When it comes to cuisine, Boston is known for its freshly-caught seafood (New England clam chowder and fish and chips in particular), Irish bar-and-grille fare, and of course the stereotypical Boston baked beans, but Boston has a lot more to offer than the usual culinary staples often associated with the city. As a large metropolitan area, Boston is home to a considerable international population base, and has a wide variety of excellent dining options, from the most domestic to the most exotic of cuisines.
No discussion of Boston cuisine can be had without an emphasis on seafood, and no seafood restaurant in the metropolitan area is more revered than Haddad’s Ocean Cafe in Boston’s Marshfield suburb, particularly when it comes to New England’s specialty; shellfish. If you want to experience real-deal New England crabcakes like never before, be sure to make a stop at Haddad’s during your Boston visit, as it’s well worth the drive out of Boston proper. Island Creek Oyster Bar, part of the Hotel Commonwealth in Boston is another top choice, specializing in clean, sustainably and responsibly-raised shellfish from local seafood farms.
As one of the most quintessential American cities, it is no surprise that Boston is home to some excellent American food restaurants. Check out the Blue Room in Cambridge for luxurious classic-American-meets-fine-dining dishes such as their Pan-roasted Halibut flavored with komastsuna, roasted red pepper, saffron, and furnet, or their New England-inspired Wild Duxbury Clams with white wine, saffron, dijon mustard, and thyme. Franklin Café Restaurant in the hip South End district of Boston is the place to be for inspired late-night cuisine served up by chef David Dubois. The kitchen stays open past 10 PM as the restaurant caters to off-duty chefs, and that should tell you something about the quality and adventurousness of the cuisine. Other American restaurants worth trying out include Garden at the Cellar in Harvard Square, Harvest in Cambridge, and chef Jody Adams’ waterfront restaurant Trade.
Boston is certainly famous for its Irish-American culture, so you may want to visit one of the city’s Irish pub/restaurants for an authentic cultural experience during your Beantown visit. Druid in Cambridge is one of the best options for truly high-quality, authentic Irish food. Druid is not just another Irish pub with stereotypical bar food; it’s fair to say that it’s a couple cuts above most of its competors. Another fine choice for Irish fare is Matt Murphy’s in Brookline, featuring rib-sticking cuisine such as the old Irish staple Shepherd’s Pie, Hearty Beef Stew featuring potatoes and root vegetables, and their unique Seafood Pot Pie with jumbo shrimp, sea scallops, salmon and cod.
The Northeast region of the country is the epicenter for Italian food in the United States, and Boston is no exception to this rule, featuring some world-class Italian dining establishments. Lucca Restaurant and Bar on Hanover Street is one of the top Italian restaurants in the city, meaning you would be well advised to make reservations as tables are in high demand. Considering the excellence of New England seafood, their Homemade Lobster and Ricotta Ravioli with grilled lemon, blistered tomatoes, confit artichokes, escarole, and scampi sauce is an excellent choice, as is their Pesce del Giorno, priced daily and featuring the freshest local seafood available. Britto and Mamma Maria on the North End, La Campania in the West Metro area, and Vinoteca Di Monica in the Financial District (Vinoteca is a particularly good option if you are looking for a lower price tag) are other notable Italian food favorites in Boston.
If you are in the mood for some Latin food during your Boston stay, Casa Romero, located in the Back Bay section of Boston and voted by Boston Magazine as the best Mexican restaurant in the city for 2011 is likely one of your better choices. You may also want to consider Angela’s Café in East Boston, a locals favorite serving up authentic Poblana cuisine, or the ever-popular Sol Azteca on Beacon Street.
For Asian fare in Boston, celebrity chef Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger, with its meditative Feng Shui design aesthetic and award-winning cuisine is quite possibly the top restaurant in the city. Blue Ginger is not your average Asian restaurant, as Tsai’s cuisine merges traditional Asian culinary styles with upscale fine dining. The prices are not cheap, but the quality of the food is well worth it. For vegans looking for low-cost but delicious Asian cuisine with no harm done to their animal friends, Grasshopper in the Allston neighborhood of Boston is an excellent venue. Shanghai Gate in Allston and Sichuan Garden in Brookline village are great choices for authentic Chinese food, and if you have a hankering for Thai, try Dok Bua, also in Brookline.
There’s a lot more to Boston than its historic sites of the American revolution, storied baseball history, and strong local accent; as one of the top cities in the country for seafood and an affluent metropolitan center, Beantown is definitely a prime destination for lovers of good food. Hopefully our Boston dining guide helps you separate the wheat from the chaff and locate the best restaurants in town during your Boston stay.