Monday, April 09, 2007

Boston's South End Restaurants

Boston's South End was our home for many wonderful years and, although we relocated just over a year ago, the South End will always hold a place in our hearts - and stomachs. We especially loved the many restaurants of the South End that were available just a short walk away. To be honest, many of the restaurants in this neighborhood are certainly NOT cheap eats these days, so we'd try to only go out on special occasions... but it was always nice to know they were there! Lots and lots of people are coming to Boston this upcoming weekend for the Boston Marathon, and the South End is perfect for a visit - just south of Boylston Street, which is the main finish line area - so we thought we'd help out with our own little guided tour!

Here is a quick Boston primer - the major neighborhoods of Boston Proper (not including Roxbury, East Boston, or Dorchester in this pic):

  • North End - Great Italian Restaurants! Old North Church! Pizzeria Regina is a must for a big, flat, crispy, brick-oven-cooked pizza...
  • Back Bay - Newbury Street shopping - and the bistros - are the place to see-and-be-seen in Boston. Tapeo on Newbury is GREAT for tapas... but we usually end up in the bars and steakhouses on Boylston Street!
  • Beacon Hill - this beautiful old section is the home to the Capital and all the government buildings... Sevens for home-brewed beer, Grotto for a romantic Italian dinner, and Silvertone near Boston Common for great upscale comfort food.
  • Theater District/Chinatown - world-class shows early, certainly good for an adventure later... stay in groups down here late at night and you'll have fun! Penang is good and Shabu Zen for shabu-shabu!
  • Financial District - most bustling during Happy Hours, more bars opening all the time... Lots of great sandwich shops (the Mediterranean) here during the day and lots of trouble to get into down here at night!
  • Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market - big tourist destination, not really a "neighborhood" but I had to include it in here. You can find anything along the row of booths in the Quincy Market Food Colonnade - also a great place for a St. Patrick's Day pub crawl!
  • Cambridge - where 1/2 of us work... MIT, Harvard, great Squares with fun restaurants to visit along the Red Line of the T (Boston's subway). The 2nd Street Sandwich shop has killer sandwiches and the Similans for awesome Thai food.
  • BU Allston/Brighton - a fun neighborhood for the young and young at heart, great place to find a beer and some grub (Sunrise Grill)!
  • South Boston - more great bars and restaurants are popping up there, certainly lots to do in Southie! Salsa's is one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.
  • The Fens - Fenway Park, obviously... this area is a sports-lover's dream with the new Game On and the re-done Cask and Flagon, as well as Boston Beer Works.
  • Charlestown - where the other 1/2 of us work... Old Ironsides and Todd English's Olives, plus great boatyards and views of Boston.

And finally, the South End. Historic brick rowhouses that run along avenues and tiny side streets, a diverse population of all ages walking the uneven brick sidewalks, and many, many great restaurants. We cannot lie - the price point of many of these is high. Again, we were only going to these great places on special occasions... but - as we are known to do - don't be afraid to treat yourself, you're only alive but for a blink. Wikipedia says: "The South End is one of Boston's main restaurant districts offering a diverse mix of cuisines, many at a relatively high price point. Tremont Street is often called "Restaurant Row." The South End's range of restaurants include American southern "Low Country", French, Ethiopian, Brazilian, Indian, Italian, Korean, Greek, Middle Eastern, Cuban, Thai, and Japanese among others."

So on to those restaurants... this list contains but a small selection and we're leaving off GREAT places like Ethiopian food at Addis Red Sea, hot dogs and ice cream at Code 10, Mike's Diner for breakfast (THE best - period.), the romantic South End Dish, Bob the Chef's for bbq and jazz, Icarus and Masa over by Bay Village, Mistral, Sibling Rivalry, Jae's, Flour, South End Buttery, Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel... on and on and on - can you tell there are alot of restaurants? Additionally, cheese shops, bakeries, butchers, and other fun places to find - all within walking distance.

(this map doesn't represent the ENTIRE area of the South End, and that top, left corner above Columbus is Back Bay - but you get the idea...)
  1. Hamersley's (these are in no particular order) - famous chicken, oxtail, great cheaper bar menu, wonderful location in the BCA plaza, very expensive. $$$$$
  2. B&G Oysters - great place for.. go on, guess.. oysters! Local and West Coast Oysters available, plus some great other seafood dishes like HUGE lobster rolls and fresh-made seafood stew. Fun to sit at the bar and watch the open kitchen. $$$$
  3. The Butcher Shop - sister restaurant to B&G (both by Chef Barbara Lynch), this place has a full case of meat available to buy and take home along with a great menu to eat in the store/restaurant. They also have a great butcher block table where they are always doing something fun. $$$$
  4. Aquitaine - classic French bistro and wine bar, we've spent St. Valentine's Day here. $$$$
  5. Metropolis - Another great place along Tremont Street, upscale comfort food but known for brunch. $$$
  6. Franklin Cafe - very small but very fun place for drinks and dining, almost impossible to get into as the night goes on. $$$
  7. Union - Very upscale new restaurant, great to treat yourself. The 10K Tuna is perfect. And you get cornbread in it's cast-iron skillet at the table - yum! $$$$$
  8. Pho Republique - our old Friday Night haunt! A great place for a martini or a drink off of their menu - or share a scorpion bowl - and some traditional Pho, or something more non-traditional. Very hip and the bar becomes more and more crowded as the night goes on. $$$
  9. Stella - a little more off the beaten path, wonderful Italian food. $$$$
  10. The Red Fez - traditional Middle Eastern food like hummus plates, meat pies, and chicken livers. Big place can pack in alot of people, service (and the food, frankly) can be hit-or-miss. $$$
  11. Anchovies - wonderful cheap Italian food with beer and wine, BIG plates in this old divey joint. $$
  12. Clery's - just like many, many other Irish bars in Boston... can be fun, can be crowded, can be rowdy, and certainly worth a visit. Try to get in here after the Marathon this weekend, I dare ya! $$$
Like we said, this list comprises just a fraction of the available bars and restaurants in the area. The perfect Friday evening for us to eat our way through the South End would be to get off at the Back Bay T stop (circled on the map) and walk South down Dartmouth on the brick sidewalks. Take a detour across our favorite street, Appleton Street (if anyone knows of 2-bed, 2-bath all-new condo with a roof deck and parking on Appleton for, say... $400K - let us know! hahaha) over to Clarendon and down to B&G Oysters for an appetizer of a couple of local oysters and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

After that, a quick walk over to Franklin Cafe to sit either at the bar or a cozy booth for dinner and one of their beers on tap (after a quick stop by Formaggio, the cheese store right next door, to drool). Follow dinner with a stroll southwest to Washington Street to get a martini or other fun dessert beverage at Pho Republique (and to talk to Peter or Big Mike behind the bar). Finally, if we are still up for it, stop by to meet a few friends at Clery's for a pint and some late-night pub grub before taking the T (or a cab) back home.

Certainly let us know if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments on the restaurants in our adopted home of the South End, and if you're coming to Boston to visit, don't miss this wonderfully historic and gastric neighborhood!


Anonymous said...

Wow, great list! I'm ashamed to say that I've never tried any of the South End restaurants. I could use lack of parking spaces as an excuse but that'd be a fib. I need to get out of the A/B area and head over sometime.

sher said...

What a great post! I have friends who are going to Boston in a few months from now--so I've sent them the link to your blog. Thanks!

Boston Chef said...

Looks like a cold, wet, windy weekend through Monday for the marathoners... send them luck!