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The Best Food in Boston: A Bucket List

BY: Shannon Grilli | Aug 29, 2017

Every city in America has its own list of the best burgers in town or the most romantic restaurants for a first date. But sometimes, when you're visiting a new place, you're more concerned with finding those foods that best represent the local flavor. To that end, we put together this Best Food in Boston list, which covers everything from beloved iconic dishes to almost-forgotten-about local specialties. Consider it your ultimate Boston foodie bucket list.

Lobster roll at James Hook & Co. | 15 Northern Ave.

You're practically required by law to indulge in a lobster roll while visiting Boston. And while there are many excellent options, we like the no-fuss approach at this 92-year-old family institution. Dressed lightly with mayo and celery, lumps of fresh lobster meat are stuffed into a soft pillowy bun. Pair it with a cup of chowder and you've created the perfect Boston lunch.

Boston cream pie at Omni Parker House | 60 School St.

This classic pie (which is actually a cake) was invented in the kitchens of the Parker House hotel all the way back in 1856, and is still served there to this day. It's so indulgent and rich, we wouldn't blame you if you booked a room just to be able to enjoy it every night of your stay.

Pizza at Regina Pizzeria | 11 1/2 Thacher St.

Boston's pizza scene is unfairly eclipsed by the legendary New York–style/Chicago–style rivalry. But considering the North End neighborhood's reputation as an Italian-food mecca, you can bet there's a good slice to be found. The brick-oven that churns out the pies at Regina Pizzeria is one of the oldest in Boston (built in 1888!), and in this case, practice does, in fact, make perfect.

Indian pudding at Durgin-Park | 340 Faneuil Hall Market Pl.

Once a popular dessert at any Colonial-era table, Indian pudding is a dessert in danger of going extinct. Thankfully, there are restaurants like Durgin-Park keeping the tradition alive. The sweet cornmeal and molasses pudding might not be for everybody, but we think it's perfect, especially when served hot with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.

Oysters at Union Oyster House | 41 Union St.

True, you can enjoy oysters (and all sorts of fresh seafood) practically anywhere in Boston, but why not enjoy them in the welcoming confines of America's oldest restaurant? Grab a seat at the oyster bar and you'll be shucking in the very spot Daniel Webster once did.

Beer at Sam Adams Brewery | 30 Germania St.

Did we just include beer on a Best Food in Boston list? Yes, yes we did. But for good reason! For just $2 (which goes to charity), you can tour this famous brewery and spend 30 minutes sampling the fruits of the brewers' labors. This location also serves as a test brewery for the brand's newest beverages, so you might find yourself influencing the recipes long before the bottles hit the shelves.

Cannoli at Mike's Pastry | 300 Hanover St.

Tourists take note: if you visit Boston without having a cannoli at Mike's, you're doing it all wrong. This Italian bakery in Boston's North End neighborhood has been drawing huge crowds since it opened in 1946, and it's cannoli are so popular, they're even shipping around the country in kit form. In addition to the original, the tube-shaped treats are also dolled out in an array of flavors, including peanut butter, pistachio, chocolate, and pecan caramel.

Baked beans at Marliave | 10 Bosworth St.

This French-Italian spot is largely considered one of the best restaurants in Boston, and also happens to be the city's fourth oldest (it opened in 1885). With its crisp white tablecloths and high-brow menu, the restaurant makes an ideal spot for a special-occassion dinner, but the reasonably-priced lunch menu draws in fans who want to enjoy the atmosphere (and the famous baked beans, which can accompany any sandwich), without the huge price tag.

Clam chowder at Legal Sea Foods | Multiple locations

Is the chowder here the best clam chowder in Boston? That depends on who you ask, and if you ask any US president since Ronald Regan, they're likely to say yes. That's because Legal Sea Foods' clam chowder has been served at every presidential inauguration since 1981.

Spuckie at Cutty's | 284 Washington St.

If you didn't grow up in Boston, you've probably never heard of a spuckie. And really, if you were to grow up there now, you might not recognize the term either, as it's quickly fading into obscurity. Essentially a submarine sandwich or hoagie, the spuckie gets its name from the Italian word "spucadella", an Italian sandwich roll. These days, one of the best versions of the sandwich is served at Cutty's and comes loaded with salami, capicola, mortadella, mozzarella, and an olive-carrot salad. We'd say it's kind of like the muffaletta sandwich, but why confuse the issue further? Take our advice and just eat it.

Fenway frank at Fenway Park | 20 Yawkey Way

Other cities have hot dogs, but only Boston—or more specifically, only Fenway Park—has the Fenway Frank. The baseball stadium staple gets a unique preparation (it's boiled and grilled to be both juicy and crisp), and is served in a split-top roll (similar to the ones used for lobster rolls). We're not saying you should get tickets to a game just to nab a Fenway Frank... but we're also not saying you shouldn't do that.

Sticky bun at Flour Bakery | Multiple locations

Bakery Joann Chang's famous morning treats have been featured on the Food NetworkThe Today Show, and Food & Wine, and even beat out Bobby Flay's version in a heated Throwdown. Amazingly, they've managed to stay humble through it all, and still sell for just $3.75 a pop.