Local Tips: Where to Eat in Boston

You may know that I love food. Especially cheese. You may not know that I once tried to eat my way through the Best of Boston list of the 50 best restaurants within one year. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t finish.)

So when a bride asked me for Boston dining recommendations recently, I was all over it. In fact, I had a little bit of trouble holding myself back.

Maybe your wedding guests are coming from afar and need a little advice. Maybe you’re visiting from elsewhere. Maybe you need to spice up your Boston restaurant routine. Maybe you’re just curious where you can find this particular foodie dining on a Saturday night. If any of that sounds like you, read on for my favorite dining experiences in the Boston area!

Small Plate appetizer of fried polenta with pomegranate from a Boston restaurant in Cambridge called Sarma

Shaina’s Favorite Restaurants:

Sarma – Mediterranean small plates with nightly specials served dim sum style. Super unique and delicious options. But try to save room for dessertSarma is slightly “off the beaten path” (meaning not right next to a T stop), but they have a small parking lot. Tables usually book up 1-2 weeks in advance, so make a reservation or plan to eat at the bar.

If you can’t get into Sarma, then you must grab breakfast at its sister cafe, Sofra. I adore the Turkish-style breakfast, the walnut baklava bowl, and the incredible pastries.

Alden & Harlow – Unconventional, farm-to-table, vegetable-forward small plates. Out-of-towners will probably want to walk around Harvard Square anyway, so they might as well stop here for dinner after. Favorite dishes include: the secret burger, the corn pancakes with blistered shishito peppers, and the kalette caesar, which I could happily eat every. single. day.

If you can’t get in, never fear. There are a plethora of amazing dining options in Harvard Square, from Venezuelan arepas to Asian street food, to modern American pub fare.

Cafe Sushi – You can certainly find fancier sushi in Boston, but I’m partial to this humble spot with unique and exciting nigiri offerings. Order some “signature creations.” Anything with smoked salt or citrus makes me happy. If you’re feeling really adventurous, try the omakase and let the chefs create a sumptuous dining experience for you.

sushi from cafe sushi in Cambridge Massachusetts with seafood, mushrooms, and ginger

Quintessential Boston Experiences:

Top of the Hub – This is touristy, but fun. Grab a drink and listen to nightly live jazz in the lounge on the 52nd floor of the Prudential Center. Enjoy the stunning views of Boston and snuggle up with someone special.

Bleacher Bar – If you’re not going to make it to a Red Sox game (or a Fenway Park tour), you can come to this restaurant underneath the bleachers. One of the walls actually slides up, so it’s a unique way to see into the park. while grabbing a sandwich or a beer. I’m guessing it gets super crowded during games.

meatballs in a boston restaurant steel & rye

The North End:

The North End is Boston’s Little Italy. It’s quite charming and historic and definitely worth a visit. The Italian restaurants are a bit interchangeable, but I think Lucca is a solid choice.

For a more unique North End option, try the teeny tiny Neptune Oyster which has delicious seafood and wins “Best Lobster Roll in Boston” pretty much every year.

If the line isn’t too long, you could also pop into Pizzeria Regina for lunch. This is a local chain, but the original location is something special. It’s cramped, quirky, and delicious, since 1926.

While you’re in the North End, you need to get a cannoli at one of the famous local bakeries. Mike’s Pastry is a quintessential Boston experience; bustling and brusque. I give you full permission to elbow your way to the front. Be decisive about your order and bring cash. Mike’s has expanded to a few other locations – they are all a bit sterile, but still delicious.

Some folks prefer cannoli from Modern Pastry, right across the street. I recommend getting one cannoli from each bakery and making a loud, opinionated choice about which one is better. It’s what a local would do!

A zucchini and tomato appetizer from a Boston restaurant
Food Shopping:

Eataly – If you’ve been to another location, you probably don’t need to bother, but we’re very excited to have our very own Eataly in Boston (and it has the lines to prove it). This Italian grocery/dining complex is truly a shopping experience. There are exciting imported meats, cheeses, produce, and groceries, plus several different restaurants. If the weather is nice, order a FroséI realize that my love of Frosé (a rosé wine slushy) makes me totally #basic, but it’s worth it. This would also be a perfect place to grab some fancy treats for a picnic on the Boston Common.

Another great place to pick up picnic snacks is the Boston Public Market, which opened in 2015. This is a fantastic all-season market with food and shops from local farmers and producers. Try the apple cider donuts from Red Apple Farm. They are warm and delicious – just follow your nose!

Small plate appetizer from Sarma in Cambridge with cheese, pistachio and clementine. Boston restaurant recommendations

There are many many more great places to eat in Boston, but hopefully this list will get you started.

If you agree with my recommendations, feel free to pass this list along to your visiting wedding guests. and out of town visitors.

If you disagree, I’d love to hear all about your favorite Boston restaurants in the comments. I’m always up for trying something new!

salmon in a boston restaurant

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