Boston is a city often described as old-school, traditionalist—puritanical, even. But Beantown’s hospitality insiders want you to know there’s much more forward-thinking food and drink here than the city gets credit for. Whether you’re craving pristine fish in a gorgeous plate of sashimi (or in a South American–style ceviche), searching for the perfect burger, or seeking out an excellent loaf of naturally leavened bread, you’ll find it in Boston.
An elevated drinking scene has exploded in recent years, too, featuring frozen craft tiki drinks, natural rosé served in a self-described feminist wine bar, and pre-Prohibition-era drinks remixed by cocktail nerds—it’s all here. And to accompany those sips, Boston has its share of unique late-night eats. Choose between savory duck tongues in Chinatown and crunchy, cheesy cabbage-topped nachos in Cambridge, then wake up (late) the next morning and start your day off with brunch at a modern Jewish deli, or an industry-wide chicken-and-waffles party where everyone (well, everyone who can ditch work on a Monday at noon) is invited.
To round up some of Boston’s best spots to eat and drink—both on and off the beaten path—we asked some of its best chefs what a visitor absolutely has to eat in their city. Do you know how many said clam chowder? Lobster rolls? Baked beans? Zip, zero, nada. But Trinidadian doubles and anadama English muffins? Those got them excited.
We talked to tastemakers from a spread of neighborhoods, with a range of specialties: Douglass Williams, chef-owner of Mida; Irene Li, chef-owner of Mei Mei; Jeremy Sewall, chef-owner of Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34; Tiffani Faison, chef-owner of Sweet Cheeks Q, Tiger Mama, Orfano, and Fool’s Errand; Josh Lewin, chef-owner of Juliet and Peregrine; and sommelier-owner Lauren Friel of Rebel Rebel wine bar.
Here’s their expert take on where to eat and drink in Boston right now.