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5 Hot Food Neighborhoods in Boston

By Scott Kearnan
August 19, 2013

In dining, as in real estate, it's all about "location, location, location." Sometimes certain neighborhoods are just hot, whether from a spate of recent openings or a more general sense of excitment in the air. Winds shift faster than the T at rush hour. (Okay, maybe that's not the best example.) But right now, here are a few 'hoods you need to be exploring - if you're not already. 

  • Jamaica Plain

    The hipster-friendly ‘hood at the end of the Orange Line has attracted a lot of new restaurants over the last couple years. And as a result, it’s drawing in many more curious diners. Curl up with a book and Bordeaux at Tres Gatos (pictured), the intimate neighborhood tapas restaurant that boasts a vinyl and book shop in back. (Caution: every record feels like a necessary purchase after two glasses of wine.) Across the street, Canary Square is a bustling neighborhood hangout, drawing crowds with elevated comfort food, cool cocktails and themed “movie nights.” (Jurassic Park, anyone?) The Haven is beloved for serving fine Scottish food, while the charmingly dive-style Brendan Behan’s Pub is consistently ranked among the top Irish spots in Boston - though the Middle Earth-like interior of James’s Gate, perfectly suiting its hearty menu, makes it a worthy competitor. Buzz-worthy new entrants to the neighborhood include sleek coffee bar Caffe Aromi and the charming Centre Street Sanctuary, housed in a former church. But don’t miss longtime local favorites like City Feed and Ula Café, with rave-worthy sandwiches made using fresh, local ingredients in line with JP’s crunchy vibe.

  • Davis Square

    There are exciting things happening in Somerville’s food scene, and Davis Square is an epicenter of the activity. Don’t stop by Davis without checking out some established favorites: the wacky, creative (and enormous) patties at Boston Burger Co., the farm-fresh and vegan-friendly sandwiches at Blue Shirt Café, and the always-hot ribs and wings at Redbones Barbecue are vital vittles. But newer spots have freshened the blood in this heart of Somerville. American brasserie Foundry on Elm (plus its handsome adjacent cocktail spot, Saloon), the southern-inspired cuisine at M3 (which happens to boast an impressive canned beer collection) and the decadent Mexican menu at The Painted Burro ushered in fresh life in recent years. Newer additions include the intimate Spoke Wine Bar, as well as revamped approaches like the expanded menu at Posto under new chef Wyatt Maguire.

  • The Seaport

    One upon a time, the Seaport felt like a no-man’s-land for food lovers. Now it’s a bona fide destination for locals and out-of-towners who make a night of it: maybe grabbing dinner amid the rooftop singles scene at Legal Harborside, Boston’s biggest restaurant, or on the patio at 75 on Liberty Wharf, an intimate entry to the sprawling Seaport. Then it’s drinks at Harpoon Beer Hall, the brewery’s new German-style spot to swill steins, or Empire Restaurant & Lounge, where the Pan-Asian dining room turns in to a swank, DJ-dominated hot spot. Fort Point, adjacent to the Seaport and linking it to South Boston, supplements the Seaport’s selection with long-standing stalwarts like Menton and Sportello (from chef powerhouse Barbara Lynch) and new spots like Tavern Road and chef Ming Tsai's Blue Dragon.

  • Union Square

    Somerville's undiscovered little secret is being discovered. High-concept farm-to-table spot Journeyman and mixology den Backbar began attracting curious visitors to the underrated 'hood. Now new spots like Bronwyn, the ambitious German and Central Europe restaurant from T.W. Food's esteemed Tim Weichmann, "urban agriculture" market and education center Relish, and butcher MF Dulock, which focuses on whole animals from local farms, are enhancing Union's reputation as one of the more adventurous neighborhoods.  

  • Central Square

    Times, they are a'changin' in Central Square. While long known as one of Cambridge's grittier neighborhoods, the culinary scene has been upscaling. Long-standing stalwarts like Central Kitchen, Rendezvous and Green Street have atracted foodies for a bit. But craft cocktail hit Brick + Mortar, pan-Asian-restaurant-meets-nightspot Moksa and Jason Bond's cozy Bondir have drawn new crowds. Now comes word that Central is set to get another location of Boston-based Tasty Burger, and the infamous All Asia Bar is set to reopen as Prospect Lounge, a higher-end restaurant and live music venue. 


Places Mentioned

75 on Liberty Wharf

American • Seaport District

Food24 Decor23 Service22 Cost$40
Blue Dragon

Asian • South Boston

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Legal Harborside

Seafood • Seaport District

Food25 Decor23 Service23 Cost$36
Green Street

Eclectic • Cambridge

Food25 Decor22 Service20 Cost$31
Ula Cafe

Cafe • Jamaica Plain

Food25 Decor20 Service22 Cost$12

American • Somerville

Food23 Decor20 Service24 Cost$30
Redbones Barbecue

Barbecue • Somerville

Food24 Decor18 Service20 Cost$23
City Feed & Supply

Coffee Shop • Jamaica Plain

Food25 Decor18 Service18 Cost$13
Boston Burger Company

Burger • Somerville

Food25 Decor21 Service23 Cost$15
Central Kitchen

American • Cambridge

Food25 Decor24 Service23 Cost$34

Asian • Cambridge

Food20 Decor22 Service18 Cost$25
Tavern Road

American • Seaport District

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
Brick & Mortar

Bar • Cambridge

Atmo.26 Decor25 Service25 CostI
Bondir Restaurant

American • Cambridge

Food27 Decor24 Service25 Cost$58

French • Seaport District

Food28 Decor27 Service29 Cost$141
The Haven

British • Jamaica Plain

Food- Decor- Service- Cost$28

Italian • Seaport District

Food26 Decor21 Service24 Cost$41

Italian • Somerville

Food26 Decor24 Service22 Cost$27

European • Somerville

Food- Decor- Service- CostE

Bar • Somerville

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostE

American • Somerville

Food23 Decor26 Service23 Cost$29

American • Somerville

Food27 Decor23 Service25 Cost$90

Bar • Somerville

Atmo.26 Decor25 Service25 CostI
Tres Gatos

Tapas Bar • Jamaica Plain

Food23 Decor20 Service21 Cost$28
Foundry On Elm

American • Somerville

Food21 Decor22 Service20 Cost$32
Canary Square

American • Jamaica Plain

Food20 Decor23 Service21 Cost$23
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