Why do people still ask what you’re up to this Summer? The answer’s always the same: "Drinking outside. As much as possible." To usher in yet another season of open-air imbibing, we’ve assembled the ultimate guide to the city’s newest patios. You can toast us later.
Nebo (info and address)
Technically, this one debuted last Fall, but playoff fever kept us indoors and in the dark. Make up for lost time on the brick patio lined with umbrellas, all the better to enjoy the Gin Ginger, an elixir of ethereal gin, Lillet, and ginger beer poured over an oversized grapefruit of an ice cube.
Legal Crossing (info and address)
Legal’s newest urban enclave just debuted a 30-person patio, exclusively made up of date-friendly two-tops (begone, insufferable family units!). Baked oysters, butter poached lobster, and that inscrutable cocktail menu will keep you in your seats for a while -- don’t let those staid post-theater types bully you out.
Audubon (info and address)
So, your Sox tix had you eight rows underneath the overhang on the first bona fide scorcher of the year. Soak up some post-baseball rays just blocks away on this 30-seat backyard patio that boasts a total Zen vibe (you’ll need it after the latest Buchholz meltdown). The crafty draft menu (Founders, Notch, Pretty Things) sure beats what you were tossing back at Fenway.
Commonwealth (info and address)
This vast 96-seater serves up the full lunch, brunch, and dinner menus and offers waterfront views of the totally under-appreciated Broad Canal. Still not satiated? Encourage your engaged buddy to book the resto’s 18,000sqft private roof deck for his big day -- nothing says eternal love like a sky-high luau.
il Casale Cucina Campana (info and address)
This one’s been open for approximately a nanosecond, so you’ll be breaking in the outdoor wrought-iron banquette system that was personally designed by Chef/owner Dante de Magistris and his brothers. Toast their ingenuity with a Campari martini (blood orangecello, house-infused fig-apricot-citrus vodka) and a smattering of dishes from the Neopolitan street food menu (salt cod fritters, panzarotti).
Ribelle (info and address)
Not like Tim Maslow needed to up his game, but up it he did, flinging open Ribelle’s front doors to create an indoor-outdoor oasis. The 18-seat patio end of things gives you a great view of that crazy-ass light installation over the communal table indoors, but you’ll probably be too busy knocking back glasses of fine wine to notice.
Ester (info and address)
Ledge is dead; long live Ester. The renamed and revamped Lower Mills space hung onto all the good stuff, including an epic back area that includes an eight-seat patio bar, side lounge area, and main 60-seat dining zone shrouded by a Japanese cherry tree. Rumors abound of a pig roast later this season.
Merrill & Co. (info and address)
You like to be sly with your South End people watching, which is why this ever so slightly tucked-away spot lets you scan the passersby with impunity. Work your way through the epic Sherry menu (seriously, it’s impressive) before moving on to a Pimm’s Cup Slushie.
Centre Street Sanctuary (info and address)
"Don’t fence us in" is our usual motto, but we make an exception for this 20-seat enclosed area right in the middle of the JP action. Breathe deeply of the fresh herb garden, then resume inhaling the new Gluttony Burger, a -- wait for it -- gluttonous medley of ground sirloin, aged cheddar, hand-cut bacon, house pickles, and smoked shallot aioli, best chased with a 22oz Slumbrew Happy Sol Hefeweizen.
Precinct Kitchen & Bar (info and address)
Sometimes you want to overindulge in peace, which is where this subterranean spot comes in. Below-ground drink options include the Nor’Easter (gin, lemon, simple syrup, ‘Gansett) and an Old Fashioned made with peach liqueur; don’t go skimping on the charcuterie or shishito peppers either.
Pier Six (info and address)
Life truth: day drinking is best enjoyed with a side of salt air. And the city’s latest waterside haunt is a two-parter -- if you can’t wrangle a seat on the 30-person roof deck astride the Charlestown Navy Yard, mosey below-deck to the 200-seat first-floor patio. Either way, we vote for a few rounds of the Bellini Bucket (one bottle of B&G Champagne with strawberry and peach purees).
Shake Shack Harvard Square (info and address)
Do we really have to make the case for bacon double cheeseburgers and custard shakes enjoyed in open-air bliss? Our only advice is to start hovering early to nab one of the five outdoor tables. And yep, you can drink wine and beer outside, too.
Spoke Wine Bar (info and address)
Patios don’t get more exclusive than this: just two outdoor tables shrouded by oversized umbrellas, with a third tucked around the corner (dibs!). Start brushing up on your vino speak and then call up that fetching oenophile for an impressively intimate date night.
Belly Wine Bar (info and address)
The question becomes, do you nosh on Belly’s just-introduced outdoor spare parts menu before or after you’ve cozied up to the restaurant’s new eight-seat, L-shaped patio bar with a full drink menu? We vote for Summer cocktails first, sweet and spicy duck wings second.
West Bridge (info and address)
After a strike-season debut last September, this drinks-only patio has re-revealed itself. Cop a squat at either the eight-seat bar or 12-seat communal table to cool down with a Heatwave (mezcal, Averna, ginger, lime, jalapeño) and nosh on complimentary snacks like the epic fried chicken skin. Did we mention it opens at a hooky-friendly 3pm?
Brass Union (info coming soon)
Normally you reserve your excessive cornholing for backyard barbecues (amirite), but exceptions should be made for this spankin’-new watering hole in Union Square (they're setting up the furniture as we speak, hence the tasty looking shrimp photo). The powers that be have helpfully divided the forthcoming patio (set to open June 12th) into two areas: serious diners on one side (damn, that pulled beef brisket sammy looks good), game-playin’ fools on the other. Tip: cornhole gets hella easier once you’ve had a few Rum & Smokes (Bully Boy aged rum, smoked lime juice, Orgeat, Ginjinha, maraschino cherry garnish).
1. Nebo520 Atlantic Ave, Boston
2. Legal Crossing558 Washington St, Boston
3. Audubon Boston838 Beacon St, Boston
4. Commonwealth11 Broad Canal Way, Cambridge
5. Il Casale Lexington1727 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington
6. Ribelle1665 Beacon St, Brookline
7. Ester2261 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester
8. Merrill & Co.1 Appleton St, Boston
9. Centre Street Sanctuary365 Centre St, Jamaica Plain
10. Precinct Kitchen & Bar350 Stuart St, Boston
11. Pier 6 Boston Waterfront1 8th St, Charlestown
12. Shake Shack Harvard Square92 Winthrop St, Cambridge
13. Spoke Wine Bar89 Holland St, Somerville
14. Belly Wine BarOne Kendall Square, Cambridge
15. West BridgeOne Kendall Square, Cambridge
A bustling Italian eatery on the Waterfront, Nebo has everything from pizzas and sandwiches to lasagnas and cocktails like their Gin Ginger, an elixir of gin, Lillet, and ginger beer poured over an oversized grapefruit of an ice cube.
Brought to you by the folks from Legal Sea Foods, LX incorporates both old favorites and new dishes unique to the one-off institution. Original cocktails with local inspiration add flair to the DX neighborhood resto.
Audubon Boston has a standout cocktail menu, including the A.B.’retto Sour with Lazzaroni amaretto, Overproof Plantation rum, lemon, and sugar egg white. Or try the Mis Suenos, boosted by Dulce Vida reposado, Punt e Mes, and smoked ginger syrup. For brew-hounds, they also dispense eight craft drafts that'll help wash down their honey jalapeño wings. The Pork Muffaletta and Corn Husk Flounder are also standouts.
Part market, part restaurant, Commonwealth is a huge, 500sqft space including a dining area, bar/lounge, a raw bar, and a 10-seat chef's table (plus the aforementioned market section) -- they are focused on utilizing the products of nearby farmers, fisherman, and other local providers.
You can come to Il Casale in Lexington and enjoy their Neopolitan street food menu, including salt cod fritters and panzarotti, alongside cocktails like their Campari martini (blood orangecello, house-infused fig-apricot-citrus vodka).
This elegant spot from Strip T's and Momofuku Ssam Bar alum Tim Maslow is slinging gorgeously plated, Italian-inspired dishes -- lamb tartare with sunchokes and egg, for example -- and refreshing 'tails.
Featuring fresh produce from their rooftop garden, Ester also offers some pretty sweet seating on their 60-seat outdoor dining area. Everything from a meatloaf burger, to sauteed baby bok choy, to beef tongue tacos will entertain your palate.
Come to Merril for something between comfort food and fine dining -- you might grab some of their delicious catfish, you might grab some of their tender BBQ ribs, you might just grab something from their craft cocktail menu -- but you will definitely not regret stopping by.
Step inside this old church for service -- the food & drink kind, that is. Inside, you'll find grub like Muenster-topped burgers, tasty craft cocktails, and a total of 51 beers on the menu.
Located in the Loews Hotel in the Back Bay, Precinct offers up fresh, reasonably priced cuisine that you can even enjoy outdoors. Some of their creative cocktails include the Nor’Easter (gin, lemon, simple syrup, ‘Gansett) and an Old Fashioned made with peach liqueur.
If you're looking for a restaurant with panoramic views of Boston Harbor, Pier 6 in Charlestown is for you. The three-floor restaurant focuses on New England fare and features a raw bar, a private dining room, and a roof deck.
Get the delicious burgers, dogs, and Concretes you crave in Harvard Square in Cambridge.
Eager to once again strike out on her own, the wine buyer at Davis Square's Dave's Fresh Pasta and former college hoops coach AND former owner of Mobile, Alabama's most popular martini bar has turned the adjoining Black & Blues clothing store into a sophisticated stable of small plates, craft cocktails, and wines so Old World, Wally Szczerbiak's grandfather's grandfather drinks them.
Tucked inside the lower level of a 19th-century mill sporting wood-beamed ceilings and porcelain-tiled floors, Kendall Square's Belly Wine Bar is a gorgeous, Italian-inspired gem with a small but expertly curated wine list and a food menu that's as comforting as the space itself. Belly offers seasonally inspired plates including charcuterie, duck confit legs, and roasted chicken with polenta. Best of all, in colder months you can order s'mores for dessert and roast your marshmallows over an outdoor fire as snow falls gently onto the twinkle-lit patio. It's as romantic as it sounds.
Housed in the historic former Boston Woven Hose & Rubber Factory and sporting the original name of the Longfellow Bridge, WB's the inaugural eat/drinkery from a couple of Aquitaine alums who wanted to sling tasty 'tails alongside a lineup of modern French sustenance with "a New England perspective" -- so be prepared for your food to grumble suspiciously about this year's unseasonably mild Winter.