Being a Boston resident for over ten years now has truly been a gift to my taste buds. I’ve created an abridged list of my personal favorite restaurants in Boston grouped by neighborhood from The North End, to Chinatown, to Back Bay and beyond. Join me on a culinary trip through Boston!
My Thai Vegan Cafe
Probably my #1 favorite restaurant in all of Boston. Everything on the 8 page menu is vegan, and you will crave it until the next time you eat it. Don’t miss the fresh spring rolls, golden triangles, pad Thai, beef + chicken lo mein, and mango fried rice. Snag a lunch special weekdays from 12-3pm and you’ll get discounted food that comes with soup and an appetizer. Service can occasionally be slow, but with a little patience and a smile, you’ll understand why this place is a GEM. It also has vegan bubble tea + desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth.
I come here once a week. Get fresh chicken spring rolls, com chien fried rice, and pho ga (chicken pho). Portions are enormous and prices are cheap. They flip tables every 20 minutes, so it’s a perfect place for a quick bite that will leave your belly happy.
HEI LA MOON
Your one stop shop for dim sum! My favorites are the fried sesame balls, chow fun (rice rolls with beef or shrimp and mouthwatering sweet soy sauce), pork siu mai, classic pork dumplings, beef balls, lo mai gai (sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf), and char siu bao (fluffy BBQ pork bao).
The best bubble tea in the world. Try the honeydew milk tea, lychee black tea, peach black tea, coconut milk tea, Thai milk tea, or classic milk tea. They also have snacks, smoothies, and board games, so bring your friends. If there’s a long line, don’t worry – they pump out drinks in record time, so you’ll never wait more than a few minutes no matter how long the line is.
Want to know the best bubble tea spots in Boston? Click HERE!
Symphony / Back Bay
The #1 date Thai/Vietnamese night spot. It boasts a romantic ambiance AND great lunch specials. Don’t miss the pad thai, curry puffs, grilled lemongrass vermicelli, pho, and pad see ew.
Asian fusion and sushi at its best. Do yourself a favor and grab some Korean soy garlic chicken wings. They’re the size of Texas!!! Pair it with chicken teriyaki, pad Thai, or Mama’s Dumplings for a great night. They also have a location in Brigham Circle (under the name Mission Sushi and Wok) and nightly specials like $0.50 dumpling Tuesday, $2 bao Sundays and $0.75 wing Wednesdays.
Mission Bar & Grill
Famous for their crispy chicken tenders, Mission Bar & Grill is always packed after work and on weekends – for good reason! Delicious food and creative cocktails. Their brunch is to die for – marinated steak and eggs for $13, stuffed french toast, eggs benny, and top it off with a peach bellini!
“A step above” your average pizza joint – because you won’t find duck confit pizza anywhere else. Don’t miss “The Bird” – barbecue chicken pizza with caramelized onions and perfect crust, and the crispy baked mac n cheese is heavenly. There are tons of beers on tap, and if you want something fruity and stronger, try the P-Town Punch Slap.
Newbury Street / Back Bay
Trident Booksellers + Cafe
Amazing breakfast all day. Try the Monte Cristo or the waffle and do NOT skip the sweet potato fries with garlic aioli + curry sauce. Lots of vegetarian and vegan options! Sit upstairs by the windows to people watch on Newbury.
BEANTOWN PHO & GRILL
Perfect pho outside of Chinatown! This cozy Newbury Street cafe has indoor and outdoor seating, piping hot Pad Thai, aromatic pho, and delicious fruit smoothies with boba. An absolute must for Vietnamese + Thai take out in Back Bay!
The North End
Old world Italian ambience meets fresh menu items. Intimate + affordable Italian. They have perfected butternut squash tortelloni, and the bruschetta is mucha bella!
Obviously, stop at Mike’s Pastry. My favorite are the pistachio and pignoli macaroons! Skirt to the left or right when you walk through the door. Don’t let the tourists fool you and stay to the middle. If you see an open cashier, push your way to the front and know what you’re ordering. Be! Aggressive! However, if the line is too daunting, stop over to Bova Bakery for pastries that can stand up to Mike’s any day.
Looking for the perfect slice? Grab a thin crust slice of any flavor and you’ll be in heaven. You may be thinking $5 for a slice? I made the mistake of getting two slices my first time, before realizing the slices are 1/4 of an enormous pie.
Bova’s is a 24 hour sweet tooth’s dream come true. They have alllll the Italian cookies, pizzelles, cannolis, cakes, bread, and also hot food like arancini, meatballs, pizza, and subs. Their cookies are TOP notch!!!
Ohhh man. There are three major local doughnut shops – Blackbird, Union Square, and Kane’s. Take a visit to Blackbird Donuts in Fenway next to Target – and get a double chocolate! They have fresh flavors like coconut cold brew, seasonal apple pie, and good old fashioned chocolate frosted. And they have doughnut holes, too! There are also South End, Harvard Square, and Allston locations, so pop in there as well!
Definitely make reservations at this tiny place – it’s worth it! Grab some homemade pasta and pizza, and don’t skip out on dessert. The zeppole (ricotta donuts with nutella and chopped hazelnuts), pistachio biscotti, and classic tiramisu is to die for.
Myers & Chang
Mama Chang’s Asian fusion small plates and dumplings are legendary. Grab a few orders, the try the Thai iced tea with coconut rum. You’ll never go back to the normal stuff! Don’t leave without trying the brussels sprouts and bao, too.
Get ready for their famous charred, wood fired pizza and homemade ice cream flavors that change by the week. The Alsatian is the king, complete with sautéed onions, shallots, garlic, crème fraîche, bacon & gruyere. They have rotating specials, so there’s always a new, in-season flavor. YUM!
Barcelona Wine Bar
Stop right there, and go to Barcelona. Make a reservation, as this spot is popping even on weekdays. The most authentic Spanish tapas will make your mouth water. Everything is fresh and cooked from scratch, and is professional chef-approved. Get a pitcher of the seasonal red sangria, and pair it with (brace yourself) – potato tortilla, croquettes, migas, beef empanadas, patatas bravas, albondigas (spiced meatballs), bacon wrapped dates, chorizo w/ sweet and sour figs, and hot, fresh bread for days.
You can’t ignore the beauty that is the Banyan outdoor seating area – you’ll walk by and see bistro lights, sprawling greenery, trees, and flowers all around and realize it’s a restaurant! This Asian fusion menu boasts all kinds of unique dishes like miso mac & cheese, spicy dan dan noodles, and their famous dollar dumplings with spicy chili oil.
The creamiest ice cream you’ll ever eat – all homemade in small batches, sourced from local farms, and all VEGAN! This local place has ice cream sandwiches, frappes, and flavors like avocado, bourbon maple walnut, George Howell cold brew, lavender, and peanut butter mud pie – you’ve got to try it.
Located on the best strip of restaurants on Tremont Street in the South End, Beehive has big underground speakeasy vibes. Their menu transforms Southern comfort food into an elevated culinary masterpiece. The drinks are phenomenal and their homemade chips will ruin any store-bought bag of chips for the rest of your life! They also host their famous Jazz Brunch on Sundays with live musicians!
This American Brasserie may have a small menu, but big flavors. Their menu changes with the seasons, and with dishes like duck frites and colorful cauliflower salad with anchovy, they never disappoint. They have an extensive raw bar with local options, and a dessert menu with the most delicate and decadent layered cakes.
Ok ok… so it’s a New York City chain. But it’s Boston’s only location, and the first and only ice cream shop to offer taiyaki (soft serve in a fish-shaped fresh waffle, sometimes filled with red bean or custard) and soufflé pancakes in the whole city. It’s delicious. And worth it for the ‘gram. Come early on weekends, though, as the wait can be long!
Bartaco is owned by Barcelona Wine Bar, so their decor is on point and food is outstanding. Yes, they have a few locations around the country but you can hardly call them a “chain” so they are ON the list! Their tacos are 13/10. My favorites are the duck tacos, pork belly tacos, and cauliflower tacos. They have a mix of traditional and unique flavors, and a rotating “secret” taco each month, too. Their margaritas come in many flavors, the appetizers (especially the empanadas) are fire, and save room for dessert, because the churros come hot and crispy with a dark chocolate dipping sauce you will lick out of the bowl.
Woods Hole is the perfect place for a romantic dinner, inside or out! They have AMPLE outdoor seating that overlooks the Seaport / Boston skyline, and it’s especially romantic during sunset. Sip some wine, enjoy oysters, and eat their delicious steak frites or seafood dishes as you watch the boats pass by.
Smoke Shop BBQ
This is hands down the best BBQ in Boston. Indulge in The Smoke Shop’s giant ribs, incredibly juicy fried chicken plate, or agave smoked wings. Even better – get the loaded fries with burnt ends as an appetizer. It’s got crispy fries topped with baked beans, cheese, and pork… YUM. The sides could be the best part – mashed potatoes with “sexy gravy” (yes, it is VERY sexy), molasses and bacon collard greens, creamy mac n cheese… and even better, there is patio seating for the warm summer months. There are also locations in Harvard Square and Assembly Row!
Roxy’s Grilled Cheese
If you were a fair weather grilled cheese fan before, consider yourself transformed. These sammies are no joke – goat cheese, fig jam, caramelized onions, and arugula (that’s The Allston) and thick slices of ham, cheese, onions, and their special Roxy’s sauce (that’s The Ham & Cheese) are unmatched. They even have vegan flavors like buffalo! Everyone can eat here. And everyone SHOULD, with those rosemary truffle fries and soft serve ice cream they sling! They also have a location in Allston off the green line.
Brunch at the Cunard Tavern is an amazing experience – and even better in the summer months when they open the rooftop patio deck. They have a Boston baked bean benedict, the fluffiest pancakes, juicy chicken and waffles, and bacon wrapped dates that will even leave vegetarians drooling. Take a stroll over to Downeast Cider House after brunch (which is served until 2pm) and sip some free flights while you look at the skyline.
Formerly KO Pies, this Australian counter-serve restaurant has outdoor deck seating at the East Boston shipyard. They have monthly specials, the best being the BBQ pork pie with cole slaw and pickles. Don’t skip on dessert, because the coconut-molasses Anzac biscuits are a MUST. Bring it next door to Downeast Cider House for the best Eastie drinks and meal!
For the most authentic home cooking from the famous Angela from Puebla, Mexico, go too Angela’s. They serve breakfast every day, with dulce de leche pancakes, steak and eggs, burritos, huevos rancheros, and more delicious bites on their menu.
Incredible pizza, for $11-13. They put the sausage and onions UNDER the cheese on their pizzas and bake them in the oven with a perfect crust. Bring your dolla bills because it’s cash only!
This is a VERY condensed list of Lena’s personal favorites, so if you have questions on more places to grab a bite in any neighborhood, shoot me an email or comment below! There’s so much more to recommend!