Please enjoy this list of dining options in the Greater Boston area, carefully curated by the Local Arrangements Chair, Merry “Corky” White.
BOSTON and its neighbors: Restaurants and Refreshments
Boston has become a culinary gazetteer. It wasn’t always this way. In the early post-WWII years, as the saying went, “only ethnics ate ethnic.” Stereotypically, Irish ate boiled things, while Italians ate “gravy” (local Italian-American for “red sauce”). By the 1960s, things began to change as people “daringly” crossed into the enclaves of others to sample “exotic” foods. Chinatown, long a secret dive-destination for Boston Brahmins and flappers and lounge lizards, was now a zone of exploration for those who wanted to expand their culinary repertories. Now it is East Boston for Honduran, Salvadoran, Colombian, and many other foods; Dorchester for Vietnamese food; Watertown for Armenian foods; and Jamaica Plain for just about anything. Korean? Go to Allston-Brighton. Tibetan and South Asian, ditto. Below is a list, rather accidentally assembled, of places you might try, organized roughly by type of food, and with a range of price and ambience. Some might need reservations.
Within Chinatown there are many good places to eat. Formerly almost all Cantonese, today’s restaurants include Hunanese, Szechuan, Malaysian, and Chinese-Vietnamese, among others.
Hei La Moon: https://heilamoon.com/
Taiwan Café: https://ordertaiwancafe.com/
Windsor Café: 10 Tyler Street, Boston
China Pearl (temporarily closed)
Peach Farm: 4 Tyler Street, Boston
Penang (Malay-Chinese): 685 Washington Street, Boston
Very good food tours of Chinatown are offered by Jacqueline Church and you may sign up for them here: https://www.jacquelinechurch.com/
Sumiao Hunan: near Kendall Square, Cambridge; https://www.sumiaohunan.com/
Mu Lan: near Kendall Square, Cambridge; https://mulantaiwancambridge.com/
Myers and Chang: 1145 Washington Street, Boston; https://www.myersandchang.com/
There’s no specific geography to Japanese restaurants in the Boston area, but the following are worth a walk or a subway ride.
Café Sushi: on Mass Ave near Harvard Square, where Seiji Imura (chef-owner) and brother Kenji make Boston’s absolutely best sushi. Don’t look for fried things or cream cheese and lox in these sushi. May be only take-out at this time. https://cafesushishoten.com/
Sushi Kappo Toraya: Arlington Center; https://www.toraya-arlington.com/
Ganko Ittetsu: great ramen at Coolidge Corner, Brookline
Futago Udon: Park Drive, Back Bay, near Boston University; https://www.instagram.com/futago_udon/?hl=en
Santouka Ramen: in the Back Bay and in Harvard Square
Yume wo Katare: pork tonkotsu ramen; 1923 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
Yume ga aru kara: 1815 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
Sapporo Ramen: also at 1815 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
Blue Ribbon Sushi: www.blueribbonsushiskenmore.com
Tsuru Ton Tan: udon place; https://www.tsurutontan.com/boston
Mochi Dough: one of a trend towards “mochi donuts,” 279 Newbury Street, Boston; https://www.mochidoughusa.com
Ogawa Coffee: first American branch of a Kyoto coffeehouse, 10 Milk Street, Boston; https://www.ogawacoffeeusa.com
Mae’s Asian Eatery: Main Street, Cambridge, near Central Square; https://www.maeae.com/. After your meal at Mae’s, go to Toscanini’s at 899 Main Street for ice cream; https://www.tosci.com/location/899-main-street/
Daksen: Thai Street Food, Davis Square, Somerville; http://www.dakzen.net/menu/
Chalawan: Balinese, Malaysian, Singaporean, and more, near Porter Square; https://thechalawan.com/
Mahaniyom: Thai cocktails and shared plates, Brookline; https://www.mahaniyomboston.com/
H-Mart’s food court: 581 Massachusetts Avenue, Central Square, Cambridge
Koreana: Cambridge Street, Cambridge, near Central Square
A vast number of Korean restaurants are in Boston’s version of K-town, Allston-Brighton; there are some in this site that you might try: https://spoonuniversity.com/place/korean-restaurants-to-try-in-boston
Pho Pasteur (in Chinatown): “best sugar-cane shrimp in town by a country mile” says a Vietnamese friend; 682 Washington Street, Boston; http://phopasteurboston.net/
Vietnamese in Dorchester and a Cambodian restaurant in Lowell:
Most of these are along Dorchester Avenue and the walk down “Dot Ave,” as it is locally called, will also take you into marvelous Vietnamese supermarkets.
Banh Mi Ba Le: for the best banh mi ever, and very good Vietnamese coffee; 1052 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester; http://balebanhmiboston.com/
Ban Toi: very different menu from the norm; 1035 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester
Anh Hong: a seven-course beef meal, with really good salads as well; 291 Adams Street, Dorchester; http://www.anhhongboston.com/
Pho Hoa: Hue style spicy soups, very good Bun Bu Cha and good Pho; 1370 Dorchester Avenue; https://www.phohoarestaurant.com/
Simply Khmer, in Lowell, where there is a large Cambodian population — and so worth a 45-minute drive (on a good traffic day). The best Khmer food, including amok, a coconutty fish steamed in banana leaves, and many many wonderful things. https://www.simplykhmer.co/
Punjabi Dhaba: 225 Hampshire, Inman Square, Cambridge; https://punjabidhaba.co/
Himalayan Bistro: Nepali, Indian; 1735 Centre Street, West Roxbury; https://www.himalayanbistro.net/Default.aspx
Mehak: 329 Sumner Street, East Boston; https://mehaksouthriding.com/
THE POKE BOOM
It’s quite extraordinary really. What spurred it? Poke bowls fill two trendy categories — raw fish (which extends to Nikkei Peruvian ceviche and tiradito), and bowl cuisine, which has often the word “healthy” in front of it and often it is lined with whole-grain sustenance topped with a variety of choose-them-yourself ingredients. Very popular among students. But it’s not your tutu’s poke.
Manoa: 300 Beacon Street, Somerville; https://manoa.fish/
Poke City: 63 Broad Street, Boston; https://poke-city.com/,
Yoki: 53 Boston Wharf Road, Boston; https://www.yokiexpress.com/
Mexican, which around here tends towards tacos. There are several spots in East Boston. Here’s a link to some of them: http://www.bdcwire.com/east-of-the-border-a-taco-tour-of-east-boston/
Lone Star: Cambridge Street, East Cambridge; https://lonestar-boston.com/locations/cambridge-taco-bar/
Taco Loco: East Broadway, Somerville; https://tacolocorestaurant.com/
Tacqueria Jalisco; Day Square, East Boston; https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063858660654
La Brasa: excellent innovative Mexican, open grill, great chef Daniel Bojorquez, raised in Sonora, master of flavor; Broadway East Somerville; https://www.labrasasomerville.com/. On the same premises you’ll also find Fat Hen: curated Italian, fun and delicious, small.
MIDDLE-EASTERN AND NORTH AFRICAN
Oleana: Ana Sortun’s star turn, in Cambridge and cannot be beat. MUST reserve ahead. Many of us think this the best restaurant in the area; 134 Hampshire Street; https://www.oleanarestaurant.com/ Also hers is Sofra: worth a short bike ride out to corner of Belmont and Mt. Auburn Streets near Watertown. A deli-with-seating with flavorful foods for breakfast and lunch. There the Middle-Eastern-Turkish dishes are made with taste and finesse and there’s sunny outdoor seating when there’s sun outdoors. Yotam Ottolenghi loves Sortun’s food in all locations. https://www.sofrabakery.com/
Sarma: related to Ana Sortun as well, in trendy Somerville – all small plates and surprises appear at the table in a kind of walking smorgasbord; https://www.sarmarestaurant.com/
Helmand: Afghan food, excellent wood-fired breads; First Street, East Cambridge;
https://www.helmandrestaurant.com/. Next to a Toscanini’s Ice Cream, always open til 11pm. https://www.tosci.com/location/tosci/
Moona: good couscous and other North African dishes, in Inman Square; https://www.moonarestaurant.com/
Boston is Italian of course: Not to avoid the Freedom Trail, which meanders through the North End, but what you do in the North End is eat. The area is branded “Italian,” even though fewer than 30% of current residents have Italian ancestry, and those who came in the big migrations (1880-1930) didn’t identify as “Italian” – but rather as paesani from Schiacca, from Palermo, from Caserta, from Abruzzo … Warning: everyone seems to think you should get your pastries at Mike’s Pastries. Everyone who thinks so is just wrong. Bricco bakery, or Modern Pastry, please.
Artu: Prince Street; http://artuboston.com/
Antico Forno: Salem Street
Café Paradiso: excellent espresso and get a handful of cantuccini, tiny biscotti. In the morning get a warm cornetto. Hanover Street; http://www.caffeparadisoboston.com/
Bar Mezzana: simple, perfect Italian handmade pasta; 360 Harrison Avenue; https://www.barmezzana.com/
SRV: food from Venice in small plates; South End; http://www.srvboston.com/
A VERY Boston category. If you want to start a fight, tell a Bostonian the pizza he’s eating is no good, or “inauthentic”…
Galleria Umberto: get the square-cut Sicilian pizza, it’s almost all there is, no choices of toppings, etc. And maybe an arancino or two. Get in line by about 11:30am. When they run out, they’re done. 289 Hanover Street
Gran Gusto: they have other nice things too, like lemon risotto; 90 Sherman Street, North Cambridge; https://www.grangustocambridge.com/
Santarpio’s: What most people know about East Boston but there’s more, much more; 111 Chelsea Street, Boston; https://www.santarpiospizza.com/
Pizza Regina: the North End one; http://www.pizzeriaregina.com/
Si, Cara: great woodfired pizza; 425 Massachusetts Avenue, Central Square, Cambridge; https://www.sicarapizza.com/
T&B Pizza: quite wonderful; Union Square, Somerville; https://tbpizza.com/#menu
And now, Frank Pepe’s from New Haven: 199 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill
ECLECTIC AND VARIOUS
Asta: a favorite, wonderful creative, prix-fixe food by Alex Crabbe, on Massachusetts Avenue about three blocks from the Charles River. http://www.astaboston.com/
Yafa: Palestinian bakery-café. Abdullah will treat you royally with warm items from the oven or jewel-like stuffed dates. First he’ll give you a welcome tiny drink: a perfect chai or an amazing lemon-lime-mint drink, depending on the weather. 594 Somerville Ave, Somerville, near Union Square.
La Saison: near Fresh Pond, excellent coffees and French-Persian pastries, and wonderful breads; 407 Concord Ave, Cambridge; https://www.lasaison-bakery.com/
Faialense Sport Club: Friday evenings only. Portuguese fish dinners, cheap and friendly, eat at long trestle tables in a big church-basement-like hall. Enter on Cambridge Street where the door says “members only,” take a right hand door inside into the hall. Menu in Portuguese, you’ll be fine. 1121 Cambridge Street, Inman Square, Cambridge
Juliet: breakfasts are truly great. Dinners very nice indeed. Josh Lewin chef also manages his other restaurant, Peregrine. Union Square, Somerville; https://www.julietsomerville.com/
Little Donkey: Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette, very clever and good food, some surprisingly simple. Noisy after 6″30 but still good. Mass Avenue, Central Square; http://www.littledonkeybos.com/
Mamaleh: excellent Jewish deli food with light touches – all smoked and charcuterie items made right there. LOVE the thin rye toasts with whipped schmaltz and lightly pickled shreds of onion. Among other things, they also do cocktails really well. Locations in Cambridge and Brookline. https://mamalehs.com/
Smoke Shop: excellent burnt ends and lots of other good things, pulled pork too. Amazing Korean-style fried chicken sandwich and good house made pickles; 25 Hampshire Street, Cambridge; https://thesmokeshopbbq.com/
Clover: locations all over, I love the chickpea fritter (falafel to some) sandwich — great tahini sauce. Vegetarian. https://www.cloverfoodlab.com/
Celeste and its sister restaurant, La Royal: Peruvian food and great pisco drinks. Celeste is in Union Square Somerville, La Royal is in Huron Village, Cambridge. https://celesteunionsquare.com/
La Bodega: Uruguayan food, wonderful setting in elegant old railroad dining car; Watertown; https://www.labodegabysalts.com/
Rincon Limeno: old-school Peruvian food, before the nuevo Andean started taking off. And get their alfajores in place of dessert … 409 Chelsea Street, East Boston in Day Square; https://www.rinconlimeno.com/index.html
Pescador: seafood from coasts “from Andalusia to Argentina,” Kenmore Square; https://www.pescadorkenmore.com/
Porto: Mediterranean seafood, right there near the conference hotel; https://porto-boston.com/
NON-RESTAURANTS BUT GOOD FOOD STOPS
Eataly in the Prudential complex: on a rainy day, almost empty, I had nice things, nicely served: burrata from Campania, EVOO, Italian sea salt, speck from Alto-Adige, radishes in a bagna cauda sauce.
Salumeria Italiana: wonderful imported Italian everything; on Richmond Street, North End
Bricco: Italian bread and deli, also a restaurant, on “Bricco Way” off Hanover Street, North End
Formaggio: best cheeses and a wonderful spread of hard-to-find food items from everywhere; Huron Avenue and Kendall Square areas, Cambridge; South End, Boston
Maruichi: excellent Japanese markets; locations in Coolidge Corner and in Arlington Heights
Sevan, Arax, and Massis: three superior Armenian grocers and bakers, Mt. Auburn Street, Watertown. It’s a haven for hummous, baba ghanouj, fresh pita, tons of olives and pickles and especially at Sevan, extraordinary prepared foods such as “imam bayeldi” — eggplant baked with tomatoes and other things — called “the priest fainted” as he did, either from his fear that his wife had paupered him by using so much olive oil, or from the sheer deliciousness of her work.
Dorchester has at least three fabulous Vietnamese supermarkets: Phu Cuong, Phu Thinh, and Truong Thinh. Browse hungrily.