Every city has iconic foods that all industry pros should try. For Boston and surrounding areas, that means plenty of chowder, lobster rolls, steamers (a.k.a. “chow-dah,” “lob-stah rolls” and “steam-ahs” if you want to sound local), scrod, cod and whole belly fried clams.
But to optimize time, you’ll need to maximize your visit and appetite to inspire your business. We’re here to help with some of the best places to eat in Boston.
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 or one tossed in clarified butter, order both.
But if the sky is clear and the temperature is warm, hightail it about 2.5 miles north of Logan International Airport to Winthrop, Massachusetts, and knock out 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 Boston skyline.
Several neighborhoods will draw you in, notably Chinatown for dim sum (China Pearl is your best bet), the North End for Italian food and Newbury Street for high-end shoppers. Boston restaurants 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 your trip all about Barbara Lynch by checking out each of her restaurants, including Menton, her award-winning French and 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 best restaurants have opened in the neighboring cities of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Take lessons in comfort food at Highland Kitchen, find proof that a little bit of everything works at Juliet, and discover solid takes on local Mexican and Italian at La Brasa and Fat Hen, all in Somerville.
Should your visit to Boston include the Cape (aka Cape Cod), it’s worth checking out concepts that know how to maximize tourist 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, Massachusetts have 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.