Map poster by Best Made Co.
Here are some of my absolutely favorite things in Boston. To eat. When I think about travel, I think about finding things to eat. When people say it’s a walking city, they really mean it. We walk everywhere, and usually heading out to a new restaurant is the only way I find new corners of the city. Don’t visit in the winter. I do live here, so this list should be constantly updating.
I live on Beacon Hill and see troves of people walking the brick sidewalks every day, enjoying their trip. Stop into Savenors and buy a Béquet salted caramel, take the footbridge over the the esplanade and walk along the river, sit in on a church service at The Church of the Advent, one of the loveliest churches in Boston. Turn left on Phillips St and go up a block to see the old world gorgeous displays and antique cooler at Rouvalis Flower Shop.
High Rise Bakery: a bit of a walk out of Harvard Square, a lovely walk unless it’s raining. Stone floors, group tables, deliciously intricate sandwiches. The Harvard Museum of Natural History has stately exhibits, but also softly lit corridors, stuffed animals you’ve never heard of, and intricate glass flowers neatly labeled and dusted. Border Café, right in Harvard Square is the most satisfying place for those craving big & strong margarita and bottomless chips and salsa. A favorite for me every few weeks.
The North End “Little Italy”
If you’re wondering how the Big Dig turned out, head this way. In the spring and summer the new parkway of grass, flowers, art, benches and fountains makes it easy to say it really was a good idea.
Neptune Oyster: French mirrors, tiles, spinning barstools, bellini by the threes, mounds of lemons, small bingo sheets to order your oysters by. If you have the luxury, I suggest going in the late afternoon. It’s just down the street from Acquire, a wonderfully curated antique and art shop. Of the many Italian espresso bar options, Caffé Paradiso is my favorite for slinking up to the bar past the midday soccer-watchers and sitting down for a real Italian experience, like how you can stay as long as you like and don’t see the check until you ask for it (next to Modern Pastry).
and on your way to the North End
Saus: run by three young budding restauranteurs full of youth, optimism, and great taste, this place is the best thing to happen to the Faneuil Hall area in a while. A great stop if you get overwhelmed produce-shopping at Haymarket. They’re open late (rare!), and waffles or belgian frites make for a way better coffee dates than ol’ Starbucks. Here’s my longer post about them.
Baraka Cafe: one of the first places I take people out to eat. Cozy and tiny, Baraka completely transports you to Tunisia for your meal. Orange water essence lemonade, mint tea that makes you want to order just that, little plates of nuts, a platter of dates and cheese….it’s hidden just off Central Square but you will almost absolutely have to wait for a table for dinner. Cash only.
Falafel King: the yelpers agree, it can’t be beat. I bought my office lunch here for almost a year and was never disappointed. I also haven’t found a better tasting one for…I hate to say…ever. Also: no one highlights for you how nicely falafel fills you up. Fast metabolism has it’s benefits, but I’m always hunting for food that won’t disappear in an hour and this. is. it.
Meyers + Chang: a sassy asian diner with unbelievable food, catchy drinks and quick service. I haven’t made it to their Sunday $1 oysters + $1 pbr but don’t take my failure as any indication – it sounds epic! Here’s something: order the pork buns. Absolutely absolutely.
Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe: I don’t know how you feel about diner-type breakfast places, but this is the only legit one in Boston. Jump on Bus 43 outside Park Street Station and it will whisk you down to the South End for turkey hash, pancakes, snappy service, crowded menus, barstools. Cash only.
Santarpio’s Pizza embodies the interior world of Boston to me. You come inside and it’s dim, but with plenty of room for everyone. You feel vaguely ignored, there’s barely a menu because it’s basically just pizza and lamb sausages, and then you order and the waiter slowly warms up to you until he’s sitting down at the booth and picking at your food. The pizza is delicious, the carafes of cheap wine remind you of Italy, and what the heck–you’ve never even been to this neighborhood before, much less realized it existed.
Where to Stay
I think the Beacon Hill Hotel is the most charming sleep spot in Boston. Breakfast in the French-bistro-inspired restaurant is included with your room, the evening bar crowd is framed by a roaring fireplace and stained glass, the windows overlook Charles Street. However–this is splurge territory–rooms with double beds run about $240 a night.
Staying with the “location is best” theme, the Boston Park Plaza is located right on the garden, has regularly affordable rooms, and situates you within walking distance of nearly everything.
Handy map from Start Here Boston, a city guide.