Food at B and G Oysters, Boston, New England

B&G Oysters

A spanking fresh raw bar and casual South End scene make B&G Oysters a good choice for gourmet versions of New England specialties. From fried Ipswich clams to buttery lobster rolls and the to-die-for lobster BLT, the food is fresh, well prepared and served by a gracious, attentive staff. The restaurant sits in a chic subterranean space in the heart of the Tremont Street restaurant row and boasts an open kitchen, a minimalist design and a pretty backyard patio. Although B&G’s pint-sized space tends to fill quickly, the long rectangular bar provides plenty of extra spots for singles or couples who don’t mind dining side-by-side. (A corner seat at the bar will work for parties of three as well.)

Barking Crab

An urban clam shack with incomparable views of the skyline, the restaurant sits on Fort Point Channel across from the financial district and has an authentic New England atmosphere, complete with gruff service, rough picnic tables and a smattering of tough locals. On a warm afternoon or evening, this is a classic spot to pass the time over messy lobster rolls and ice-cold beers. In the summer, some diners arrive by boat, the small sails contrasting with the soaring skyscrapers across the channel. But even in the winter, the Crab remains open. When the wind dies down and the sun comes out, a February afternoon may suddenly feel like springtime.

Bin 26

Located on Charles Street in Beacon Hill, Bin 26 is a chic, simple wine bar, an ideal place to cozy up with some friends over a great bottle of vino. Owned by the same family as Lala Rokh, the restaurant also serves a simple Italian menu, but I recommend instead choosing from a selection of charcuterie and cheese and pairing your choice with one of the more than sixty wines available by the glass or the two hundred options to be had by the bottle. Pours come in 100-, 250- and 500-milliliter sizes and are priced starting at five dollars.

View from Bar - Bleacher Bar, Boston, New England

Bleacher Bar

Baseball fans should not miss stopping at the Bleacher Bar, a watering hole built inside Fenway Park’s famed Green Monster. Part of the wall has been cut out so that patrons, who enter from Lansdowne Street rather than through the ballpark itself, can look directly onto the field. You’ll save yourself the cost of a ticket if you want to watch part of a game from here. Bleacher Bar is a bit of a dive, but that’s part of the draw.

Bar at Bricco, Boston, New England


Bricco occupies prime real estate on the North End’s main drag, Hanover Street. Lively almost any night of the week, this welcoming trattoria is a popular local meeting spot for dinner and drinks. The menu offerings, which noted food critic John Mariani has called “among the finest Italian cooking in the country,” include traditional antipasti, homemade pastas and a selection of hearty tenderloins for meat lovers. Service can be a little slow, especially on crowded weekend nights, and the noise levels rise to earsplitting when the bar area is packed. Nevertheless, be sure to request a table downstairs, not one on the quieter mezzanine level, and ask to be seated by the window that looks onto Hanover, especially on a snowy evening. It may be loud, but the fun of being swept up in the scene overcomes the restaurant’s minor flaws.

Food at Coppa, Boston, New England


Just minutes from artisan market Formaggio’s and The Buttery, Toro’s sister restaurant is arguably one of Boston’s best restaurants since opening in 2009. Helmed by experienced restaurateurs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette , Coppa serves Italian-style tapas and superb pizzas. My mom loved a zucchini bruschetta so much that we developed our own recipe at home, but nothing compares to the original. It is hard to get a table for a reason; the food is fabulous, the restaurant is small and cozy, and it doesn’t take reservations. It’s hard to pick what to recommend because it is all so delicious, but a few inventive items are the bone marrow pizza topped with beef tongue and horseradish and a twist on the traditional spaghetti carbonara, which steps things up a notch with sea urchin speckled throughout. The menu isn’t only for culinary daredevils, however, with equally delicious margherita pizzas, simple pastas and a long list of stuzzichini, small Italian bar snacks.

Editors' Picks
Food at Flour Bakery, Boston, New England

Flour Bakery

This popular bakery makes gourmet sandwiches and mouth watering bakery items for eat-in and take-out service. Chef Joanne Chang’s empire is growing rapidly, and as of 2013, Flour has many outposts and Chang has several fantastic cookbooks. The sticky-buns are a must-try, but for those looking for a healthy indulgence, Chang offers an array of inventive salads and sandwiches.

Other outposts include:

  • 209 Cambridge St, North End; 857-449-7452
  • 19 Drydock Ave, South Boston; 857-449-0315
  • 12 Farnsworth St, South Boston; 617-338-4333
  • 131 Clarendon Street; Back Bay; 617-437-7700
  • 190 Massachusetts Avenue; Cambridge; 617-225-2525
Bar at Grill 23, Boston, New England

Grill 23

Boston has its fair share of steak houses, but none compare to Grill 23. Open since 1983 but housed in a building that dates to 1917, the landmark restaurant feels like a classic gentlemen’s club, thanks to its rich mahogany paneling and white-coated waiters. The menu comprises some of the city’s best cuts of meat, an award-winning wine list and knowledgeable servers who will walk you through the differences among the steaks until you find your match. The beef comes exclusively from an all-natural ranch in Southern California dedicated to raising cattle without antibiotics or hormones. For obvious reasons, Grill 23 draws lots of business diners; those seeking more seclusion than that offered by the tables can book one of the seven private dining rooms of varying sizes. Be warned that the restaurant can become quite loud, and those who want to avoid a boisterous throng should ask for a table on the second floor away from the bar that is often overrun by a sports-loving crowd.

La Voile

The few small steps down to La Voile’s subterranean dining room represent huge leaps for Boston dining. Husband-and-wife owners Stéphane Santos and Stephanie Zuberbuehler opened the Newbury Street bistro in late 2007 after closing their previous venture, La Voile au Vent, in Cannes. Her menu, prepared by a Mediterranean-born-and-bred chef, has classic French dishes such as warm duck salad and chicken roasted according to a recipe borrowed from L’Ami Louis in Paris.

On sunny days, the restaurant’s convivial crowds clamor for seats on the large terrace, but cooler weather brings diners inside, to the nautical-themed dining room. While people-watching from Newbury Street patios can be quite engaging, many would argue that La Voile is at its best inside. The wood paneling, antique furniture and 1920s zinc bar, all shipped over from France, feel romantic and cozy and make the place ideal for passing a chilly afternoon or evening in. Because of its popularity, reservations for weekend dinner are strongly suggested.

Food at Legal Seafoods, Boston, New England

Legal Seafoods

Legal Seafoods is a Boston institution, and while there are now many locations (still mostly in Massachusetts) a trip to Boston warrants a trip to Legal Sea Foods. It’s nothing fancy, and diners looking for a fine-dining experience should steer clear, but it’s about as Boston as it gets. The clam chowder is legendary and has apparently been served regularly at presidential inaugurations since 1981.

Mamma Maria

The sophisticated Tuscan fare served at Mamma Maria matches that at other lauded North End eateries, but what makes this restaurant noteworthy is its private dining rooms. Although a meal anywhere in this restored 19th-century town house feels special, book Piccolo, the smallest of the private spaces, for a festive occasion. The room, dominated by a window overlooking historic North Square and the Paul Revere House, can seat six people but is especially popular for dining à deux. Flickering candlelight, heavy draperies and white-glove service combined with the view transport couples to another era. The restaurant does not charge for a reservation in the room and Piccolo books quickly, so plan ahead.

Food at Mr. Bartley's, Boston, New England

Mr. Bartley's

Mr. Bartley’s began serving burgers at its Mass. Ave. location in 1960, and a meal here has been a Harvard tradition since. To this day, the line for one of the rickety tables often extends down the block, composed of locals and tourists awaiting the chance to choose from cheekily named selections like the John Kerry (“he voted for this burger before he voted against it”), the Larry Summers (“the Harvard president—women can eat this, too! burger”) and the Dick Cheney (a bacon cheeseburger described as “a heart beat away”). The walls are covered in Boston memorabilia, and noise levels rise to shouting as patrons cram themselves into the limited seats and the harried waitstaff rushes from table to kitchen. Although no alcohol is served, the restaurant’s frappes, New England vernacular for milkshakes, are almost as legendary as its burgers. Come armed with patience, a horse-sized appetite and cash, as Mr. Bartley’s does not accept credit cards.

Editors' Picks
Food at Myers + Chang, Boston, New England

Myers + Chang

Joanne Chang has quite an empire in Boston, and it is only growing. Along with this popular Chinese spot, Chang has several Flour outposts in the city and two cookbooks featuring her most popular recipes.  Myers + Chang (the Myers comes from her husband Christopher Myers) is not your traditional Chinese restaurant; in fact, its dishes are closer to hipster Asian cuisine. From the hot pink dragon decals on the walls to the delightful sweet and spicy chicken and waffles, Myers takes creativity to another level. The food is always fantastic, the drinks are pungent and exotic, and the scene is trendy, friendly and fun.

Food at Neptune Oyster, Boston, New England

Neptune Oyster

Although Boston’s North End is known for its Italian fare, one of the neighborhood’s most beloved restaurants is the tiny Neptune Oyster, a twenty-six-seat pearl known for Malpeques, not marinaras. Chef Nate Nagy turns out traditional lobster rolls and classic clam chowders in addition to a more inventive crudo menu, grilled fish and the unusual Neptune burger, a cheddar-cheese burger topped with fried oysters and garlic mayo. The cramped dining room feels authentically New England, with dark wood furniture and a mirrored wall on which waitresses scrawl daily specials and raw-bar offerings.

Editors' Picks
Exterior View - No. 9 Park, Boston, New England

No. 9 Park

For an important dinner, discerning Bostonians turn to No. 9 Park, a sophisticated eatery set in an elegant town house in Beacon Hill. Just down the street from the State House, the dining room hosts politicians and businessmen plus a regular crowd of foodies who flock to feast on executive chef Barbara Lynch’s menu. Lynch, a local food impresario who also owns B&G Oysters, features local ingredients, from costal clams and Maine crabs in the New England gazpacho to artisanal butter from a tiny dairy farm in Vermont. Travelers short on time or money shouldn’t skip the restaurant entirely. The bustling bar area has tables, and a few appetizers will go well with the bartender’s top-notch cocktails. Although this area can be packed in the after-work hours, it’s well worth waiting to get in.

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O Ya

This contemporary Japanese eatery combines inventive cooking with a groovy, speakeasy atmosphere–a blend so seductive that former New York Times food critic Frank Bruni once named it the best new restaurant in the country. Located on a desolate street near Boston’s train station, the entrance is tucked away on a gritty, cobblestone alley. Swing the unmarked wooden door open, though, and the scene beckons. The building, a century-old firehouse, has a Japanese tavern meets SoHo loft feel, with soaring ceilings and shoji screens.

As fantastic as the atmosphere is, the food is the true star. Each day, chef Tim Cushman tweaks his menu of seventy-plus dishes to reflect what’s fresh and seasonal. Inventive combinations such as a hamachi sashimi with a spicy banana pepper mousse perfectly balance the freshness of the fish (most is flown in daily from Japan) with a kicky, unexpected condiment. The salmon belly, seared with a drizzle of hot sesame oil, has a buttery texture rarely found in American sushi joints. The most fantastic combo, however, is a fried kumamoto oyster with a yuzu kosho aioli settled on a small bed of rice and topped with briny squid ink bubbles–one of the more fantastic bites of food I’ve had in my life. Luckily, the dishes are small, so diners can relish the raw offerings and still have room left to try clever cooked dishes like foie gras gyozo, sake braised short ribs and shiso tempura with grilled lobster and charred tomatoes.

Nancy Cushman, co-owner and sake sommelier, reigns over her own list of twenty-some sakes and can suggest pairings with any of the offerings from her husband’s kitchen. (A well-edited wine and beer menu is also available.) Servers are friendly and well informed, happy to help a novice navigate the overwhelming amount of choices. Plan accordingly and arrive with an advance reservation, an empty stomach and good directions (and that’s the same advice that I give to friends visiting my favorite restaurant in Tokyo.)

Editors' Picks
Ambience at Oleana, Boston, New England


Many visitors to the Boston area think they’ll find the best food in the city center. But to eat dishes Mimi Sheraton has called inspired and the New York Times has described as deeply inventive, you’ll have to head to Cambridge. Celebrated chef Ana Sortun, a James Beard award winner, uses her Paris training to produce creative Mediterranean fare with a twist. You could make a meal of appetizers like Moroccan lamb kefta and fried halloumi cheese, but then you’d miss such delicious entrées as the striped bass with tahini sauce and the crispy duck served on toasted pita with a rich cauliflower-and-pistachio pilaf. Sortun’s husband runs an organic farm where much of Oleana’s produce is grown. Although the restaurant has gained a national (and well-deserved) reputation for its excellent food, Bostonians know it as one of the best local places to dine en plein air. The pretty patio, surrounded by lush plantings, feels more Provençal than New England, weather notwithstanding. Reservations are an absolute must here, so call ahead even if you plan to dine on an off night.

Editors' Picks
Food at Puritan & Company, Boston, New England

Puritan & Company

Opened in late 2012 in the up-and-coming Inman Square, Puritan & Company focuses on and excels at modern American New England cuisine. A semifinalist for the 2013 James Beard award for Best New Restaurant, Puritan & Co. serves local favorites like delicately prepared seared dayboat scallops and unique dishes like swordfish pastrami. Chef Will Gilson will even make typically boring dishes exquisite, as he transforms the oft-underappreciated complimentary bread basket into a succulent treat with warm, melt-in-your-mouth Parker House rolls.

Food at Boston, New England - Photo Courtesy :Susan Cushner


This joint venture from Ana Sortun and Cassie Piuma came after a 12-year partnership at longtime-favorite Oleana in late 2013, and delighted from day one. Slightly more casual than it’s fine-dining sister, Sarma serves delightful, flavorful and inventive Turkish/Lebanese meze in a bright, lively space in Somerville, just minutes from Cambridge. The best part: the kitchen is open till 11, and bar snacks are served alongside spicy, herbal cocktails until midnight—a rare find in Boston where many spots close down early. The tapas are small, but flavored to perfection and surprisingly comforting. Throughout the night, the chef prepares a number of specials at whim that are brought around to entice diners; a marketing ploy, yes, but a delightful one at that.

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Located in the heart of Boston’s Chinatown, Shojo is a hip gastropub perfect for a laid-back dinner of Asian fusion tapas and craft cocktails.
Interiors at Sonsie, Boston, New England


While its international dishes aren’t the best food to be had on Newbury Street, this restaurant remains a popular spot for lunch, dinner and drinks.

Exterior View - Stephanie's on Newbury, Boston, New England

Stephanie's on Newbury

This Newbury Street classic boasts one of Back Bay’s largest patios and serves a large selection of salads, pastas and sandwiches to hungry shoppers. It’s also a popular brunch spot.

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The Buttery

This little gem in the South End is perfect for grabbing a quick latte and sweet potato brownie while walking around the quietly beautiful Boston neighborhood. The cute spot is super friendly – dogs are greeted at the door with a playful bowl of dog treats – and serves fresh and healthy café fare all day long.  The café serves seated dinner service beginning at 5:30 daily, and brunch on weekends.

Exterior - The Paramount, Boston, New England

The Paramount

For breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Paramount has been a Beacon Hill staple since 1927. Reservations are not accepted, and it is always jammed, so plan to eat early or at odd times. Instructions on how the deli-line-style kitchen works (order at the counter, and don’t dare grab a seat before you have your food in hand) are on the wall. Former mayor Kevin White is a regular, as are chic neighborhood moms and local shopkeepers. Favorite bites include blueberry pancakes, Asian chicken salad and steak tips. A second location in South Boston is also open

Editors' Picks
Coffee at Thinking Cup, Boston, New England

Thinking Cup

Bypass the chain coffeeshops for this temple of java where every cup is well-considered. It’s the only spot in Boston serving the excellent Stumptown coffee from Portland (brought in directly from their roasters in Brooklyn), and the baristas here are exacting and precise in their latte, macchiato and cappuccino making. Choose from a selection of artisanal breads and cheese for your grilled cheese sandwiches or fresh baked good from the in-house pastry chef.

Cocktail at Toro, Boston, New England - Courtesy Noah-Fecks


Ken Oringer, the James Beard award–winning chef who also owns KO Prime and Coppa, eschews trendy small plates and instead serves up classic Spanish dishes made with Spanish ingredients. The jamon Ibérico comes straight from the acorn-fed pigs of the Iberian peninsula, pan con tomate tastes just as it would in a Barcelona bar, and the pimientos del Padron, something I’ve never seen in any American tapas bar, promise the same game of edible Russian roulette they do in their home country (most are not spicy, but one in ten will burn like a jalapeño). Even the drink menu tends toward the authentic, with calimocho, a uniquely Spanish blend of red wine and cola, topping the list. (It sounds awful, but try it.) Since Toro opened in 2005, tables at the 65-seat restaurant have been difficult to snag. A no-reservation policy only adds to the chaotic scene at dinnertime. If you’d mind waiting at the bar—always a fun, bustling scene—try coming during off-hours or for lunch.

Food from Restaurant of Union Oyster House, Boston, New England

Union Oyster House

Situated on the Freedom Trail one block from Faneuil Hall, Union Oyster House claims to be the nation’s oldest restaurant. Whether that’s true or not, the centuries-old tavern definitely has a history. Daniel Webster was reported to have drunk brandy and eaten plates of raw shellfish at the same oyster bar that stands today. The Kennedy clan has patronized the restaurant for years, and JFK’s favorite booth in the upstairs dining room is named in his honor. Although it’s not the chicest place to dine (especially given its location, in the center of the tourist attractions), Union Oyster merits a visit if you’re a fan of either history or oysters or a family looking for a lunch stop along the Freedom Trail. Those who want to sample the atmosphere without committing to a meal should split a half-dozen littlenecks at the bar downstairs and head elsewhere for dinner.


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