It may be known as one of the city's prime tourist attractions, but historic Faneuil Hall — or the larger cobblestone-lined Quincy Hall Marketplace, for that matter — doesn't have a reputation as a place to find a great meal. Quick-serve sandwiches and things like that? Absolutely; the Hall's food stalls runneth over. But it's harder to find real, sit-down restaurants worth checking out. Here are a few that surround the perimeter of the Marketplace that deserve a visit — yes, even from locals.
Bostonia Public House
The historic Board of Trade building is now home to Bostonia Public House, serving modern spins on New England classics — crab-crusted cod with pancetta, roasted onions, marble potato succotash, yellow sweet corn and tarragon butter. Bostonia is a buzzing two-floor, 200-seat space that boasts a vintage-chic design from HGTV and Restaurant: Impossible personality Taniya Nayak, a 100-foot walnut bar and nightly live music to entertain the smiling suits from the Financial District.
131 State St.; 617-948-9800
Crush first earned a following at its original location in Nashua, New Hampshire. Then came this Boston outpost around the corner from Faneuil Hall, where it has earned new devotees thanks to a fun build-your-own approach and speedy service. The wood-burning oven cooks personal pizzas in about 90 seconds, and it's a contemporary fast-casual alternative to some of the more traditional pizza joints in the Italian-heavy neighboring North End.
107 State St.; 857-350-4222
Courtesy of Hugh Galdones/Cultivar
One of this year's biggest openings was Cultivar, the highly anticipated, debut self-owned venture from acclaimed chef Mary Dumont (previously of Harvest). It sprouted over the summer in the Ames Boston Hotel, and it's a glorious garden of delights: Dumont sources many ingredients for Cultivar's "modern American garden cuisine" from her home garden and from on-site Freight Farms, shipping containers repurposed as hydroponic gardens. Add a botanical, gin-focused cocktail program and a dry-aged program from former 30 Under 30 honoree Brian Young, and Dumont has cultivated quite a fantastic concept.
1 Court St.; 617-979-8203
Grab a purple leather seat at this Faneuil Hall eatery, where bright violet walls adorned with splashy Asian Pop Art appropriately preview the playfulness of the Korean fusion fare. Cheesesteak dumplings with kimchi shares menu space with whole steamed fish, poke bowls, udon noodles, glasses of soju sangria and other inventive reprieves from the ho-hum fare found in this heavy tourist zone.
16 North St.; 857-991-1483
Just outside of Faneuil Hall, at the gateway to Boston's restaurant-jammed North End neighborhood, you'll find this long-ruling king of the local food scene. Long lines are usually found at this no-reservation icon, an intimate home to top-notch seafood — and arguably the best lobster roll in Boston. Served either warm with melted butter, or chilled and tossed with mayo, it's one of the dishes you need to eat to truly call yourself a Bostonian — or at the very least, a successful visitor.
63 Salem St.; 617-742-3474
In modern times, Faneuil Hall is known as much for its scene of drunk bar crawlers tottering across cobblestones as for its Colonial history. You don't need to be sauced (though it helps) to enjoy the preemptive hangover cures offered at Saus, which is all about delicious pommes frites with gourmet dipping sauces, signature poutine (ask for "the works" to add beer-braised beef, bacon bits, truffled mushrooms, pork belly and a deep-fried egg) and other intriguing takes on fun, funky fare like corn dogs. P.S. Take a chance and order up the craft beer menu's current Secret Stash offering, a rotating unique or hard-to-find selection.
33 Union St.; 617-248-8835
State Street Provisions
The Grafton Group, the team behind Cambridge restaurants like Russell House Tavern and Temple Bar, finally crossed the river to open this Boston restaurant at Long Wharf on the harbor. The 160-seat space features handsome furnishings and color palettes reminiscent of a gentleman's parlor, with lots of tan leather and vintage lighting elements. The New American menu takes cues from classics but updates them with polish for the suit-and-tie Downtown crowds that make this spot a buzzy after-work spot.
255 State St.; 617-863-8363
The Tap Trailhouse
Boston Nightlife Ventures, the team behind spots like the South End's Wink & Nod and South Boston's just-opened Certified Meatball Company, renovated the sticky-floored Faneuil Hall dive bar The Tap to turn it into The Tap Trailhouse. The full facelift plays up an historic Boston vibe (the big bar dispenses its house brew, Trailhouse Ale, from draft handles shaped like Colonial-era guns) and the culinary offering puts some modern twists on familiar Yankee-inflected fare.
19 Union St.; 617-367-0033
Union Oyster House
Is it a tourist trap? Well, yes — but for a good reason. Opened in 1826, Union Oyster House is recognized as America's oldest continuously operating restaurant. And cooler-than-thou contrariness be damned, the famed clam chowder deserves its plaudits. Plus you can slurp away in Booth 18, the "Kennedy Booth," where devotee JFK most frequently enjoyed his chowder.
41 Union St.; 617-227-2750
Courtesy of Cristopher Castasus/Villa Mexico Cafe
Villa Mexico Cafe
After almost three years — three long, taco-stranded years — in 2016 a cult-favorite taqueria that formerly inhabited a Beacon Hill gas station reopened in its own dedicated Downtown location. Villa was one of those awesome cheap-eats gems we were panicked to lose, but luckily the brick-and-mortar has continued to deliver on iconic tacos plus excellent quesadillas and more.
121 Water St.; 617-957-0725