What to Eat in Boston: 8 Can’t-Miss Foods

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Article written by: Rebecca
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Wondering what to eat in Boston, Massachusetts? I’ve got you covered with this guide to the Boston must-eats you have to add to your itinerary.

I didn’t go to Boston for the food, but somehow I still came back a few pounds heavier (even despite all the walking we did). Boston has a rich history – not only when it comes to its place in charting the course of the history of the United States, but also for the many well-known foods that have origins in New England.

If you’re headed to Boston soon, read on for a guide for what to eat in Boston, personally tasted by yours truly. I tried all the touristy food in Boston (and I didn’t regret it for a second) and found a few hidden gems.

Here’s where to eat in Boston – add them to your itinerary!

A woman - the author of this article - standing in front of a large wooden sign with the word "BOSTON" in bold letters, backed by city buildings and clear skies. Boston food is a great reason to visit the city!

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Boston food map

Here’s a map of all the restaurants and eateries listed in this blog post, to help you plan your own food-focused Boston itinerary.

What’s in this Boston food guide

I’ve outlined 8 must-eat Boston foods, including where to try them. These are:

  1. Cannoli
  2. Clam chowder
  3. Lobster rolls
  4. Tapas
  5. Pizza
  6. Boston Cream Pie
  7. Pasta
  8. Brunch

I’ve also got plenty of ideas for things to do in Boston when you’re not stuffing your face – see the end of this article.

Book the best Boston food tour

I generally like to explore foodie cities by myself, but every now and then when I’m short on time I’ll take a food tour to hit the best spots in town.

In Boston, this Politically Incorrect Food Tour is my favourite food tour. It’s a lighthearted tour (with a smattering of swearing) with plenty of food. I’ve written a whole post about the experience here.

A street corner in Boston showcasing Polcari's Coffee, a classic coffee shop with a prominent red and white sign. Adjacent to it is Sulmona Meat Market with a green sign. The storefront windows display a variety of goods, suggesting a local neighborhood market atmosphere. A parked truck is visible on the right side of the frame. Polcari's is a historic store in Boston's North End.
One of the historic stores you’ll visit on the Politically Incorrect Boston North End Food Tour

But there are plenty more Boston food tours to choose from, including tours themed around pizza and donuts, as well as guides that throw in some history as well. Below are some options to explore.

Now, let’s get into what you need to eat when you visit Boston!

1. Cannoli

The first food-related article I read about Boston was about the “cannoli war” between Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry. Both located on Hanover Street in Boston’s North End – the city’s Little Italy – these two bakeries attract long lines on weekends as patrons clamour to try each establishment’s version of cannoli to decide which is their favourite.

Of course, we also had to try both to see what all the fuss was about.

I quickly discovered that cannoli aren’t easy sweet treats to eat. As the crunchy shell cracks, the creamy ricotta filling oozes out over your hands, creating quite a mess that’s delicious to lick up.

Did I decide on a winner between the two? Well, no. I thought they were both delicious – neither was too sweet and both had a good balance of crunchy and creamy textures.

Modern Pastry is more traditional with its four simple fillings. Mike’s Pastry, on the other hand, is attracting the masses with non-traditional flavours like key lime pie, hazelnut and chocolate chip.

From what I could gather, Mike’s is loved by tourists, while locals prefer Modern.

This is one that you’ll just have to try for yourself and then make up your own mind.

Modern Pastry
257 Hanover St
Open daily 

Mike’s Pastry
300 Hanover St
Open daily

2. Clam chowder

I wasn’t sure if I’d like clam chowder. Clams aren’t something I’ve ever ordered at a restaurant, as I find them quite fishy tasting. So I was surprised to find myself slurping down every last drop of my bowl of this famous Boston food as I sat at the bar of Union Oyster House.

Accompanied by a slice of cornbread, the chowder was creamy and generously dotted with chunks of potato and sweet clams.

You can also get a bit of a history lesson here. The Union Oyster Company is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the entire United States and is believed to have started serving the cream-based clam chowder in the 1830s.

JFK loved to dine here, and it’s also known as the place that the toothpick was first used in the United States!

Union Oyster House
41 Union St
Open daily

3. Lobster rolls

If there’s one thing that always tops the list of what to eat in Boston, it’s lobster rolls. I highly recommend trying a couple of them. They’re a must eat in Boston – and luckily there are plenty of places to try a lobster roll, whether you like them hot or cold.

We started at Luke’s Lobster. Overwhelmed by FOMO, I picked the trio of rolls, which came with a half roll each of lobster, crab and shrimp. The shrimp roll here was actually my favourite, but the lobster roll bode well for the rest of our foodie trip: a generously buttered, soft brioche roll stuffed with chunks of cold lobster.

For our final meal in Boston we went a little more upscale and pulled up stools at the bar of Saltie Girl, a narrow, nautical-themed restaurant inside a Brownstone.

The server recommended the warm lobster roll and I watched through the servery window as the kitchen staff stuffed chunks of lobster into the bursting-at-the-seams roll and then ladled over a buttery sauce. Homemade salt and vinegar chips were served on the side. Let’s just say, I was in heaven.

Lobster rolls aren’t cheap, regardless of where you go – you’ll pay a minimum of $16, and anywhere up to $35+ in better establishments.

Luke’s Lobster
Various locations throughout the city, we went to the one at 75 Exeter St
Open daily 

Saltie Girl
279 Dartmouth St
Open daily
Come early to nab a table or seat at the bar

4. Tapas at Toro

Looking for something a little different, we headed to the South End neighbourhood.

Toro is a tapas restaurant that “brings Barcelona to Boston”. It’s still one of the best places to eat in Boston, even years after opening.

I love tapas because you get to try little bits of everything, and we ended up with a table full of delicious bites: jamón bellota (recalling our days road tripping through Spain and eating tapas in Seville), grilled octopus, and a clay bowl of the most delicious gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp) I’ve ever eaten. Definitely some of the best food in Boston.

A rustic wooden board with slices of cured meats, a side of bread, a bowl of mixed olives, and a small dish of sauce, with a glass of white wine in the background. The tapas at Toro in Boston are delicious.

1704 Washington St
Open daily, Sunday to Thursday: 5pm-10pm; Friday & Saturday: 5pm-11pm

5. Pizza

When you’re in Boston’s North End, of course there’s always going to be pizza.

Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, we found ourselves amidst the crowds of the Saint Anthony’s Feast festival. There was no chance of getting a table at Regina Pizzeria, what’s probably considered Boston’s most famous pizza place, but luckily all the restaurants in the area had small stalls lining the street, so we bought a slice to share.

The pizzas here are wood-fired and they have a crunchy, chewy crust and just the right amount of tomato sauce and cheese.

We also ended up devouring a few more slices at Mama Maria’s dining room table on our Boston food tour.

A vibrant street view in the North End featuring the Regina Pizzeria sign among traditional brick buildings adorned with festive decorations. Regina Pizzeria is one of the best pizza restaurants in Boston.

Regina Pizzeria
Various locations around the city; the original is at 11 ½ Thatcher St
Open daily

6. Boston cream pie

The fact that I hadn’t had a proper lunch wasn’t going to stop me from heading straight for dessert. When we arrived in Boston, we made a beeline for the Omni Parker House Hotel, famed for inventing the Boston cream pie in 1855.

The Boston cream “pie” is in fact a soft sponge-cake filled with cream and topped with chocolate. I was expecting something sickly sweet, but it was actually not too sweet and not overly filling.

Omni Parker House Hotel
60 School St

7. Pasta

I’m not actually a huge pasta fan, but I couldn’t pass up a bowl of Mama Maria’s pasta on our Politically Incorrect Food Tour.

Sitting at Mama Maria’s dining table in her narrow house in Boston’s North End, we enjoyed a plate full of rigatoni smothered in a rich Bolognese sauce. It was the highlight of the tour.

A plate of rigatoni pasta covered in a hearty meat sauce, presented on a white plate with blue and yellow trim, on a table with a white tablecloth. The only way to try Mama Maria's pasta is on a unique food tour of the Boston North End.

Only available on the Boston Politically Incorrect Food Tour

8. Brunch at Stephanie’s

On our trip to Boston we had lovely weather, so we sat at one of the small tables outside at Stephanie’s, one of the most famous restaurants in Boston.

Stephanie’s is well known for being a celebrity favourite, but alas there were no celebrity sightings during our brunch.

The brunch menu is huge and after much indecision I ordered the crab cakes Benedict. Two thick crab cakes were covered in a delightful béarnaise sauce and topped off with poached eggs.

A brunch plate featuring eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce, seasoned home fries, and a side of fresh green salad, on an outdoor table with coasters and a frosted glass. The crab cake Benedict from Stephanie's is a great brunch choice.

Stephanie’s on Newbury
190 Newbury St
Open daily

There were so many Boston restaurants on my list, but not enough time to visit them all (nor enough room in my stomach!). I still have a long list just waiting to be ticked off.

What to do in Boston (besides eating)

We struggled to fit everything into a weekend in Boston. Here are a few ideas for things to do in Boston (beyond just eating):

  • Walk the famous Boston Freedom Trail
  • Go shopping at the Boston Public Market
  • Wander through the Beacon Hill neighbourhood for beautiful architecture, making sure to stop by the Scarlett O’Hara house
  • Visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • Learn about the world at the Mapparium
  • Discover a secret sneaker store
  • Take a sobering walk through the outdoor Holocaust Memorial
  • Hang out in Copley Square
  • See inside the stunning Boston Public Library
  • Take a stroll along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, stopping in for a drink at Trillium
  • Catch a baseball game at Fenway Park
  • Follow the Black Heritage Trail, an alternative to the Freedom Trail

Top tip: Travelling to Boston with kids? Save money with a Boston CityPASS which gets you discounts to attractions including the New England Aquarium.

Did you find this article helpful? Consider buying me a coffee as a way to say thanks!

What are your recommendations for what to eat in Boston? Leave your tips in the comments below so I can eat well when I return to Boston!

Related posts

Before you go… you might like these USA travel articles:


  • Book flights to and around the USA online with Skyscanner. I like this site because it shows me which dates are cheaper.
  • Find a great hotel in the USA. Check prices on Booking.com and Expedia online.
  • Check out the huge range of day tours throughout the USA on GetYourGuide or Viator. There’s something for everyone.
  • A copy of the Lonely Planet guide to the USA will be handy.
  • One thing I always purchase is travel insurance! Travel Insurance Master allows you to compare across multiple policy providers, while SafetyWing is great for long-term travellers and digital nomads.


Don’t forget to save this guide to Boston restaurants to you can plan your delicious trip!


I'm a travel junkie who started dreaming about seeing the world from a very young age. I've visited more than 40 countries and have a Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management. A former expat, I've lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Argentina and the United States. I share travel resources, tips and stories based on my personal experiences, and my goal is to make travel planning just that bit easier.

2 thoughts on “What to Eat in Boston: 8 Can’t-Miss Foods”

  1. I learned about Boston’s food scene from those TV programs that I’d watched, and despite not being among the top 5 places in the U.S. I would love to visit on a first trip, every time there’s a show about Boston’s dishes I always think to myself that I should go there. Sounds like you (and your stomach) had a great time in Boston!


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