Beantown’s restaurant scene is booming with many new restaurant openings and several chefs receiving nominations from the prestigious James Beard Foundation for their excellence. I had some really excellent meals on my recent trips to Boston, and hope that you will also! Here’s what I found and recommend:
The Butcher Shop: Located in Boston’s South End, at 552 Tremont St., this is a butcher shop, restaurant and wine bar. It has been listed in Boston Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants and was also a James Beard Semifinalist in 2019 for Outstanding Wine Program.
Toro Restaurant: At 1704 Washington St., Toro is a Barcelona-style tapas restaurant located in Boston’s South End. They serve traditional and modern Spanish-style small plates made with locally sourced and sustainable ingredients.the It is a go-to spot for crispy patatas bravas, jamón, and paella. The decor is casual and fun and there is nice outdoor seating which I enjoyed with a friend. Loved the food. Chef Jamie Bissonnette won Food & Wine Magazine’s 2011 People’s Best New Chef Award.
Flour Bakery + Cafe known for it great pastries and sandwiches. I stopped in for coffee and a cookie on the way to my train at the Back Bay Station. According to a recent article founder “ Joanne Chang, has long been a shining star in Boston’s food world. The Harvard graduate left management consulting to become a pastry chef, working at some of the best restaurants in the Northeast before opening Flour. In a hypothetical showdown, Flour would beat any national coffee chain, so make multiple stops your vacation ritual for an afternoon sticky-bun break, a late lunch, a cup of coffee.”
Change has been a frequent winner and nominee for the James Beard Foundation Awards. These include: Semifinalist, Outstanding Chef 2018, Nominee, Best Chefs in America 2013, Nominee, Best Chefs in America 2014, Nominee, Outstanding Baker 2015, Winner, Outstanding Baker 2016, Nominee, Outstanding Pastry Chef 2011 and Nominee, Outstanding Pastry Chef 2012.
Legal Harborside: My first visit to the original Legal Sea Food in Boston was in the early 1970’s. Legal Harborside is Legal Sea Food’s 20,000 sq. ft., three story, flagship property on the Boston Waterfront/Seaport District. The first level has casual dining with large open windows and a large outdoor deck. The second level offers private dining and more upscale dining, while on the third level you will find a fun rooftop bar. It received one of Esquire Magazine’s Top New Restaurant awards for 2011. Don’t miss having a mug of New England clam chowder and a lobster roll!! It is located at 270 Northern Avenue at Liberty Wharf, just a short walk from the Institute of Contemporary Art. So head there for lunch after you see some great art!
Rowes Wharf Sea Grille: Located at 70 Rowes Wharf in Downtown Boston, this a perfect spot along the water for lunch. Try to sit on the outdoor terrace! It is also open for breakfast and dinner. They often have live music in the evenings.
B & G Oysters, at 550 Tremont St., was named by Food & Wine Magazine as having one of the best lobster rolls in the US. Owner Barbara Lynch, was recognized in 2014 by the James Beard Foundation as the Outstanding Restaurateur. She owns B&G Oysters along with The Butcher Shop mentioned above, Menton and No. 9 Park in Beacon Hill.
Saltie Girl a fun raw bar located just north of Newbury St. at 281 Dartmouth St. I had one of my best meals there. They feature a large raw bar, chowders and bisques, lobster rolls, smoked fish plus tinned seafood items. I loved the smoked salmon platter with a great bagel and cream cheese. Travel + Leisure Magazine featured it in an article at one of Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Treat Yourself for 2019. I highly recommend it and will definitely go back!
Yvonne’s: Located downtown just east of the Boston Common at 2 Winter Place, this classy spot is an update on the famous Locke-Ober, the 19th-century fine-dining restaurant opened in 1862 and housed there until 2012. I remember it well from an early trip to Boston where I dined with one of my oldest friends who lives there. Now you can find hip singles drinking cocktails at the original handcarved mahogany bar, surrounded by irreverent paintings—including Yvonne’s namesake nude, depicted snapping a selfie. This modern supper club features a menu of shared plates and entrees. I enjoyed my evening with the same friend who I went with the first time to Locke-Ober. The decor and ambiance are terrific.
Union Oyster House: I have walked past the Union Oyster House several times in past but had never eaten there. On my recent trip, I made a point to try it. It is a National Historic Landmark on Boston’s Freedom Trail and holds the distinction of being the oldest continually serving restaurant in the US having opened in 1826. I loved the traditional pub atmosphere! Of course I had to try the New England clam chowder and the lobster roll. It is very popular so I suggest making your reservation online before you go. I highly recommend the experience! 41 Union St.
Billed as The Oldest Tavern in America, The Bell in Hand Tavern, across from the Union Oyster House at 45 Union St., has been around since 1795. An historic “gathering place for printers and politicians, sailors and students, it quickly became the most famous alehouse in the city.”
One of my favorite recent restaurant experiences was at the recently opened Fox & the Knife at 28 W. Broadway in South Boston. I got there early and was able to sit at the chef’s counter at the kitchen. I loved watching them prepare the food and talking to the chef, other diners around me along with my server and the restaurant manager. The restaurant features Italian food by Chef Karen Akunowicz who is known for her pasta dishes. She actually spent a year learning pasta-making in Modena, Italy. I loved my meal and had a excellent salad and some of the best scallops I have ever had! They were the Capasanta Piccata or diver scallops with meyer lemon and buttered pine nuts. Others around me loved the Tagiatelle Bolognese with wild boar, thyme and parmagiano.
Chef Karen competed on Bravo’s Top Chef in 2015 and opened Fox & The Knife after winning the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award in the category of Best Chef: Northeast in 2018 while at Myers + Chang. Don’t miss the experience when you are in town!
I also was pleased to be able to go to UNI, one of Boston’s best-loved high-end sushi destinations. Located at the Eliot Hotel, the restaurant features sushi, sashimi and Asian street food. I enjoyed the Enter the Dragon Roll with shrimp and eel and a fish entree, the miso marinated black cod. Chef Tony Messina won the 2019 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northeast. It is somewhat pricey, so be prepared! I enjoyed sitting at the sushi bar watching the preparation. 370 A Commonwealth Ave.