Whether you live in Boston or are visiting from out of town, this Boston neighborhood restaurant guide is going to come in handy for all your dining out needs!
When I asked you all last year what content you would like to see from me this year, some of you said you wanted to find out what my favorite restaurants in Boston were. Since eating out is my favorite sport, I have a few recommendations in mind ;). I was debating whether to separate this out by types of cuisines or neighborhoods but since there is SO much good food in Boston, I decided neighborhoods would be best. If you’re not local to Boston, bookmark this for the next time you visit or feel free to share with friends who have travel planned!
Terra at Eataly
Located inside the Prudential Center, Eataly is an emporium for Italian foodies. Walk up to the top floor for Terra restaurant, which will have you feeling like you’ve been transported out of a mall and into a Pinterest-worthy outdoor garden that is actually indoors. A wood-burning Italian grill, Terra specializes in grilled meats, seafood, and veggies. And of course, there are homemade pastas (it is Eataly after all!). Their cocktail menu is divine too. Order some spiedini (things on skewers) and bruschette to start, and then share some pasta, and things from the grill with the table. You can’t go wrong here with anything on the menu. This is one of the best Italian restaurants in Boston, for sure!
Tatte Bakery & Cafe
With locations now all over the city, Tatte Bakery is a must-visit when in Boston. Come for coffee, stay for brunch or lunch or all the pastries. They have delicious sandwiches, salads and their shakshuka is unreal. Plus, the interior is totally Instagram-worthy. Check out their Instagram account if you don’t believe me!
Italian small plates in a cozy, intimate setting that makes you feel like you’re in Tuscany?! Yes, please! Coppa is not only one of my favorite restaurants in the South End, it’s one of my favorite restaurants in Boston. It’s tucked away on a tiny corner on a brownstone-filled street. In the summer, you can find a few tiny tables outside on the sidewalk, or get cozy during the winter with their dimly lit, cozy vibe. When you come here, expect to eat like an Italian. Red wine flowing. Charcuterie to start. Then the homemade pastas and wood-fired pizzas. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Brought to you by two renowned Boston chefs, Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette (you’ll hear their names again). Make reservations ahead of time or be prepared to wait (especially on a weekend).
The South End is home to so many good restaurants, it’s hard to pick just one! Toro is owned by that same dynamic duo that brought you Coppa, Oringer and Bissonnette. But unlike Coppa, Toro is serving up traditional Spanish tapas in an intimate setting. This place has more of a lively feel to it than Coppa with a full bar to stand at while you wait for a table and plenty of cocktails to go around. Be sure to order the Gambas al Ajillo (grilled garlic shrimp) and the Maíz Asado (Mexican street corn). They don’t take reservations so get here early or be prepared to wait a while. If it’s just a couple of you, you can add your names to the bar waitlist to get seated faster.
The best-fried chicken and biscuits in Boston! I love Southern Proper for authentic Southern food – their fried chicken is unbelievable. Not to mention everything else that’s made in house and with local New England ingredients. The interior is amazing too – smoke-infused pine walls imported from North Carolina, antique wallpaper; it’s inviting but slightly eclectic. I dig it. Plus, in the summer, they’ve got patio seating which is money in the city.
Best BBQ in the city. Also best biscuits in the city. If you’re going to a Sox game in Fenway, hit up Sweet Cheeks before or after for some game-day fare. Their ribs are delicious. Mac n’ cheese is off the charts. Even their salads are delicious. But let’s go back to the biscuits. Because for real, this place is worth it JUST for the biscuits. They’re the biggest, fluffiest biscuits I’ve ever seen in my life and they’re served with honey butter (cue the drool).
Just next door to Sweet Cheeks, and owned by the same Chef, Chef Tiffani Faison, Tiger Mama is a fun and lively Southeast Asian restaurant. With a fun tiki drink program, and vibrant flavors from Vietnam and Thailand, this restaurant doesn’t disappoint. Dishes are on the smaller side and best shared with the table. Make a reservation in advance!
An East-boston staple, Santarpios first opened as a bakery in 1903. It’s now known as a no-frills, old-school pizza joint serving up NY-style pizzas. In true no-frills fashion, it’s cash only so bring ya cheddah.
Is it a restaurant? A bar? An venue? It’s all of the above! Truth be told, this was a rule-out award. I haven’t been to any restaurants in Southie (yet) that have blown me away but I love the vibe at Coppersmith. It’s an old industrial warehouse that was converted into a huge bar with indoor food trucks and a rooftop patio. If you want good drinks in a cool atmosphere with globally-inspired comfort food from food trucks, this is your joint.
Oysters and lobstah. Every Boston tourist needs them. If you’re looking for a hip, upscale restaurant to slurp back oysters at with a thoughtfully curated beer and wine list, Row 34 is your place. This is one of my fave seafood restaurants in Boston owned by one of my favorite seafood Chefs in Boston, Jeremy Seawall.
For a more casual, and arguably more fun, seafood joint, head to the Barking Crab, situated right along a canal in the Seaport. Think live music. Lively crowds. Picnic tables. Lobster rolls and all the crab you can eat. This is a really fun spot to come to in the summer when the weather is nice and you’re craving sunshine, music, cold beer, and seafood. Long waitlists here usually move pretty fast.
I’ve been going to this restaurant for 12 years now, mostly because they didn’t ID us when we were in college 😉 but now I go because the food is AMAZING. Pomodoro is super tiny so reservations are a must. Like 5-6 tables tiny. They’ve also grown a lot since I used to go in college and it has a very sophisticated vibe now. Their food is so fresh and delicious. Order the calamari. And the linguini with clams is perfect. They’ve also been known to top off a glass of wine or serve a dessert on the house, in true European hospitality fashion.
If you want the best seafood Boston has to offer, a stop at Neptune Oyster is a must. But be forewarned, they don’t take reservations and waitlists can be 3 or 4 hours at a time (it’s tiny in there). Get there early to put your name on the list. It’s worth it for the fresh oysters and the massive lobster roll.
Alden & Harlow
Thoughtfully sourced, new American, creative fare. Small plates to share. Cocktails on tap. And a secret burger of the day that they make a limited batch of. Alden & Harlow has never disappointed. Tucked in a subterranean, chic and rustic space, and space for outdoor seating in the summer, the ambiance and decor match the menu. I love that their menu is always changing based on what’s in season, so it’s always a treat to get to taste new dishes when you go.
Okay, by now it’s clear that I have a slight obsession with the dynamic duo of Bissonnette and Oringer. And their most recent addition to the Boston scene obviously made it to my faves list. Little Donkey has become one of our go-to’s for special occasions. Globally-inspired tapas with a raw bar and craft beers and cocktails. The dishes here are always so fun and creative. Also, stay for dessert. The chocolate chip cookie dough served on a beater is everythinnnnggggg.
If sushi is your jam, Cafe Sushi is a must. Don’t be fooled by its humble, simple decor, this sushi restaurant serves some of the freshest sushi in the city. And the chefs know exactly what herbs, spices and sauces to accompany the fish with. Soy sauce not required here. You will want to savor each bite just as it was intended.
Chef Ana Sortun serves up Middle Eastern fare and mezze in this intimate, modern and colorful restaurant. Book reservations for Sarma well in advance for weekends. We have been trying to get in here for dinner for months after a friend gifted us a gift certificate for our birthdays and we finally have a reservation booked in a couple weeks. You best believe I’m ordering all the things since I had to wait so long to get in ;).
Don’t be turned off by the fact that this establishment doesn’t come with its own website. They’re that busy and well-respected that they don’t need one. Matt Murphy’s is a cozy, lively Irish pub that serves up traditional Irish fare and elevated pub food as well as craft beers and delicious cocktails made with Irish whiskey. Come around St. Patrick’s Day and you’re in for a treat, aka some complimentary pours of Magners and Bailey’s and Irish crisps ;).
If you’re hankering for some authentic Chinese food in a modern, chic establishment with some of the most highly regarded cocktails in the area to wash it down with, Blossom Bar at Sichuan Garden is your place. Originally opened in 1997, it recently underwent a transformation by the owner’s son who is continuing his family’s legacy. He added a bar and cocktail program that changes each month with rotating mixologists. Just another reason for a return visit.
If you’re up for a trip to my hood, check out my fave neighborhood joint, Tres Gatos. It’s Boston’s first restaurant, book, and music store. But don’t venture here for the books and music because the food itself is worth a visit. With a seasonally rotating and innovative menu, the Chef serves up Spanish-inspired tapas that are drool-worthy. We took my Dad here when he came to visit a few weeks ago to see the condo we bought and he was trippin’ over every dish that came out. But seriously, there’s not a mediocre dish on the menu. Each bite is fabulous. If you go, tell the manager Chris that your friend Kara sent you and he’ll take care of ya.