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You can eat well in Boston even if you just have a day. Check out our picks for where to eat in Boston during a quick trip to Beantown.
My plane landed in Boston while a steady rain was melting away the final remnants from the city’s long, snowy winter. As I looked out the tiny airplane window, it hit me that it had been over twenty years since my last visit to the vibrant city known for a famous tea party.
Thoughts swirled through my head, but one question stood out in my mind. Where should I eat in Boston?
One Day Boston Restaurant Itinerary
Food is always an important part of my travels, whether I’m traveling solo or with Daryl. Since Boston is one of the best food cities in America, this trip was no exception.
Despite being busy with a conference and having just 48 hours in Boston to fully explore the city and its exciting food scene, I strategically ate at a variety of Boston restaurants and can confidently recommend a plan for a day of eating local food in Boston starting with breakfast and coffee.
Boston Breakfast – Render Coffee
Although Beantown isn’t a coffee mecca like Seattle, it’s easy to find a good cup of joe in Boston. Render Coffee in Boston’s South End is a great spot for hand-crafted Counter Culture coffee drinks and food like frittata breakfast sandwiches, croissants and bagels.
The sun-drenched cafe is crowded yet comfortable, with a mix of people enjoying pour-over coffees and free wi-fi. Render Coffee is the perfect place to start a busy Boston day.
Render Coffee is located at 563 Columbus Ave, Boston, Ma 02119, United States.
Boston Lunch Option 1 – Parish Cafe and Bar
The Parish Cafe and Bar is a fun spot for a casual lunch in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. The stars of the menu are 17 sandwiches, each created by a notable local Boston chef like James Beard award winner Jamie Bissonnette.
Parish’s menu separates sandwiches into the different categories of poultry, beef, comfort classics and seafood. Starters looked good as they passed by, especially the homemade beer-battered onion rings. But hey, I could only eat so much since the sandwiches are enormous.
Parish Cafe and Bar does not take reservations, and the wait can be quite long at lunchtime. Avoid the line and grab a comfortable spot at the bar with a great view of the beer taps. That’s what we did.
Parish Cafe and Bar is located at 361 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116, United States.
Boston Lunch Option 2 – Union Oyster House
It would be foolish to visit Boston without eating a bowl of clam chowder, and Union Oyster House is a perfect spot for satisfying the “chowda” itch. As a bonus, the bowl comes with a generous chunk of house-baked cornbread, which is perfect for sopping up the creamy soup.
A bowl of chowder isn’t quite enough for lunch. Luckily, there are lots of plenty of other tempting dishes on the menu. This time, I shared a fresh salad topped with pan-seared crab cakes. Next time, I’m getting the lobster roll, another popular Boston food option.
Union Oyster House has been serving oysters, chowder and other seafood dishes for almost 200 years to patrons including the Kennedy’s and Daniel Webster. In fact, the restaurant claims to be the oldest in America. Just one block from Faneuil Hall and on the Freedom Trail, the restaurant is easy to find.
If you love the clam chowder, pay a quick visit to the gift shop and buy the restaurant’s cookbook. You can then make the soup, or a close replica, at home.
Union Oyster House is located at 41 Union St, Boston, MA 02108, United States.
Boston Bar – The Bell in Hand Tavern
After lunch at Union Oyster House, The Bell in Hand Tavern is right next door. Oozing with historical touches, the nation’s oldest continuously operating tavern is a great stop for a local beer or cider as you plot out the rest of your day in Boston.
The Bell in Hand Tavern is located at 45 Union St, Boston, MA 02108, United States.
Boston Dinner – Alden & Harlow
Just six miles from downtown Boston on Cambridge’s Harvard Square, Alden & Harlow is a perfect spot for dinner after a busy day of touring the city. This restaurant is designed for communal dining with a menu featuring a wide variety of small plates. Luckily, I was able to share the dinner with a good friend who was coincidentally in Boston at the same time as me.
We started our dinner with a warm parsnip and pistachio dip served with taleggio, spicy honey and rye crackers. The dip was decadently rich, with a deep flavor enhanced by a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. We followed the starter with a mix of small plates, with our favorites featuring swordfish belly and hiramasa crudo, not to mention the sweet yet savory corn pancakes.
And cocktails. We really liked the cocktails.
Go early if you want to try Alden & Harlow’s popular secret burger. With limited availability, there were no secret burgers available by the time we sat down for our 8:00 dinner reservation.
Alden & Harlow is located at 40 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
Plan Your Boston Stay
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.