skip to Main Content

TIPS

The Best Places to Eat in Boston

Looking for the best places to eat in Boston? When it comes to this Massachusetts capital city, food is the name of the game and Bostonians take their dining out very seriously. With a history older than the Declaration of Independence and a population as diverse as America itself, the cuisine scene here represents the very people that have called it home for generations. From seafood to Italian to fusion, these are my top picks!

The Best Places to Eat in Boston

Samantha shucks oysters at Union Oyster House in Boston

Union Oyster House

Of all the best places to eat in Boston, number one on your list has to be Union Oyster House. As the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the United States, it has seem some of the most influential revolutionaries, politicians, and celebrities in the two centuries it’s been open. Think everyone from John F. Kennedy, who ate here every Sunday, all the way to Meryl Streep.

And, as you might guess, there’s a very good reason Union Oyster House has remained a crowd favorite for decades. It serves incredible food – so much so that it won the North American Best Landmark Restaurant in 2020 by the World Culinary Awards. Start with the very oysters that give the restaurant its name and then try one of their hearty seafood dishes.

Samantha visits Bostons North End

Bricco Salumeria & Pasta Shop

You can’t think Italian-Americans and not think of Boston. After the Irish, they make up the largest single ethnic group in the city and have brought their culinary traditions with them. The main neighborhood you want to go for truly authentic Italian food is North End where many southern Italian immigrants settled after coming through the Port of Boston.

This area, which is also the oldest residential community in Boston, is full Italian eateries, bakeries, and cafes with recipes passed down from generation to generation. One of those spots has to be Bricco Salumeria & Pasta Shopfounded by Frank DePasquale. DePasquale comes from a town near the Amalfi Coast and wanted to offer the kind of handmade pasta he saw his mother make all through his childhood.

There are two ways to enjoy Bricco. The first is to pick up all the supplies you’d need to prepare your own Italian dinner – everything from imported meats to olive oil to cheese – or stop in and order one of their sandwiches. If I had to choose just one to get, I’d pick the Italian sandwich. Think mortadella, Genoa salami, and soppressata all stuffed between some freshly made bread. YUM!

Sichuan Garden in Boston

Sichuan Garden

When it comes to incredible Chinese food in Boston, look no farther than the family-owned Sichuan GardenMichael and Den Duan moved to Boston with their three-year-old son, Ran, so Michael could pursue his masters at Boston University. Fast forward two decades, and they have two Sichuan Gardens – one at Brookline Village and one at the Baldwin Mansion.

At these two locations they’re able to serve up authentic dishes right from their hometown.

Samantha checks out Blossom Bar in Boston MA

Blossom Bar at Sichuan Garden

Located in the Brookline Sichuan Garden is another gem in Boston’s restaurant scene – Blossom Bar. After their son graduated from Johnson & Wales in 2009, Michael and Den tasked Ran with opening up a bar above their Baldwin Mansion location. Over the next decade, Ran studied everything he possible could related to mixology and not only opened up bars at each of Sichuan Garden’s location but began winning all sorts of competitions for his concoctions.

The Blossom Bar in particular has a stylish mint green interior that feels both photo ready and homey while the drinks have a strong Latin-American influence. If you want to try one of the cocktails that won Ran an award, ask for the Gloria.

Legal Seafoods in Boston
From Legal Seafood’s Instagram

Legal Seafoods

You can’t visit to Boston without slurping down a bowl of clam chowder. While there are many variations on this filling dish, the New England variety is known for its cream-based chowder and thicker consistency. It’s the perfect thing to eat if you visit during the colder months (which start earlier and end later in this part of the country!).

While there are many restaurants that serve chowder, the most classic option is Legal SeafoodsWhat was once a fish market in Cambridge has now become the most popular place to try one of Boston’s most iconic dishes. They have plenty of locations all over the city, including one in every terminal at Logan Airport, so there’s no need to worry if one is too full. Don’t forget oyster crackers when you have your chowder.

Santarpios in Boston
From Santarpio’s Instagram

Santarpio’s

Looking for some incredible pizza in Boston? Head right over to Santarpio’s Pizza. They’ve been in business in East Boston since 1903 and the name comes from the family that still owns and operates it. Santarpio’s has got a cult following and include fans such as celebrity chefs Rachael Ray and Andrew Zimmern. There are quite a few pizza toppings to try, but I’d say a must-try is the sausage and garlic pie.

Picco in Boston
From Picco’s website

Picco

Another great pizza spot in Boston, this time in South End, is Picco. They use cold-ferment sourdough for their pies and only uses the freshest and most local of ingredients. All toppings are even made in house. For a special treat, save room for their homemade ice cream. Not only do they make everything from scratch, they source the milk from local farms, and all toppings are made in the kitchen – sans fructose corn syrup.

Neptune Oyster, Boston
From Neptune Oyster’s website

Neptune Oyster

I know these slippery little suckers are a polarizing food, but if you’re in the camp that can’t get enough of them, then you won’t want to miss Neptune Oyster in the North End neighborhood. This tiny oyster bar is responsible for some of the cleanest seafood in the city and specializes in East Coast oysters specifically. They were even James Beard Award semifinalists for Outstanding Restaurant in 2020.

Because the seats are so coveted and they don’t take reservations, I recommend putting your name in early and then doing some sightseeing around the neighborhood. The Paul Revere House is nearby and a great spot for history buffs interested in the American Revolution.

Uni Sashimi Bar, Boston
From Uni’s Instagram

Uni Sashimi Bar

If you’re looking for some truly incredible sushi and sashimi in Boston then head right over to Uni Sashimi BarFounded by James Beard Award-winning chef, Ken Origner, the restaurant has been opened since 2002. What began as an intimate sashimi bar in the lounge of his first Boston restaurant, Clio, is now an expansive spot serving only the best and freshest seafood from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo and local catches from New England.

Toro in Boston
From Toro’s Instagram

Toro

Another Ken Origner restaurant not to miss is Toro in Boston’s South End neighborhood. The Spanish tapas-style menu comes from both Origner and Jamie Bissonnette, also a James Beard Award winner, and the focus is on Barcelona-inspired plates. Come with a friend or two and get a bunch of dishes to share.

Modern Pastry, Boston
From Modern Pastry’s Instagram

Modern Pastry

Another thing Bostonians love? Pastries – especially those of the Italian variety. Locals will almost always point towards Modern Pastry as the best place for cannolis as well as other Italian sweets. This family-owned bakery was first established in 1930 by the Picariello family, who came over with the intent of sharing the best of Italian recipes and hospitality. They still mix in old-worth methods from over 150 years ago and have established themselves as a crowd favorite in North End.

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.

Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston
From flour’s instagram

Flour

Another fantastic bakery is the delightfully quirky flour bakery + cafe. Originally founded by Joanne Chang in 2000 with a South End location, there are now multiple spots all over the city. Combining both her French and American training, each spot offers up the most delicious pastries, cookies, and tarts as well as sandwiches, soups, and salads in case you’re not in a sweet mood.

Flour has earned worldwide recognition from all the top culinary and travel magazines while Chef Bobby Flay is one of the many fans of Chang’s sticky buns. She’s even a James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Baker and has shared her recipes in not one, not two, but five cookbooks.

The best part of flour’s multiple locations is that you can find one in almost any neighborhood you’re sightseeing in!

No 9 Park, Best Places to Eat in Boston
From No. 9 Park’s Instagram

No.9 Park

If restaurateur Barbara Lynch is attached to a restaurant, you know it’s going to be good. Boston born and bred, Lynch got her first taste of restaurant life when he got a kitchen job at thirteen, helping to make meals for the priests at the church across the street. While Lynch now has a collective of restaurants, her very first came when she opened No. 9 Park in 1998.

Located in a townhouse in historic Beacon Hill, Lynch’s flagship restaurant is intimate and the menu is a mix of regionally-inspired Italian and French cuisine. Not only has Lynch herself been name a James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Restaurateur, No. 9 Parks’ wine list has won for Outstanding Wine Program.

And there you have it – some of the best places to eat in Boston! From classic New England dishes to inventive cuisine, there’s so many incredible spots to try whether you’re just visiting for a weekend or staying here forever.

If you want to see more on Boston and what else we got up on our visit, check out our Boston episode of Season 5’s “Samantha Brown’s Places to Love”!

All the best places to eat in Boston

First published Dec 2016, Updated June 2022

This Post Has 18 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. Our family was not at all impressed with Legal Seafoods when we were there in 2018. It was busy but not overly crowded yet the service was slow, they were out of several items and the staff was not friendly or helpful. The quality of the food was ok. I will say, my experience on a separate trip to Atlanta at the Legal Seafood there was excellent. I am hoping the Boston experience was just a fluke but add on the challenges of a post Covid world and I’m not sure I would give it another chance with so many other good choices.

  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
    Thanks!
    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…..wow!!!…oh and I am team Mike’s canolli for sure! The ricotta is heavenly, and the shell is crispy perfection!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Best Places to Eat in Boston
Back To Top