Flashback to 2019 — ah, those simpler times — when it seemed like you could pile your plate at a different food festival in Boston every summer weekend. Three years past those first fraught weeks of lockdown, restaurants are thankfully bustling again. But food festivals? Owing to an abundance of caution about gathering in large groups, most organizers hit the pause button. Until now, that is. Here’s hoping you’re hungry, because these gatherings are back in a big way.
Taste of Somerville
Thursday, June 15, 5-8 p.m.
First up, Taste of Somerville returns to Assembly Row this Thursday — and note the date change due to the on-and-off deluge of rain over the past week or so. The al fresco affair sees local restaurants, breweries and wineries teaming up to transform Assembly Row into a tent-spotted summer soiree. Favorite restaurants Celeste, La Brasa, and Red Bones Barbecue plus a whole buffet of others join Remnant Brewing, Chattermark Distillers and more drink-slingers. Plus, desserts, too, with Wild Child Chocolates and Union Square Donuts bringing the decadence. Tickets must be purchased in advance, with general admission priced at $57.50 a ticket, children 15 and under are $16.50 each, and VIP passes — which include separate food tastings and cocktail pairings — are $83.50 per ticket.
The Boston Portuguese Festival
Sunday, June 18, 12-8 p.m.
In case you’re feeling the lack of Portuguese cuisine after landmark East Cambridge restaurant Portugalia shut down last month, the free Boston Portuguese Festival sails back into City Hall Plaza this Sunday. More than a food festival — of course there are heaps of that too — the event features comedians, musicians, folk dancing, and other cultural activities that celebrate the Atlantic nation and the large Portuguese presence in the region. And heads up for those with dads of Portuguese descent, spending Father’s Day catching up over some refreshing Costa do Sol vinho verde (or green wine) and Portuguese beers in the beer and wine garden is sure to score some points.
Though there are plenty of Portuguese festivals elsewhere in Massachusetts — from the Blessing of the Fleet in restaurant-rich Provincetown, to summertime feasts held in Fall River, where you should also roam the aisles of Portuguese goodies like tinned fish and jarred crushed pepper sauce at Portugalia Marketplace — the Boston Portuguese Festival’s inaugural event was only in 2018. After a four-year gap, it’s time to heap your plate with traditional fare from the food tents, including bifana sandwiches made of thin cutlets of pork marinated in white wine, garlic, and spices ( best washed down with some cooling Sumol passionfruit soda). Must-try dishes include the quahog stuffing from Avo’s Feast in Fall River and seafood from Old School House Pub & Restaurant in Hudson. Joey Bats Café — the New York City-based pastry shop founded by Joey Batista, who was raised by Portuguese parents in the immigrant community of Ludlow — will be at the festival, too. Batista is bringing his beloved pastéis de natas — heavenly egg custards nestled within baskets of flaky pastry — plus creative versions like passionfruit and dark chocolate, too.
Boston Pizza Festival
Saturday, June 24, and Sunday, June 25, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. both days
From Portuguese cuisine to pizza, hit up the Boston Pizza Festival on June 24 to 25, also at City Hall Plaza. While the event is free to attend, you’ll need to buy pizza slice tickets (3 slices for $10.99, 5 for $15.99, and 10 for $29.99) either beforehand to skip the lines or on-site. Once there, scarf down as many slices from local eateries like Eastie’s DaCoopa’s Pizza and North End staple Rina’s Pizzeria as you wait to see if Florina Pizzeria will defend its title in the best pizza competition.
Saturday, June 24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Also that weekend, the first-annual Beantown BeanFest comes to the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Food trucks and vendors — with Estella and Tex-Mex outfit Vaz and Mac joining the lineup — all assemble with one mission: to celebrate the humble bean and celebrate just what it means for Boston to be called “Beantown” nowadays.
Saturday, July 8, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Later this summer, the Boston JerkFest sizzles July 8 at the Harvard Athletic Complex, bringing rum tastings, live music, and chef demonstrations, with food from Nzuko in Watertown, Jamaica Mi Hungry, and more. Then, on July 22, Food Truck Festivals of America hosts a whole fleet at the SoWa Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival. Find favorite trucks like the Kowloon Mobile from the Route 1 icon and dumpling darling Moyzilla among the offerings to graze as you shop vintage treasures and crafts.
And this is just the start, with more bashes planned throughout the summer and into the fall. Check back here for updates to the guide in the coming months.