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The Best Places to Eat in Boston

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.

Clam Chowder

The Best Places to Eat in Boston

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.


The Best Places to Eat in Boston

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.

Top Chefs

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!


The Best Places to Eat in Boston

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!


The Best Places to Eat in Boston

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!

From chowder to cannoli, oysters to Italian fare, Beantown’s food scene is full of character. Here are the best places to eat in Boston.

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This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with you about Legal Seafood. We went when in Boston in March 2015 and the food was all tasteless and mushy (we didn’t have the chowder, though). It is a chain and, like you said, very touristy, and if they used to be good, they are no longer.

    1. So… you’re hanging on to a bad experience from four years ago and assuming it will always be the same there?

  2. As a local and regular patron of Legal Seafood, I have to come to their defense. I’ve been to the waterfront location and yes it can be full of tourists but that did not detract from the quality of the food. My local Legal doesn’t see many tourists and my regular order of steamers, grilled tuna with jasmine rice is consistently yummy!

    Love Flour, and they have a nice kid’s lunch: pb & j, drink, and cookie. I may be an aberration, but I prefer Modern’s lobster claw pastry to their cannoli!

  3. North End recommendations. The Daily Catch on Hanover, previously Calamari’s & Maria’s Pastry on Cross Street.

  4. For excellent people watching and tasty food, try the patio at Cafeteria on the corner of Newbury and Gloucester Streets…whether enjoying a cocktail, a pot of tea or any of the satisfying sandwiches, thanks to great service, great views and the greatest city, Cafeteria is a lovely way to rest and refuel before exploring all Boston offers.

  5. Dear Samantha:
    I love you and your insightful articles and helpful tips. But PLEASE don’t call our lovely city “Beantown”. No one who lives here does
    A Loyal Follower

  6. I loved the chowder at Legal. And I got some
    Pastry’s from Modern they were great too! And oh my gosh Neptune’s has my ❤️ Their lobster rolls are what dreams are made of. Great recommendations!

  7. Modern Pastry is def AMAZING and wayyyy better than Mike’s! Mike’s is overrated and they are rude! A few years ago I was in there buying my son a cupcake to use on his 1st birthday cake smash photo shoot.. I was in line waiting to order the cupcake and my oldest son was standing in the corner with the stroller and a lady that worked there went behind him instead of saying excuse me she pushed my son and he almost fell over the stroller! I had to leave before slapping her! She said she didn’t have to apologize.. Also for the best cream puffs EVER Bear Papa’s in China town Boston! I have never had cream puffs that good before.

  8. I grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Boston and I just can’t agree with you about Modern Pastry. Mike’s makes the best cannoli. You can tell they make their own delicious cannoli shell and the filling is outstanding. Modern Pastry has a cannoli shell that is too thick with no flavor and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was store bought. The filling is no comparison to Mike’s.

  9. I don’t live in Boston but my sister does so I visit often. My go to spot for clam chowder would have to be The Sail Loft. Hands down the best chowder (and being a tourist, I have tried too many to count). Between Mike’s and Modern, I love Mike’s but I also love that you can pop into Modern for an espresso and a cannolo for a little sweet treat. And I love that you mentioned Regina’s! I love their meatball subs! Thank you for this great post!

  10. The Italian Sub at Monica’s deli was our best bite in Boston for sure!….imported salami, mortadella, provolone on crusty bread and aged balsamic…!!!…oh and I am team Mike’s canolli for sure! The ricotta is heavenly, and the shell is crispy perfection!

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