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Five Great Outdoor Dining Venues in Central Mass

Chorizo Tacos: Housemade chorizo, cotija cheese, pico de gallo and cilantro lime creme from The Civic Kitchen & Drink.

The all too short outdoor dining season has begun in Central Massachusetts…with many local eateries capitalizing on the good weather and offering dining and cocktails outdoors in one shape or another!

The patio at Via on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA
The patio at Via on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA

Outdoor dining or “al fresco” means different things to different restaurants. Some places in Worcester, like Volturno, La Scala, El Basha (Belmnot St. location), Pepe’s Trattoria and Vintage Grill have made a full commitment to dining outdoors with large, open-air patios outfitted to take advantage of the good weather months. Others like Nuovo, Meze, Fix Burger Bar, Brew City and Corner Grille set up tables on the sidewalks to host guests giving the meal a bit more of an urban feel. Looking for waterfront dining? Point Breeze on Lake Webster brings deck dining (and drinking) to a whole new level. Outside of Worcester there are plenty more options including The Mill 185 (West Boylston), Flip Flops (Holden), The Gazbar (Leominster), J. Anthony’s (Oxford) and Avellino and Cedar St. Grille (Sturbridge).

Mezcal in Worcester brings the outdoors inside by opening the floor-to-ceiling glass doors while their Leominster location offers some patio dining under umbrellas. Still others like Smokestack, The Citizen and VIA offer covered patios to extend the outdoor dining experience even when Mother Nature doesn’t fully cooperate.

So whether it’s a quiet spot to enjoy a romantic dinner, a sun-drenched patio to people watch or dinner on the deck lakeside with cocktails and friends, Central Massachusetts’ has plenty of great spots to match any occasion and mood!

Here are a few of our favorite places to eat, drink and enjoy the good weather months while they last.

Civic Kitchen & Drink

Located at Westborough Country Club, the deck at Civic Kitchen & Drink overlooks the golf course and is a wonderful place to enjoy a locally sourced meal or just great apps and cocktails. The craft draft list features some outstanding “all New England” and choices!

Lock 50

The oversized patio at Lock 50 is truly an extension of the elegance found inside the restaurant, and on the weekends is one of Worcester’s best spots for brunch. Look for live music, buck-a-shuck oysters, a highly-anticipated Tiki bar, and more on this patio during the good weather months!

Flying Rhino

For outdoor dining, Flying Rhino has it all. Tables with umbrellas on the sidewalk for that urban feel, a huge outdoor deck for a more casual, relaxed experience and one weekend every summer, they transform their parking lot into a full blown, stick your feet in the sand beach and cookout experience that will make you forget you are on Shrewsbury St. One of the more popular decks in Worcester so get here early if you want a table.


At Zorba’s Worcester location, you can enjoy a full Greek dining experience under an enormous covered patio that runs the entire length of the front of the restaurant. A summer experience not to be missed is enjoying one of their famous sangrias and a selection of meze’s on this patio! And for when the weather isn’t perfect, Zorba’s patio is covered to make sure you can still enjoy the experience.

NU Café

Located right outside the front door, the big comfortable patio at NU Café features lots of tables with umbrellas to relax and enjoy coffee, fruit smoothies, breakfast and lunch. A great place anytime of the day, the patio at NU Café sits off the street, making it a quiet oasis from the hectic pace of the day.

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Cocktails for History

Sonny, at The Citizen, concocting different cocktails to see what will be served at the Harvey Ball

Anthony, at The Citizen, concocting different cocktails to see what will be served at the Harvey Ball

One of the world’s most iconic symbols has its roots in Worcester – the Smiley Face was first created as part of a moral boosting campaign for a local insurance company. This year marks the 50th anniversary of its introduction, and to celebrate the Worcester Historical Museum  is incorporating that recognizable symbol into their annual “Harvey Ball” in an exciting and delicious way.

The "Liquid Smile" posing with two Smiley Faces during the committee cocktail tasting.The Museum has enlisted Niche Hospitality, home to Worcester’s foremost talent in the craft cocktail movement, to construct cocktails inspired by the Smiley Face’s 50th anniversary and make them available the night of the event.

Volunteers from the Harvey Ball committee joined mixologist, Anthony Verdini, at the Citizen Wine Bar to taste several preliminary cocktails. From these cocktails—created with some of the finest liquors, craft garnishes, and traditional techniques — two were chosen by the committee to be served at the gala. The third libation will be decided with the help of the public so…. go to the Citizen Wine Bar and order one of these great drinks and help decide the winner. Tell WorcesterScene what your favorite drink is. Comments (along with “likes” and “shares”) will be tallied from the cocktail profiles, Facebook page, and Twitter profiles.

Committee Taste Test at the Still & Stir within Citizen Wine Bar


Order and Vote

The Harvey Bomb
The Harvey Bomb
The Liquid Smile
The Liquid Smile
The Twister
The Twister
The Jackie O
The Jackie O
The Moon Shot
The Moon Shot
The Abbey Hoffman
The Abbie Hoffman

More About The Harvey Ball 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014 at Worcester Historical Museum
Come celebrate all things Worcester on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the world famous Worcester original SmileyFace and join us as we present the 14th annual Harvey Ball Smile Award to Charles P. Ball.

  • 6:00pm Smile Celebration, Cocktails/Cash Bar
  • Special Exhibition 38.6: A Photographic Homage to Worcester
  • 7:30pm Welcome, Silent and Live Auctions
  • 8:15pm Award presentation, followed by dessert and dancing