After living in Boston for two and a half years, it dawned on me that I’ve gone to my fair share of restaurants, bars, and cafes. But more than that, I have been able to locate the best signature dishes and drinks from local restaurants. So whether you’re living in Boston and are looking to try something new, or are just visiting for the weekend, I present you with a list of some of my favorite places, sure to satisfy any palate.
Oakleaf Cakes Bake Shop: South End
While they are best known for their award winning cakes, Oakleaf Cakes Bake Shop also doubles as a quaint café, located right next to Symphony Hall. Enjoy their wide selection of their fresh baked goods, or sit and stare at them for 45 minutes like me, unable to pick because they all look so tasty.
Top Pick: Hazelnut Latte
You might be thinking - what’s the big deal about this latte? This isn’t just a hazelnut latte, this is a -Christmas cookie in a cup- latte. I have ordered this same drink several times, made by different baristas at Oakleaf, and each time I am blessed with this year round holiday treat. This hazelnut latte (or cup of literal joy) is best enjoyed on a Monday morning.
Magnificent Muffins and Bagels: Teele Square, Somerville
Magnificent Muffins and Bagels, also known as Mag Muff for short, has been around for over 20 years and unlocked the secret to the most delicious breakfast sandwich.
Top Pick: Bacon (or Sausage), Egg & Cheese Sandwich
I cannot hype these egg sammies enough. The bagels are fresh, savory and sweet, and easily on par with NYC bagels. The combination of ingredients and glorious flavors will cure any weekend hangover and brighten any weekday morning.
Pro tips: cash only, only open from 6 AM to noon (everyday), and more of a grab and go styled location. Their coffee does not compare to their sandwiches, so do yourself a favor and make a pot at home while you enjoy the sandwich and catch up on SNL, Parks & Rec, or your go-to guilty pleasure.
Cafeteria: Back Bay
If you read the name of this restaurant and also had a flashback to your high school cafeteria, then you’re not alone. But no need to worry because the days of grade school mystery meat are over. Cafeteria is a modern and hip restaurant located in the heart of Back Bay on Newbury Street.
Top Pick: Truffle Fries
These richly flavored, crispy fries work perfectly as an appetizer or as a snack to compliment Cafeteria’s incredible cocktails.
Pro tip: if you’re dining with more than two people get another order of these fries - because sharing isn’t always caring.
Lolitas: Back Bay
Lolita describes their ambiance on their website as: bold, rustic, and vibrant. I describe it as: Halloween all year long. Between the goth decor and low lighting, it’s a nice change from the numerous Irish pubs and sports bars surrounding it in the Back Bay area.
Top Pick: Mojito
While bars in Boston do not serve doubles by ordering standards, they sure taste like it. The upside is that every drink is well worth the $8-$12 you spend on it - the downside is that they taste like you’re drinking mostly alcohol with a little mixer. So for those of us who don’t want it to be quite so apparent, the mojito is the drink for you. I recommend the traditional or strawberry basil flavor - either will knock your socks off.
Bonus points: When you go there for dinner, you receive a temporary tattoo with their logo. And yes, adults love temporary tattoos just as much as we did when we were 8.
Pizza Rail: Brighton
Formerly known as Fast Eddie’s, Pizza Rail serves your typical pizza, wings, the works. Located in Brighton, it’s a great location for BU and BC students.
Top Pick: Cheese Pizza
As a born and raised New Yorker, I have to say that Boston does not do pizza justice. If you only wanted thin crust, artisan pizza, then you’re in the right place. But the truest test of pizza is a plain cheese slice. Pizza Rail absolutely nailed the ratio of thick crust, non-acidic sauce, plentiful amount of cheese, and just a perfect hint of grease for flavor. I have done my fair share of research on this topic, and trust me, this is the closest to NY style pizza you can get.
Five Horses Tavern: South End/Somerville
Two locations means double the opportunity to visit! Five Horses Tavern has a wide selection of local and world-renowned craft beer in addition to their classy comfort food menu with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options! The chandelier made of beer tap-handles is one of the coolest decor features and deserves honorable mention.
Top Pick: Appetizers
While most of this list has been a specific dish or drink, I truthfully could not choose ONLY one appetizer from Five Horses. So my top choices would have to be the Tater Tots, Cast Iron Corn Bread, and Haus Made Pretzel. Each one is better than the next, so do yourself a favor and go with a large party so you can get as many apps as possible and sample them all.
Mad Monkfish: Cambridge
Formerly known as Thelonious Monkfish, this sushi restaurant in the heart of Central Square has an incredible vibe. Not only do they serve a huge assortment of sushi and signature cocktails, but they also have live jazz music Thursday through Saturday night. How cool is that?
Top Pick: Sushi
While I’m not a huge fan of fish, I can say with confidence that their vegetarian rolls are delectable, and those I’ve gone with who eat the actual sushi, give it 10/10. There is something so innovative and nontraditional about having jazz music + sushi together, yet it feels so right. There is an element of class and sophistication in the air, yet relaxed and laid back. After having such a stimulating and entertaining meal out, it can be difficult to eat out elsewhere with a subpar playlist in the background. Luckily there’s always good company to make up for it!
I hope you enjoy this list and find some new places to enjoy! I plan on expanding this list in another blog post in a few months. If you have any recommendations or suggestions for the list please reach out to me, I would love to hear them!