Boston Food Guide: From Lobster to Cannoli

by Tegan

Food in Boston… where can one possibly begin? 

From lobster rolls to Italian food to clam chowder, Boston is a comfort food haven for sure. 

However, in recent years, there has been an increase in fancier fare as well, with a blossoming “foodie scene” for all budgets.

To save you the trouble of researching and reviewing the seemingly endless options available, we’ve compiled a series of lists that you can check out, from hidden treasures, to quick bites, to swankier picks. 

We hope you’ll let us know what your favorites are in the comments, or if you visited a particular place while you were here that you loved. This is by no means an exhaustive list, of course, and we will be reviewing and adding to it regularly. 

Snacks + Treats

  1. Cannoli at Mike’s Pastry vs. Modern Pastry (North End) Note: we recommend trying both, as the rivalry is epic! Tegan is a Modern fan, while Alex is staunchly pro-Mike’s. Mike’s are a bit thicker than Modern, but Modern’s shells are flakier (in our opinion.) Note that the line at both can get extremely long, sometimes more than an hour’s wait. If you’re traveling with a partner or a buddy, consider splitting up. You can take your cannoli to nearby North Street Park and make your pro-con list on one of their swinging benches. If you’re not a cannoli fan, check out their other Italian desserts– the chocolate cake in particular is the bomb, and one slice will last you several sittings.
  2. Donuts at Union Square Donuts (Somerville, Fenway, or Brookline) Decadent donuts the size of your face! Maple Bacon and Vietnamese Coffee are two of their big hits. 
  3. Ice Cream at Toscanini’s (Cambridge) Don’t miss the B3 flavor: Browned Butter, Brownies, and Brown Sugar.
  4. Clam Chowder at Faneuil Hall Marketplace (Downtown) While definitely touristy, if you’re craving some clam chowder (chowdah), you can get a pretty decent version very conveniently at Faneuil Hall’s marketplace. We definitely recommend getting it in a bread bowl, though this certainly turns it more into a meal than a snack!
  5. Boston Cream Pie at the Omni Parker House (Downtown) The first Boston Cream Pie was allegedly created for the opening of the Parker House Hotel (now owned by the Omni hotel chain) in downtown Boston in 1856. You can still order their original recipe at the attached restaurant. Fun fact: 2 of the Parker House’s most famous former employees are Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X.
  6. Ice Cream Sandwiches at Cookie Monstah (Truck travels, often in Boston Common or Christopher Columbus Park in the North End) These ice cream sandwiches are absolutely massive and absolutely delicious. You can customize the your ice cream + cookie flavor combo, or go with one of their recommendations. Our favorite is the Red Monstah (Red velvet cookies with “green monster” (Mint Oreo) ice cream.) See photo above left of “Candy Shoppe” flavor.
  7. Ice Cream at Taiyaki NYC (Seaport) Lots of ice cream on this list, we know, but we’re fanatics, what can we say? We would be remiss not to include “fish-shaped ice cream cones” on this list, with delicious matcha green tea and other flavors.

Upscale, Fancy Restaurants

  1. Giacomo’s (Italian, North End) Note that dining at Giacomo’s can be quite a time commitment. They do not accept reservations, and have a tiny eating space. They make their pasta fresh each day, and when they run out they close for the night. People often start lining up at 2PM or earlier to eat here, for a 5PM open.  
  2. Ma Maison (French, West End) This place is absolutely worth the splurge. The salads are delicious, the entrées are good-sized, and the wine recommendations are always on point. 
  3. Giulia (Italian, Cambridge) This place is potentially one of our favorites for Italian, despite not even being in the North End. Their amatriciana in particular, and their homemade pistachio ice cream, is mouth-watering. Reservations are super necessary– their calendar opens up a month in advance.
  4. Oleana (Mediterranean, Cambridge) A beautiful patio and delicious Eastern Mediterranean fare make this one of Boston’s best restaurants.
  5. Saltie Girl (Seafood, Back Bay), Union Oyster House (Seafood, North End), or Neptune Oyster (Seafood, North End) You can’t go wrong with oysters at one of these three establishments.
  6. Legal Seafood Harborside (Seaport) or Legal Crossing (Downtown) Managed by the same company, both Legal Seafood and offshoot Legal Crossing are delicious for upscale seafood and wine pairings.
  7. Lolita (Back Bay or Fort Point/Seaport) You can’t miss the frozen margaritas and other cocktails here! Dining at Lolita is quite an experience, with its dungeon-glamour decor and interesting flavor combinations.

Budget (but Still Sit-Down) Restaurants

  1. Regina’s Pizzeria (Italian, North End) Regina’s vs. Santarpio is also a culinary rivalry as old as time, but we’ll take Regina’s anytime we can get it. Regina’s also doesn’t take reservations, so try to go at off hours, perhaps for lunch or weekday dinner, to avoid waiting in line. However, waiting in line is totally worth it. The tiny interior is cozy and homey, and that wood-fired oven pizza can’t be beat. Tip: Try the North End Recipe– you won’t regret it. 
  2. Antonio’s (Italian, West End) We consider this place to be one of Boston’s best-kept secrets. Much more economical than the North End, this West End restaurant is just as cozy and homey. The desserts are top-notch, as are the lobster ravioli.
  3. Shan-a-Punjab (Indian, Brookline) Without a doubt the best Indian food we’ve had… possibly ever. It’s not a budget option necessarily, but the portions are big and satisfying, and you’ll likely have leftovers. Don’t forget to add on at least one order of naan.
  4. Yoma Boston (Burmese, Allston) You absolutely must try the “tea salad” here, made with fermented green tea leaves! All the dishes we’ve tried here are absolutely fantastic (above left photo!)
  5. Yankee Lobster (New England, Seaport) If you’re seeking lobster rolls, you’ve come to the right place. We recommend getting a hot roll with melted butter! 
  6. Gourmet Dumpling House (Chinese, Chinatown) Be warned– you will likely have to wait, you will likely have to share a table with strangers if you’re a party of less than 4, and the waitstaff may or may not yell at you. It is all worth it for the dumplings. It is all worth it. Check out the seafood dumplings and soup dumplings in particular.
  7. Antico Forno (Italian, North End) Don’t miss the lasagna here!

Bare Bones, Quick Bites Markets + Restaurants

  1. Faneuil Hall (Downtown) There’s something for everyone At Faneuil Hall, from classic New England fare (lobster rolls, clam chowder, etc.) to sandwiches, snacks, etc. in Quincy Market with an upstairs food court and sit-down restaurants in the North and South Market buildings. 
  2. TimeOut Market (Fenway) Boston’s newest food hall (seems to be a growing trend) is located in the Fenway area. There’s several food and drinks stalls and a communal eating space in the center of the cavernous space.
  3. Boston Public Market (Downtown/North End) Lots of local fare from around New England here. 
  4. Kupel’s Bagels (Brookline) We love, love, LOVE Kupel’s Bagels. It’s our favorite bagel place in Massachusetts. Check out their whole-wheat options and tons of cream cheese flavors! Tegan’s favorite is pumpernickel rye, and Alex’s is whole-wheat Everything.
  5. Dig Inn (Back Bay, Downtown) Our favorite healthy fast-casual place. You build your own bowl (see above), filled to the brim with locally-sourced, delicious sides, and choose a protein. We especially recommend their sweet potatoes and decadent mac ‘n’ cheese, both usually available year-round. Their brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and roasted carrots are delicious, too!
  6. Sam LaGrassa’s (Sandwiches, Downtown) Huge, huge sandwiches that can likely tide you over for 2 meals. See above photo for massive meatloaf + roast beef combo!
  7. El Pelón Taqueria (Tacos, Fenway) Be sure to get a side of their maduros (delicious sweet plantains) and check out the fish tacos! 
  8. Cocobeet Juice Bar ( Smoothies + Bowls, Downtown Crossing) They’re pricey, but the Blue Oasis bowl in particular is to-die-for, and totally can serve as a meal! (Photo above)

We’ve lived in Boston for a few years now, so we like to think we’ve compiled some pretty good recommendations. Check out our other Boston content (our guide to the North End, day trips from Boston, top bars + breweries, the Freedom Trail, and more) at our Boston landing page here.

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Vagabond August 29, 2020 - 1:19 pm

Cannoli are my favourite Sicilian sweets, anywhere in the world!

Tegan August 29, 2020 - 2:23 pm

Yes!!! The best we’ve had were in Palermo, Sicily, but these in Boston are 2nd place 🙂

DiElle August 29, 2020 - 1:28 pm

Wow that ice cream looks amazing!

Saptarshi August 29, 2020 - 1:41 pm

Your blog has awaken the foodie inside me…. but have to satisfy my hunger with home cooked food tonight 😂😂😋😋

Tegan August 29, 2020 - 2:23 pm

Haha! We eat at home 99% of the time, too– gotta save money for traveling! 🙂

Anabella Azcarraga August 29, 2020 - 8:45 pm

Cannoli! Delicious! But the lobster rolls are my favorite! Thanks for sharing!

Tegan August 30, 2020 - 9:50 am

Delicious! 🙂

Urge to XPLORE August 29, 2020 - 9:23 pm

Great guide. Amsterdam is indeed a food paradise.

Urge to XPLORE August 29, 2020 - 9:24 pm

Sorry I meant Boston.

Daniella August 30, 2020 - 2:53 am

Oh my word, I’m getting hungry just reading this post. Now, I want to visit Boston for the history and the food!

Tegan August 30, 2020 - 9:50 am

Let us know when you come visit! 🙂

Demi August 30, 2020 - 10:26 am

Wow! everything looks so I” ve always wanted to visit Boston. Hopefully someday:) Wonderful post thanks for sharing

Tegan August 30, 2020 - 10:35 am

You’ll have to let us know when you visit! 🙂

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