From chowder and cannoli to oysters and Italian fare, Boston’s food scene is full of character. I actually like visiting Beantown in the colder months. It’s such a dense and walkable town that you can easily check off historic sites (Faneuil Hall, the State House, King’s Chapel), warm up with a cup of chowder or a coffee and pastry, then head back out into the elements… rinse, repeat!
Here are a few of Boston’s must-have food experiences.
You can’t go to Boston without slurping down a bowl of chowder. It’s served all over the places, but a few spots do it better than anyone else. For the classic option, head to Legal Seafoods. It’s touristy, but for good reason—their chowder is excellent. Served in a mug topped with oyster crackers, it’s Boston in a bowl. There’s many outposts all over town, including many at the airport, perfect for killing time in the event of a flight delay. And speaking of touristy, Quincy Market is about as tourist trap as you get. But if you find yourself there, skip Dick’s Last Resort and check out the chowder at Ned Devine’s Irish Pub. It’s really one of the best in town.
I know these slippery little suckers are a polarizing food, but if you love them, Boston is your town. For an unforgettable restaurant experiences, check out Neptune Oyster in the North End. This postage-stamp sized, walk-ins only restaurant serves incredible lobster rolls, Nantucket bay scallops, PEI mussels, and loads of fresh oysters. Be prepared to wait, wait and wait for a seat. My advice? Put in your name, then explore the North End for an hour or so. The Paul Revere House is nearby—why not tour that in the meantime? If you’d prefer to make reservations, B&G in the South End and Island Creek Oyster Bar take them and will not disappoint.
There’s no shortage of great chefs cooking in Boston. For high-end Japanese, check out Uni, James Beard Award-winning chef Ken Origner’s take on sushi and sashimi. Oringer, along with fellow James Beard-winning chef Jamie Bissonnette, does an incredible take on Spanish tapas at Toro in Boston’s South End. Matt Jennings’ downtown restaurant Townsman offers up local, seasonal New England cuisine in a brasserie-style setting—think raw offerings like oysters and clams; Hudson Valley duck breast with corn pudding; and of course, clam chowder. Anything by Barbara Lynch is a great option, too. Try the aforementioned B&G Oysters for seafood, Sportello for casual Italian cuisine, and No. 9 Park for a special occasion— elegant French and Italian dining at its best!
Beantown loves pizza. In the North End, check out Regina’s. Run by the Polcari family since 1926, this cozy spot is known for their brick oven pizzas. Another legendary spot? Santarpio’s, located in East Boston. Open since 1903, they’ve racked up tons of acclaim from celebrity chefs like Rachael Ray and Andrew Zimmern, and many Best-of Boston lists. Try the sausage and garlic pie. Yum! For something more modern, Picco in the South End does thin-crust, crispy pizza with fresh and fabulous ingredients. The Alsatian, topped with sautéed onions, shallots, garlic, crème fraîche, bacon and gruyere, might give you bad breath… but who cares!
Boston loves their pastry, especially of the Italian variety. Mike’s is often touted as THE place for cannoli, but locals will tell you to head across the street to Modern Pastry. While their Italian cakes, cookies and fruit tarts are incredible, you’d be remiss to skip the cannoli, bursting with extra ricotta cheese. This busy spot does tables service and to-go orders, but if you’re looking for a mid-day respite after some Boston sightseeing, grab a seat at one of their bistro tables and enjoy a treat with some coffee.
I love a good neighborhood bakery, and Joanne Chang’s Flour nails it. Perfect muffins, scones, sticky buns and apple snacking spice cake satisfy your carb craving without being too sweet. They also serve up delicious sandwiches and salads for later in the day. With six locations throughout the city, many Boston ‘hoods get to call Flour their neighborhood bakery spot—which means no matter where you’re staying, there’s probably one nearby.
What are some of the best places to eat in Boston? Share in the comments!