Welcome to the Eater Boston outdoor dining guide for 2021. Updated occasionally throughout spring, summer, and as much of fall as makes sense, depending on New England’s whims, this is a landing page for outdoor dining news, maps, and guides. Readers should also feel free to join our Facebook group to exchange outdoor dining recommendations with other readers and Eater staff.
Last summer, Boston and many surrounding cities and towns took steps to expand their outdoor dining programs in the face of COVID-related indoor dining restrictions — roads were blocked so that restaurant patios could take over the streets, permitting processes were streamlined, parking lots were taken over. Many of these expansions continue in 2021, and as all adults and teens are now eligible to receive vaccines, it’s likely to be a busy summer on restaurant patios.
While Massachusetts lifted virtually all COVID-related mandates on May 29, many businesses are taking a slower approach with their own policies regarding masking, distancing, etc., so diners should exercise patience and check with individual restaurants to learn about specific requirements.
This guide includes a growing list of Eater Boston’s outdoor dining maps and guides, freshly updated for 2021, as well as a rolling list of news updates, with the most recent information at the top of the list. Watch for additions every week or so.
Is something going on in the outdoor dining scene that should be on Eater Boston’s radar? Drop us a line to tell us about your favorite hidden patios, which restaurants are offering outdoor dining in a way that feels particularly safe, and any other relevant intel.
Outdoor Dining Maps and Guides
Stay tuned for more maps and guides as the season continues.
In and Around Boston
- Delightful hidden patios
- Rooftop dining
- Sheltered patios for rainy days
- Dollar oysters (most options on this map are available outdoors)
- Family-friendly brewery patios and beer gardens
- Where to eat on Cape Ann (most restaurants on this map offer outdoor dining)
- Where to get a drink on Nantucket (most bars on this map feature outdoor spaces)
- Where and what to eat outdoors in Portland, Maine
Outdoor Dining News and Updates
Watch for updates in this space, with the most recent batch appearing at the top of the list. We’ll be highlighting a few newly opened or particularly excellent patios each update, along with any other relevant news.
June 22, 2021
- There’s a new rooftop restaurant in town, and it looks fancy. Check out the details on Contessa, from New-York-and-beyond’s Major Food Group, in yesterday’s story.
- Italian restaurant Il Massimo at Legacy Place in Dedham has opened a 100-seat wine garden, Bar Fresco, which features the restaurant’s entire wine list, sparkling sangrias, Aperol spritzes, Italian beers, and more, as well as the restaurant’s full dinner menu. The garden opens at 4 p.m. daily.
- Pretty outdoor dining sights from Instagram: Beachy vibes at the Raw Bar at Island Creek in Duxbury. Sunset over the Zakim Bridge at A&B Kitchen & Bar in Boston’s West End. Sunny days in Harvard Square at the Boathouse and Daedalus.
- Eater Boston approved: As the Eater Boston team continues to slowly emerge from many months of takeout and delivery, we’ll keep sharing our recent positive patio experiences here. I had a great Father’s Day brunch on the Brewer’s Fork patio (which is substantially larger than it use to be, thanks to an expansion into a neighboring lot) — excellent pizza, oysters, cocktails, and hospitality. It was our first restaurant outing with our baby, and the whole experience was a breeze. (Bonus points for the clean single-occupancy restroom with a changing table!) We walked through the Navy Yard after — the Anchor looks cool! — and got a glimpse of the patio at the Brewer’s Fork’s new sibling, Dovetail, which seemed lovely. Meanwhile, Eater Boston reporter Terrence has been enjoying patio meals at KO Pies (get there while you can, and try the lamb pie and the cilantro rice) and Lulu’s (“the beer list is just always one of the best in the city,” he says.) Terrence also notes that the Boylston Street location of Tasty Burger has a patio that looks great and well-spaced, as long as it’s not a game day.
June 16, 2021
- Beer garden news #1: Aeronaut Allston reopens tonight. The seasonal beer garden from Somerville-based Aeronaut Brewing Company skipped last summer for obvious reasons, but it’s back as of June 16, offering live music and beer Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights (and Saturday afternoons) all summer. There are food trucks, too — at least one per day — but attendees can also bring their own snacks. The side yard (the space that doesn’t have food trucks) is dog-friendly. Parent-accompanied minors are also welcome. More details here.
- Beer garden news #2: Scituate’s Untold Brewing is popping up at the Derby Street Shops in Hingham this summer as part of the development’s new open-air space and beer garden called the Green, which opens June 18. The family-friendly space will be open Friday through Sunday each week and will feature various seating options, lawn games, beer and wine, and non-alcoholic seltzers. Customers can bring in their own food; Derby Street Shops has a number of restaurants, including Cava, Bertucci’s, and Legal C Bar.
- Beer garden news #3: Braintree’s Widowmaker Brewing will debut a summer beer garden in Quincy Center (Kilroy Square) on June 18, operating on Fridays and Saturdays and serving Widowmaker and guest beers, along with sangria and food from Quincy restaurant 16C and non-alcoholic drinks from Polar. The beer garden is family-friendly and dog-friendly, and there will be live music on select evenings. No reservations.
- And beer garden news #4, because ‘tis the season: The Double Bull Taphouse & Grill, an indoor and outdoor beer garden, is now open at the Northshore Mall in Peabody. It has over 50 beers on tap, a comfort food menu (burgers and sandwiches, big salads, tacos, pizza, and more), and a variety of games, such as shuffleboard and pinball. It’s part of Webber Restaurant Group, which also includes Gibbet Hill Grill, Scarlet Oak Tavern, the Bancroft, and more.
- New restaurant alert: Madre Osteria & Bar opens in Milton today, June 16, featuring outdoor waterfront dining and simple Tuscan-inspired cuisine. Reserve online.
- Pretty outdoor dining sights from Instagram: A lobster roll and waterfront views at Belle Isle Seafood in Winthrop. Nighttime in the North End at Ciao Roma. Bringing the outside inside at Joe’s American. Patio oysters and greenery at Hopewell.
- Eater Boston approved: As the Eater Boston team continues to slowly emerge from many months of takeout and delivery, we’ll keep sharing our recent positive patio experiences here. The Oleana patio is as magical as ever with its romantic secret garden vibes — and you can even make patio-specific reservations now! (Note that patio seating is weather-dependent, and you’ll be given the chance to cancel or reschedule if the weather’s not cooperating; you won’t automatically be able to get a table inside.) Order the baked Alaska for dessert, of course, and try the topik, quail kebab, sultan’s delight, and lamb gyro for the main course(s).
June 8, 2021
- With pandemic-related emergency orders set to run out on June 15, Gov. Charlie Baker is seeking extensions on several, including provisions that were made to allow restaurants to more easily offer outdoor dining. Baker plans to extend the outdoor dining provisions through November 29, 2021, letting cities and towns expedite permitting for new or expanded outdoor dining and alcohol service.
- In Boston’s South End, ultra-popular tapas joint Toro got a big boost to its outdoor dining space thanks to a donation from Wayfair Professional, the branch of Boston-based furniture company Wayfair that is geared toward corporate accounts and includes design services. The new 48-seat patio, previously a vacant lot, makes a Toro reservation a little bit easier to come by. It includes lots of greenery and some lounge seating around fire-pit tables, as well as a mix of other seating options.
- Sharon’s Israeli-inspired Southern barbecue restaurant A La Esh, sibling to Simcha, will be coming into Boston for the summer and fall to serve food at Cisco Brewers Seaport Beer Garden, which reopened for the season last month. Stay tuned for a start date for A La Esh.
- And here are some pretty outdoor dining photos from Instagram to help you plan your outings after the next couple days of thunderstorms pass: water views galore at Nautilus Pier 4 in Boston’s Seaport. Green fields as far as the eye can see at roadside eatery the Bistro Box out in Great Barrington. Cocktails in the heart of Back Bay at Oak Long Bar & Kitchen. Rooftop pool vibes at the Colonnade. Lakeside dining at Turnpike Market.
May 18, 2021
- New map alert: Here’s our guide to family-friendly brewery patios and beer gardens in and around Boston. Beer might get top billing, but plenty of breweries are fun spots to bring the whole family, with loud, casual vibes; comfort food that’ll please any picky eater; and large outdoor spaces.
- In other beer garden news, Night Shift is opening its third Owl’s Nest; this one will be in Somerville’s Assembly Row, debuting this summer. And down in Plymouth, a drive-in theater called Moonrise Cinemas will open in June, and it will include an outdoor restaurant and beer garden, as well as lawn games such as cornhole and bocce. Here’s a look at the food and drink menus.
- Out in Billerica? Check out this gorgeous lakeside patio at Turnpike Market, set to open May 29. Owner Sam Patel tells Eater that customers will be able to order Neapolitan-style pizza, pastas, salads, and more, not to mention beer and wine, on the edge of Nutting Lake.
- It seems appropriate that a restaurant called Back Deck — which features backyard grilling vibes — would have outdoor seating, and sure enough, the Downtown Crossing restaurant introduced its street patio earlier this month.
- At the Kimpton Marlowe Hotel in Cambridge, Bambara Kitchen & Bar is taking over the hotel courtyard, turning it into “Bambara’s Backyard,” a space for daily outdoor dining tucked away from the street. There are yard games available, such as cornhole and Tumbling Timbers; there’s live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as during Sunday brunch, spanning a variety of musical genres; and there will be drag brunches on June 6, July 11, August 8, and September 12, benefitting The Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth (BAGLY).
- Eater Boston approved: As the Eater Boston team slowly emerges from our takeout/delivery cocoons and dips our toes into patio dining, we’ll let you know which patios have been feeling especially safe and full of delicious food and drinks. Our reporter Terrence is feeling good about the just-reopened beer garden at Jack’s Abby in Framingham and the patio at Lulu’s in Allston, which, he notes, “always has an excellent beer list.” (He enjoyed an Oberon on a recent visit.) Meanwhile, I’m into the patio at Celeste in Somerville, particularly the intimate side patio (on which you can specifically reserve a spot). It only has four or five two-top tables and is removed from the foot traffic of Bow Street. Order a spicy maracuya sour, one (or more!) of the ceviche options (try the shrimp and mango), and the lomo saltado.
May 11, 2021
- Eater Boston’s dollar oyster guide has been updated for spring 2021, and nearly all of the restaurants listed offer the deal outdoors as well as indoors (see individual map points for details.) Today is Tuesday, and you could be eating dollar oysters on patios such as Warren Tavern in Charlestown, Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square, Prezza in the North End, State Street Provisions on the waterfront (this patio is dog-friendly), and beyond.
- The Boston area’s rooftop dining options continue to increase. Here are the details on a glitzy Newbury Street rooftop restaurant opening in June, courtesy of a big-deal restaurant group out of New York. Plus, the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Boston — Cambridge will reopen its rooftop bar, Over the Charles, on May 14, featuring Jack’s Abby beers, lobster rolls, and Charles River views. Watch for special events such as trivia nights and DJs. To start, Over the Charles will be open Thursday through Saturday night, with an expanded schedule coming in the summer. Reserve online.
- Boozy outdoor dining/drinking updates: In Boston’s Seaport District, Paris Seaport Bar & Creperie’s patio is open, with expanded seating and a new margarita menu by local cocktail guru Brother Cleve. In Harvard Square, the tequila-fueled party zone that is the Felipe’s roof deck has also opened for the season, but the venue cautions fans to call first to make sure the roof is open, because May weather is variable. In Back Bay, Eataly’s patio is open as of May 7, and a portion of the proceeds from monthly cocktail specials will be donated to local organizations such as Rosie’s Place, Black Lives Matter Boston, Community Servings, and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders; reserve a table here.
- Continuing in the boozy outdoor vein, here are some beer and wine garden updates: In Allston, the Aeronaut beer garden will return this summer after taking off 2020; stay tuned for more info. In Framingham, Jack’s Abby will reopen its beer garden on May 14, and reservations are available here. In Charlestown, the Anchor — the family-friendly, multi-story outdoor gathering space — is now open for the 2021 season, functioning as a wine and beer garden and lots more. In Allston and along the Esplanade, Night Shift Brewing has reopened both of its Owl’s Nest beer gardens for the season; reservations are available here. On Boston’s Greenway, Trillium will reopen its beer garden on May 20, and City Winery’s wine garden has been up and running since May 1.
- Part of Waltham’s restaurant-packed Moody Street has been shut down to cars for another season to make room for restaurant patios; it will remain that way through the end of October.
- And just a few particularly interesting patios to check out: In the Seaport, Tuscan Kitchen has opened its partially tent-covered patio, “Il Giardino,” with pretty garden vibes, Aperol spritzes, and a menu that includes raw bar items, pizza, pasta, and more. In Somerville, Field & Vine is opening its patio on select weekends, cozily tucked away from foot traffic in a Union Square parking lot. In East Boston, the always-busy Rino’s Place has made a little more room for diners by introducing outdoor dining, featuring five curbside tables embellished with umbrellas and string lights.
April 20, 2021
- Eater Boston’s rooftop dining map was updated today; it’ll be revisited later in the season as a few good spots are currently temporarily closed, such as the Sinclair in Cambridge and Pier 6 in Charlestown. (Also keep an eye out for the opening of rooftop bar Blue Owl in Central Square, Cambridge, slated for this summer.)
- In East Boston, Italian restaurant Pazza on Porter — which, by the way, has a full parking lot behind the restaurant — has reopened its patio, and it’s quite pretty. Lunch and dinner are available every weekday, with brunch and dinner on weekends. Plus, starting next month, the restaurant will be home to a Jack’s Abby beer garden.
- Joe’s Waterfront recently reopened on the edge of Boston’s North End, redesigned after being closed for a year. The patio is open as well, and it boasts this view; eat a shellfish platter while looking out over the water. Patio seating is first come, first served. Open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.
- In Inman Square, Trina’s Starlite Lounge has reopened Starlite Snack Shack for the season. Located within Trina’s sibling/neighbor Parlor Sports, the Snack Shack is a grab-and-go window for soft-serve ice cream, burgers, hot dogs, and more. Pick up something refreshing — the blood orange lemonade is particularly good — and stroll around the neighborhood. (And in patio news, Trina’s own patio behind the restaurant is also up and running.)
- The giant Cisco Brewers Seaport Beer Garden has returned to Boston’s Seaport District for a fourth season; it’s open now through mid-October, serving beer, hard cider, wine, frosé, and more, including a few Cisco brews exclusive to this location. Food is available from Rexicana Surf Cantina — tacos; chips and guac, queso, and salsa; “taco tots” (fried potatoes, cotija, salsa, crema, chipotle aioli, and choice of protein); and more. The beer garden is open Tuesday through Sunday, as well as Monday holidays.
- Oleana’s patio, one of the most romantic outdoor dining options around, is open for the season. Snag a coveted outdoor table via Resy, if you can. The restaurant is also offering indoor dining and takeout.