5 Hot Food Neighborhoods in Boston

By Scott Kearnan | August 19, 2013 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

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Tres Gatos

Tapas Bar Jamaica Plain
Food24 Decor23 Service23 Cost$37
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Canary Square

American Jamaica Plain
Food19 Decor18 Service21 Cost$24
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The Haven

Scottish Jamaica Plain
Food25 Decor24 Service23 Cost$31
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Ula Cafe

Cafe Jamaica Plain
Food22 Decor17 Service21 Cost$13
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City Feed & Supply

Coffee Shop Jamaica Plain
Food25 Decor18 Service18 Cost$13
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Boston Burger Company

Burger Somerville
Food24 Decor17 Service21 Cost$18
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Redbones Barbecue

Barbecue Somerville
Food23 Decor16 Service18 Cost$25
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Bar Somerville
Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostE
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Foundry On Elm

American Somerville
Food19 Decor19 Service20 Cost$37
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American Somerville
Food18 Decor22 Service18 Cost$46
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Italian Somerville
Food23 Decor22 Service22 Cost$33
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Legal Harborside

Seafood Seaport District
Food24 Decor22 Service22 Cost$43
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Tavern Road

American Seaport District
Food22 Decor20 Service20 Cost$45
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Blue Dragon

Asian South Boston
Food25 Decor22 Service24 Cost$38
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75 on Liberty Wharf

American Seaport District
Food24 Decor23 Service22 CostE
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Italian Seaport District
Food26 Decor19 Service23 Cost$53
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French Seaport District
Food27 Decor27 Service27 Cost$144
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New American Somerville
Food26 Decor23 Service25 Cost$95
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Bar Somerville
Atmo.26 Decor25 Service25 CostI
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European Somerville
Food25 Decor22 Service24 Cost$40
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Central Kitchen

Mediterranean Cambridge
Food21 Decor21 Service20 Cost$41
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Brick & Mortar

Bar Cambridge
Atmo.26 Decor25 Service25 CostI
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Bondir Restaurant

American Cambridge
Food25 Decor23 Service24 Cost$63
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Green Street

Eclectic Cambridge
Food20 Decor19 Service18 Cost$31

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