While many Boston diners — not to mention the food media — are obsessed with the latest, hottest restaurant openings, there fortunately also exists a dining scene in Boston not predicated on the very shiny and the very new. Instead, it is defined by its ability to consistently feed its patrons good — and more importantly consistent — food.
The Stockyard fits neatly into this unpretentious scene. With wood-paneled walls, a stone fireplace, red vinyl booth seating, and a horseshoe bar, the dining room of the Brighton steakhouse looks more like one you’d expect to find at a ski lodge in the Tetons rather than the heart of a metropolitan area. It’s been operating at 135 Market St. for more than 40 years; it’s looked like this for just as long.
To be clear, the Stockyard isn’t cheap. You’ll pay $42 for a ribeye just as you might at the hippest new joint downtown. Unlike at the hippest new joint downtown, you’ll get a crowd that’s more interested in eating than geotagging their location.
On a recent trip, I overheard a couple seated next to me at the bar tell another patron they’d been eating at the Stockyard since the early 1980s. “We love it here because we know what we’re going to get, and what we’re going to get is good,” said the woman. Minutes later, a food runner dropped two steaks in front of the couple (a filet and a New York strip) along with a number of classic steakhouse sides (grilled asparagus, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes). I suddenly regretted ordering the burger.
About that burger, though. It’s a simple thing done extremely well. House-ground sirloin, Vermont cheddar, shredded lettuce, a tomato, and a bun grilled on the griddle — that’s it. Add some steak fries (always golden, salty, and crispy) and a pickle on the side, and slather the burger with equal parts mayonnaise (dip the fries in what remains) and ketchup. For my money, it’s the best burger in the city. And unlike the city’s fancier burgers, the Stockyard’s version costs just $15.
When I was younger and before I started hanging out in the city, the Stockyard was always just that place I could see from I-90 while riding in my parents’s car en route to a holiday party or the mall. I thought it was a chain; I never envisioned it being what it is. When I first moved to Allston, the Stockyard was always just that place I biked past en route to drink too many beers at the Lincoln Bar & Grill or the Bus Stop Pub. A different crowd — perhaps a crowd of a certain age — went to the Stockyard, but I didn’t.
But then I had that burger — and then I had it again and again. The Stockyard has become a mainstay in my dining out rotation because it does exactly what a restaurant should do: It feeds the people who live in its neighborhood.
• The Stockyard Coverage on Eater [EBOS]