By Darcie Sosa
The Berkshires are known for many things, our historic and cultural venues, our farm-to-table lifestyle and of course the beautiful nature that surrounds us. Although our winters are full of skiing, hiking, and warm meals, we are usually itching for the warm sun on our skin by March. Therefore, we take every chance we can to be outside during the warmer months in the Berkshires.
If you’re here, you will want to take every opportunity to be outside as well. The Berkshires offers a great selection of local restaurants that offer al fresco dining, so you can have your cake and eat it too…outside.
One of the best options for al fresco dining in the northern Berkshires is the ‘6 House Pub tucked in off Route 7 in Williamstown. They serve both lunch and dinner in a large stone terrace off a comfortable, casual, and traditional pub setting. Choose from delicious salads, burger, apps, and larger plates and sit under shaded umbrellas enjoying a cold beer or cocktail. Come at night and make sure to crowd around the inviting fire pit after dinner. Be sure if you are in North Adams to order a cold one and enjoy the patio at Freight Yard Pub & Restaurant, here locals and visitors alike come together and enjoy food and fun.
Make your way a little further down Route 7 and you’ll stumble upon one of the most popular restaurants in the Berkshires, Ye Olde Forge. Packed almost every night of the year, this cabin like atmosphere is more than just a dining experience. The Forge, as it is called by the locals, is known for their extensive beer list, their famous chicken wings, fun staff, and deck seating around the back, which stays open as long as it can throughout the year. Serving both lunch and dinner, know that to sit outside on a weekend might be a wait (they don’t take reservations unless it’s a special event) but you can put your name in with a hostess, grab a drink at the bar, and soak up the indoor atmosphere before you head out to the deck. The pleasant view of Lanesborough hills and the food are totally worth the wait.
Downtown Pittsfield hosts several great restaurants and one of the best, with the option to sit outside, is Mission Bar & Tapas. Surrounded by a hip streetscape, you are sectioned off by a rustic wood wall and the brick façade of the restaurant. A perfect place to grab a glass of Spanish wine and tapas with friends after work or before a weekend theater show. Expect a knowledgeable staff, a well-curated menu of Spanish delights and live music streaming out of the restaurant while you sit under umbrellas in a European café setting. Also, be sure to check out the lovely courtyard at Trattoria Rustica. Not only is the setting lovely but the traditional Italian food is some of the best in the county.
Head a little farther south to downtown Lenox and you’ll find a concentration of restaurants that offer al fresco dining for both lunch and dinner. Look up places like Alta Restaurant & Wine Bar, Firefly Gastropub & Catering Co. and you’re sure to have a great meal outside. Once only open seasonally, the now year-round Café Lucia has been serving traditional and light Italian pasta, fish, meat, gluten-free, and vegetarian options since 1982. The patio is covered in a light yellow and white striped awning that overlooks the quaint downtown of Lenox and may just make you feel as if you’re sitting somewhere in the Italian countryside. And don’t forget their well-selected wine menu.
Head a little south of Lenox and you’ll come across Prana Bar in Great Barrington. Serving an eclectic dinner menu of global food and drink Thursday through Monday, they’ve recently added a brunch to their Sunday service. And while the bright and colorful interior restaurant may inspire you to visit a Southeast Asian country, the quiet and covered back porch area is lined with café style seating and plenty of privacy from the street out front. They’re beer and wine menu will not disappoint. Or if you are looking for a fun atmosphere and a great margarita be sure to reserve an outdoor spot at Xicohtencatl Mexican Restaurant.
On Main Street in Great Barrington, an oasis of farm-to-table freshness takes its form as Prairie Whale. Recently named on eater.com as one of the best 38 restaurants in New England, we’d point you in their direction for dinner, cocktails, brunch, or all three! The ever changing menu will have you coming back for more before you know it. Take your camera, every dish and drink is worthy of an Instagram post.
We like our food and our outdoors in the Berkshires and we do a wonderful job at blending the two when the seasons call for it. Get even more great restaurant ideas for your next Berkshire visit.
Darcie Sosa is a Berkshire marketing/PR professional, who when isn’t working loves being outside hiking with her dogs, going to live music and theatre shows, networking, trying new restaurants and volunteering for local nonprofits. She is an alum of Berkshire Community College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.