What are the five best Boston food experiences?

Answers from Our Experts (3)

Perhaps like no other city, Boston has a wealth of independent, owner-operated restaurants with loads of character and unique, appealing cuisine. What’s more, the city’s proximity to some of the nation’s best seafood means that just about every restaurant you choose will give you a chance to sample something that’s dayboat fresh. Here are five must-have food experiences:

1. Fresh oysters. You’re not going to come all the way to New England without gorging on fresh-from-the-ocean seafood, are you? Of course not, which is why you’ll want to plan to stop at any one of the great oyster bars around the city, from the historic Union Oyster House to the North End’s Neptune Oyster and the South End’s B&G Oysters. (Don’t even think about ordering a West Coast variety; you’ll want to slurp bivalves that
hail from Duxbury, Wellfleet or any of the communities around Cape Cod instead.) And while we’re on the topic of seafood,

2. Dive into a lobster roll. The debate on where to find the best lobster roll is an age-old one, but good bets are Barbara Lynch’s version at B&G, Jasper White’s at his family-friendly Summer Shack or Legal Sea Foods’ perennial favorite, served at any of the dozens of locations around the city (including at Logan’s Terminal C, in case you want to throw back one more before taking off).

3. Authentic Italian Food. Stepping into Boston’s North End is like stepping into Italy, with mouthwatering restaurants on every corner. Try out pasta hotspots Mamma Maria’s, Piccolo Nido or Lucia. You’ll probably be craving cannoli afterward, so head over to Mike’s Pastry to complete your tour of the North End.

4. Cutting-edge cuisine. The restaurant scene in Boston may be small, but it’s flooded with innovative chefs and cuisine. From Michael Schlow’s inspired Italian cuisine at Via Matta to Frank McClelland’s French fare at Four-Star L’Espalier, there’s a wide variety of food to be had in the coastal town. Also, don’t miss the sophisticated, precise Japanese dishes prepared by chef Ken Oringer at his sashimi bar Uni or his Asian-inspired French fare offered in the adjacent fine dining room Four-Star Clio.

5. Fenway Frank. Lastly, no Boston trip is complete without a visit to its beloved ballpark and a taste of one of its franks. However, you’ll be out of luck if you come when the Red Sox are out of town or off-season. You’ll just have to make the return trip when the Boys of Summer are back.

1. O Ya. One of the most interesting food experiences in Boston is set in a small, intimate atmosphere. Sit back and enjoy Japanese dishes that also showcase New England influences such as grilled lobster with shiso tempura, seared foie gras nigiri in aged sake, and fried Kumamoto oysters with yuzu aioli and squid-ink bubbles.

2. Menton. The art of fine dining is alive and well at this Fort Point restaurant whose glamorous setting, beautifully executed cuisine and unparalleled wine program arrive in a carefully choreographed presentation.

3. B&G Oyster. A modern take on the oyster bar serving more than 12 different types of East and West oysters, this subterranean South End favorite houses an open kitchen surrounded by a white marble bar, plus an intimate outdoor patio during the warm weather months.

4. Oleana. Inventive and mouthwatering dishes include the chickpea crêpe with smoked cinnamon aioli and the lamb steak with Turkish spices and fava bean moussaka. After dinner, homemade ice creams infused with an Eastern Mediterranean sensibility, such as cocoa-rose ice cream with a date-rose truffle, or salted butter ice cream with a pumpkin-brown butter crêpe, finish off the meal. In warm weather months the patio is a welcome setting, while in the winter the fireplace and cozy indoor setting is warm and welcoming.

5. Craigie on Main. Nationally acclaimed chef Tony Maws combines French-inspired “refined rusticity” with an unyielding passion for the best local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. The à la carte and tasting menus change daily, depending on which ingredients are the very best that day. The open kitchen and quirky spirit provide a welcome spot for all times of day.

Jonathan Nicholson

The five best Boston food experiences are Mistral, No. 9 Park, O Ya, Pigalle and T.W. Foods (in Cambridge).

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