23 Fall-Friendly Outdoor Dining Options in Boston
Bundle up with blankets, outdoor heaters, and warm cocktails.
By now, we’ve all become experts in outdoor dining. We know where reservations are needed and where we can just walk in, which patios are in the sun and which are in the shade, and how many drinks we can pound in a 90-minute window. Restaurant workers, too, have gotten their systems down, from the table spacing to the QR code menus to the pre-rolled silverware. As always, they deserve huge praise for adjusting their operations in these crazy times.
Fall is now firmly upon us, but the alfresco dining pleasures continue unabated. A little over a month ago, Governor Baker announced an extension to outdoor dining, under the same terms first introduced in June, and shortly thereafter Mayor Walsh extended all Boston patio dining to December 1. Shortly thereafter that began the run on heat lamps all over town.
So where to eat outside for the next couple of months? As before, consider this a neighborhood primer rather than a comprehensive list—every day, another restaurant is finding yet another creative way to maintain or expand its open-air offerings. Continue to be the best customer you can be. Wear a face mask when you’re not eating or drinking. Bring hand sanitizer, and sanitize before and after the meal. Order everything at once so that your server isn’t coming back and forth. Tip hugely. And continue to support your favorite spots through takeout and calls to your elected officials to pass the Congressional version of the HEROES Act.
Craigie on Main
The restaurant has been closed for indoor dining since the beginning of this whole nightmare, but Chef and owner Tony Maws has ingeniously pivoted by creating an outdoor dining area in the parking lot next door. The restaurant is serving family-style meals that Maws cooks himself on the outdoor grills. You don’t get a choice in the matter (vegetarians excepting), but with food this satiating, you’ll hardly be complaining.
How to order: Reserve outdoor dining at “Craigie Next Door” or order takeout and provisions online
Trina's Starlite Lounge
Trina’s pivoted and opened a new patio, open daily for dinner and drinks, and is also offering cocktails (and food) to go. Not only that, but the lounge also opened the Starlite Snack and Shack next door in the Parlor Sports space, where you can grab soft serve, hot dogs, and yes, beer and wine to go. And speaking of Parlor Sports: The beloved sports bar is currently popping up on Sundays at Audubon, with outdoor seating and flatscreens set up to watch a little football.
How to order: Both are first-come, first-served
The underground tiki bar of your formerly unacknowledged dreams is now out in the open.
The bar has launched The Life Raft by Shore Leave, a new patio space at the bar’s main entrance that’s open Wednesday through Sunday. Traditional tiki cocktails are still on and are still merely the jumping off point for elixirs like Air Conditioned Eden (a pineapple-infused martini with Bianco and dry vermouths, Agricole rum, and a molasses-based gin from Germany). The Life Raft food menu is tiny but does the job with pork rinds, Sicilian pizza, and a cheese plate from Formaggio.
How to order: Walk-ins only
What crazy person opens a new restaurant in the middle of a pandemic? Actually, Michael Serpa is crazy like a fox—he knows we’re craving simple pleasures like tapas and wine. Serpa is paying homage to the seafood restaurants of Spain and Portugal with a divine menu of dishes like ceviche, salt cod croquettes, crispy baby artichokes, and sauteed petite clams with chorizo. The large patio is a welcome addition to our pandemic dining needs.
How to order: Reserve patio space online
Woods Hill Pier 4
We’re not at wintertime temps yet, but the evenings definitely have a chill. Enter Woods Hill Pier 4, which wants to make sure you and your bubble dine . . . inside a bubble. The nine clear igloos set up on the restaurant’s waterside patio mean you can dine comfortably and in style for up to two-and-a-half hours.
How to order: Call 617-999-0963 or email email@example.com to reserve
Craving your cocktail and Szechuan fix but unsure how to scratch that itch in the current era? The Baldwin’s gorgeous outdoor patio, complete with twinkling lights, lets you enjoy Szechuan cuisine and cocktails in a stress-free manner.
How to order: Walk in or reserve online
Holy moly, a new hotel in Central Square? With a new patioed restaurant to boot? Support a new business by diving into a global menu of Ethiopian beef tartare, jerk quail, and Brazilian shellfish stew. Then return for a brunch spread of stuffed crepes, shakshuka, and brunch carbonara.
How to order: Make reservations online
Owner Haley Fortier is blessedly keeping us in wine and small plates. Her Fenway venture is still pushing boundaries with a by-the-glass wine list that exclusively features female winemakers (said wines are also small production and/or natural). And did you know the bar will open any bottle as long as your table commits to two glasses? Savor said glasses with plates like chicken liver mousse, garlic shrimp, and flatiron steak
How to order: Call 857-317-3884 to reserve a patio seat
Safe to say we could all use an Aperol spritz right about now. And that’s just the start of the refreshing lineup: crudo, homemade pastas, fall salads, and grilled black bass make for the perfect autumnal spread. Plus, the restaurant is now open for brunch on both Saturday and Sunday.
How to order: Make reservations through Resy
The Barking Crab
The Sleeper Street patio and the tent are open for biz. The menu hits all the high notes: chowder, fried whole-bellied clams, lobster rolls, and fish tacos, plus wine, beer, mai tais, and margaritas. Boiled lobsters are not part of the patio menu, but they are available to go.
How to order: Tables available on a first-come, first-served basis
Tables both in the parking lot and on the front sidewalk make it that much easier to enjoy alfresco beer and pizza on a chilly fall day. The Monday through Friday lunch menu means more pizza, plus a local cheese board and several sandwich offerings.
How to order: Call 617-337-5703 for day-of reservations; walk-ins also accepted
Simple French pleasures are what the quarantine doctor ordered—coq au vin, steak au poivre, French onion soup, and chocolate mousse, all savored on Colette’s twee patio. Even better, the restaurant is also serving brunch on both Saturday and Sunday, which means an alfresco Croque Monsieur is back on the table.
How to order: Reserve a table online
Yes, the roof deck is open, as well as the sidewalk patio. Kick back for a relaxed meal of scallop & corn chowder, roasted acorn squash & cranberry salad and the famous Sam Cunard burger topped with fried clams. They’re also serving an abbreviated brunch menu that includes chocolate chip pancakes and croissant French toast.
How to order: Make reservations (required) through Resy for a 90-minute seating block
Dorchester Brewing Company
It’s a twofer: a brewery and a restaurant. Order M&M BBQ and home-brewed beers from your iPhone and savor both on one of the two patios: the roof deck and the streetside deck. Just be strategic about your visit—the place is regularly at capacity.
How to order: Reservations recommended but not required; check the website ahead of time to see the capacity tracker
So, for obvious reasons, you didn’t make it to the Caribbean this past winter. Executive Chef Giovanna Huyke is here to make you assuage your sadness with alfresco empanadas, fried whole snapper, and roasted Caribbean chicken—plus cocktails, of course—served on the restaurant's small patio.
How to order: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 857-706-1125 for a reservation (limited number of walk-ins can be accommodated nightly)
Mare Oyster Bar
We love Mare’s cozy back patio even in normal times, and when we’ve hit it up, we’ve felt almost normal again while consuming al fresco oysters, crab cakes, lobster ravioli, and grilled branzino.
How to order: Call 617-723-6273 for reservations
OMG, Mangia Monday is back, this time on MIDA’s umbrellaed sidewalk patio. And we can think of no better time to stuff your face with all-you-can-eat homemade bucatini with salad and bread (that’s what you’ve been doing at home for months anyhow). Or come another night for seasonal salads, Chef Williams’ inimitable homemade pastas, and sparkling wines—then return the next day for their lunch offerings.
How to order: Call 617-936-3490 to reserve a table
The restaurant has dubbed its new outdoor space the Moona Oasis Patio, as it borrows square footage from the now-shuttered Inman Oasis spa. But self-care is still front and center. The small patio includes canopied protection from the elements, a bar cart, and Mediterranean classics like feta fritters, grilled squid, and mixed grill.
How to order: Make reservations through Resy
How we missed Bow Market. Thankfully, Remnant Brewing’s back patio is still open for table imbibing, thanks to customers’ ability to order food from other Bow Market vendors like Saus and Hot Box. Plus, dogs are being allowed right now (!) but must adhere to social distancing, or the privilege will be revoked.
How to order: Reservations for 90-minute blocks required and can be made online
Before you say, “But Saltie Girl doesn’t have patio space,” Kathy Sidell’s on it. She moved the Saltie GIrl menu over to the MET Back Bay sunken patio. Stephanie’s, in the meantime, is serving some MET favorites. But back to Saltie Girl. Sidell is serving the full menu, including raw bar items, cocktails, and the entire tinned seafood collection.
How to order: Call 617-267-0691 for reservations
Steel & Rye
Steel & Rye is taking it all very seriously. The restaurant has painted 12-by-12 black and red squares across its parking lot. Each square is a six-foot wooden table with an umbrella, for a total of 70 seats on its new “patio.” Time to revisit its excellent wood-fired pizzas and griddled cheeseburger, as well as its epic cocktail program.
How to order: First-come, first-served basis
Takeout from Stillwater got us through a few quarantine rough patches. And the full comfort fare menu is now available on the restaurant’s small, front-facing patio. How can you not feel better after a spread of everything bagel popcorn, chicken-fried ribeye, Ritz cracker-crusted chicken thighs, or PB&J creme brulee? Add in the frosé machine, and you’re golden.
How to order: Make reservations through Resy or by calling 617-936-3079