Oldie But Goodie: What Is The Boston Dining Scene?

Originally posted on April 3. We’re still thinking about this question.

A poster on eGullet recently asked what food in the Boston area is all about. Somewhat unfortunately, the thread devolved into naming restaurants to try, but we think the underlying question is more interesting. What is unique about the Boston dining scene? What makes food in Boston special?

The most obvious answer, of course, is seafood. Bostonians are, with good reason, notoriously snobbish about their seafood and prone to making grand gestures, like refusing to eat seafood further inland than Cambridge. From Summer Shack to Woodman’s of Essex, it’s hard to go wrong with lobster (or scallops or scrod) in these parts.

Seafood isn’t the whole story, however. Sure, it’s pretty Bostonian dunking a lobster tail in butter, but it also feels proper to bite into one of the cream-filled “lobster tails” at Mike’s Pastry, especially if you get it to go and eat while you’re walking around the North End. Boston is also the ultimate college town, so it stands to reason that the restaurants frequented by college kids (from Anna’s Taqueria to Little Stevie’s are quintessentially Boston in their own way.

It’s tempting to simply say that Boston dining is whatever you want it to be. That may be true, but it’s not the whole story. Boston dining is incredibly diverse, yes, but it’s characterized by certain core features: fresh ingredients (our fanaticism about seafood carries over to the rest of our food as well), (tragically) early closing hours, and a general Yankee wariness about fussy preparations and presentations. That’s how we see it, at least. Tell me, what do you think Boston dining is all about?

Photo courtesy of Singapore-MIT Alliance.


Oldie But Goodie: What Is The Boston Dining Scene?