The Best Places to Eat In BOSTON While Visiting: BU, Northeastern, Tufts, BC, Harvard and MIT
Boston is the ultimate college town, with no shortage of great eats—whether you’re looking for something casual or upscale. If you have more time to venture further away from your child’s campus here are some of the best things we ate from Turkish mezzes to Texas BBQ.
Best Morning Jolt
We love Pavement Coffeehouse, with multiple locations throughout Boston and Cambridge. In addition to their coffee, we’re also big fans of the seasonal iced teas. Last month they were serving a blueberry hibiscus that drew us back for seconds later that afternoon.
Best Quick Breakfast
A quick walk from the Commons, in Bay Village, we knew we were heading in the right direction when we smelled the bacon cooking at Mike and Patty’s a block away. It’s mostly grab and go at this beloved tiny sandwich shop save for a few stools. The ‘Fancy’ might be their claim to fame, but you can’t go wrong with any of the other sandwiches such as The Grilled Crack or Veggie Torta. Insider tip: order ahead and your sandwich will be ready and waiting for you.
We are big fans of Tatte’s Bakery and Café, an extremely popular all-day spot, with multiple locations throughout the Boston area from Israeli chef Tzurit Or. If you’re in a rush grab one of Tatte's delicious croissants or muffins, or even better a chocolate hazelnut twist, but try and carve out time for shakshuka, a Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce. Later in the day enjoy soups, salads, and sandwiches, or linger over a cup of tea and your laptop.
Breakfast or Lunch
Flour Bakery and Cafe, is another smart choice at any time of the day—either at 7 am for a morning coffee or at lunchtime with an array of excellent sandwiches, salads and stuffed breads. We’re big fans of Flour’s breakfast sandwich, a mix of eggs with bacon, cheddar, and arugula topped with dijonaise. With a few locations throughout Boston, Flour is from James Beard award-winning chef, Joanne Chang.
For A Real Taste Of Boston
When we’re in New England we just immediately crave seafood. So where to go? Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar is known for bourbon and oysters, but there ’s plenty on the menu to satisfy all at this neighborhood tavern. Or try Back Bay’s Select or Island Creek Oyster Bar. Legal Sea Foods (Boston's popular chain) has many locations, one conveniently located in Copley Place. Neptune Oyster, one of the few non-Italian restaurants in the North End, always has long lines, but it’s worth the wait for stellar lobster rolls, oysters, fried clams, and clam chowder.
We always liked Chef Tiffani Faison’s style of cooking on Bravo’s Top Chef and after hearing rave reviews from numerous students it wasn’t a question we’d check out Sweet Cheeks for a taste of her Texas BBQ. Do not even think of skipping the biscuit doused in honey butter, big enough for a meal on its own. Follow it up with trays of pulled pork or smoked chicken and sides such as mac and cheese or collards, all served casually at family style long tables. Faison’s other restaurant Tiger Mama, just a few doors down the street, serves an eclectic menu of flavorful Southeast Asian fare and killer cocktails in a fun room of neon lights and quirky décor.
Next to the Prudential Center, there’s pizza and pasta, and everything Italian at the Piazza at Eataly’s Boston outpost, a food lover’s temple spread across three floors. We like to have dinner at Terra, a sky lite jewel with a wood grill as a centerpiece located on the top floor.
Modeled after a Venetian wine bar, this South End Italian specializes in small plates and delicious pasta and risottos. SRV stands for Serene Republic of Venice and a meal here might just transport you to a bacaro off the Grand Canal.
Best for Carnivores
Have your fill of stinky cheeses and charcuterie at SRV’s sibling, The Salty Pig, known also for its delicious pizza and pasta, allowing for the vegetarians in your group to tag along. Located at the intersection of Back Bay and the South End there’s a patio for outdoor dining when the weather permits.
Best for Global Plates
Don’t go to siblings Toro and the Little Donkey with friends who don’t like to share. Both restaurants feature international small plates, Toro highlighting Spanish style tapas while a meal at Little Donkey is a global journey on your plate, with dishes from around the world. There’s always a third sibling, Coppa, with what we hear are drool-worthy Italian plates, on our list for next time. (Toro is one of Boston’s most popular restaurants—they do not accept reservations so go early or be prepared to wait.)
BEST FOR Sushi
Sushi lovers will be in heaven at small, intimate O Ya, slightly off the beaten track in the leather district. This is omakase on another level, served artfully and inventively, a meal you’ll remember for a long time.
BEST Hometown Chef
Barbara Lynch, is a local legend, a pioneering Boston chef of seven hot spots, including No. 9 Park celebrating its 20th anniversary, Drink, Sportello, and upscale-French flagship, Menton. In 2017, Lynch was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world. You can read her remarkable story, one that began in the projects of Southie in her newly released memoir, “Out of Line”.
Eastern Standard’s menu has something for everyone in your group, a bustling Kenmore Square institution popular from early morning breakfasts to late night bar bites washed down with craft cocktails. Locals come for steak frites and roasted chicken before Sox games as Fenway is around the corner.
best in Chinatown
Forget the lo mein and chicken with broccoli there’s nothing traditional about Shojo, serving modern Asian fusion fare and inventive cocktails. Chef Mark O’Leary’s chicken and waffles and duck fat hand-cut fries have legions of fans. (Shojo is considered to have some of Boston’s best ramen, only served at lunchtime.)
All Dressed Up
Yvonne’s is perfect for a celebration or just a stylish, fun night out -- a combination of speakeasy and supper club with an eclectic menu. Located downtown in the historic space once home to Locke-Ober, a beloved Boston institution for 150 years.
Best for a Quickie
Clover Food Lab is a high quality, fast food vegetarian chain that boasts an average speed time per order of 3.5 minutes. Founded by Ayr Muir, An MIT grad with a Harvard MBA, the focus is on speed, flavor, and consistency in a constantly changing menu. The friendly staff guides you in your selection, and we love the whole concept.
On every foodie’s list, Alden & Harlow is a Harvard Square hot spot for adventurous new American fare served in a rustic, chic subterranean room. The decor might read casual, but this is food for a sophisticated palette. If you’re a burger fan go early to get a chance to try the secret burger with limited availability. Next time we’re in town we want to try Alden and Harlow’s little sibling seafood-driven Waypoint, also in Harvard Square.
Best for Mediterranean
Graze on small plates at Oleana’s , chef Ana Sortun’s celebration of Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine in Cambridge. In warm weather the patio is a lovely place to spend an evening; don’t miss the standout mezzes of fatteh and spinach falafel before finishing the meal with larger entrees such as a flavorful lemon chicken with za’atar or a monkfish shish. Do you like to cook? If so, Sortun’s Sofra Bakery, a casual Middle Eastern inspired café and specialty shop is a must visit! We left with bags of spices, jams, and teas. Sofra entices not just as pantry filler but also for its casual Mediterranean breakfast and lunch menu.
Best for Happy Hour
Banyan Bar and Refuge’s outdoor patio is a hot spot on warm weather afternoons thanks to dollar dumplings served from 4-6. Why not stay for dinner; the modern Asian gastropub is a local favorite for dim sum, noodles, and fried rice dishes.
On Our List
Yume Ga Arukara just made the top ten in Bon Appetit’s 2018 best restaurant issue, a high honor indeed for a counter service spot in Cambridge’s Porter Exchange Building serving just one dish—Udon, with or without beef. Another Boston restaurant made the top 50 list in the same Bon Appetit issue, Pammy’s, serving innovative, seasonal Italian fare that has the town buzzing. Boston magazine named Café Du Pays , a French-Canadian restaurant as Boston’s top new restaurant, and yes, they serve poutine. And lastly, we can’t wait to try the seafood dishes at Saltie Girl, spoken of as a seafood lover's paradise.