Boston’s restaurant scene is vast and varied, innovative yet traditional. Despite the range of dining options available, some eateries have a well-earned reputation for delighting diners again and again. From fine dining to diner fare, be sure to check out these 15 iconic Boston restaurants (not ranked in order) at least once during your lifetime. You won’t be sorry!
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Neptune Oyster (North End)
The quality of the seafood at this charming Boston institution more than justifies the wait (and there will be a wait). The oysters are as delicious as you’d expect from a raw bar, but the lobster rolls steal the show – try them with hot butter, or cold with mayo.
Address: 63 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113
2. The Table at Season to Taste (Cambridge)
This tiny restaurant can only accommodate 20 people at a time. However, those lucky few are treated to a four-course tasting menu prepared using French techniques, but diverse ingredients. Chef Carl Dooley (of "Top Chef" fame) has created an intimate, fine dining experience that is sure to wow you.
Address: 2447 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
3. Warren Tavern (Charlestown)
You’ll be treading in famous footsteps when you enter the historic Warren Tavern. Frequented by George Washington, it was also one of Paul Revere’s favorite haunts. Today it’s known for burgers like the Tavern Burger, which is topped with boursin cheese and honey Dijon, and for its fish and chips.
Address: 2 Pleasant Street, Charlestown, MA 02129
4. Top of the Hub (Back Bay)
For unbeatable city views, you have to check out Top of the Hub. If you’re not already in love with Boston, you will be after seeing it from an aerial perspective. While there are superior fine dining restaurants in the city, none of them offer this unique experience. Good steaks and desserts.
800 Boylston Street, Floor 52, Boston, MA 02199
5. Mike’s City Diner (South End)
Come hungry, and leave with a muffin top and no regrets! The corned beef hash here is legendary, the duck confit hash innovative, and the Pilgrim sandwich is beloved by folks at Food Network. The lines here move fast. Cash only.
Address: 1714 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118
6. Tip Tap Room (Beacon Hill)
This gastropub dishes up hearty yet original dishes like boar meatballs, along with some of the best steak tips you’ll ever devour. Pair your food with one (or more) of the beers on tap – the selection goes on for days.
Address: 138 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114
7. Union Oyster House (Downtown - Government Center)
It’s almost mandatory to eat at the oldest restaurant in the U.S., which has been feeding folks since 1826. Of course, this landmark is overflowing with tourists but the clam chowder and oysters make this historical dining experience one to remember.
Address: 41 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108
8. No. 9 Park (Beacon Hill)
Inside this innocuous townhouse, you’ll find stellar French and Italian fare. In addition to the regular menu, No. 9 Park offers a six-course chef’s tasting menu. The restaurant’s wine program has won a James Beard Award – far from the only award this institution has received.
Address: 9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108
9. Myers and Chang (South End)
Chinese, Thai, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese flavors combine on this restaurant’s menu, which is heavy on small plates, banh mi, and vegetarian options. Be sure to check out the Dim Sum brunch, where the pork belly bao (pictured) is always a big hit.
Address: 1145 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118
10. Parker’s Restaurant (Downtown)
Another must-do restaurant is Parker House, tucked inside the Omni Parker House Hotel. This is where Boston cream pie was invented, where Charles Dickens hung out, and where JFK asked Jackie to marry him. Go for weekend brunch or lunch (which is a smidge less pricey) and be sure to sample the restaurant’s deservedly famous signature dessert.
Address: 60 School Street, Boston, MA 02108
11. Giacomo’s (North End, Back Bay, Melrose)
For Italian comfort food, you can’t beat the fresh pasta and seafood served here. The marsala dishes are also to die for. The adage: "all good things come to those who wait" definitely applies to Giacomo’s.
North End Address: 355 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113 (Cash only)
Back Bay Address: 431 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA 02116 (Cash only)
Melrose Address: 454 Main Street, Melrose, MA 02176
12. O Ya (South Boston)
At this fine dining Japanese restaurant the food tastes as good as it looks – and it looks incredible. This place has a reputation as one of the best sushi restaurants in the entire country.
Address: 9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111
13. The Daily Catch (North End, Brookline, Seaport)
The Daily Catch is THE place to go for fried calamari and squid ink pasta. The lobster fra diavolo is another menu standout. The Hanover Street location has been a North End fixture since 1973, but subsequently two more locations have opened.
North End address: 323 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113
Brookline address: 441 Harvard Street, Brookline, Norfolk, MA 02446
Seaport address: 2 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210
14. Regina Pizza (North End)
Although Regina Pizza joints seem to be opening at a dizzying rate, head to the original location, which has been crafting brick oven pizza since 1926 . Once you work your way to the front of the loooong line, try the Giambotta – it’s loaded with three pounds worth of toppings!
Address: 11 1/2 Thacher Street, Boston, MA 02113
15. Island Creek Oyster Bar (Fenway-Kenmore, Burlington)
The super fresh oysters and the signature lobster roe noodles at Island Creek are heavenly. This American seafood restaurant gives Neptune Oyster a run for its money. Definitely add it to your to-dine list!
Address: 500 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
Address: 300 District Avenue, Burlington , MA 01803
How many of these restaurants have you visited? Which other Boston institutions are on your dining bucket list?