Aside from the beach, there’s no place I’d rather spend my summer leisure time than parked on a patio with a few friends, a chilled pint of seasonal beer—or a tangy glass of red sangria...or a minty mojito (sorry, bartenders)...or a zesty margarita...or even a glass of fresh-brewed iced tea—in hand.
Unfortunately, not all urban oases are created equal, and while I’m not here to bash the ones that have fallen into my ill favor, I feel that it’s my civic duty to enlighten your senses by sharing a few of my favorite outdoor spaces for enjoyment during the warmer months. Emphasis on "a few": Boston is chock-full of fantastic patios and roofdecks that are ripe for the picking, libations or not, and depending on your preferences, you might agree or disagree with my picks. But these are the spots that have served me well consistently over the years, and which immediately come to mind when someone asks for a recommendation.
So, please, sit back, enjoy and explore accordingly. Just don’t be that guy who needlessly hogs the last remaining beneath-the-umbrella chair with his gym bag. (You know who you are.)
Update: A kind friend alerted me of two erroneous omissions after my initial posting. The additions are included after the jump.
The Middle East
472 Massachusetts Avenue, Central Square
Save for a few seasonal umbrellas, the Middle East patio is about as bare bones as you can get—it’s you, the sidewalk, and a piece of tarp used to corral the dozen or so tables that line a small section of Mass Avenue—and maybe that’s why I like it so much. Eats are cheap, with the average entree costing just $7, and beer is served by the glass or pitcher. It’s the perfect place to fuel up before a late night, or to linger on the weekend while the rest of the city sits on traffic en route to the beach.
The Boston Public Library courtyard
700 Boylston Street, Copley Square
The courtyard at the BPL isn't so much a patio as it is a public space for enjoyment by all, but no matter: it's absolutely stunning. If you've lived in the city for awhile and haven't yet been, shame on you—and visit, immediately, on your next day off, be it weekday (when you're most likely to secure a table amidst the lush greenery and marble walkways) or weekend (beware of tourists). Pack a picnic and call it a date. And did I mention there's free WiFi? Yeah, the library rocks.
Alibi Bar at the Liberty Hotel
215 Charles Street, Beacon Hill
If I've got out of town guests visiting who want a taste of Boston plus a little something extra, I'll take them to Alibi. Yes, the patio gets full quickly, and yes, the wait for a drink can take a few extra minutes longer than one might like on a Saturday night. But the scene is swank, the furniture is cushy, the pour is generous—and the Liberty, location-wise, is convenient, no matter where you're coming from (or going to come closing time).
286 Franklin Street, Central Square
Andala is a café, not a bar—so if you're looking for cocktails, seek reprieve elsewhere—but if you like hookahs (check), seclusion (check) and well-tempered staff that won't rush or pester you (check), then Andala is the place to be. The food is incredible—try the eggplant salad, and if you're gutsy, go for a Turkish coffee—and the ambiance is chill. It's one of my favorite places to write. And read. And, amidst the Persian rugs and grape-leave-laced trellis, forget, for awhile, that you're in the city. It's also open until 11 PM, allowing for long stretches of creativity (or procrastination).
384 Boylston Street, Back Bay
What can I say? The Rattlesnake is an oldie but goodie—and thanks to its recently upgraded food menu, is a lot more bearable while teeming with bros in popped-collared shirts who can otherwise harp on one's personal space. If the upstairs roofdeck is at capacity—which happens frequently, as evidenced by the line that often snakes down Boylston Street—sit at the makeshift patio on the sidewalk below, or get on the waitlist and linger at the bar before your number is up. Early Sunday afternoons seem to be the best time to nab a seat.
528 Commonwealth Avenue, Kenmore Square
When the weather gets nasty, those in-the-know get going—and take shelter under the awning of Eastern Standard's covered patio, where heat lamps, expertly-crafted cocktails and a cool, European atmosphere await. I'm a sucker for just about anything from their raw bar, served with a perfectly-chilled glass of rosé. But beware: Eastern Standard's cocktails are hypnotic, and have a created cult-like following. (In other words, be prepared to wait for a table.)
477 Cambridge Street, Allston
Hot dogs! Pretzels! Poutine! If you like comfort food, an impressive selection of beer—and you don't mind heading to Allston, then saddle up to a spot on Deep Ellum's deck. Snacks are house-made, utterly delicious and served until its 1:30 AM closing; the cute hipsters who congregate outside aren't bad, either.
The author is solely responsible for the content.