Whether it’s tucking into a bowl of New England Clam Chowder by the Charles River or chowing down on hot dogs at Fenway, there’s always a way to enjoy the amazing and diverse foods that Boston has to offer. Every neighborhood of the city is rich with history, full of sights, distinct architecture, and packed with residents from all walks of life. As such, the people of Boston have contributed to an astonishing culinary scene. Offering something for every foodie, gourmand, fan of down-home cooking or hunter for adventurous international flavors, the sprawling metropolis is officially a dining destination. Here are five restaurants that truly help capture the essence of Boston:
Legal Sea Foods - Harborside
Sure, there are Legal Seafood restaurants up and down the East Coast, but if there’s only one to visit, it’s the Boston Liberty Wharf. Located at the picturesque Boston Waterfront, the spacious three-floor restaurant and oyster bar is a sight to behold. Expansive, affordable, and populated with knowledgeable servers and friendly patrons from across the world, the seafood hub provides delicious, freshly-caught entrees, appetizers, and sides, year-round. Accessible on foot, by bike, car, city bus, and—perhaps the most exciting of all—boat, the restaurant serves up traditional seafood fare you’ve always loved - and won’t soon forget.
This off-kilter Cambridge dive, now in its 6th year, is an absolute can’t-miss. The restaurant is known for a zany personality, unusual décor, and a firm commitment to finding local and sustainable ingredients from the area’s farms for as many of the restaurant’s innovative dishes as possible. Artisan favorites include cornmeal-crusted catfish and a rich French-inspired gnocchi.
The restaurant is also widely known for involvement in community events. For instance, recent partnerships with Kendall Square Cinema have resulted in cheap “dinner and a movie” specials for guests who arrive to eat before 6pm. Additionally, the restaurant has been noted for their sense of humor; its website clearly states the dress code “please wear clothing; proper attire is not required.” Hungry Mother’s hours are subject to change due to holidays, and the menu shifts frequently. Don’t get too attached to a favorite dish!
One of Boston’s newest restaurants is also the city’s most unique. American restaurant Asta, located in the ritzy Back Bay area, goes far beyond the average dining experience; exclusively home to tasting menus, it offers customizable options for three-, five-, and eight-course meals of varying prices.
Flavorful and palatable, the meals aren’t outrageously inventive, but they do arrive plated interestingly and the restaurant’s trendy atmosphere should not be overlooked. The five- and eight-course meals come with the additional option of an expert wine pairing. Consider spending a graduation dinner, an anniversary evening, or special corporate night here.
Don’t be fooled by the kitschy name: this steak location serves serious eats. Hot sandwiches, small plates, and a smattering of sides comprise the petite menu, and what it seems to lack in size, Strip-Ts makes up for tenfold in flavor. The dinner menu is considerably larger; the shareable starts and filling entrees have helped push the joint into the public eye more and more, each year. Strip-Ts, open for lunch and dinner, takes pride in “creating a fun, inspiring, [and] quality-based restaurant.” Owner Paul and chef/son Tim are so convinced customers will love their constantly evolving dishes, they encourage visitors to try the food first and ask about the name, if they absolutely have to, later.
The compelling Central Kitchen has attracted the attention of every major media outlet in the area in the last five years. Hip, tasty, and open late, the Central Square hotspot is open seven days a week for classically American drinks, dinner, and dessert. The young crowd and funky vibe encourages diners to leave the kids at home and indulge in a delicious meal for date night, but its happy hour specials appeals to grad students and off-work crowds of every age. The extensive wine cellar ensures each meal is perfectly complemented with a glass or bottle of one’s ideal wine, and the intimate-casual atmosphere helps diners relax and stay awhile. To feel cool, eat a consistently great meal, and enjoy a miniature vacation from bustling Boston, choose Central Kitchen every time.