Fabulous Back Bay Picnics

April 19, 2011

-By Penny Cherubino

If you think picnics are something reserved for lazy Sunday afternoons in the country, think again. Surrounded by beautiful green spaces, you can take a quick picnic break any day your senses lure you outside to enjoy Boston’s fleeting moments of perfect weather.

Breakfast on a Bench

With the first warm days, the benches along Commonwealth Avenue Mall fill with people enjoying a cup of coffee and a bite to eat from morning until night. Espresso Royale at 286 Newbury Street has a dedicated following for their bagel breakfast combos.

The Wired Puppy at 250 Newbury bakes fresh muffins all day and will toast up Portugal’s answer to the English muffin, a bolla, for a change of taste. Down at number 85, L’Aroma Cafe has a case full of tempting breakfast options from quiche to muffins and scones.

All three cafes are known for their outstanding coffee and espresso drinks.

A Bit of Green for a Quick Bite

Getting away from your desk or out of the house for a quick meal can make a nice break in a busy day. Even on chilly days or cool evenings we have two green spaces with protection from spring breezes– the courtyard at the Copley Square Central Library and the South Garden at the Prudential Center.

A bonus is that both spaces have water features in-season and sometimes provide entertainment as well as outdoor dining space.

The Food Court at the Prudential offers an array of quick meals that will give you more time to eat and enjoy the fresh air.

The Map Room Cafe at the library can get you right back outside with a cup of soup or a sandwich. And, soon the Copley Square Farmers’ Market will offer a wide array of lunch options to enjoy in the park, on the library steps, or in the courtyard.

When Time Doesn’t Matter

How often have you asked your favorite companion, “What do you want to do today?”

It might be a beautiful afternoon when a completed project calls for some celebratory leisure, or a weekend day with nothing on the schedule. These are perfect times for a picnic in the Public Garden or on the Esplanade.

The sandwich menu at Parish Cafe (361 Boylston Street) is known for its creative combos inspired by chefs from around town.

Jodie Adams, Joanne Chang, and Ken Oringer have all contributed recipes. There is usually a vegetarian option and enough hearty meat choices to please any eating philosophy or appetite.

Around the corner, Bacco’s Wine & Cheese (31 St. James Street) features a most elegant picnic treat. Their prepacked bento box contains two cheeses, olives, cornichons, salami, bread slices, vegetable, and a bit of fig paste. Or, you can order your own favorite combo of foods for a custom picnic.

On the other end of the neighborhood don’t overlook the sandwiches from Marlboro Market at 45 Massachusetts Avenue.

A quick stop there can have you walking down the ramp by the Harvard Bridge and sitting on the Esplanade before you know it.

Taking advantage of Boston’s green spaces this summer can be done close to home or throughout the city.

Next time you’re longing to be outside, pack up a book, blanket, and snack or set out for any of the hundreds of shops and restaurants where you can pick up a meal to take to your favorite city picnic spot.

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