Wine and Dine in the Sunshine

Worcester’s best outdoor dining spots

Enjoying the sunshine at Vinny T’s.

I think it was Mark Twain who once remarked that New England has two seasons —winter and the Fourth of July. What better way to take advantage of the good weather (while it lasts), than dining al fresco? Central Mass. has plenty of restaurants that offer outdoor seating during the summer months. Here’s a list of some of the best places to eat, drink and enjoy the summer winds.

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, once the warm weather comes to Central Massachusetts, people flock to our outdoor cafes. To keep the hordes happy, we do have plenty of restaurants that offer outdoor seating during the summer months.

Shrewsbury Street in Worcester is a far cry from Boston’s Newbury Street, but this boulevard is the destination for outdoor dining in Central Massachusetts. From Amore Café to Zia’s Grille, Shrewsbury Street has many fine restaurants and cafés with outdoor seating, including Italian eateries Amore, Porto Bello, and Primo’s; the eclectic, global cuisine of the Flying Rhino Café and Watering Hole, and Caffé Dolce, which serves coffee and desserts. If you are looking for something a bit more casual and funky, you should head to the East Side’s newest addition, the aptly named Funky Murphy’s, a sports bar with a limited menu. If you’re an early riser, you can start your day at Zia’s, where you can get a great breakfast or lunch.

If you want to take a short road trip out of the city, there are plenty of outdoor dining opportunities. On Route 9 just over the bridge in Shrewsbury is Vinny T’s of Boston with huge portions of chain-style Italian-American fare. Vinny T’s gets high marks for location. The outdoor deck looks out over Lake Quisigamond. The Fieldstone Grille at Sturbridge Isle off of Route 20 has a deck which seats about 60 people and overlooks a quaint country pond. You can enjoy fabulous food and quiet summer nights on Perennials Restaurant outdoor patio. Also in Sturbridge, the restaurant, received a five-star review in Worcester Magazine for consistently delivering a flawless dining experience.

If you’re on Worcester’s West Side, you should pop into the Museum Café at the Worcester Art Museum for lunch. The café has about a dozen tables set outside in a quiet courtyard. What better way to enjoy lunch than surrounded by the tranquility of a world-class museum. Right around the corner from the museum is Tweed’s. The pub serves American food and has two or three tables with umbrellas on a small patio overlooking Grove Street. On Chandler Street, Tatnuck Bookseller Restaurant has a large outdoor garden/patio area. Sit under an umbrella, sip a cool ice tea with lunch or dinner, and enjoy the soothing sounds of their fountain. Also on the West Side, the Coffee Kingdom at the intersection of Richmond Ave and Pleasant Street is a perfect place for a quick cup of your favorite brew. There are about ten outside tables that are busy every night.

What Worcester’s outdoor dining scene lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Hopefully outdoor dining will take off in Worcester like it has in other cities. Right now, our options in the area are limited, but with time more restaurants will realize that we all want to be outdoors enjoying the warm weather.