competitive spirit in between courses.

Coppa
Photograph: Courtesy Coppa

12. Coppa

Restaurants Italian South End

Never mind sitting elbow-to-elbow with your neighbor at this notoriously tiny enoteca. For the quintessential South End dining experience, grab one of the bistro tables outside on the sidewalk and watch the world stroll on by as you eat a board of delicious cured meats.

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13. Boston Sail Loft

Restaurants Seafood North End

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 that have so much meat that they're basically burst at the seams. Everything tastes better from one of the sunny outdoor tables, ideal for kicking back and basking in that the killer water view. 

Lone Star
Photograph: Courtesy Lone Star/Jennifer Trebino

14. Lone Star Taco Bar

Restaurants Mexican Allston/Brighton

Even if you aren't a college kid, you can still head to Allston—if for nothing more than to gorge on some gourmet tacos and quality cocktails at this hip spot. Whether you get a seat on the sunny back patio or at one of the sidewalk tables, you'll be so happy with your plate of Mexican street food that you probably won't even notice you're at least 10 years older than everyone else around you.

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15. SRV

Restaurants Italian South End

This Venetian-style osteria and wine bar lets diners graze on 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.

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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