Hi everyone, just wanted to get some ideas for a more unique Boston delicacies. I won’t have a car and I plan to be staying around the downtown area (the hotel prices astound me and makes me weep) to see more of the well… touristy things as I never been to Boston. I was looking more towards seafood specialties, but anything is pretty much game. A little background, I’m coming from the SF Bay area and I’ll be in NYC after my jaunt in Boston.
When you say downtown area, specifically where is your hotel? That will help with recommendations.
For seafood, check out:
Neptune Oyster - no reservations but you can put your name in and walk around the North End which is a great neighborhood bisected by the Freedom Trail
Row 34 - Seaport
Saltie Girl - Back Bay
Currently still trying to figure it out. Narrowing things around the FiDi or Theater district. I’m willing to get to any place with uber/lyft or public transportation but I don’t have any specific places that I could think of compared to say Chicago or NY for food. Just general idea of like clam chowder and lobster.
Price wise, I can go high so not a big deal, but leaning towards places that don’t require jackets haha.
I can’t think of a restaurant in Boston that requires jackets anymore. In addition to the seafood places above, I would add Select Oyster and Island Creek Oyster Bar. Remember that almost all Boston restaurants of any value will have seafood on the menu, as it’s expected here. The places mentioned specialize in seafood, but are not exclusive either.
I think Yankee Lobster is a lot of fun. So is KO Pies at the Shipyard in East Boston. A walk over to Piers Park after lunch affords great views of Boston. Too bad ICA Watershed closed for the season 2 days ago.
Although it is late October so it may be too cold for your NorCal blood.
A little random but anything breakfast? I realize I don’t sleep especially well on random beds so I might get up early. And is there anything that you prefer to eat there?
That’s my greatest fear! Freezing lol. But yeah, I will be carrying a jacket just not for uh… presentation. I’m looking at weather.com’s monthly average and SF isn’t too far off from the Boston avg.
Are there any specific dishes that are recommended at any of the aforementioned places? Like say get the soup at this place, and avoid everything else or definitely get the lobsters here, or oysters there?
SF has great seafood, but I love the one thing I miss on the West Coast is east coast clams. It’s a little late for fried clams, but if you can find them where you land, you should definitely give them a try. Lobster of course is also a favorite. Neptune Oyster has a really good hot butter lobster roll. With that being said, at any of the already mentioned seafood favorites, the raw bar (if that’s your thing) is really good and more characteristically New England I guess. I prefer raw clams over oysters, but I’ll take both any day.
Keep in mind the 3 hr difference, so your early maybe really isn’t that early at least when you first arrive. I’m trolling around the city at 6am when I head West. If you’re staying in downtown Boston, I can’t say I know of any particular standout place for breakfast. Plenty of little cafes and a diner or two, but nothing really special IMO.
I guess Mike & Patty’s is in downtown. I’ve never been but I’ve heard good things about them. They’re right on the edge of the South End/Theater District to downtown Boston. If you keep heading straight down to the South End you might get some better options.
Poster wants mainly NE-style seafood so my post is irrelevant. Apologies!
If you focus exclusively on “traditional New England “ seafood you’ll miss out on some amazing trends. There’s a crudo extravaganza playing out across the city, at Row 34, Bar Mezzana, Saltie Girl, Island Creek Oyster Bar, and yes at Legal Seafood (Harborside, where you can also get your traditional seafood fix). Add B & G Oysters to the list of great oyster bars people have already mentioned.
For an indulgent breakfast try Bar Boulud on Boylston Street. An outpost of the NYC original, but hey, it’s GOOD.
I mean I don’t mind going for things outside of NE style food but I’m only there for a max of two nights and 3 days and going to NYC after that. Just if there’s something potentially even more interesting in Boston vs. NY I’m all game for trying it, but thinking that NE style is one of the strongest in Boston.
NE-style seafood is a staple, it’s familiar, and for those raised on it, it’s comforting. It can be sublime when done well, thanks to great local seafood.
For something more bracing, have a look at the menus at Saltie Girl and Bar Mezzana to get a sense of what I mean. Drill down on the Bar Mezzana site to find their crudo menu.
Thanks for the recs! Still compiling a list and going to investigate the menu. Really helps to have a general direction to explore Boston’s cuisine. I’m looking at eater’s list and see a few familiar names as well though trying to avoid some cuisines I can get at home or in NYC.
As seafood seems to be high on your list, it’s worth mentioning that locally fished or harvested seafood is worth experiencing. Of course, “local” is a relative term. Think East Coast oyster varieties, which can be from Canada as well. All good.
Or lobster—the closer you are to where the traps were pulled from the water, the better.
I get a chuckle if in a NYC restaurant, the server proudly tells me that the local lobster or fish on the menu comes from Maine. Which means the seafood traveled farther than I did!
Please give us a report after your visit - always great to hear new perspectives!
I second all the recommendations above.
I’ve been in Boston for 4 years now (after living all over the country). If you want “Boston” seafood items - here is my perspective (for what it is worth and yes this is full of generalizations).
North Easterners like their seafood fried - fried clams, fried scallops, fried calamari, fried shrimp, fried haddock - or all together as a Captains platter. There are hundreds of little shacks around N.E. that are only open during the summer that serve nothing but these items (and lobster too). Some places do fried seafood really well and I’m surprised how much I love fried scallops (the best places for me almost have no breading on them, they are almost just dusted in flower and fried - even lighter than a tempura batter).
N.E. also loves clams - fried clams (strips or belly), clam chowder, stuffed clams, steamers, all types of clams. So you should have clams. I love steamers (pull the little tough skin off the siphon thing, dip in water to rinse off sand, then in butter and eat). We have all shapes and sizes of clams.
Lobster - of course lobster is very N.E. Whole steamed is always fun but the cold (little mayo) versus hot (butter) lobster roll debate will rage on forever. Lobster in restaurants is obscenely expensive (IMHO) but as a tourist what are you going to do. Try both roll types and see which you prefer.
Oysters - N.E. has a lot of oysters. So get some oysters - raw, Rockefeller, fried . . . .
It is hard for any small city to live up to the diversity and availability of huge cities like SF and NYC - especially in a world where anything from anywhere can be flown to either city overnight. We have a great Asian population and our Chinatown is great but it can’t compare to SF - you can always pop into a live tank restaurant . . . but you’ll inevitably say “we can get that in SF” . . . .
Let us know where you go and what you think . . .
Edit: Oh and for fish . . . . N.E. has cod, haddock, stripers, mackerel . . . . often fried (of course) baked or broiled. Cod and haddock are very mild flakey fish - stripers are a more oily of a fish, and mackerel is our most oily fish. None of them are my “favorite” fish but in our cold N.E. water . . that is what we have. If you only ate one . . . . I’d try a striper if it is on a menu somewhere.
I’m going to do my best “Edna” (from The Incredibles) voice here: No strips!
Blah clam strips (aka rubber bands)-- if you can find them in October go full-bellied clams all the way!
Just also wanted to add, given Thimes’ mention of it, is while our Chinatown doesn’t offer anything fresh or new compared to SF, they do offer good deals on lobster. Twin lobsters for under $20 is common - sometimes even under $15. If you don’t want the classic NE lobster experience, but want lobster, you can give that a try.
Late October should still be a good time to get bluefish in N.E. It’s oily and rich and not to everyone’s taste but I love it. (Don’t know offhand which restos might offer it since I usually broil at home.)
Bluefish pate is sometimes on restaurant menus. Pairs well with one’s beverage of choice.
I’ve been fishing blue fish since I was very young and the best prep I have ever had is the cured bluefish nigiri that Cafe Sushi often has on their black board or part of their omakase. You come away with the best parts of the blue fish flavor.
If the OP likes sushi I would strongly recommend the omakase at Cafe Sushi (Cambridge) which usually includes any local fish available.