Boston is justly famous for its seafood, but the city offers vegetarian options and local-focused menus as well. Here’s a selection of can’t-miss dinner destinations, with input from Mat Schaffer, food editor and restaurant critic for the Boston Herald.
Rowes Wharf Sea Grille
70 Rowes Wharf, Boston
Boston is crowded with seafood options; one of the best is located in the Boston Harbor Hotel. Under the helm of Chef Daniel Bruce, Rowes Wharf Sea Grill offers traditional dishes, like oysters and clam chowder, alongside more adventurous fare, such as caramelized jumbo scallops with black quinoa in red kuri squash sauce. Seafood stars in every course here, both at lunch and dinner, and the water views can’t be beat. “Make a reservation for the patio,” Schaffer recommends.
Sel de la Terre
255 State St., Boston
Specializing in the rustic fare of France’s Provence region, the brasserie Sel de la Terre offers artisan breads, organically grown fresh produce from its own Apple Street Farm and indigenous New England seafood. “They’re located right next to the aquarium, and serve country French with a focus on local ingredients,” Schaffer says. The restaurant has a second nearby location in Back Bay. Both locales serve lunch and dinner, plus a weekend brunch. Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., the restaurant offers a variety of $5 French Quarter food specials.
63 Stuart St., Boston
In 25 years of business, Montien has collected numerous Best of Boston awards for its healthy Thai cuisine. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week (dinner only on Sundays), the restaurant offers the curries and pad thai you’d expect, but with an emphasis on seafood and unusual sauces, like tamarind and pik-khing chili.
329 Columbus Ave., Boston
“The South End is Boston’s dining epicenter,” Schaffer says, “and Coda is a quintessential Boston neighborhood bistro, with great [Black Angus] burgers, interesting cocktails and fresh, local ingredients.” Lunch and dinner menus offer new twists on comfort food, such as mac & cheese with spring peas and pancetta.
Estragon Tapas Bar
700 Harrison Ave., Boston
Chef Julio de Haro is from Madrid—always a good sign when it comes to tapas. Estragon features a deep Spanish wine list, and specializes in traditional dishes such as paella, with a menu that clearly marks vegetarian and vegan options. Try the crispy paprika chickpeas or cider-whipped Cabrales cheese and green apples on toast. Open for dinner; closed Sundays.
135 Richmond St., Boston
Mare (the Italian word for sea) specializes in sustainable seafood dishes from Italy’s Amalfi coast, and also serves handmade pastas and hormone-free meats. Rated one of the 20 best restaurants in the U.S. by <i>Travel + Leisure</i> magazine shortly after opening in 2005, Mare serves dinner only on Tuesdays through Sundays. Where else can you order a tasting flight of sustainable caviar?
798 Main St., Cambridge
Sourcing fresh, seasonal ingredients from his own organic farm and preparing French-influenced contemporary American cuisine is chef and co-owner Gabriel Bremer’s mission. Apparently, he’s succeeded. “The signature dish is boneless brioche-stuffed roasted duck with glazed local vegetables, carved tableside,” Schaffer says. “It’s killer.” Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, the restaurant also offers inspired deserts, like vanilla bean and chevre cheesecake.
134 Hampshire St., Cambridge
Oleana features Arab-influenced food with a creative flair by Chef Ana Sortun, with many ingredients trucked straight from the restaurant’s organic farm, 25 miles from Boston. “Oleana is harder to get to, but she’s a very talented chef,” Schaffer says. The menu features great vegetarian options as well as meats sourced whole from local farms. Try lamb with Turkish spices for a classic flavor, or go with the fixed-price vegetarian tasting menu, which features 5 meze and dessert for $40. Dinner only; try Sortun’s nearby Sofra Bakery and Café (sofrabakery.com) for breakfast and lunch.
47 Palmer St., Cambridge
Specializing in vegetarian fare, this Harvard Square icon offers meat- and dairy-free pizzas with organic crusts, and a range of vegan desserts like the organic fair-trade chocolate brownie topped with soy ice cream. In the evenings, Veggie Planet shares its space with the folk-music venue Club Passim. Meal-sized salads and sandwiches round out the menu.