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The Boston dining scene is expansive, with, quite literally, something to satisfy every taste and budget. So where to begin on your quest to explore the city's restaurants? Narrowing it down by neighborhood will help.
• South End. If you're looking for trendy restaurants with eclectic menus, designer decor and low lighting, you'll find them in the South End. The neighborhood is home to some of the city's hottest restaurants, including Toro, Coppa, The Beehive, B&G Oysters, The Butcher Shop, Cinquecento and more. If you're dining in this 'hood, be sure to make a reservation. It's not uncommon for walk-ins to wait an hour or more.
• North End. This historic, character-laiden neighborhood is the stuff postcards are made of. Tucked along the cobblestone streets and brick rowhouses, you'll find some of the city's most romantic restaurants, 99 percent of which will be Italian (the North End is Boston's answer to Little Italy), and small.
• Seaport/Fort Point. In the city's newest "it" neighborhood, you'll find restaurants that are bright, shiny and new. What Seaport restaurants lack in typical Boston charm, though, it make up for in cutting-edge menus, harbor views and rooftop bars. Legal Harborside, Drink, Blue Dragon and Morton's Steakhouse are all popular destinations.
• Back Bay/Kenmore. These neighborhoods, known for shopping and Fenway Park, respectively, are also home to some of the cornerstone restaurants in the city's dining scene. Places like Stephanie's, Sonsie, and Eastern Standard are perennially packed.
Boston's restaurant scene is a hodge-podge of flavors. You'll find lobster shacks on the same street as five-star restaurants, and food trucks in front of historic brownstones. The best way to organize Boston's dining scene is by neighborhood:
North End: Otherwise known as Little Italy, Boston's North End is packed with Italian restaurants, bars and cafes. Come here for everything from traditional chicken parmesean to creative Sicilian dishes and more eclectic Italian dishes and wine pairings. Our advice: skip dessert at the restaurant and head to one of the neighborhood's local cafes for pastries and after-dinner drinks or coffee.
South End: The South End is where you'll find the "up-and-coming" restaurants. It's where the newer restaurants are opening, and where many celebrity chefs call home. There's no set food theme or region happening here. Check out the South End restaurants if you're looking for something new and interesting, untraditional or with a celeb-twist.
Back Bay: The trendy Back Bay neighborhood is home to hundreds of restaurants, ranging from seafood and steak houses to sports bars and local pubs. Come here for the safe bets and crowd-pleasing menus for various palettes.
Downtown/Faneuil Hall: If you're looking for the best lobster rolls, clam shacks, fried seafood platters and grab-and-go fare, the Downtown and Faneuil Hall area is where you'll find the restaurants and cafes that suit best. During the weekdays, the Downtown restaurants are run over by busy business people on limited lunch breaks and on the weekends, Faneuil Hall sees the bulk of tourists crowding the dining spots.