If we have learned nothing else over the last 2½ years, it is that people love dining outdoors.
Everybody wants to sit on the patio, the deck, the veranda, whatever you call it. The breeze is so nice, the sunset so beautiful. People are not so close by, and you know, breathing.
Many restaurant owners have installed patio heaters to take the evening chill off, and a few even have lap blankets to add an extra layer of warmth.
Be sure to call ahead and speak to the restaurant if you want to be seated outdoors. Many restaurants have online reservations, but often don't take electronic reservations for outdoor dining.
And remember, there are probably other diners waiting to sit out on the patio, too. Enjoy your meal, but read the room and know when it's time to give up the table. Some restaurants actually have a time limit — about 2 1/2 hours — to prevent those who hang around a little too long after they've finished their meals. Europe this is not.
Below is a list of restaurants where outdoor dining continues into the fall, many with outdoor heaters.
461 West Central St., Franklin
We love any place that has raw oysters on the menu, but when we saw they also have a prosciutto and burrata appetizer, we were sold on 3 Restaurant. Other fun choices we want to try include a citrus marinated watermelon salad and street corn flatbread. Note: diners must call for reservations to be seated on the patio; this cannot be done online.
The Aztec Mexican Restaurant
2 Waverly St., Framingham
When I go for Mexican, I always get cheese enchiladas. I love them so much I hesitate to try anything else. But The Aztec has all of your favorites, from tacos, burritos, tostadas, to fajitas and grilled fish.
Bourbon’s Kitchen and Cocktails
47 Beacon St., Framingham
While inventive cocktails are the stars of the show at Bourbon's, we love to order their "shareables," including the buffalo cauliflower, Korean beef sliders or "chicken littles" — buttermilk fried and served on little brioche buns.
730 Boston Post Road, Sudbury
Trout française, with a lemon/caper beurre blanc, wild rice and vegetables or the hearty short ribs are both solid choices at Bullfinchs, one of the area's best restaurants. But they also have plenty of appetizers and what they call "small meals" that will make you want to dine here not only for special occasions but weekday meals, too.
13 West Central St., Natick
Buttercup uses locally grown ingredients so their menu changes all the time. On their website is a sample menu that has many intriguing choices. Appetizers include a charcuterie board, a half-dozen oysters and Satur beets with homemade ricotta. Buttercup fried chicken with fried green tomatoes, two kinds of halibut, and two pasta dishes all sound enticing. Also, fried pickles. Need we say more.
Farm-to-table: New restaurant arrives in Natick Center
35 Solomon Pond Road, Northborough
This upscale Italian eatery has a fabulous view of Solomon Pond, two outdoor decks, as well as a great menu, and a carefully curated wine list. Try the saltimbocca alla Romana — sautéed veal medallions, seasoned with sage and topped with cured prosciutto in a white wine sauce — or risotto prepared five different ways. Other Northern Italian classics are made with local farm ingredients, and filet mignon and two sizes of prime rib will satisfy meat eaters.
Central Public House
42 Main St., Hopkinton
Tonight's specials are listed at the top of the online menu at Central Public House; recently it listed sole meuniere with red bliss potatoes, brussels sprouts and beurre blanc. For dessert, a root beer cheesecake sounded intriguing. Regular menu items include mussels, crab cakes, Creole gumbo, short ribs, bacon-wrapped meatloaf and more.
Chill Kitchen and Bar
416 Boston Post Road East, Marlborough
Looking for food that says "fall"? Look no further. On the menu at Chill Kitchen + Bar is a four-cheese sacchetti with cranberry walnut pumpkin sauce. What is a "sacchetti," you ask? Well, we googled it and apparently it's a type of pasta similar to a ravioli. Sometimes it's called a "beggars purse," because it's fastened at the top like a small bag. Anyway, at Chill, the sacchetti is filled with ricotta, pecorino-romano, parmesan and mozzarella and topped with a pumpkin sauce. Other autumn-y menu items include a pork schnitzel and stuffed acorn squash. The menu is extensive so there's something for everyone.
55 Boston Post Road, Wayland
Doesn't smoky wood-fired bacon sound like just the thing for autumn? Coach Grill's Nueske's bacon, blue cheese, whole grain mustard, Peppadew relish just sounds so New England-y, too. The menu has classic entrees, steaks, lamb and seafood. And there's a cool vibe during Coach Grill's Saturday jazz brunch out on the patio.
Cold outside?: Here are 12 restaurants where you can enjoy fireside dining
The Dudley Chateau
20 Crest Road, Wayland
"Wayland's favorite hangout" is just that because of the view on Dudley Pond, and the menu has hearty favorites that everybody loves. And did we mention you can get three different kinds of grilled cheese? They also have beef and bean chili, clam chowder, burgers, steak 'n' cheese, not to mention truffle fries and "gourmet" onion rings. Five different kinds of tacos make it hard to choose just one.
350 East Main St., Marlborough
This longtime local favorite serves barbecue cooked over hickory, cherry and apple woods, and is available until they run out. St. Louis-style babyback ribs, pulled pork and chicken, smoked sausage, beef brisket and waffles 'n' chicken outline just a taste of what's on the menu. Platters, bowls, salads and sandwiches, too.
The Gavel Public House
36 South St., Wrentham
The atmosphere here is "Irish-style," but the menu is more international. Starters include potstickers, hummus, poutine and "Devils on Horseback," which are Cajun scallops wrapped in fresh jalepeño and bacon and served with chipotle aioli. The main menu is decidedly more pub-like, with dishes like burgers, fish 'n' chips, Cottage Pub Pie made with Guinness, steak tips and roasted salmon.
860 West Central St., Franklin
GlenPharmer had us at "charcuterie board," but it's not every day you see grilled octopus on the menu, and GlenPharmer's appetizer of Chili Grilled Octopus really jumped out at us. There are also sandwiches, flatbreads, salads and entrees that range from chicken and waffles to fancier fare like duck confit. And on Sundays, they have a great brunch menu.
Kennedy's Restaurant & Market
247 Maple St., Marlborough
Being an Irish pub, you might not think of ordering a lobster roll at Kennedy's. They are the best in MetroWest, imho. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, everything here is done well, including the fish 'n' chips and broiled haddock, steaks and burgers. You can visit their market and take home meats, fish and the most deliciously cheesy Delmonico potatoes.
Labaredas Brazilian BBQ & Bar
500 Boston Post Road East, Marlborough
Lots of yummy "shareable" appetizers are on the menu at Laberedas, like pulled pork in Brazilian puff pastry and a sizzling steak platter. Mains include various steak and chicken skewers; steak gorgonzola; and Moqueca, a traditional Brazilian fish stew with coconut milk, tomatoes, shrimp, onions, garlic, cream cheese and palm oil served with white rice in a clay dish.
Less Than Greater Than
28 Main St., Hudson
The menu is always changing at the "mysterious" Less Than Greater Than, but rest assured everything here is out of the ordinary. Their cocktail menu is inventive, with recipes all their own. "Less than" menu items include things like Thai peanut shrimp; cheese and charcuterie plates; pierogis and more. "Greater than" menu items may include picanha lettuce wraps; burgers; salmon; and Dan Dan noodles To get a copy of their current menu, email email@example.com.
The Lookout & The Greenhouse
Belkin Lookout Farm, 89 Pleasant St., Natick
Set to open in November, the greenhouse serves open pit barbecue, and New England cuisine like grilled cheese and tomato soup, beef stew, blackened salmon, burgers and a fried chicken sandwich. On weekends, brunch is served, and there's live music.
Mazi Kitchen & Bar
320 Pond St., Ashland
Autumn leaves are falling, and Mazi Kitchen & Bar celebrates the season with scallops in maple cream sauce, with smoked bacon, parsley, cranberry and barley couscous. The menu here is eclectic, from flatbreads, handhelds that includes a shrimp club, to stick-to-your-ribs pasta dishes like their Tailgate Mac & Cheese Fusilli with short rib, gouda and corn bread crumb.
Pepperoncini's Pizza & Grill
201 East Main St., Milford
Not sure there is anything missing from the menu at Pepperoncini's, and anytime there's a warm pretzel and fried pickles on the appetizer menu we have to try them. Salads, soups, chili, burgers, tacos, 11 kinds of wings, entrees of fish, chicken and beef, and of course calzones and pizzas many different ways.
Rail Trail Flatbread Co.
33 Main St., Hudson
When I looked at Rail Trail's menu, my eyes immediately went to this: za'atar quesadilla mezze with house pita, za'atar oil, farmers cheese, made quesadilla-style with a trio of spreads. Who could resist? While they have other things on their menu, like salads, burgers and bowls, the star here of course are the flatbreads. You can create your own, but my favorite is their "harvest squash" with roasted garlic base, butternut squash, caramelized onion, cheese blend and balsamic fig reduction. Yes, squash on pizza sounds a little weird, but I assure you it's fabulous.
Samba Steak & Sushi
1138 Worcester Road, Framingham
Samba Steak & Sushi has a secret: They don't have just sushi and hibachi menu items. There's an extensive seafood bar, folks. From Littleneck clams, oysters, steamers, king crab, lobsters, peel 'n' eat shrimp, order a seafood tower and start sharing. Samba's flavors combine tastes of Japan and South America in some of their dishes. Of course they have sushi, but they also have poke bowls, small plates and more.
Soul of India
103 Boston Post Road, Sudbury
Craving Indian food? The scent of Soul of India's flavorful curries made with chicken, seafood or lamb as well as vegetarian choices will follow you to their outdoor patio. My favorite appetizers here are their vegetable pakora and onion fritters called Bhajia. Sizzling tandoori dishes, marinated in yogurt and sensuous spices blends are enticing. Indo-Chinese offerings, like Gobi or Chicken Manchurian, offer a taste of both worlds. Soak it all up with one of their eight different homemade naan breads.
23 Main St., Hudson
Times two: Welly's opens Hudson location
153 Main St., Marlborough
Maple and mustard encrusted pork chops say autumn to me, so that's what we're going for next time I'm at Welly's, offering a wide variety of American comfort food. The fish 'n' chips and Greek pasta look enticing, too. From burgers to pizza (including Kelly's with fried eggplant) everything on Welly's menu looks so good. Menus at each location are slightly different, and brunch is served at the Hudson location. Be sure to check their specials before you order.
This article originally appeared on MetroWest Daily News: outdoor patio dining restaurants in metrowest and greater milford