With the hints of summer we have been having and the tempting thoughts of nicer weather just around the corner, it has got me thinking about dining alfresco.  What is better than sitting on a patio with the sun on your back, laughing with friends and just simply having a glorious time?  This then got me thinking of where I can go as soon as the nicer weather hits again.  Here are some of my favorites…

Looking in the South End?  Try Gaslight and Hammersley’s

Gaslight, Harrison Avenue

I am a very frequent guest of Gaslight and always have a fun time.  I love the atmosphere when I am in need of not wanting to think about what’s going on in my own head.  Its high ceilings and subway tiled walls make for a loud, bustling, fun evening.  The outside deck with its piped French music is a must for the summer’s eve.  Cozy and relaxed with white tablecloths and the quality service you always expect from Gaslight.  This is a great place for brunch with friends or that first date.  Once you have finished brunching you can always take a walk around SOWA market.

Why I love it?  Always friendly, always good food, always fun.  A creative brunch menu and I think makers of the best Bloody Mary.

Hammersley’s Bistro, Tremont Street (now closed)

I think of Hamersley’s as more of a place to go for a treat and I much prefer their little bar area or the outside patio to dining in the actual restaurant.  A large and pretty enclosed patio with metal French café tables and chairs beckons theater goers, South Enders and out of towners to enjoy Hammersley’s hearty and rustic dishes with a French flair.  They also do a “Grapefruit Gimlet” (vodka, grapefruit juice, champagne), which just screams summer!  If it wasn’t for the traffic on Tremont you would believe you were in a little French village in Provence.

Why I love it?  Probably the friendliest Chef in Boston who creates THE greatest Baked Chicken in the world and not forgetting the Grapefruit Gimlet.

Looking in Southie?   Try the Franklin Café and Legal’s Harborside

Franklin Café, Broadway T Stop, Dorchester Ave (now closed)

The Franklin Café hails from the South End where the original, teeny, cozy restaurant has been for years and has always been a local favorite. This location is much larger and more open than its sister.  The menu is creative, modern and has a fun flair.  They also do very inventive cocktails and interesting micro brews.  One of my favorites are the grilled mussels that I just can’t get enough of and their super brunch menu.  What makes this restaurant even more appealing is their outside enclosed patio, perfect for the leisurely brunch or summer cocktails and snacks.  I once sat on this patio for brunch for 4 hours!

Why I love it?  Easy going, casual, the best mussels I have tasted and no rush from the staff to kick you out!

Legal’s Harborside, Liberty Wharf (Seaport District)

The main restaurant level is gorgeous on a nice evening with glass doors/windows that completely opens up to the boardwalk where you can either sit inside or out and enjoy the summer breeze.  Although, I have checked out their third floor huge deck, I am still yet to enjoy it as it has been packed each time I have visited.  It’s a great choice for the after work crowd wanting cocktails and calamari.  I will definitely try again this summer.  If not, I am still happy to sit downstairs in a little more quiet enjoying the breeze and a selection of oysters.

Why I love it?  A fantastic place to impress your parents and visitors and also have fun with friends.  Not to mention the best Clam Chowder in the city.

Looking in Back Bay?  Try Parish Café and Deuxave

Parish Café, Boylston Street

Everyone knows the Parish Café; at least I think everyone knows it?  Probably one of the most popular lunch places in Back Bay and usually the first restaurant to open up its patio the second the sun peaks out from the clouds.  Parish is a place I go to with work colleagues (a lot) for my much loved Zuni Roll (of Cottonwood fame).  Parish’s menu is inspired by dishes, mostly sandwiches, from restaurants around Boston and Cambridge.  Great prices, casual atmosphere, amazing beers for all you beer lovers and a happy vibe lends itself to a great lunch or fun drinks after work. 

Why I love it?  Zuni Roll!!!!

Deuxave, Comm Ave

Probably my favorite of the newest restaurants and one that I cannot wait to enjoy while sitting outside.  Deuxave truly gives a high-end dining establishment impression, however the feel is a lot more casual, friendly and relaxing.  The price point is mid to high-end so if you are planning on a three-course meal this is definitely a place to go to for a treat.  Their small but lovely patio is a place one wants to sit, enjoy a Sancerre, elegant meal and to people watch.  A fantastic place if you want to impress someone.

Why I love it?  As simple as getting that feel for high-end dining but with an upretentious atmosphere and not forgetting their outstanding menu.

Looking in the North End?  Try Joe’s Bar & Grille and Fiore

Joe’s American Bar & Grille, Atlantic Ave

A place I like to go to when friends who are visiting from out of town.  Their huge outdoor patio that wraps around the restaurant to the waterfront offers everything you want in a casual, all-American cuisine dining.  Joe’s is perfect to take your grandparents to with the picturesque views and throng of tourists and locals to watch, or to sit in quiet in the sun with friends while enjoying your coffee and Eggs Benedict on a Sunday morning. 

Why I love it?  Fun to dine with friends while listening to the ocean and people watching.  They also do an excellent Eggs Bennie.

Fiore, Hanover Street

Fine but approachable Italian dining with warm and welcoming staff and a place that offers a seasonal patio and heated rooftop.  I think of Fiore as a place in Little Italy for celebration, such as a birthday or engagements, but also a place to relax and enjoy a leisurely peruse through the menu while sipping a glass of Chianti and laughing with whoever you are dining with.  Take a walk around the North End, dine at Fiore and enjoy dessert at Modern Pastries.  The perfect evening.

Why I love it?  When you are craving pasta in an atmosphere that is just that little bit more than checked tablecloths, Fiore is the place.

What’s your favorite place to dine alfresco?