Getting Restaurant Inspiration from Boston

Get a mouthful from our resident experts

Every city has iconic foods that all industry pros should try. For Boston and the surrounding area, that means plenty of chowder, lobster, steamers (a.k.a. “chow-dah,” “lob-stah” and “steam-ahs” if you want to sound local), scrod, cod, and whole-belly fried clams.

But to optimize your visit, you’ll need to maximize your time and appetite to inspire your business. We’re here to help.

Seafood will always dominate the conversation in Beantown. Even after 49 years, Legal Seafood remains a dependable Massachusetts staple for clam chowder, lobster rolls, and fried clams. Now at 34 locations, it also means that no matter where you are in Boston, an outpost is likely nearby.

Fresh and simple typically prevail. If you’re unsure about a lobster roll lightly dressed in mayonnaise over one tossed in clarified butter, order both.

But if the sky is clear and the temperature is warm, hightail it north to Winthrop and knockout your seafood fix at Belle Isle Seafood. Along with solid sea critters, this no-frills, cash-only joint has ample outdoor seating and some of the best views of the city about 2.5 miles north of Logan International Airport.

Several neighborhoods will draw you in, notably Chinatown for dim sum (China Pearl is your best bet), the North End for Italian and Newbury Street for high-end shoppers. Boston’s restaurant scene first made waves about 20 years ago in the South End, when the neighborhood started gentrifying and Barbara Lynch opened B&G Oysters and The Butcher Shop. In fact, you could make it an All About Lynch trip, checking out each of her restaurants, including Menton, her award-winning French-Italian hybrid. You’ll emerge with a good sense of what it looks like to run five restaurants and a catering business.

In recent years, some of the most notable restaurants have opened in neighboring cities Cambridge and Somerville. Take lessons in comfort food at Highland Kitchen, find proof that a little bit of everything works at Juliet and discover solid takes on localized Mexican and Italian at La Brasa and Fat Hen, all in Somerville.

Should your visit to Boston includes the Cape (aka Cape Cod), it’s worth checking out concepts that know how to maximize tourism season. Twenty-Eight Atlantic in Harwich, Massachusetts offers expansive views of Cape Cod Bay that never tire no matter the time of year while the nightly affordable tasting menus at Clean Slate Eatery in West Dennis has locals booking the next reservation right after their meal.

If you can maintain a steady clientele of locals during the offseason, you’ve got to be doing something right.

Like true native New Englanders, Food Fanatics Chefs Martha Leahy and Christopher Kube live and die by the seasons, which means there’s always room for ice cream and crispy seafood. Follow them on Instagram: @chefmarphy & @chefkube