What to eat in Boston: 10 must-try local delights

From lobster rolls to crispy Boston-style pizza, this city is all about food. Taste the best of Boston with this guide to its best things to eat.

Occupying an important harbor in Massachusetts, Boston is renowned for its tasty fish and seafood dishes. Yet, there's more to the city than clam chowder and crab cakes. From cutting-edge cheap eats on Boston's street food scene to scenic waterfront dining, perfect for Boston date nights, it’s a food-lover’s perfect destination.

The city’s exciting food scene also encompasses flavors from around the world, and its Italian and Chinese restaurants are a must-try. Martha’s Vineyard is a worthwhile day trip from Boston for perhaps the best seafood in the country. And don’t forget the drinks — Beantown (as it’s sometimes known) leads the way with craft beer and cider perfect for pairing with your next meal. Plan your vacation meals ahead of your trip with these mouthwatering food options in Boston.

1_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-1-1x1.webp

1. Load up on lobster rolls in Martha's Vineyard

When in Boston, eat as the Bostonians do with New England's signature lobster rolls. These moreish buns are a true must-try in Boston, delivering the perfect vehicle for fresh and tasty lobster meat loaded with mayo and zesty lemon, or maybe a local variation.

How to eat the best lobster rolls in Boston?

You’ll find great lobster rolls in the city, but pick the Martha's Vineyard day trip from Boston and you can sample some of the finest lobster rolls in Massachusetts, if not the country. Learn how some Bostonians prefer to stack their rolls with garlicky butter and spicy black pepper.

2_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-2-1x1.webp

2. Eat something sweet in Boston's Little Italy

You can't go wrong with cannoli in Boston, the perfect mid-afternoon treat. Consisting of delectable sweet pastry and a creamy filling, Boston has given this Italian delicacy a starring role in its food scene with stalls across Little Italy, known locally as the North End.

How to eat the best Florentine cannoli in Boston?

With a North End to Freedom Trail food and history tour, you'll be able to pick up one of these deep-fried and sweet-cream-filled morsels from the oldest Italian bakeries in Boston.

3_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-3-1x1.webp

3. Indulge in a donut or two

If you're in need of a sugar rush, Boston's donuts are the jam. You'll find plenty of bakeries serving up these appetizing treats, but the most iconic is the homegrown Boston cream donut. These doughy marvels are filled with vanilla cream before being dipped in chocolate ganache.

How to eat the best cream donuts in Boston?

Set off on a donut tour of Boston to discover to some of the finest donut spots in the city. If you've got a big appetite, why not try the Boston cream pie that inspired the donut recipe itself?

4_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-4-1x1.webp

4. Enjoy oysters a la Boston

With fishermen landing fresh catches every day in Boston Harbor, you can always count on fresh seafood in this corner of New England. If you're a more discerning diner, try oysters paired with silky-smooth butter and gruyere cheese, topped with crispy breadcrumbs.

How to eat the best oysters in Boston?

With a seafood tasting tour, you'll be able to sample some of the freshest oysters on the menu. Want to mix things up with different toppings? Your guide will be happy to make a few suggestions.

5_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-5-1x1.webp

5. Tuck into premium pizza in North End

Boston's Little Italy has plenty of pizzerias to choose from. If you're after something authentic, go with a classic Neapolitan-style pizza. Alternatively, sample a pan-style pizza topped with classic ingredients like Boston baked beans.

How to eat the best pizza in Boston?

With a secret food tour of Boston's North End, you'll discover some of the best pizzerias in town. If you're craving pan pizza, venture towards Boston's staple Greek eateries.

6_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-6-1x1.webp

6. Discover Boston's take on Italian ham and cheese

Pairing cured meats and cheese is something of an art form. Often, the simplest combinations are best. Prosciutto and parmesan make the perfect pairing on your palate, with the salty goodness of the ham blending beautifully with the mature tang of the cheese.

How to eat the best ham and cheese in Boston?

Book a North End food experience to sample some of the finest meat and dairy produce from around Boston. Stick to the tried and tested pairings, or try something new — you might start a new food trend.

7_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-7-1x1.webp

7. Savor the honey-sweet goodness of Boston baked beans

Get ready for a rethink the humble baked bean with Boston's twist on this dish. Unlike other American counterparts which are drenched in a tomato-based sauce, these delicious legumes are enriched with sticky molasses.

How to eat the best baked beans in Boston?

Take a South End sweet and savoury local food tour to try Boston baked beans at some of the best food joints in the city.

8_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-8-1x1.webp

8. Taste your way around Chinatown

Even Chinese food in Boston is unique, with dishes here typically sweeter than Chinese food elsewhere. Blending local ingredients with traditional recipes, fresh seafood and molasses have found their way into many of Chinatown’s menus. Looking for dishes that you might only be able to eat in Boston? Try shrimp in lobster sauce.

How to eat the best shrimp in lobster sauce in Boston?

Treat yourself to a Chinatown culture and cuisine walking tour to explore the history and flavors of the oldest surviving Chinatown in New England. Your tastebuds will be guided through its best dim sum, bao, and Peking duck.

9_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-9-1x1.webp

9. Sip on some of the oldest beers in the US

Boston is home to some of the oldest breweries in the country. The Samuel Adams Brewery has been going since the 1600s, with its ales offering a bitter edge and signature hoppy and malty aroma.

How to drink the best beer in Boston?

Join a tour of Boston’s historic taverns to sample the goods at some of the oldest watering holes in Beantown and introduce yourself to the unmistakable flavor of Sam Adams. It includes a visit to one of the USA's oldest taverns, Warren Tavern, frequented by Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.

10_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-10-1x1.webp

10. Pick up a punchy cider

Not a beer lover? Not to worry. There are several cider mills in the city too. While there's an distinct apple profile to Boston ciders, expect a lively balance of sweet and sour flavors. Just the ticket for a warm summer evening.

How to drink the best cider in Boston?

With a craft brewery tour, you can sip on classic ciders, beers, and spirits — with snacks to keep your stomach lined too. The perfect introduction to Boston’s exciting drinks scene.

11_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-11-1x1.webp

11. Chow down on Boston clam chowder

If there's one dish that's synonymous with Boston, its clam chowder. Bostonians prefer creamy bases to their chowder with lashings of butter and hearty root vegetables. It's an unmistakable and moreish flavor that will have you queuing up for more.

How to eat the best clam chowder in Boston?

With a seafood tasting tour, you'll be able to try freshly-made clam chowder from the best food joints in Beantown.

12_-_BCC-2023-FOOD-IN-BOSTON-12-1x1.webp

12. Bite into crumbed crab cakes

Fresh flaky crab expertly crafted into a crispy cake with mustard, mayonnaise, and squeeze of lemon. This is a divine flavor combo that makes the perfect on-the-go option. You can go fancy with a crab cake linguine or eat them as-is for delectable, sightseeing fuel.

How to eat the best crab cakes in Boston?

Book The Ultimate Boston Food Tour to try the best crab cakes in town. You'll head to one of the city's oldest and most reputable seafood joints to taste them, Union Oyster House.

FAQs

What are some must-try traditional dishes in Boston?

This city has a pretty diverse culinary scene, but some standout staples include lobster rolls, cream pie, Yankee pot roast, and Boston baked beans. If you're craving some Italian favorites, indulge your sweet tooth with freshly-fried cannoli.

What are the best food tours in Boston?

This all depends on what kind of cuisine you're interested in. If you're a fan of Italian recipes, a tour of the North End district is a must. If you prefer seafood dishes, you'll want to head closer to Boston Harbor or consider a trip to Maine or Martha's Vineyard. If you're someone who favors sweeter flavors, Boston's many markets have plenty to offer you.

What are the top local food markets in Boston to visit?

If you're looking for food halls, try High Street Place, Downtown. It's a fairly new arrival but has already taken the local culinary scene by storm, thanks to its fantastic fast-food vendors. Quincy Market is another option. Launched in 1826, it's one of the oldest outdoor markets around and caters to a more upmarket dining experience.

What is the best time of year to visit Boston for food lovers?

Boston's seafood menus are well-stocked throughout the year. If you're looking for sweeter dishes enriched with pears and apples, you'll find the best produce hitting plates around late September.

How much should I budget for food in Boston?

As with any major city, dining out in Boston can get a little expensive. Expect to pay upwards of $15 for a single course, even if you're sitting down to eat somewhere fairly informal. If you want to treat yourself to a more upmarket evening, expect to pay at least $40 per person.