We’re three days away from the official start of summer and boy are we ready for it. It’s been a rainy spring here is Boston and we are ready to soak up some rays and scarf down some summer seafood. New England is known for its top notch seafood since it’s surrounded by so much water, so we suggest taking advantage of it this summer, we sure plan on it! From the classics to some other unexpected places to find delicious seafood dishes that might not come to mind right away, we’ve got your summer seafood fix in Boston all in the list below. Go ahead, shellebrate summer!
Since we’re talking seafood we HAD to include Boston’s arguably most quintessential seafood dish — clam chowder. You can find bowls of this good stuff filled to the brim at so many local restaurants but this one is hands down our favorite. And, guess what…we taste it on our newest tour, The Classic Bites of Boston Tour. While they serve it at all of their sit down locations, Legal Seafood has a fast-casual counter spot called Legal Fish Bowl where you can get a cup of this perfectly creamy and clam-y chowder to go. We suggest taking it outside into the sunshine and eating it amongst the hustle and bustle of Quincy Market’s exterior. It doesn’t get more city than that!
Bootleg Special, home of the best Cajun seafood boil in town, is a summer seafood haven. They have alllll of the seafood and they also create a really fun environment to eat it in too. Think bibs, gloves, and a big ol’ shell bucket. We visit them on our Sweet & Savory South End Tour and dig into their delicious mussels in Bootleg sauce. This garlicy, buttery, spice-filled sauce is divine, like angels singing and all the jazz, you have to try it! We’re so serious, go try it.
While the poke bowl had its moment in the trend-setting spotlight, we still love it for a super fresh lunch or dinner, or hey, why not for breakfast too! Sushi-grade fish is cubed and placed atop sushi rice in a bowl along with any other umami-esque toppings you can imagine. Build your own bowl or opt for one of their set offerings. Not the typical summer seafood first thought but one that should be remembered more often. You can also visit them with us on our Allston Arts & Eats Tour.
Ah, the lobster roll, the classic of classics here in New England. Nothing beats a toasted bun piled so high with fresh lobster meat that pieces start to roll over the sides and onto the plate (or table). No matter where it lands make sure you get every last bit, or we will! The Bell in Hand Tavern is one of the most classic places to eat this classic Boston dish, which is why we stop there to taste it on our newest Classic Bites of Boston Tour. Don’t want just a taste? Head in and visit them for your own whole lobster roll, no sharing necessary, and ring in summer properly, New England style.
Another unexpected place to find your summer seafood fix is at dim sum. Also it’s one of our favorite places to have it. The shrimp dumplings, or har gow as they are referred to in Cantonese, at China Pearl are some of our most favorites in the city. Steaming, plump, and juicy shrimp are wrapped in a translucent dumpling wrapper and delivered in steamer baskets to your table off of the dim sum cart when you choose them. They are one of the most popular dishes at dim sum and we understand why; they are just perfect. This is why we try them on our Chinatown’s Culture & Cuisine Tour.
Photo Credit: @newenglandfoodexplorer via Instagram
Steaming hot bowl of pasta with fresh clams? YES PLEASE. Cinquecento is serving up the Italian classic linguine con vongole (clams) and doing it to perfection. This is summer seafood bliss if you ask us. Enjoy it inside their beautiful trattoria space or on their patio lit with strung twinkle lights. You can also visit them with us on our Sweet & Savory South End Tour and try another one of their pasta dishes, but this one is definitely the one to cure a summer seafood hankering!
When you come to Boston you HAVE to have Boston cream pie, and if you live here you should be having it on a regular basis, it’s pretty much non-negotiable in our minds. It’s one of Boston’s most iconic foods and we love it, which is why we taste it on our new Classic Bites of Boston Tour. Fluffy sponge, thick vanilla cream, and rich, dark chocolate ganache – check, check, and check! But wait, that sounds more like cake than pie…Technically speaking it’s a layered cake, but it has always been dubbed pie since its debut in 1856. Back then cake and pie tins were interchangeable and the words were too.
Boston cream pie made a name for itself at Parker’s Restaurant in the Omni Parker House where they still serve the classic recipe today. While the classic is untouchable, as with most classics, people have found ways to mix it up and serve Boston cream pie in tons of different ways. We’re into it! Check out this list of all the different ways to eat (and drink) Boston cream pie in Boston.
This donut shop is a Boston favorite all about the local from ingredients to the boxes they serve their donuts in. They’ve become an icon here and so of course they had to make a donut out of Boston’s most iconic dessert – Boston cream pie. This yeast donut is fluffy and filled with homemade Bavarian crème, and frosted with a Swiss chocolate topping. It’s melt-in-your-mouth perfection and a mess to eat, that’s the sign of a good dessert in our book!
This cupcake shop will bring a smile to your face when you walk in and approach the cupcake counter filled with beautifully decorated confections. Everything’s cuter as a cupcake and this holds true for Boston cream pie. Sweet’s cupcake version of this classic Boston dessert is the ideal bite so head over and grab one (or two) soon.
One of our favorite bakeries in Boston has put a unique spin on the classic Boston cream pie – they’re adding coffee and extra layers to it. Theirs has four thin layers of sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup sandwiched with vanilla cream and are topped off with drippy chocolate ganache with a little vanilla icing to make the iconic feathered design on the top. It’s fun to look at with its exposed layers and the addition of the coffee syrup makes it reminiscent of tiramisu, which is a cool twist. It’s sooo good!
SHUT. UP. That’s what we said when we found out that Magnolia Bakery was making Boston cream pie banana pudding. As if their famous banana pudding wasn’t incredible enough on its own, they turned it up several more notches by creating a special Boston cream pie flavor. Unique to their Boston store this pudding is light and creamy, filled with chunks of banana, chocolate threads, and Nilla wafers. Basically, it’s a dessert-lover’s dream.
Photo Credit: @lifedigitallyremastered via Instagram
If you’d prefer to sip your Boston cream pie, guess what, that’s a thing you can do! The Last Hurrah in the Omni Parker House serves a Boston cream pie martini with vanilla vodka, Godiva chocolate liqueur, Kerry Gold Irish cream, and a chocolate rim. We can’t even handle how delicious this is. It’s hard to only have one, they go down far too easy, but we’re not complaining about it.
Going back to the very beginning, visit the Omni Parker House’s Parker Restaurant for a piece of classic Boston cream pie. Their thoughtful plating is so appealing that it’s hard to focus on capturing a photo before you dive in. If you want to mix the classic with the remix though you can here. Toscanini’s, one of our favorite local ice cream shops, makes a special Boston cream pie ice cream just for the Omni Parker House and you can order it alongside your Boston cream pie. DO IT.
Boston is a city that truly has it all! There’s something for everyone, from history to sports to incredible food and drink, so you’ll never be at a loss for things to do. Speaking of things to do in Boston, we’re extremely excited about our new Classic Bites of Boston Tour that just launched, running Tuesday through Friday, where you’ll learn about and taste some of Boston’s most iconic dishes while learning some fascinating history too. Sticking with the theme of classic things to do and eat in Boston, we’ve made you a list of some of Boston’s most classic sites to visit and nearby bites to try while you’re there.
Walk The Freedom Trail Then Eat At The Bell in Hand Tavern
Photo Credit: @cebrownphoto
One of the most well-known historical sites to visit in Boston that you shouldn’t miss is The Freedom Trail. It’s much more than just one site though, rather it’s a 2.5 mile red brick trail that will lead you through the streets of downtown Boston through 16 different sites that are significant to the history of the United States. With all that history you’re bound to work up an appetite so stop at The Bell in Hand Tavern, which is located about midway though The Freedom Trail, for some local favorites like clam chowder and a lobster roll. Don’t forget a pint of their special beer, The Bell in Hand Ale, that is brewed just for them by Sam Adams. You can also visit them with us on our new Classic Bites of Boston Tour!
Walk Through Boston Common and Ride on The Swan Boats Then Eat At The Paramount
Photo Credit: @charbinger via Instagram
Boston Common is actually the first stop on the Freedom Trail, but just in case you can’t make it through the whole thing this is one of the must-visit places on it. Not only is the park scenic with winding paths and beautiful foliage but you’ll find the iconic swan boats floating around the pond right in the middle of the park. These boats have evolved over time and have been a long-standing staple of Boston Common. The first boat set sail on the pond in 1870 by Robert Paget and four generations later the Paget family is still operating the swan boat rides.
On your way out of the park head towards Charles Street and be sure to also visit the famous Make Way For Ducklings statues. As you continue to exit the park towards Beacon Street you can also snap a photo outside the famous Cheers Bar while heading towards Charles Street to eat at The Paramount. This neighborhood eatery has been operating since the 1930s and is still going strong. You order at the counter and then you find your seat, and don’t worry, no matter how busy it looks you’ll always find a seat, we can vouch for it!
Visit The Bunker Hill Monument & USS Constitution in Charlestown Then Eat At Brewer’s Fork
Photo Credit: USS Constitution Museum
If you’d rather see some sites at the end of the Freedom Trail then head to Charlestown and visit both the Bunker Hill Monument and see the USS Constitution, which both conclude the Freedom Trail. Both of these sites are located in close proximity to each other and in between happens to be one of our favorite pizza spots (go figure). The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat and the monument on Bunker Hill pays homage to the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major battle of the Revolutionary War. In between visiting them stop by Brewer’s Fork for a delicious brunch, lunch, or dinner. Their wood-fired pizza is amazing, their tap-list is huge, and their atmosphere is rustic and comfy. While it’s easy, don’t get too caught up in all the grub, you still have a lot of exploring to do!
Visit The Paul Revere House and Walk Around The North End Then Eat At The Daily Catch
Photo Credit: @kirsty_emily via Instagram
One more important stop on the Freedom Trail that you should definitely make time to visit is The Paul Revere House, which happens to be in the North End, aka Boston’s own “Little Italy.” After you visit and tour this historical site explore the quaint yet busy streets of the North End. Tempting smells of pizza, pasta, and pastries will pull you in every which direction you, and while there are a ton of great places to eat, one of our favorite’s is The Daily Catch, a Sicilian-style seafood and pasta place offering incredible homemade squid ink pasta and fresh catches for you to enjoy. This place is snug but that’s part of the charm so if there’s a wait it’s worth it, we promise. When a steaming hot pan (yes they often serve pasta right in the pan) and some stuffed calamari arrives at your table the time you waited will soon be forgotten!
Visit Fenway Park Then Eat At Sweet Cheeks Q
Photo Credit: Fenway Park
If you’re visiting Boston it goes without saying that you should take a trip over to Fenway Park. Not only is it a hub here in Boston where crowds flock for Red Sox games and other cool events, it’s also the oldest major league stadium still in use. It’s famous for it’s towering “Green Monster” in left field where you can actually stand and watch the game from. After your trip to the stadium you’ll probably be hungry, as we are after any activity, so head to Sweet Cheeks Q for some Texas barbecue and a bucket o’ biscuits. Owned by celebrity chef, Tiffani Faison, a former contestant on Top Chef, this spot attracts a lot of attention and it follows through from the atmosphere to the food, you’ll really want to stay all day and night. And after eating one of their gargantuan buttermilk biscuits with honey butter you may not be able to leave!
It’s May in Boston, which means that diplomas are being printed and handed out to the many robed graduates that will cross stages in the city all month long. Boston is already a lively city and it grows even bigger and more energetic during graduation season. Families and friends flock here to celebrate with their graduates but the ceremony only lasts a few hours (if you’re lucky that is), so that means there’s lots of time to explore and enjoy Boston! We’ve made a list of awesome activities for you and your group to check out in the city.
Bites of Boston offers four local walking food tours with friendly and knowledgeable tour guides who will take you through unique neighborhoods. While there you’ll learn about their history and taste some of their best sips and bites!
Get a taste of some of the neighborhood’s best sweet and savory offerings from a salted caramel chocolate cupcake named after a local dog to bacon wrapped dates and more. As you stroll through this neighborhood you’ll also learn about its rich history and see some beautiful architecture.
This neighborhood is packed with incredible culture and flavor. You’ll weave through the tiny but bustling streets learning about the neighborhood’s past, present, and future while making stops to taste Chinese food, both modern and traditional.
Adventure through one of Boston’s most underrated neighborhoods where you’ll visit its various murals and taste a bunch of different bites along the way. This colorful tour is a great way to explore Boston’s arts & eats!
This tour is the newest tour in the portfolio and will take you through some of Boston’s most classic sites while trying some of its most classic bites. Not only will you taste some of the most traditional “bah-ston” food, you’ll learn how and why they became so famous here in the first place.
Walk around this artisanal market and stock up on some Boston provisions while you’re at it. Boston Public Market is home to tons of purveyors selling local products. Your senses will be overwhelmed in the best way when you walk in, from the smell of fresh apple cider doughnuts being made and coffee being brewed to the pastrami and smoked salmon being sliced.
Spend an afternoon walking through the tents of SoWa Open Market where you’ll see some of the best local art and goods for sale. Go home with a huge painting, a pair of earrings, or a bunch of fresh veggies; it’s all there. It’s hard to be reasonable with what you buy because everything looks so tempting!
While the first brewery on everyone’s list when they come to Boston is usually Sam Adams, there are actually tons of other local breweries making unique and tasty beers of their own. Stop by Trillium Brewing Company, a family owned brewery and restaurant right in the Fort Point neighborhood, and taste their delicious brews. Go simple with one of their IPAs or go for something a little different like their blueberry sour wheat ale.
Explore the North End and Decide Which Cannolis Are Best (by trying them all…)
Photo Credit: Modern Pastry
Home to Boston’s best Italian food, and LOTS of it, this famous neighborhood is a must when it comes to exploring Beantown. Between the pasta and pizza you must have a cannoli and there are several places to choose from. The heated debate over who reigns as cannoli king in the North End is between Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry, we’d also like to throw Bova’s Bakery in the mix, a little less flashy but our top pick. You decide for yourself which cannolis you think are best (by trying them all, of course)!
This goes without saying but GO VISIT FENWAY PARK! Whether for a game or just a walk around it, this stadium is filled with history and an institution in Boston. While you’re over there, stop into Island Creek Oyster Bar right in Kenmore Square and slurp down some fresh oysters. It’s owned by Jeremy Sewall, one of Boston’s main seafood authorities, and it will leave you feeling sweet even though the oysters are salty!
If you want to stay classic with a New England seafood dinner head to The Barking Crab for the whole sha-bang! Right at the edge of the Seaport, this summer seafood shack operates all year round serving traditional clambakes, lobster all-the-ways, chowder, and anything else you could possibly want when it comes to New England seafood. Bib required.
Boston is a city full of history and rich in culture especially when it comes to art. You can find it in museums, on the streets, and in so many more places. Every year the Boch Center hosts ArtWeek, 10 days to celebrate art and artists in Boston with fun activities to participate in. This year ArtWeek spans from April 26th through May 5th. There are all sorts of cool events going on from painting with goats and chickens, an Instagram photo contest, live mural painting, origami, and so much more! It’s an exciting time of year where your creative self can shine whether you’re an artist or someone who appreciates art.
Fun Fact: our Allston Arts & Eats Tour was actually born from ArtWeek a few years ago, taking you around the artsy Allston neighborhood to view the many murals the neighborhood boasts and to taste bites from local restaurants.
Keeping with the theme of ArtWeek, we’ve collected a list of restaurants in Boston, all of which are featured on our tours, that have some awesome art in and around their spaces. Their food is equally as impressive so you can come for the art and stay for the food!
As if Shojo’s vibe wasn’t cool enough, their food is also unbelievably inventive and delicious. They really are the whole package, serving modern Asian cuisine with items like Bulgogi Beef Baos, Marinated Crab Toast, and Shadowless Fries. Shojo is a genre of Japanese comics and animated films and in terms of the restaurant they say that Shojo is, “A Japanese sea spirit with red face and hair that has a fondness for alcohol, especially Sake.” You can find her on the huge, colorful mural depicted on the back wall, which is partially responsible for creating the extremely trendy atmosphere inside. Whatever you desire – dinner, snacks, drinks – you’ll leave satisfied. You can also visit them with us on our Chinatown’s Culture & Cuisine Tour.
Amongst the tiny, weaving streets in Boston’s Chinatown, right around the corner from Taiwan Cafe, you’ll find this towering mural on the side of a building next to an alleyway. It’s a replica of the original piece, Autumn mountains with travellers in the style of Fan Kuan, which is displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts. After checking out the mural head across the street for some lunch or dinner at Taiwan Cafe, one of the stops on our Chinatown’s Culture & Cuisine Tour. Highly recommending the soup dumplings is an understatement. YOU MUST GET THEM. Steaming pockets of fatty, porky, soup ready to bust out and onto your spoon. There’s a technique to eating them, which we show you on our tour. They are absolute heaven!
Bootleg Special, one of the stops on our Sweet & Savory South End Tour, has something for all the senses from their eye-catching French Quarter-style art to their incredibly flavorful and aromatic food, like the garlic noodles, which we are obsessed with. How can so much flavor be packed into one bowl of noodles?! We’ll just have to keep eating them over and over and over again to find out. Not mad about that at all. While all of the decor is artsy and hip in its own way, we especially love the rug that they’ve painted onto the floor to create a homey, yet cool vibe. This is the perfect example of the come for the art, stay for the food rationale.
This intimate space is packed with culture and history from the framed photos on the walls of the owner, Andre’s, family and friends to the food they serve. Orinoco is a Venezuelan restaurant known for their fresh arepas and their amazing finger foods such as the Datiles (bacon wrapped dates) and the Maracuchitos (sweet plantains stuffed with cheese). We visit their South End location on our Sweet & Savory South End Tour and it’s a treat every time. There’s such a warm, family-centric feeling inside Orinoco, you’ll never want your meal to be over.
The streets of Allston are full of art, Murals of all kinds can be found anywhere you turn in the neighborhood. The eateries are just as much a part of the art scene there. Staying with the street art vibe, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, one of the stops on our Allston Arts & Eats Tour, has a graffiti-esque portrait of Roxy on their front window. The catch? Nobody actually knows who Roxy is. We don’t know if she’s real or made up, or if this is some sort of caricature or rendition of the real Roxy, if there even is one. It’s a mystery! Nonetheless she’s the face of the restaurant and food truck where they serve unfairly delicious and oozy grilled cheese sandwiches. Adding to the decor, they have a big clipboard wall calendar with the food truck schedule posted as a part of the art on the wall.
Kimchipapi is all about the chill vibes, creating a welcoming space for everyone to kick back and enjoy some poke bowls or one of the other tasty Korean snacks on their menu. Their flavors are fresh and innovative and their space is young and laid back. You can find various murals on their walls to feast your eyes on from Kimchipapi himself to a steaming bowl of noodles. They are a perfect fit for the Allston neighborhood and will be the newest addition to our Allston Arts & Eats Tour, and we’re so excited to have them!
Things to Do in Boston for Marathon Monday Weekend
Whether you’re coming to Boston from out of town to run the marathon or to cheer someone on, or you’re a local looking forward to all the fun of watching the marathon and having a day off, then get excited. Even if you’re not any of these things, get excited anyway! Marathon Monday is a HUGE day in Boston where the city rallies around the thousands of runners taking on the 26.2. If you want to make a long weekend of the festivities then we’ve got you covered. Check out some of the awesome activities you can do over the weekend leading up to the marathon and then on Marathon Monday itself. Grab your running shoes whether you’re headed to the race or running to the bar to grab a drink after. Ready, set, GO!
Get out and about and explore the city through the lens of food and history with Bites of Boston Food Tours. With their neighborhood food tours running on both Saturday and Sunday (and Friday if you begin your weekend early) and several choices of times, there are multiple chances for you to adventure with them around Beantown. Join them for The Sweet & Savory South End Tour offered on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday or The Chinatown’s Culture & Cuisine Tour on Friday and Saturday. You’ll experience six specially-picked tastings and learn the stories behind each of them and the restaurants they come from as well as tons of fascinating neighborhood history. Walk before you run the marathon with Bites of Boston!
Head over to the Peleton store on Boylston Street right where the marathon will be taking place to make your own signs to cheer on the runners. You have two chances to do this, one big block of time on Saturday (10am-9pm) and one on Sunday (11am-7pm), so be sure to join them for some pre-marathon hype and fun!
Upgrade your brunch game in Boston as you head out to sea with the Northern Lights Boston Harbor Brunch Cruise. That’s right—brunch on a boat, and by boat, we mean YACHT. On yes, you’ll be pre-marathon brunching in style on Boston Harbor. You can book a cruise for either Saturday or Sunday morning. Included is a full brunch and a narrated tour of the sites you’ll see. Mimosas and other beverages are available for purchase as well. It is brunch after all!
We all know that before you run a marathon you need to load up on carbs! Well we believe this is also important if you’re watching the marathon so that you can build your stamina for keeping up with the race and cheering really loud. That said, one of our favorite spots in the city to load up on pasta and bread is Cinquecento, a Roman Trattoria in the South End. They serve exquisite homemade pasta with absolutely delicious flavors and sauces. They also offer gluten-free pasta. This is a wipe the bowl clean with bread kind of situation for sure.
If you’d like to do a little pre-marathon shopping at one of Boston’s most special markets head to the SoWa Vintage market on Sunday to check out what they have to offer. Even if you’re just browsing this is a great way to get on your feet and explore something unique. They operate every Sunday from 10am-4pm rain, snow, or shine (but thankfully we don’t have to worry about snow anymore).
Can’t handle a full marathon but still want to run in celebration? No problem! Sign up to run the Boston Athletic Association’s 5k on Saturday morning. The run will take you through Back Bay and Beacon Hill with some historic sites on the route. While the fun is the most important aspect of the race, there is a cash prize for the winners if that entices you even more.
If you’d rather ride than run then join this group of bikers as they ride for the 10th year in a row on the eve of the Boston Marathon. This 30 mile ride following the marathon running route is a group rice, all about the fun, and not a race at all. Dressing up silly and bringing bike lights is highly encouraged. You can find all of the information about the ride, including important safety information, on their website.
On Marathon Monday the streets from Hopkinton to Boston are packed with enthusiastic spectators ready to cheer on the runners. There are plenty of spots along the Marathon route to watch from but some are especially popular such as the Wellesley Scream Tunnel just before halfway point, Heartbreak Hill in Newton around Boston College, and the final stretch on Boylston Street before the finish. Wherever you decide to plant yourself be ready for an energetic and fun day!
Patriot’s Day is celebrated in Massachusetts to remember the events that took place in Boston leading to the American Revolution. There is a parade starting at City Hall Plaza and ending at the Paul Revere Mall in the North End. At the end of the parade the Massachusetts Lancers stage the rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes. Patriot’s Day is observed every year on the third Monday in April, the same day as the Boston Marathon, so this day calls for great celebration!
If you’d prefer margaritas over miles then head to Burro Bar in Brookline to watch the marathon with a marg in hand as the runner dash right by. Load up on tacos too while you’re at it because you need your energy to cheer everyone on as they make their way into their final stretch of the marathon.
For a glimpse at the very final moments of the marathon, join Bar Boulud on their street level bar and lounge for their watch party. Buy your tickets ahead of time to ensure your spot. The cover charge includes lite bites, ground level marathon viewing, a television broadcasting the event, and a complimentary Boston Strong wristband. A full cash bar and our a la carte restaurant menu will also be available for guests.
For the perfect post-marathon group celebration dessert head to Double Chin in Boston’s Chinatown for their famous cube toast. A homemade brioche loaf is hollowed out and the insides cut into cubes and deep fried in French toast batter. The fried cubes are put back in the hollowed out loaf, which has also been French-toast battered and fried, and topped with everything under the sun—ice cream, chocolate syrup, cereal, fruit, mochi, pocki, macarons, THE WORKS!
If you want to close out Marathon Monday in style, head to Bootleg Special in the South End to toast with some delicious cocktails in hand. This Louisiana-style boil spot offers classic cocktails such as Hurricanes and Sazeracs as well as twists on the classics and large format “social bowl” options. Enjoy the evening chilling out in this hip space and sipping away on flavorful cocktails to properly conclude your long weekend. Cheers!
Boston’s gearing up for one of its favorite days of the year — St. Patrick’s Day — where a full on celebration breaks out across the city and flashes of green can be spotted everywhere. Not only is this a day to take off work and deck out in green garb, but it’s also a significant day historically in Boston. On March 17th, 1776, the British troops evacuated Boston during the American Revolutionary War. The day has thus been dubbed Evacuation Day and is actually a public holiday in Suffolk County. So, while it’s become a day to raise your glasses to anything Irish and drink the whole day through, there’s some valuable history behind it as well.
If you are in need of some help navigating the city on this fun, yet hectic, day we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking to chow down on some classic Irish fare, drink a green beer, watch the parade, or visit one of the city’s best Irish bars, the luck of the Irish is already with you because you can find it all on this list!
This is a classic Irish pub with traditional and modern fare. On the traditional side they are serving a special St. Patrick’s Day menu with corned beef and cabbage on it amongst other tasty dishes; but take a look at their regular menu for a modern spin on this classic and try their corned beef and cabbage egg rolls!
Address: 304 Washington St, Brighton, MA 02135
This Irish pub boasts New England fare with Irish hospitality but their menu doesn’t go without some of the usual suspects like bangers & mash and cottage pie. They’re getting especially traditional for St. Patrick’s Day adding corned beef and cabbage to their entree offerings so head over and grab a plate.
Address: 425 Summer St, Boston, MA 02210
This Harvard Square establishment is known for its laid back gastropub atmosphere and its upscale comfort food. Join them for St. Patrick’s Day for a menu full of Irish spirit with items such as Irish stout and cheddar fondue, corned beef and cabbage, and soda bread pudding. You’ll be speaking in Irish tongues before you know it.
Address: 1230 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138
Named after the ‘Greenhills’ in the owner’s hometown in Ireland, this bakery holds true to the classic Irish bakes such as brown bread, soda bread, and Irish biscuit cake. They also have a lengthy menu of pies, cookies, and pastries with American origin. Whether you’re craving a pecan pie or some soda bread, Greenhills will fulfill that craving and keep you craving more!
Address: 780 Adams St, Boston, MA 02124
Brookline’s favorite hidden bakery makes traditional Irish soda bread every year when St. Patrick’s Day comes around. If it’s anything like the rest of their pastries it’ll be one of the best loaves you’ve ever had. Why not pick up a few extra pastries to munch on while you’re there? The case is just too tempting to leave with only one thing anyway.
Address: 178 Thorndike St, Brookline, MA 02446
Located right across the street from the State House in Beacon Hill, this neighborhood pub will be serving glasses of green beer to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. One of the only days of the year where it’s acceptable to put food coloring in beer and it’s actually sought after. Fun fact: a doctor from the Bronx was actually the first one to color beer green for a St. Paddy’s party in 1914 and the tradition has held since.
Address: 150 Bowdoin St, Boston, MA 02108
It’s hard to not have a good time at this ‘no frills’ establishment as they refer to themselves, which makes it the perfect place to spend St. Patrick’s Day. Plus, they’re serving green beer! Join them for Boston’s favorite holiday and cheers with some green brews. Maybe cheers to that doctor from the Bronx who created this peculiar but beloved tradition too!
Address: 907 Boylston St #21, Boston, MA 02115
Where to Watch the Parade
Photo Credit: @lemontreetravel via Instagram
The famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston is actually the second biggest parade in the U.S., drawing massive crowds of people spreading cheer and celebrating the city’s Irish heritage. It begins at 1pm at the Broadway T station on the Red Line and heads all the way down to the water at Farragut Square and then back up through Southie ending at Andrew Square. While there are 3.2 miles of parade route for you to catch a glimpse of the fun, we suggest getting there early and having a plan because it get’s HECTIC over there. Hang around and stop into one of the local bars or restaurants for some fuel after. A few we like are:
Left: Chris, Right: Stephen / Photo Credit: Rachel DeSimone
Here we go again—sneaking behind the kitchen door to continue our Industry Chats series, getting the scoop from some of Boston’s best chefs and restaurant owners on how they do what they do. This time it feels like we’ve traveled all the way to the French Quarter to feature Chris Young and Stephen Chan, co-owners of Bootleg Special, but in reality we’re just down the street in the South End.
This place takes good ol’ southern crawfish joint to a new level with its urban speakeasy atmosphere, decked out with graffiti and bold art on the walls, with an added dash of southern charm and French-inspired decor. It’s something that Boston hasn’t seen before but is loving. Your number one utensil at Bootleg? Your hands. No choice but to be social and have a great time here and Chris and Stephen get all the credit for fostering this environment in their first joint venture.
This local dynamic duo got their start way back in high school when they first met. They kept the friendship going through college and into their adult years so it was only natural that they would join forces in opening one of the coolest spots in Boston. Keep reading to learn more about them. I sat down with them inside Bootleg’s dining room on a blisteringly cold and windy afternoon where I found solace in a warm environment and great conversation.
Photo Credit: @meaghanmurray via Instagram
Let’s start with some background. Where are you from? What was home-life like growing up?
C: I was born and raised in Boston. I come from immigrant parents from Hong Kong and I come from a multilingual family. We spoke Chinese and English at home and we ate Chinese food as well as American food, so kind of mixed cultures.
Did your parents cook? Were you in the kitchen with them?
C: The only jobs available coming in were restaurant jobs so my grandfather and my father worked in restaurants and I kind of grew up in the kitchen. I grew up in Chinese restaurants, seeing what they do with the woks and the environment. So there was a lot of cooking being done at home.
And did you go to culinary school? Do you have formal culinary or hospitality training?
C: I have a business degree from UMass Amherst in hospitality so there’s some culinary training there as well.
On the way out of that degree did you start working in restaurants right away?
C: Yes, I’ve been working in restaurants since I was 13 years old. From washing dishes, to bussing tables, to cooking.
Okay Stephen, your turn, give me a little background on yourself…
S: Pretty much the same. I grew up actually down the street from here. My parents have owned restaurants since I was born. At one point they had five different Chinese restaurants and so I can basically say that I grew up in that environment. I’ve been in the industry since 13, 14. I moved around a lot. I moved to Vegas and China and then got some more restaurant experience over there. I’ve worked in some fine dining. In China I opened a few places with friends and then moved back to Boston.
Because you grew up in a restaurant family did you feel the hunger and desire to continue on with that path or did you ever question if you wanted to do this?
S: It wasn’t a question of if I want to do this. I have other interests as well, but this was a great opportunity especially for this type of cuisine, which Boston doesn’t really have. So I felt like this was a good opportunity.
Clockwise from top: ribs on coke, fried oysters, mussels, garlic fries / Photo Credit: Bootleg Special
I’ve heard that you guys met in high school is that right? Tell me about that.
S: Yes that’s right. For the most part we all hung out in the city. We have a big group of friends fortunately and we’re all still good friends. We also went to college together and were roommates at one point so we have a very natural friendship.
What is the work dynamic between the two of you?
C: We work together overall with the restaurant but I do mainly the food, and Stephen does a lot of the marketing and we bounce ideas off each other. We have our separate duties as well as going to each other’s side and helping each other out with parts of the restaurant.
S: We both have experience in all areas, but his expertise is more in the kitchen and my expertise is more on the operations side. So I’ll help him out and he’ll help me out and we have a good balance.
Where did the idea for Cajun seafood boil come from? Was there an experience where you had this type of food for the first time and really loved it?
S: We grew up in Boston and New England’s known for the seafood, but this type of style, this type of cuisine, wasn’t really here. I mean here you boil the lobster and that’s about it. But when I moved away to Las Vegas there were cuisines similar to this and every time my friends came down we’d always go there. I also have family in Houston and every time we went down there, there are so many of them, we’d always go there and when I finally moved back I was like, oh, how come this style of cooking doesn’t exist here? So we got together and Chris felt the same thing.
Photo Credit: Bites of Boston
I know you encourage communal eating at your restaurant. What does that mean to you when people are eating together and sharing and interacting and socializing over the food? And how do you foster that here?
C: That’s something that’s lacking in a lot of other restaurants. You have your own dish and it’s like, this is your border, this is my border. But at our restaurant we wanted to make it really relaxed, fun, and energetic so there’s a lot of gloves, and bibs, and ripping, and talking, and passing; so it really is a lot of fun, and it really pulls people together.
S: I guess for me, well for both of us, growing up in Asian families, a lot of our eating is family style. Like if you go to Chinatown a lot of it is all family style and I know that’s not in the Western culture that much but I think for us it’s a great way to interact with people. Like nowadays with telephones everyone’s just on the phone during everything so I think this way people have to interact a little more. Even our brunches, a lot of traditional brunches people have their own plate, we like to encourage people to order different things and share. Again, taking a little bit of the Asian-style, like dim sum, where we all share things, that’s where it came from.
On a different note – talk to me about soufflé pancakes – what?! Who came up with that?
C: That’s me. My recipe is inspired by Japanese soufflé pancakes in Asia and each batter is made to order. To have an order of soufflé pancakes is about 15 minutes to make just for that one dish. So if you have a dining room of a hundred people and it just gets backed up but it’s worth the wait. It’s very airy and fluffy, very similar to a traditional soufflé just with the pancake toppings. It’s so much fun!
Soufflé Pancakes / Photo Credit: Bootleg Special
Just over one year in, what have you learned? Where is your mindset at now?
C: Well, definitely things have been great. We’re just excited that we hit our one year anniversary and every week we’re just getting busier and busier and it’s really exhilarating and so much fun. So many people are talking about us and coming to visit us and it makes us happy and I’m more motivated to see what people come in eat, people who have been here multiple times. We have a lot of repeat customers who have been here at least a dozen times who say, ‘this is my favorite place for seafood and for Cajun boil.’
S: I think the feedback is really important. I guess for the first year our main thing was just getting our name out there, getting people in the door. Now, it’s more of continuing to have them come back and getting the feedback from them telling us what they love about it or improvements we can make. And we constantly strive to make things better and be more innovative with our menu and everything.
Talk about the naming process, where does ‘Bootleg Special’ come from?
S: We did have a lot of names written down, bounced back and forth, some he liked and I didn’t like, and some I loved and he was like, ‘no, not at all.’ But this one kind of came together. So, ‘Bootleg,’ our cuisine is Louisiana-style so Louisiana is the boot state. Basically, we wanted something a little bit edgy, something that had a little bit to do with the cuisine, so we had the ‘Bootleg’ then I don’t where the ‘Special’ came from, we just thought we were special and combined it together and it was Bootleg Special haha.
C: More of the catchphrase ‘Bootleg Special.’ We were just kind of making it this speakeasy. So if you go to our front door it’s just this unassuming little storefront right next to a CVS. So with the name Bootleg Special it’s kind of taking a nod to the Prohibition days and that kind of feel of a speakeasy.
Photo Credit: Bootleg Special
Photo Credit: Bootleg Special
And I feel like that goes along with the kind of edgy decor that you guys have going on. Where did the ideas for decorating come from to create the feeling in the space?
S: It didn’t really start off like this. We wanted something that was a little more urban and then a little graffiti and then kind of looking at pictures of what we wanted to display and kind of evolve. A lot of the feeling in our decor has a French Quarter, New Orleans, style. It kind of just came together.
C: We kind of wanted to make it feel like a French Quarter, Louisiana pop-up when you walk in, and the feeling of, this is our place. It’s a hidden place just for people who know that we exist so it feels like a secret hideout.
S: And we wanted to make it a little bit more adult, more sophisticated. Some of the other restaurants that serve this type of cuisine are a little bit more casual. Our cuisine is similar in terms of the boil, then we wanted to make it a little more adult, and fun.
Is there a special dish that you’ve made that has some sort of root to something you ate growing up, something involved with an old family recipe that you’ve weaved in somehow?
C: Well it’s definitely the style of lobster that we cook here. Our main dish is the Bootleg Special which feeds two to three and we put in lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, crawfish, sausage, potatoes, and corn, in sauce. But the way we serve the lobster kind of reminds me of my grandfather because we break it in pieces and make it very easy to eat whereas other places they give it to you whole and then people look at it and are like oh, what do I do with this, and they get confused. But we kind of take the work out of it and when I was a little boy I was in the kitchen with my grandfather and we were breaking up the lobsters and he would show me that this was how we break down the lobsters to make it easier to eat. So just taking that seafood and bringing it in here and making it in a way for the customers that is easy to eat is what I took from my childhood.
Photo Credit: Bootleg Special
What is it like trying to balance family / personal / work life? How do you find ways to have time for yourself? Or do you not..?
C: We definitely lean on each other and it’s the partnership that makes it very important. And whatever it takes to make this work we do it and sometimes one of us can’t be there and the other one will pick up the ball and vice versa. It’s just making sure that we communicate and work together and that’s the tough part because everyone has lives and it’s so difficult to be here 24/7.
S: And it also helps that, as you said, he has more of a family style life and I’m still single, so it still balances off where if we were both single, and we were both out all the time it would be harder but he has more of a scheduled life and I have a little more flexibility so we can play off of each other’s schedules and it works out that way.
Stephen, since you’ve traveled so much, where is the last big trip you took that meant something to you in any kind of way?
S: I guess Houston. We do an annual guys trip. There was 20 of us that went down to Houston this last time. There is a lot of great food down there. Besides the boils there I’m crazy about the Vietnamese noodles. They have a lot of Vietnamese people down there.
From a business perspective, what is it like to open a restaurant that is part of a cuisine on the up-trend in Boston?
S: I feel that there is both potential and there is struggle. The struggle is actually getting more people to realize this type of cuisine and being accepting of it and making it more of an everyday thing or something that instead of thinking, oh let’s go for pizza, let’s go for the boil. But the potential is that there isn’t much competition. There are a couple other brands out there which I think is great because the more awareness there is about the cuisine, it builds momentum and makes people want to try. So it’s a great feeling to have that opportunity.
Photo Credit: @bostonbrunchguide via Instagram
When you’re not here and you have a rare moment alone what do you like to do?
C: Out if this space I love spending time with my family. We’re a big ice hockey family so my kids play ice hockey, I play ice hockey, I coach. I play in two leagues. I just came back from Montreal this past weekend because my kids had a tournament. I was a late bloomer, I started playing when I was 15. Now I’m on the ice almost every day.
S: I like hanging out with friends. We all love sports. I didn’t play hockey, but I played basketball in high school, but just hanging out with friends, we like going to the Patriots games going to basketball games. I just like relaxing and spending time with friends.
Describe Bootleg Special in three words
S: Wow. Fun. And comfortable.
C: We’re Bootleg, we’re special, and we’re delicious
Who is your biggest food icon/inspiration?
C: My inspiration is my grandfather. He cooked a lot in the restaurants and at home and I was his apprentice and he was my biggest influence.
S: I guess Chris would be. I grew up in restaurants so there are a lot of people that I have known cooking-wise, but as far as, Chris being my partner, I really admire the way he approaches each item, he takes a lot of time and detail in trying to perfect it.
What do you eat late night/early morning after a long shift?
S: If I’m late night here it would be garlic noodles, if I’m late night outside I like hot pot.
C: If I’m here I definitely like getting a big bowl of shrimp with Bootleg Sauce and fried rice, and if I’m at home definitely hot pot, I’m actually making hot pot tonight.
Photo Credit: Bootleg Special
What is your one go-to dish that you can make in your sleep? Who taught you to make it?
S: Steak. My mom.
C: Fried rice, and my father taught me that. I can just put that together anytime.
What is your favorite dish in Boston?…Not from your own place.
S: A Vietnamese noodle soup from Super 88 in Allston.
C: That’s hard to say. I mean, lately I’ve been going to Flatbread, it’s wood-fired oven pizza and the dough and the flour that they use is whole grain and so I feel good eating it. Any time I get a chance to eat it I’ll get it.
Are there any foods you hate?
S: Well I actually always tell new people that I meet that there are so many foods I love, but I can’t name anything that I really hate. I can’t say that I would hate anything.
C: I’m the exact same way. I eat eeeeevrything. I appreciate all food. From fast food to sophisticated fine dining, it doesn’t matter, I love it. I’ll go anywhere and eat anything. I don’t hate anything.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with me?
C: We hope for all our guests that come in and try our restaurant and try our food that they enjoy it and that they know that there’s a lot of love that was put into it and we really appreciate them coming to try us.
Can you tell we’re excited? We can hardly contain ourselves as the beginning of tour season approaches. Our walking neighborhood food tours officially begin on Friday, March 15th kicking off with our Chinatown’s Culture & Cuisine Tour. Join us for an afternoon of food and fun as we adventure through some of Boston’s most unique neighborhoods and sample some of the best local bites and sips. You’ll learn about the history, culture, and food that makes each neighborhood special from your awesome tour guide as they tell you all the fun and interesting stories. If you’ve never taken a walking food tour, it’s a great way to get outside, learn, and EAT!
This is our flagship tour that will take you through the quaint red brick-paved streets of the South End neighborhood in Boston while learning about the area’s rich history and tasting some of its best bites. You’ll weave through the neighborhood with a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide and make stops at six local eateries to taste both sweet and savory items that we have carefully selected for you. The South End boasts an impressive collection of Victorian Era architecture including the largest collection of Victorian-style row houses in the country. This tour is full of fascinating history that is told in a fun and conversational way by your tour guide. The food will have you craving another visit to each place, and we hope that you go back and pay them a visit. The selection of restaurants will allow you to taste cuisines from all different cultures and from both new and classic Boston spots. Join us for an afternoon of food and fun in the South End!
This tour takes you through one of Boston’s most underrated neighborhoods. Allston is jam-packed with amazing food, art, and culture, which you’ll see by visiting the multiple murals that fill the walls and sides of buildings in the neighborhood, giving it the eclectic character it is known for. You’ll visit a wide array of eateries where you’ll taste everything from classic Korean food, to fusion foods, to grilled cheese, and vegan ice cream. Allston may be known for it’s college-y reputation as it’s the hub of where students reside, but tucked into its streets are artwork and flavors that you don’t want to miss. Let one of our awesome tour guides show you around this neighborhood and find out what makes Allston so unique!
This is our newest tour to date, which we launched last year and we’re still so excited about it! This tour will navigate you through the tiny, packed streets of Boston’s Chinatown where you’ll make stops for food, sweets, and drinks at six different locations. You really feel the hustle and bustle of the city in this neighborhood as Chinatown boarders Boston’s downtown. Packed into such a small area is a huge amount of history. You’ll learn how Chinatown started, the obstacles it faced and is facing, and how it has grown into the richly cultured community it is today. Food-wise you’ll taste traditional Chinese items, traditional Chinese-American items, and new creations invented by the next generation of Chinese-American chefs. You’ll also learn the technique to eating our favorite kind of dumpling, while eating them of course. Can’t wait to see you there!
If you’d prefer to experience our neighborhood food tours with your own group we offer private group tours for groups big and small. Enjoy an afternoon in an intimate setting with your own personal tour guide with a customized itinerary where you’ll visit restaurants that suit your group’s needs. You’ll learn about all the same history and culture as on our public tours and taste delicious food and drink from some of our favorite local spots. We offer private tours in all three neighborhoods. Our private group tours are perfect for occasions such as: Corporate Events and Team-building Activities, Family Outings, Birthday Celebrations, Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties, Ladies’ Day Out, Wedding / Bridal Party Activities, Networking Events, and anything else you can think of. To learn more about our private group tours or to request one please fill out the request form, which can be found here.
You can find our full 2019 tour calendar here. We hope to see you on a tour this season!
We’re in our last push of winter (high fives all around) and while it may not be spring, it’s February and love is in the air. You could cozy up with your honey at home on the couch or spice things up and head out for a night of fun with a new activity. Date night (or day) doesn’t have to be all about fancy dinners and flowers. Boston has a ton of fun alternative date night options, so get out there and check them out.
Please note, date night also includes friend-dates, so if you’re living that single and free life, don’t feel left out, you’re still invited to the party! Also, if you’ve been waiting to ask someone out, stop waiting and invite them to do one of these awesome activities, you’ll look super thoughtful and creative. Win. Win. And if there’s food involved – Win. Win. Win.
For a romantically sophisticated evening take your date to Yvonne’s in Downtown Crossing. The atmosphere is dark and intimate and the food and drinks to-die-for. They have a bar/lounge area that looks like an old library where you can sip libations or have a full dinner. Whatever you decide the mood will definitely be set *wink*.
Any activity that involves food is always a fun way to spend the afternoon, especially on a date. No awkward napkins on lap and elbows off table. Take a casual walk around one of Boston’s neighborhoods that is rich with history and culture, and enjoy tastings along the way with your date. This is a unique date-day activity that you’ve got to try out!
Coolidge Corner Theater is iconic in the Brookline neighborhood. It’s the ideal spot for a casual yet cool date. They have been specializing in international, documentary, animated, and independent film for years. It’s not out of the ordinary to see a throwback film listed on the lineup outside. Around Halloween they hosted two showings of “Hocus Pocus” that filled up!
If you want to get a little creative for date night, literally, head to the Clayroom and spend the evening painting ceramics with your date. Maybe even paint something for them. This is another great casual date idea to take the pressure down a few notches and have some fun. It’s always easier to be yourself on a date when you are doing an activity so try it out.
For a truly romantic evening, dinner at the Top of the Hub in the Prudential Center is the place to go. The expansive view of the city from high up is sure to cause some heart flutters. While we usually say that fancy is not necessary for date night, we couldn’t leave this one off the list. Often times there is also live jazz music to set the mood.
This romantic haven is hidden by Northeastern University and a reprieve from the bustling city streets. This is a lovely spot for a date night or day. The museum is not huge so no worries about getting bored, just go for a nice, slow walk and enjoy the scenery without having to freeze outside!
Set romance afloat on the Charles River. Gondola di Venezia offers a variety of romantic tour packages on the Esplanade to woo your S.O. This is a unique experience for us North-easterners and we highly recommend checking it out; you’ll feel like you’re in Italy. And if you don’t we guarantee your points in the date department will sky rocket.
If you want to go with this classic aphrodisiac for date night why not have as many as possible? Boston offers a ton of one buck shuck spots throughout the week so you can get in the mood without breaking the bank. Check out this list for tons of options for dollar oysters in the city.
Sometimes it’s fun to go out on a goofy date and loosen up a bit. Candlepin bowling is perfect for this scenario! It’s basically bowling but with super thin pins and smaller bowling balls. Have a drink or two and everyone becomes good at bowling, or at least is under the illusion that they are. Brighton Bowl is an awesome place to do this because they are joined by The Flatbread Company, serving artisanal, mouthwatering flatbreads that are worth the trip alone.
Want to have a bit of a left-of-center date? Those are the kind of dates that we love! Have a romantic and bubbly evening in one of the private hot tubs at Inman Oasis. They have two to choose from and you can bring your own playlist. It gets hot and steamy in there (literally) so you won’t even have to try that hard to heat things up. You will feel sooo relaxed after. We actually just dozed off writing this blurb.
For a romantic night out in the warmer weather, head to Boston Common for a free Shakespeare performance. Bring a blanket and a picnic and enjoy the show. To eat or not to eat? Honestly, that is never a question. Go all out with the snacks, your date will be impressed with dinner and a show on the cheap!
Lamplighter is a hip brewery with lots of ideal happenings for a fun date night. Check out their event calendar to find something you fancy. Their events range from trivia night to calligraphy class to pierogi pop-ups. There’s really something for everyone. And when all else fails, which we hope it doesn’t, their beer is fantastic!
Let out your quirky side, which we can’t deny is in all of us, and take your date to Knight Moves, the board game cafe in Brookline. It’s all fun and games until someone’s a sore loser and throws all the pieces. Seriously though, board games are a blast and sometimes it’s nice to put the screens away and get a little old school.
Take your date to another era for some small plates and cocktails at Cuchi Cuchi. You’ll forget you’re in Boston and definitely think you were sent back to age of Old World Beauty and Early Hollywood. The decor is representative of that era and the staff is dressed to match as well. The space is an adventure and the menu will take you around the globe with its tapas selection. For a special date night definitely spend it here.
Feel like a movie night but want to be a little fancy? Take your date to the Showcase SuperLux Theatre in Chestnut Hill for a posh movie experience with cushy, reclining chairs, food and drinks delivered right to your seat, and the opportunity to order alcohol. Large popcorn and a cocktail alongside it? Now that’s our kind of movie!
One of the best ways to get to know someone is to cook with them. While this could be a make or break situation, it’s usually a great success. Learning together is fun and eating what you make is an even better reward. Shake up date night and sign up for one of the many cooking classes offered in Boston through Selfup. Who knows you might even be able to take your skills home to host the next date night in.
7. Omakase Menu
Photo Credit: Pabu
For a romantic and fun food adventure-type date head to one of Boston’s restaurants serving Omakase menus. Omakase is a Japanese term for a meal consisting of dishes selected for you by a chef, a tasting menu if you will, of sushi-like items. This is a very special, splurge experience for some but totally worth it if you want to impress your date and have an intimate meal where you can really take your time and enjoy. A couple of great places with Omakase menus are Pabu and Uni.