Whether you’re craving a last-minute bite or planning a more upscale get-together, there’s no denying that New Englanders have turned dining alfresco into a summer sport. Luckily, in the East Bay, we’ve got tons of options for eating outside. As the temperature continues to rise, slip on your shades, take in the fresh air and indulge in delicious food with a view.
1. The Aviary, Swansea
Sometimes, entire restaurants are Instagram-worthy – the food is carefully plated, the natural light comes in at a perfect angle and the ambience is just right. The Aviary is one of those places. Dine outside by the fireplace in the restaurant’s Garden Room, but before breaking out your phone, pay careful mind to the menu: The Pan Fried Cod (encrusted with Ritz crackers, sesame and chive, and paired with zucchini, asparagus and sugar snap peas with a pea and mint puree) is highly recommended. If you prefer something cooler, try the Roasted Local Beets & Quinoa salad (goat cheese, greens and walnut granola with a citrus dressing). Pictured below: Beets & Quinoa Salad
2. Tav-Vino’s Restaurant, Warren
Tav-Vino's is one of Warren’s local gems and has been around for more than 35 years, so you know they’re doing something right. Its quaint, covered outdoor deck - which regulars recommend making a reservation for in the summer - offers views of the water and easy access to a dock for when you decide to arrive by boat. Tav-Vino’s menu is seafood-heavy but also includes entrees like the Sausage & Tortellini and Chicken Piccata. No matter your meal, make sure to order the Grilled Zippy Shrimp as an appetizer.
3. The Red Dory, Tiverton
Moroccan-spiced Roast Chicken? Grilled Spanish Octopus? Pork and Veal Meatballs? Yes, please! The Red Dory, appropriately named after a flat-bottomed rowboat, offers guests a casual, fine dining experience with outdoor seating in front of the building, overlooking the Sakonnet River. If the peaceful ambience isn’t enough, the chef is known for his twist on Mediterranean-style seafood dishes and sourcing ingredients from local fishermen and farmers when possible. On Sundays, check out the tapas menu that includes a Fried Monkfish Sandwich, Spicy Cucumber Salad and Fried Chick Peas.
4. DeWolf Tavern, Bristol
Housed in a renovated 1818 warehouse on Bristol’s Thames Street Landing waterfront, DeWolf Tavern is a charming venue fit for all occasions. Guests can choose to dine upstairs, which includes a beautiful view of the harbor and a fireplace, downstairs in the tavern, or on the upper or lower decks, enjoying the bayside breeze with a refreshing cocktail from DeWolf’s summer menu. Try the much-discussed Lobster Popover or one of the naan pizzas.
5. Boat House, Tiverton
Surrounded by award-winning waterfront views of the Sakonnet River flowing into Mount Hope Bay, the Boat House takes diners on a romantic nautical adventure. There are two outdoor seating areas but also large open windows, so even guests who choose to sit indoors can feel the breeze and take in the surroundings. Relax and watch the sunset and sailboats while enjoying a cocktail paired with fresh-caught New England seafood. The Raw Bar Sampler, Creamy Clam Chowder and Seared Sea Scallops are home runs, and there are vegetarian options, too, like the Jens & Marie Veggie Burger.
6. Madeira, East Providence
Specializing in authentic Portuguese cuisine, Madeira has one of East Providence’s best-kept secrets: Its unique patio features not just greenery, cascading waterfalls, wrought-iron gates and rope-sided docking ramps, but also two actual boats - complete with dining tables - for guests to enjoy classic dishes. Consider the Seafood Paella (lobster, shrimp, mussels, littlenecks, squid, crab meat, fish, chorizo and pork with saffron rice in a mild red sauce) and the Madeira-style Shish Kebab, a house specialty.
7. Hillside Country Club, Rehoboth
Country clubs can be intimidating. But when a club is open to the public and there’s a tiki bar involved, that’s another story. Enter the Hillside Country Club in Rehoboth. The full-service outdoor tiki bar and restaurant are located by the golf course’s ninth hole, surrounded by manicured lawns. The spot includes an outdoor kitchen with a brick pizza oven and the menu is filled with salads, sandwiches and seafood. Make sure to save room for dessert – where else can you order a s’mores pizza? The club also has an Italian restaurant, La Collina, which includes outdoor patio seating as well. Bonus: both offer live music. Pictured below: Nachos and Red Sangria
8. 15 Point Road, Portsmouth
If you had a rich, interior designer friend who turned their beach house into a restaurant, it might look like 15 Point Road. Outdoor tables overlook the expanse of the Sakonnet River. At sundown, strings of lights hanging above the tables illuminate the view. In the kitchen, local ingredients hold sway over the menu, which features many house specialties such as the Sweet Potato Salmon (encrusted with sweet potato and served over toasted polenta, asparagus and a roasted red pepper vinaigrette) and Chicken Nanaquaket (sautéed chicken breast with apples, celery, lingonberries, chopped walnuts and apple brandy).
9. The Back Eddy, Westport
Make sure to plan a trip to Westport’s The Back Eddy before it closes shop at the end of the season (the restaurant is closed from January until the end of March). Located on the Westport River, this casual seafood joint includes waterfront views and boat access, and on summer weekends, diners can take advantage of the restaurant’s outdoor bar, raw bar and grill. Pull up your boat, order a cold beer and feast on local lobster and littlenecks.
10. Thames Waterside Bar & Grill, Bristol
Clear, blue skies, seemingly endless water views and a warm breeze kissing your face. What could make this summer equation even better? A rooftop bar, that’s what. Thames Waterside Bar & Grill sits at the end of a pier overlooking the Bristol Harbor and, in addition to its rooftop bar, has an intimate outdoor dining deck. The ambience is casual and the menu includes classic American fare like chicken parm, Steak Tips and club sandwiches. Add their lobster roll to your bucket list.
11. Christian’s, Bristol
There’s food, and then there’s wood-fired food. Get your fix at the upscale-casual Christian’s in downtown Bristol, where the chef-owner focuses on inventive American cuisine and small plates. Its wood-fired grill is used to whip up menu classics like the Melanzane pizza (house cheese blend, Italian plum tomatoes, marinated eggplant, cremini mushrooms, basil pesto, rosemary and pickled bell pepper) and salmon with beet risotto and romesco sauce. Guests can kick back on the outdoor street-side patio and people-watch.
12. Bluewater Bar + Grill, Barrington
A family atmosphere, a contemporary menu and locally sourced food are the foundational elements of Barrington’s Bluewater Bar + Grill. Peek below the surface and it’s clear that the chef’s commitment to ethical sourcing isn’t just for show. There’s even an herb garden on site. Guests can soak up the sunshine and dine while listening to the venue’s live music lineup or simply relax on the Adirondack chairs surrounding a fire pit. Either way, the dockside views are unbeatable.
13. Blount Clam Shack, Warren
A proper clam shack should include fresh seafood, friendly service and outdoor seating (and let’s not forget the napkins). Blount Clam Shack, with various outlets throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts, fits the bill. Known for its Giant Lobster Roll and Clam Cakes, Blount has all the fixings for a relaxing summer bite with a view, including crushed seashells on the ground. The shack sits on Warren’s waterfront and guests are encouraged to come by land or by sea. Pictured below: Lobster Roll
14. Agave, Bristol
Situated so close to the water you can almost touch it, Agave offers diners a few different alfresco experiences. There’s an upper deck, a lower deck and an alcove surrounded by white columns, greenery and tiki torches. All include the same beautiful view. Watch the sunset, rocking boats and locals passing by on the East Bay Bike Path. You can’t go wrong with ordering a bunch of small plates for a table of different palates - the appetizer menu features dishes like Carnitas Tacos, Antipasto and Thai Calamari, plus a few different seafood options. But it’s worth saving room for a full entree, like the Gnocchi & Steak Tips, which come plated in a rosemary cream sauce. Cool things down with one of Agave’s many local craft beers.
15. Chomp Kitchen & Drinks, Warren
Sandwiches and burgers are two vehicles we’ve all test driven before. Chomp aims to shake them up into new models, as with its Mac & Cheeseburger. Sit on the patio and check out the new outdoor hopyard beer garden, a collaboration with Olson & Son Hopyard.
16. Avenue N, Rumford
Located in the historical Rumford Center, Avenue N is a progressive American restaurant. Its menu boasts innovative fare, like the Korean Cheese-steak Tacos. And the chef-owner connects diners to local foodstuffs with an original video series, Chef 2 Go, featured on Avenue N’s website. Nab a table on the patio and delight your taste buds with something new.
17. S.S. Dion, Bristol
With a patio, two fireplaces, Italian fare and a “dinner for two” menu every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night, S.S. Dion is perfect for a romantic night out in Bristol. Housed on the famous Thames Street, the restaurant is a go-to for authentic Italian cuisine. Bon appétit!
18. The Bayside Restaurant, Westport
With a backdrop of the beach, The Bayside Restaurant’s patio is a simple paradise that’s family-friendly. Enjoy live music, take in the view and order a drink from the outside bar. We recommend chowing down on the Famous Maple Seafood Medley.
19. Aidan’s Pub, Bristol
Aidan’s Pub isn’t all beer and bar food, though they do have more than 100 beers on the list. The Irish establishment, located in Bristol’s historic district, is also known for its award-winning food. Order the Fish & Chips (you can thank us later).
20. Table, Barrington
With a European influence on service and food, Table provides an intimate dining experience with a small space - 28 indoor seats and additional patio seating - and a seasonal, farm-to-table menu. Seriously, try everything.