the great outdoors

In Restaurant News, Retail Thoughts on May 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm

The Boston Globe’s online counterpart,, had a short piece today – more of a slideshow than anything – re: outdoor dining in the Boston area, which is very timely considering the stretch of warm spring weather we’ve been having. Without exception, every restauranteur I’ve met with over the past couple of years wants an outdoor dining area. It’s (i) a great feature for an urban restaurant – consumers love it – and (ii) it’s typically additional square footage that is usable but is not included in calculating rent.  While there may only be 75 – 100 proper days a year for outdoor dining, it’s no doubt becoming more of a fixture and a “must have” in the Boston dining scene.

As for the piece (link), I think it missed the mark a bit by focusing on the most touristy neighborhoods of the City – Back Bay, Waterfront/North End and Fenway combined had over half of the 19 slides while Harvard Square and the South End each had only 1, respectively.

I believe that Harvard Square and the South End are though the two best neighborhoods in the area for outdoor dining…(read more)While the South End doesn’t have much of a lunch biz, it does have robust dinner crowds and many good restaurants.  Outdoor dining is very prevalent.  At the top of the list in my mind are Gaslight, Rocca, The Red Fez, Hamersley’s and B&G Oyster, all of which have semi-enclosed dining areas which aren’t plopped in the middle of the sidewalk.  The nice thing about the South End though is that it’s mostly residential and the streets aren’t super crowded, meaning the sidewalk dinning can still be very, very nice.  Stella, Orinocco, Tremont 647, Seiyo, Coppa, Petit Robert and Pops all do a great job in this respect.

As for Harvard Square, the cluster of restaurants in and around the Charles Hotel are outstanding outdoor dining destinations – Legal Seafoods has an area adjacent to the restaurant and also has an outdoor bar that seats 20+ right next to the entrance to JFK park; Henrietta’s Table has a big area as well and Rialto is building a new patio, which should open in the next month or so.  Across the street, Charlie’s Kitchen has a great outdoor beer garden and OM, Gendel’s Den, Upstair’s on the Square and Harvest do a nice job as well.  Perhaps the best spot for outdoor dining in Harvard Square is Daedalus, which has one of the nicest rooftop patios in the entire City.

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