After a not-so-bad but rather long winter, it seems that everyone is itching to get outside, and the recent warm spells have gotten people revved up for outdoor dining, as a number of restaurants and bars have briefly opened up their patios and decks to customers who wanted to soak up a bit of sun. The weather is now mostly back to being more seasonable—which means perhaps a tad too chilly to dine or drink in the great outdoors—but those days are returning soon (knock wood). So which patios and decks are good to hit? Well, all of them, really (if you like being outside, that is), but a handful of lesser-known ones are featured below, plus a few relatively popular spots that have patios literally hidden from view.
Atwood’s Tavern, Cambridge
This cozy watering hole on the edge of Inman Square is known in part for its live music and its solid assortment of craft beers, but for those in the know, it is also a popular spot for its very hidden and very private-feeling patio. Accessed from a door off to the side just beyond the bar, the outdoor area has a handful of tables and is nearly completely boxed in by the surrounding houses and buildings, which makes it a much better option on a windy day than some of the coastal patios and decks in Boston and elsewhere.
Atwood’s Tavern, 877 Cambridge St., Cambridge. atwoodstavern.com
Village Sushi & Grill, Roslindale
A very serene and calming place in Rozzie Village, this Japanese and Korean eatery is a very underrated spot for sushi and other items, and it also has a rather unusual setup out back—it actually shares an outdoor patio with two other restaurants (Sophia’s Grotto and Birch Street Bistro). On warm summer nights, dining outdoors at Village Sushi & Grill almost feels like being at a private party, with diners from each restaurant sitting near each other while the vibe is a bit more dynamic than the mellow feel of Village Sushi’s interior.
Village Sushi & Grill, 14 Corinth St., Roslindale. villagesushiandgrill.com
KO Pies at the Shipyard, East Boston
Ok, so perhaps this quirky spot is no longer truly hidden after all the press it has gotten of late, but the East Boston location of KO—there is also one in Southie—is completely unique, as you have to drive down a dead-end road and past a guard booth(!) in order to get to the place. Once there, you will find a fun and rather offbeat restaurant that features Australian fare, including meat pies, along with some good beers and a communal outdoor area complete with picnic tables, views of the water, and—if you’re lucky—the possibility of a memorable sunset.
KO Pies at the Shipyard, 256 Marginal St., East Boston. kocateringandpies.com/east-boston
Ashmont Grill, Dorchester
An industry fave that also tends to cater to locals, the Ashmont Grill is in a way the perfect restaurant, with outstanding food, some great beer and wine options, strong cocktails, friendly servers, an artsy interior, and, oh, a hidden back patio with a fire pit, strings of lights, and shade trees. It is difficult to know that this casual upscale American spot even has an outdoor dining area, as it isn’t easily seen from the road and isn’t all that obvious from inside the place, but it is there, and it one of the more appealing spots for alfresco dining within the Boston city limits.
Ashmont Grill, 555 Talbot Ave., Dorchester. ashmontgrill.com
Winthrop Arms, Winthrop
If you like old-school places and you also like a sense of discovery, you can do a lot worse than the Winthrop Arms, a historic hotel perched above the ocean on a tiny peninsula set off from the main part of Winthrop. The Arms has a restaurant within it that is straight out of the 1970s (including the music piped in), and the menu is similarly old-school, with one highlight being one of the best mac and cheeses in the region. And new to the restaurant is a long outdoor porch where you can catch sea breezes even on the warmest of nights, with the only noise being from occasional low-flying airplanes and the ocean below.
Winthrop Arms, 130 Grovers Ave., Winthrop. winthroparms.com
Darcy’s Village Pub, Quincy
Some of the most “Boston” of bars aren’t actually in Boston, and such is the case with this borderline dive bar located in the Common Market food/dining complex just off the expressway. The bar area is like a movie set with bartenders out of central casting, but in some ways, the concrete patio off to the side is even better for people-watching, as regulars can be seen here night after night with beer(s) in hand. It may not be the prettiest of patios, but between the cast of characters hanging out, the solid bar pizza and other good pub grub, and cheap beer and mixed drinks, this is a virtually unknown outdoor option that is worth checking out.
Darcy’s Village Pub, 97 Willard St., Quincy.
City Streets Restaurant, Waltham
A friendly spot that moved from a somewhat divey space near the downtown area to a more modern-feeling and spacious location near the Belmont line, City Streets is no longer flying under the radar quite as much as it used to. Once the restaurant settled a bit more into its new space, the people behind it quietly added a patio, which more than a few diners here still don’t even know about since it’s not easily seen at night (and if you dine in the back room, you can’t see it at all from there). And while the location of City Streets on busy Route 60 doesn’t seem like it would be conducive to peaceful dining outdoors, the patio is actually pretty quiet and mellow, especially toward the back.
City Streets Restaurant, 411 Waverley Oaks Rd., Waltham. cstreets.net
Picco may be well-known to folks who live in the South End, but many who live outside of the neighborhood have no idea that this colorful place has pizza that rivals the best that Boston has to offer. In addition, unlike some of the big names out there (Santarpio’s, Regina’s), this spot has an outdoor dining area—and one that is terrific for people-watching since there is so much foot traffic along this part of Tremont Street. Oh, and one huge bonus is that Picco also has excellent house-made ice cream in addition to its truly sublime pizza.
Picco, 513 Tremont St., Boston. piccorestaurant.com
There aren’t too many riverside restaurants in the Greater Boston area, but they are out there if you look hard enough—and they often have outdoor dining. Take this unknown and very underrated Mexican dining spot near South Braintree Square, for example, which sits on the meandering Monatiquot River and includes a wraparound outdoor area. And the people behind Cielo come from Jalisco, which is tequila country, so if you’re a lover of margaritas or shots of high-quality tequila—and you also like real-deal Mexican food—you won’t want to miss this place.
Cielo, 1209 Washington St., Braintree. cielomx.com
Moonshine 152, South Boston
It’s no secret that South Boston has become one of the hottest neighborhoods in all of Boston for dining out, especially if you include Fort Point and the Seaport District (which are technically part of Southie). The main part of South Boston, which mostly runs along Broadway, is hot as a pistol as well, including spots just off Broadway such as Moonshine 152, an eclectic New American/Asian eatery with beautifully presented dishes, a sleek and slightly rustic interior, and an attractive patio with lots of greenery. A bonus is that the patio here stays open pretty late, so if you want a late-night snack and a drink or two outdoors, Moonshine is a very fine option.
Moonshine 152, 152 Dorchester Ave., South Boston.