Boston's Local Eats

Don't settle for dinner at a big chain. Instead, check out some of the locals' favorite Boston restaurants for a unique dining experience.
By: Allee Sangiolo
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Photo by: Michael Piazza

Michael Piazza

Can you name Boston’s best local eats? Sure, Legal Sea Foods originated in Boston. But a cup of their New England clam chowder (although delicious) tastes exactly the same at just about any of their other restaurants nationwide. On your trip to Beantown, get off the typical tourist path, forget the chains and have a meal at one of these local favorites -- they won’t disappoint.

A meal at this romantic Provencal-inspired bistro will win over even the snobbiest of food snobs. Located in Back Bay across from the Boston Public Garden, entrees at the dressy but laid-back Bistro du Midi will run you around $20-$35, but are worth every penny.

Although it only opened a few years ago, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time the second you walk through the doors at Kenmore Square’s Eastern Standard. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and drinks are prepared with impeccable attention to detail. Did you know if you slap a mint leaf it brings out its flavor more? Neither did we, but the bartenders at Eastern Standard did. It’s the kind of place where the waiters wear white shirts and ties, but the attire is casual.

If you’re looking for a more formal (but expensive) dining experience while in Boston, ditch your reservation at The Capital Grille and make one at Beacon Hill’s Mooo... instead. You’ll be instantly won over the second the waiter brings out the cast-iron pan full of warm bread. And the steaks aren’t too shabby, either!

Located on Boston’s waterfront, Sportello is as unique a dining experience as they come. Guests at this modern diner-inspired Italian trattoria sit around sleek white countertops as they watch the chefs prepare their food. You won’t go wrong with anything on the pasta and polenta menu.

A neighborhood restaurant located on Atlantic Wharf in the Seaport District, Trade offers diners a menu of food “from around the world” made with fresh, local ingredients. The high-ceilinged exposed-brick restaurant is trendy (and a bit pricey) but very casual.

Located in Fenway, Audubon Circle is a great alternative to the many crowded and boisterous bars in the area that serve up your typical greasy bar food. The restaurant is small but cozy, lively but not too noisy. The food is simple but inspired, and the restaurant has taken home a slew of “Best of Boston” awards from Boston Magazine in recent years, including “Best Bar Menu” and “Best Neighborhood Restaurant.” They don't take reservations.

This small and inconspicuous Beacon Hill restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside, but step inside and you’ll find delicious contemporary Italian fare served in a casual, dimly-lit (but romantic!) setting. All primi, entrees and desserts on the menu are the same prices -- $10 for primi, $21 for entrees and $9 for desserts. They also have a nightly prix-fixe menu for $36 if you’re in the mood for all three courses. Call for reservations.

South End staple B&G Oysters serves up incredibly fresh, tasty seafood in a simple but sophisticated setting. A marble countertop surrounds the large open kitchen, which has been serving up award-winning lobster rolls since it opened. If you’re in the area and not in a seafood mood, check out The Butcher Shop. Located right across the street from B&G Oysters, the restaurant is run by the same fabulous Boston chef, Barbara Lynch. The no-frills restaurant was designed for carnivores -- the dishes are minimalist but the cuts of meat are divine.

A new addition to Boston’s restaurant scene, Island Creek Oyster Bar is already a local favorite. Massachusetts natives love their Island Creek oysters, grown locally in Duxbury, so it’s only fitting that they’d have similar feelings about this new spot. The decor is uber-cool (there’s a wall of oyster shells), and the food is exceptional -- even if you don’t like oysters.

If you’re looking for a more casual, quick meal, U Burger is a great inexpensive option. Build your own (“U Burger”-- get it?) or choose from their delicious pre-concocted options. We hear the veggie burger is good, too!

Wherever you are in town, don’t settle for a big chain restaurant -- try some of these local favorites for a truly uniquely “Boston” experience.

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