You probably know Boston for its historical significance in key events of the American Revolution, like the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker Hill. Or perhaps, you know the city for its academic rigor, with excellent universities such as Harvard and MIT. There are also many historical landmarks in Boston, from USS Constitution to Fenway Park. However, among all of these prominent things, foods in Boston certainly deserve their fair share of attention.
There are plenty of famous foods from Boston that you should try while you’re in the city. Keep reading to see what we find so noteworthy about Boston food!
What’s Special About Foods In Boston?
An exciting feature of the Boston food scene is that they incorporate both local ingredients with the influences of immigrants and local history.
Foods from Boston commonly use ingredients pulled directly from the Atlantic Ocean, producing classic seafood dishes like lobster rolls and clam chowder. Influences of Italian immigrants have also brought an appreciation for fine Italian cuisine to the area.
Beyond this, Boston is a hub of New England food more generally, boasting some of the classic dishes of the entire region like the New England boiled dinner and fish & chips.
With the cold weather in this geography, Boston food is often hearty and filling, as a weapon against the cold. There are many foods in Boston that are worth trying when you’re in the area!
Most Famous Food In Boston
Boston Clam Chowder
What food is Boston known for if not Boston Clam Chowder? Of all the famous foods from Boston, the Boston Clam Chowder is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable. There are many variations of this dish around the United States, but Boston Clam Chowder is a time-tested classic for a reason.
This thick soup has a rich, creamy texture, from the milk or heavy cream used in its preparation. This creamy texture gives it a luxurious, rich taste that is characteristic of the dish. In terms of freshness, Boston has easy access to fresh clams in the area, giving it an unparalleled taste.
Clam Chowder also comes with an interesting historical heritage. Many restaurants have preserved the traditional preparation methods, which have been passed down for generations.
Boston had a heavy seafood trade since its beginnings, and you can feel the influence of these New England fishing communities in this famous Boston food.
Popular Foods From Boston
There are many foods from Boston you should try while you’re in the city! Food in Massachusetts generally highlights many seafood flavors, but there is more than that! Since Boston cuisine has so many different flavors, we’ve split them into sections to help you find the dishes you’ll like most!
Foods In Boston: Seafood
If you enjoy seafood, you cannot leave the city without trying one of the famous foods from Boston: lobster rolls!
In Boston, you’ll find the New England preparation of lobster rolls: chilled lobster meat, coated in a light dressing, in a bun. The buttered roll brings over the indulgent flavors of the lobster and makes this dish one of the standout foods of Boston.
The dressing usually consists of mayonnaise, with a little lemon and seasoning. It is very minimal to allow the natural flavors of the lobster to come through. While you will have no trouble finding this food in Boston, some of the most popular spots for lobster rolls are Neptune Oyster, James Hook & Co, and B&G Oysters.
It would be hard to find a more New-England dish than fried clams, which have certainly earned their place among the notable foods in Boston. This dish takes fresh, whole-belly clams and gives them a light breading. Then they are fried to golden-brown perfection.
In addition, this snackable Boston food generally comes with tartar sauce and lemon wedges to help bring out the natural flavors.
Don’t be surprised if you see a “clam strips” option on the menu at some places! This dish applies the same preparation to strips of clam, which are cut before frying. This prep of the clams changes the flavor of the dish slightly, making it milder for people who prefer a lighter flavor.
Fish And Chips
You’ve probably heard about fish and chips in Great Britain, but they are a famous food of Boston as well! Boston fish and chips are generally made with white fish, like cod, flounder, or haddock. The dish really takes advantage of the fresh seafood in the area, and the larger fish filet makes it easier to appreciate the fresh texture.
The fish is breaded in light flour and liquid-based (water, beer, or buttermilk) batter, and fried to a golden-brown, crispy texture. This dish is always served with French fries and commonly with a side of tartar sauce. It is definitely a classic among Boston foods and 100% worth a try if you find yourself in The Hub!
Oysters On Half Shell
By now you probably guessed there are few places where you can seafood as fresh as those in Boston.
Unsurprisingly, oysters on the half shell are among the famous dishes in Boston as it capitalizes on these fresh seafood flavors. You can’t get a fresher taste of ocean delights than oysters on the half shell!
And you can tell this is a popular Boston food by the sheer number of oyster bars in the city. Some of the best places to enjoy this famous food of Boston are Island Creek Oyster Bar, Neptune Oyster, and Union Oyster House.
Oysters in Boston not only deliver an amazing flavor but also let you appreciate the seafood culture in the area!
To indulge in the true flavor of a Boston lobster, you need to enjoy a bowl of lobster bisque! This food Boston is known for combines a creamy base, made of lobster stock, heavy cream, and tomato paste, with chunks of lobster meat.
The succulent lobster meat sits in the creamy bisque base, offering a subtle elevation of the delicate flavors.
As with many other famous foods from Boston, there are plenty of places to enjoy a warm bowl of lobster bisque. However, some favorite locations for this Boston food include Legal Sea Foods and Union Oyster House. If you enjoy seafood, make sure you dig into a bowl of this scrumptious soup.
Boston Baked Scrod
We’re testing your Boston vocabulary with this traditional dish! Scrod is a young, white-fleshed fish in the region, generally cod or haddock. This is one of the classic foods from Boston because it combines traditional ingredients with local flavors from the sea.
Boston baked scrod is a white fish, baked with a coating of butter, bread crumbs, a blend of spices, and lemon juice. It is normally baked in a dish, which allows the fish to really sit in the sauce as it bakes, collecting all the flavors. This dish is typical of the foods from Boston in that it showcases beautifully simple flavors.
If all of these seafood delicacies in Boston sound good to you, you should consider a seafood walking tour! These tours take you to lots of local spots, which bring the freshest, best-quality foods in Boston to light. It’s a great way to make sure you experience the top-class seafood in Boston cuisine.
Bread-based Dishes And Foods In Boston
Parker House Rolls
These delicious dinner rolls originated in Boston’s Parker Hotel, and they are known for their special shape, texture, and preparation style. With a delicious, buttery flavor and distinctive shape, you’ll always know if you have this Boston food in your hand!
Parker House rolls are generally folded in half, which gives a flatter, moon shape when baked. When preparing this classic roll, bakers add a lot of butter, which gives the rolls their rich, buttery flavor. The texture is also very fluffy and soft, making them extra delicious – you should definitely get a taste of this famous food of Boston.
While it might sound basic, brown bread is a traditional Boston food that will have you rethinking your bagged bread! This bread is not baked but rather steamed in a mold, making it more dense and moist than other preparation methods.
The batter is typically made from a mixture of cornmeal, rye flour, whole wheat flour, molasses, and buttermilk. This combination of ingredients and preparation process gives the brown bread the rich color it is known for, with a rich flavor to match.
The molasses leaves a distinctive, slightly sweet taste, helping brown bread stand out among the foods of Boston. If you order a traditional dish, like seafood, you’re likely to get a side of this delicious bread, so enjoy it!
Roast Beef Sandwich
Feeling a sandwich? This convenient yet delish dish is a must-try!
Roast beef sandwiches have a special place among foods in Boston because of their distinctive preparation and style. The beef especially is thinly sliced and slow-roasted to achieve a really unique flavor.
Despite the trim cut of the meat, Boston roast beef sandwiches are known for being especially juicy, since the meat is allowed to cook in its own juices.
Beyond this, the roast beef sandwich is basically an institution in Boston. There are plenty of sandwich shops around that have been serving them for decades, so it’s almost like this Boston food is part of the local fabric.
Boston isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think about grilled cheese sandwiches. However, grilled cheese is one of the tasty foods in Boston!
Since grilled cheese is such a traditional comfort food in the United States, it’s a popular choice in New England as well. There are plenty of delicious twists on this classic food in Boston.
If you’re looking for a great place to sit down to this cheesy part of Boston cuisine, check out Roxy’s Grilled Cheese or Cutty’s.
Roxy’s Grilled Cheese started as a food truck but has graduated to a full store with many locations selling their unique, cheesy creations. Cutty’s is a popular sandwich place, which serves a high-quality Gruyere and cheddar grilled cheese sandwich.
While Boston is not the pizza mecca that New York or Chicago are known to be, pizza is still among the famous foods of Boston.
Boston-style pizza is characterized by a thin crust that offers both an initial crunch and a soft texture. In terms of flavors, you can get classic Italian pizzas or gourmet offerings; there is plenty of options to satisfy different preferences.
Boston Pizza is so worth getting to know that there are pizza tours available in the city! If you’re more partial to Italian flavors, we suggest a North End Pizza (& History) tour. These activities offer a unique combination of Boston food and history, which is fun for the whole family!
Other Classic Foods In Boston
Yankee Pot Roast
If you want to get a hearty Boston meal, make sure you try the Yankee pot roast! This is a classic, New England style pot roast that utilizes slow cooking to develop complex flavors. Of many foods from Boston, this one is a classic comfort dish that is perfect for a chilly day!
Yankee pot roast consists of beef, generally chuck roast or bottom round, that is slowly braised until it is tender and flavorful with seasons. Along with the meat, you can expect a hearty side of root vegetables and savory gravy covering the whole situation.
You won’t have any trouble finding this home-style classic in restaurants and homes alike, so you should consider giving this Boston food a try!
New England Boiled Dinner
Though this dish is not specific to just the city, it is a favorite among foods in Boston. This meal can be made in one pot, with boiled beef, vegetables, and potatoes, producing an incredibly hearty meal. The meat is normally corned beef or a beef brisket cured in a brine solution with spices.
You’re most likely to see a New England boiled dinner during special occasions, like St. Patrick’s Day or over the holidays. It is especially popular in the colder months when a hearty stew-style dish tastes the best.
Though a New England boiled dinner is a family classic in Boston cuisine, you can enjoy this meal at restaurants up and down New England as well.
Desserts And Sweet Foods Of Boston
Boston Cream Pie
Among all the indulgent foods of Massachusetts, Boston Cream Pie has a special place as an iconic dessert in the area. This delectable dessert has been the official dessert of the state since 1996, and it is emblematic of Boston cuisine and the culinary traditions there.
A Boston Cream pie is made with two layers of light sponge cake, filled with smooth pastry cream, and topped with chocolate ganache. The decadent, yet slightly bitter, flavor elevates the pie both in taste and presentation.
Although it’s called a pie, this dessert is technically a cake – make sure you give this food Boston is known for a try!
While this treat hails from Italy, it has become iconic among the foods of Boston. The Italian community in the city, especially in the North End, brought Italian flavors to the forefront of the Boston food scene.
Cannolis are made with a crisp, flakey pastry tube, filled with a sweet Ricotta cheese mixture that is absolutely divine!
If this taste of Italian food isn’t enough for you, consider spending more time in the North End. Of all the places to sample different cultural foods in Boston, the North End is certainly the hub for Italian food. Enjoy European flavors in this area of the city with a North End walking food tour!
Boston Cream Donut
This next one is such an iconic food in Boston it even has it in the name: Boston Cream Donuts! These are classic pastries that originated from the area.
They are a yeast-based donut, offering a soft, fluffy texture, with a traditional vanilla custard (or pastry cream) filling and a chocolate glaze on top.
These donuts are a staple at pastry shops around the city, so there’s no reason not to give this famous Boston food a try.
If you’re a donut fan, there are more ways to appreciate this traditional sweet snack than just grabbing a donut. Check out the variety that Boston Cream Donuts can offer by taking a donut tour in downtown Boston!
Boston Cream Donut Ice Cream
Following the Boston Cream donut trend, the ice cream version is almost a leveled up way to enjoy this sweet treat on a hot day in the city!
The cold delight takes the popular Boston food and turns it into ice cream, featuring a creamy base with a custard swirl and chocolate bits. These flavors are meant to capture the same flavor notes you’d enjoy in a Boston Cream donut!
Although you can find the donuts just about anywhere, this Boston food adaptation is more difficult to find! You’ll want to have an eye out for specialty ice cream parlors if you want to hunt it down. Any ice cream enthusiast should put Boston Cream donut ice cream on their list of must-try foods in Boston!
Iconic Drinks Boston Is Known For
Sam Adams Beer
This prominent brewery is emblematic of Boston, as it is named after Samuel Adams, a revolutionary war figure. They are considered one of the pioneers in the American craft beer industry. The brews focus on high-quality, flavorful blends that stand out against more commercial offerings.
If you’re a fan of beer, visiting the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston can be a fun activity! The brewery has a wide variety of offerings, from traditional styles like Lager and summer ale to IPAs and fruit-infused brews.
Schedule a tour of Sam Adams if you want to see the making of one of the best compliments for food in Boston. There are also craft brewery tours that takes you to different well known breweries and explore the craft beer scene of Boston.
Harpoon Brewery is another specialty brewery in Boston, which produces the notable craft beer, Harpoon IPA.
This IPA is notable, even among all the beer options in Boston cuisine, for its vibrant hoppy flavor and balanced profile. It also has a distinct amber color, resulting from the unique brewing process, which gives it a unique visual preparation.
The deep, bitter flavor and hops provide a great counterpoint for foods in Boston, especially fatty foods like fried foods. If you’re wanting a Boston-style drink to complement your fish and chips or other fried food, Harpoon IPA is a good choice!
Boston Tea Party Cocktail
Boston is known for one historical event in particular, the Boston tea party. In fact, it is so famous that there is a Boston cocktail specifically designed to honor that moment in history. This cocktail mixes flavors that are reminiscent of tea into a classic cocktail.
The cocktail combines black tea-infused liquor (generally bourbon or rum) with lemon juice, simple syrup, and a lemon twist as garnish. The citrus notes bring in the idea of a squeeze of lemon, which you might add to a classic cup of tea.
If you’re out enjoying the yummy foods in Boston, consider having a Boston Tea Party Cocktail on the side!
FAMOUS FOODS IN THE US
Sampling Famous Foods In Boston
Although the fresh seafood and time-honored pastries are well-known worldwide, there are plenty more foods in Boston to try. With the heritage of Italian immigrants and fishing culture, among other things, the Boston culinary scene features some really diverse dishes.
Massachusetts is known for its historical significance broadly, with Boston at the center of many events and traditions. This history and tradition are steeped in the food as well! While you’re in town, make sure you check out all the famous foods from Boston!