Local Flavor: How to Eat Like a Local in Boston

No baked beans here — Boston restaurants have become endlessly innovative, with options for all budgets and travelers.

New York and Chicago may get most of the credit as culinary hubs. But when it comes to amazing food, Boston restaurants have plenty to offer. Over the past several years, Beantown has become a top destination for creative chefs to set up shop and show off their skills — and the locals get to reap the tasty rewards.

As a Boston native, I’ve had plenty of time to explore its food scene, sampling the good, the bad and everything in between. In fact, visiting friends and family (and their friends and family) often come to me for suggestions. And when they do, I try to send them off the beaten path beyond the chain restaurants and tourist traps. Each neighborhood offers its own flavor, with restaurants that reflect the area’s diverse residents and storied past. Here’s a foodie tour of some of my favorites:

Around the World in Boston

Boston has a reputation for Italian pastries and Irish beer (both of which are certainly deserving of praise). But its international offerings span the globe.

  • Chinatown offers an endless array of dim sum, szechuan and hot pot. It’s worth the possible wait to sit at one of Gourmet Dumpling House’s few small tables, and Peach Farm is a longstanding favorite of local restaurant industry folks.
  • Addis Red Sea, a South End restaurant located in a charming brownstone, serves up traditional Ethiopian, utensil-free dining. My favorite is the injera, a tasty type of flatbread.
  • At Cafe Polonia in Dorchester, you’ll be transported to Poland while enjoying authentic pierogi, kielbasa – and watching a Polish movie playing on the television tucked in the corner.
Courtesy of Antico Forno
  • Get your Italian fix in the North End at Antico Forno, a restaurant with an immense brick oven and low ceilings that offers homemade pastas and mouthwatering pizzas.
  • Cross the Charles River into Cambridge to visit Sofra Bakery & Cafe, which offers a menu of Turkish, Lebanese and Greek flavors. The breakfast — particularly the shakshuka with poached eggs in a spiced tomato curry broth — is so good, I’d willingly stand in a line outside in January to partake.
Foodie Favorites in Fenway and Beyond

The Fenway/Kenmore neighborhood — home to the iconic Fenway Park — has developed tremendously over the past several years and is no longer a destination merely for tourists, students and baseball fans.

  • Top Chef star Tiffani Faison also has two restaurants in the neighborhood, both of which are worth a visit. Sweet Cheeks Q is a Southern-style barbecue eatery, while Tiger Mama is a Southeast Asian-inspired concept restaurant with a tropical drink menu that’s almost as enjoyable to read as it is to indulge in. My favorite cocktail is the Persinnamon Girl, which includes ingredients like persimmon, cinnamon, peach, pineapple and tiki bitters.
Courtesy of Eventide Oyster Co.
  • Eventide Oyster Co., beloved in Portland, Maine, recently opened its inaugural Boston location in Fenway Park’s backyard. The restaurant offers a life-changing brown butter lobster roll in an Asian-style steamed bun.
  • For one last bite on your way out of town, head to Santarpio’s Pizza, an award-winning joint just outside the airport. The 100+ year old institution makes my absolute favorite pizza in the city. If you’re a meat eater, get a pie with the housemade sausage.

Boston may not be the biggest “big city,” but I could talk for days about its countless killer restaurants. The eateries above are just a taste of the local culinary scene — but more than enough to give you a perfect Beantown food experience.

Quick Tip:

Websites like Eater and OpenTable make it easy to check out reviews and menus and make reservations ahead of time. Use them to narrow down your choices and map out your personal food tour.

Where to Stay:

Marriott Vacation Club PulseSM at Custom House, Boston

Bailey S. is a freelance writer living outside of Boston.