If you’re not from Boston, you might assume that the city’s dining scene is all lobster rolls and chowder and baked beans and Dunkin’ iced coffees. While an eater can certainly find those things (which are all good, by the way) in the Hub, its dining scene is a little more varied than all that.
Consider the East African, North African, and West African food in Roxbury, or the Afro-Caribbean food in Mattapan and Hyde Park. Find outstanding Cuban and Dominican food in Jamaica Plain, and head to Dorchester for excellent Vietnamese food. And who can forget Chinatown, which is the spot for hand-pulled noodles and dumplings and and dim sum and offal and so much more, and is without a doubt one of the city’s best food neighborhoods.
This is all to say that Boston’s dining scene contains multitudes — it is, for example, more than just the Back Bay, the North End, and the South End (although by all means do go eat in those neighborhoods because they’re wonderful too).
The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the Boston restaurant industry in ways that are still difficult to understand. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker recently removed percentage-based capacity caps, but restaurants were subject to such caps for nearly nine months, limiting the amount of onsite dining they could accommodate — and therefore the business they could generate. Add to that a downturn in tourism, fewer college students present in the city and its surrounding suburbs, a lack of financial support from federal and state governments, along with a number of other factors, and it’s clear that it has been a tremendously difficult time for Boston’s restaurant industry.
Eating in Boston hasn’t been the same since the pandemic began, and even though Baker continues to open the state up further (against the advice of public health experts, it should be noted), there are still guidelines that must be followed by restaurant workers and diners alike.
All that said, people still need to eat, and many of Boston’s restaurants are still open. This guide is aimed at pointing you in the direction of great food and drinks in a variety of Boston neighborhoods (and a bit beyond the city, too).
Still have questions? Join the Eater Boston Restaurant Recommendations Facebook group to ask over 2,000 locals and Eater Boston staffers about Boston-area dining.