The gastronomical landscape of Boston was once notoriously bad, but fortunately, the city has now ascended to a foodie’s paradise! With about a decade (on and off) of experience eating in Boston, here are my favorite places to chow down as of 2019 in the greater Boston area!
Update (7/2/2020): I’m so sad to see some of my favorite restaurants in Boston closing like Deep Ellum, Eastern Standard, and Cuchi Cuchi. Read this Boston Herald article for a list of closings.
Read More on Food
Restaurant in Kenmore Square, Boston
Chef Jeremy Sewall and Eastern Standard owner Garrett Harker teamed up with Skip Bennett, the founder of Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Massachusetts, to bring the Island Creek Oyster Bar to Boston where you’ll find some of the best seafood in Boston. Great for formal or informal dinners or lunches. Take a seat at the beautiful open-concept bar where you’ll see staff shucking oysters hourly, or in their lively dining space.
Order all the oysters — direct from their Duxbury farm. Lobster roll. Wash it down with a big glass of Santorini Assyrtiko. I still drool at the thought of those east coast oysters! East Coast oysters — like Island Creek Oysters — are more salty and savory than West Coast oysters.
Visit their sister restaurant for more seafood & oyster-heaven, Row 34, in the Seaport District, Boston.
Restaurant in Back Bay, Boston
Nestled in the back of Eataly, you’ll find Terra, a modern Italian restaurant. Terra’s ambience is light, airy, and informal. The wood-fired stove and kitchen sits as its centerpiece. Pick and choose from their menu of Italian skewers, bruschette, small plates, cheese and charcuterie boards, and pastas — brought to you by executive chef Jason Neve and chef de cuisine Dan Bazzinotti.
A great place to have lunch or dinner inside the Prudential Center — before or after hitting up the prosciutto aisles of Eataly. Have an aperitivo and then fill your belly with all the formaggi, pasta, and grilled fish you can handle.
Restaurant in Downtown Crossing, Boston
For a goooood time, call Yvonne. A romantic speakeasy bar/restaurant in the heart of Downtown Crossing. Great for groups, dates, or flirting at the bar.
Explore the different rooms in Yvonne’s, including a library bar filled to the brim with books — often seen scribbled by mischievous guests. The main dining room is ornate with candlelit, white tablecloth tables, plush sofas, chandeliers, and the original Locke-Ober wood bar — helmed by highly-skilled bartenders.
Chefs, Juan Pedrosa and Tom Berry, have created an eclectic, delicious menu of small and large plates that are meant to be shared.
If only the walls could speak. The home of the historical Locke-Ober restaurant, the fourth oldest restaurant in Boston and a men-only supper club for statesmen (like JFK) and the upper crust, was renovated by the same owners of Lolita Cocina into the very fashionable Yvonne’s.
The cheeky semi-nude painting — a woman taking a selfie — hanging in the main dining room pays homage to the original Locke-Ober painting of Yvonne whose torso would be covered when Harvard lost to Yale.
I’ve also seen Sting, Eliza Dushku, David Ortiz, John Kerry, and Jackie Siegel (The Queen of Versailles) dine here.
Hit up Yvonne’s earlier in the evening to secure a spot at the Library bar or lounge area. If you’re hosting an event, there’s a private event space downstairs that can be entered through a “secret” door in the library room.
What to Order?
Favorite dishes: Tico Tuna Crudo, Charred Maitake Mushroom, Crispy Tater Cubes, Sujuk Pita, Chicken and Quinoa Meatballs, Seared Octopus, Seared Halloumi Cheese.
Favorite cocktails: Penicillin, 1975, Grande Dame, Rubicon, Espresso Martini, large format Moscow Mule.
Favorite dessert: La Bête Noire and Baked Alaska.
Restaurant in the South End, Boston
Award-winning chefs, Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette bring exceptional pintxos, jamónes, and tapas to the Boston food scene with their little rustic restaurant, Toro. More recently, Toro made its splash across ponds, opening in locations like New York City, Dubai, and Bangkok.
Get there early! I love Toro, but they don’t take reservations for dinner — only lunch. If you’re not hankering to wait, go to Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar in Brookline or South End instead. It’s not Toro, but the tapas are still very, very good!
What to order?
Maíz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija, Paella Valenciana, Gambas al Ajillo, Empanada de Cabra, Panza de Cerdo
Restaurant in South End, Boston
Chef Ting Yen‘s Oishii, meaning ‘delicious’ in Japanese, offers a dark and trendy atmosphere to indulge in creative maki rolls among other Japanese fusion dishes, and plenty of sake.
I wouldn’t go here for authentic Japanese sushi — the type you’d find in Tsukuji Fish Market, Tokyo — but for creative and fun fusion dishes with a sexy atmosphere then yes, definitely. Indulge in toro, wagyu beef, and foie gras with truffle. Wash it all down with sake.
Chef Ting once came over to our table to show a friend’s mum how to properly use chopsticks. It was endearing.
Our server also gushed about frequent patrons, Tom Brady and Giselle.
Restaurant in South End, Boston
Cozy, trendy restaurant in the South End known for its modern Italian food. Chef/Partners Michael Lombardi & Kevin O’Donnell joined forces with Jim Cochener to open The Coda Group’s third restaurant, SRV. SRV, or Serene Republic of Venice, is modeled after a Venetian bacaro, or wine bar, offering an array of cicchetti and housemade pasta.
Restaurant in South End, Boston
Tucked away in the South End, this intimate Greek restaurant has great mezze and ouzo.
This place came fully recommended by a friend from Crete, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Restaurant in Harvard Square, Cambridge
With accolades from Condé Nast Traveler (The Best Restaurants in the World, 2016), Boston Magazine (Best Restaurants in Boston 2015), and more, Chef Michael Scelfo’s Alden & Harlow has brought his love of home cooking in small American plates. The dimly-lit atmosphere is warm and inviting with its open kitchen, exposed brick, and wooden beams.
This is where I take friends visiting from out of town! Alden & Harlow boasts an impressive cocktail list and seasonal menu via Chef Michael Scelfo. Though — shame on me, I suppose — I’m not a fan of brunch, they do have an exciting brunch menu to nurse any hangover. I was underwhelmed by the Secret Burger after all the hype, but I’ll take the Kale Salad with Pistachio Dressing any day. Definitely order a few small plates and stay for the drinks. The upstairs space — formerly Cafe Algiers — has also been renovated as part of the Alden & Harlow family, transformed to the Longfellow Bar. Their sister restaurant, Waypoint, is also worth trekking down Massachusetts Ave for oysters and caviar & blini.
What to Order?
Get the kale salad and pork belly.
Restaurant between Harvard Square and Porter Square, Cambridge
Brought to you by the award-winning Chef Michael Pagliarini, this rustic, Italian restaurant has killer pastas that won’t disappoint.
Restaurant in Inman Square, Cambridge
Small Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in an old Victorian house with a bustling patio. Chef Ana Sortun drew inspiration from Turkey and the Middle East with her mezze, small plates.
One of my favorite Mediterranean restaurants ever, Oleana left me with serious FOMO after leaving Boston. It’s a cozy, smaller space — especially in winter when the patio is not open.
I highly recommend taking any vegans in the group here since their staff is very accommodating and the desserts are not just an afterthought. Being lactose-intolerant (though sometimes living life dangerously and popping a Lactaid), I found their dairy-free dessert to be exceptional and not just a sad bowl of sorbet.
Chef, Ana Sortun, was also named the Best Chef Northeast by the James Beard Foundation in 2005, and in 2016 and 2017, she was a James Beard semi-finalist for Best Chef. ‘Nuf said.
What to Order?
Deviled Eggs, Sultan’s Delight, Quail Kebob, Baked Alaska
Restaurant between Central Square and Harvard Square, Cambridge
A homey, New American trattoria brought to you by Chris and Pam Willis with an Italian-ish menu with surrprises like Korean gochujang in their Bolognese. Stick around for Aperitivo Hour.
Restaurant in Kendall Square, Cambridge
“French-Canadian by way of New England”. Cozy, homestyle French-Canadian restaurant in Kendall Square. Brought to you by the same people over at State Park and Mamaleh’s. Yes, they have poutine.
Beyond poutine, you’ll be able to find a mouthwatering selection of homey French-Canadian-inspired fare. They also carry cocktails and a mix of American and French wine, including La Garagista (one of my favorite vineyards!)
Sandwich Shop in the North End, Boston
Affordable subs, including one of Boston’s best Lobster Rolls! They carry a 7oz and 14oz Lobster Roll for those who like to go big or go home.
I spent a lot of time seeking out a budget-friendlier lobster roll without sacrificing quality. My friends don’t believe me when I tell them that New England lobster rolls are absolutely the best–the fools! Lobsters from Maine are just sweeter and more tender than their Canadian relatives, and Boston has perfected their lobster roll game. After Pauli’s you could easily walk around to get one of dem Italian cannolis since you’ll already be in the North End. Head to Modern Pastry Shop if you want to avoid the line at Mike’s Pastry.
You could also go to the famous Neptune Oyster for a lobster roll, but they don’t take reservations … And I’m impatient.
KO Pies at the Shipyard
Restaurant in East Boston
Australian meat pies in a quirky little spot in East Boston with a seasonal patio. They also do catering!
Yesss! Meat pies! Back when I was living in East Boston, I was genuinely surprised to find out that this place was only a few blocks from my apartment. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the neighborhood!
What to order?
Irish Beef Stew Meat Pie, Fish and Chips, Piri Piri Chicken Sandwich
Did you find this article useful?
Comment below and tell me what you think! And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook, so I can feel all the love. If you’re feeling generous, you can also support me by buying me a coffee to keep this site alive.
Are you an expat woman in Seoul?
Join me on the Geneva app to chat about life in Seoul! My mission is to create a safe space, networking opportunity, and vital resource for female expats in Seoul, South Korea.
What is Geneva? Geneva is an up-and-coming group chat app that is WAY more organized and more private than Facebook groups, similar to Slack. It is available on iOS, Android, web browser, and Mac desktop.
It’s still VERY new, so I’m still tinkering with it. If you’re interested in becoming a moderator, let me know. I decided to start out with a group directed towards the female expat community based in Seoul to start with and will perhaps expand in the future.