Row 34 oysters

Located in the Fort Point area of South Boston, Row 34 is a popular after-work spot. (Morgan Yeager)

Visitors to Boston often have a checklist of things they want to see and do, from walking the Freedom Trail to catching a game at Fenway Park. Another important itinerary item is enjoying the region's seafood, of which clam chowder, fish and chips, fried clams, and, of course, lobster are the stars.

Nina Senatore, guest experience ambassador at The Lenox Hotel, says, "I think the No. 1 thing we are known for is lobster rolls." She calls them one of "Boston's best inventions."

[Read: The Best Hotels in Boston.]

Fortunately, there are spots to indulge in lobster rolls, as well as other bounty from the sea, in almost every neighborhood in Boston. U.S. News got recommendations from local experts on where to go.

The Barking Crab


The Barking Crab

The Barking Crab (Brian Samuels Photography)


Suzanne Wenz, director of marketing communications and PR at the Taj Boston and Boston Park Plaza, says, "I would say if you want a super-casual, outdoor-picnic-table scenario, The Barking Crab is kind of quintessential, with lobster rolls and fried seafood."

The Barking Crab, located in the Seaport District, has been serving up seafood for more than 20 years in a lively, fun venue where patrons put on bibs to tuck into steamed lobsters. Seafood prices, especially for lobster and oysters, fluctuate daily, but appetizers like the hot crab dip or the chorizo-stuffed littleneck clams are $12. The Fisherman's Platter, a popular entree with fried clam strips, scallops, shrimp and haddock, is $31.

Neptune Oyster

Local experts universally seem to praise Neptune Oyster in the North End. Keith Loveless, head concierge at The Langham, Boston, says, "I love Neptune on Salem Street," calling the food simply "incredible."

Both Wenz and Senatore give the lobster rolls at Neptune high marks. Senatore loves the "warm butter and beautiful brioche bun" that the lobster rolls are served in. Neptune's raw bar is a big draw, with a selection of oysters, clams, shrimp, octopus, crab claws and other seafood. The Maine lobster roll is $29. The house-specialty North End Cioppino, a spicy stew with shellfish, grilled fish and saffron rice, is $31.

Pauli's North End


Pauli's North End

Pauli's North End (Courtesy of Pauli's North End)


Julianne Boyle, concierge at The Ritz-Carlton, Boston, offers another opinion on lobster rolls: "The best lobster rolls are served at Pauli's North End restaurant," she says. "It is not a tourist hot spot or fancy in the slightest, but that's what makes Pauli's such a gem. The lobster is always incredibly fresh and overflowing from the bun."

[Read: 10 Boston Bars Locals Love.]

Also located on Salem Street, Pauli's serves up what might be Boston's largest lobster roll, the "Lobstitution," with an astounding 25 ounces of fresh lobster meat on a long sub roll. The price changes daily, but expect to pay roughly $70. The smaller 7-ounce version is about $18.

Yankee Lobster Co.

In business since 1950, Yankee Lobster Co. in the Seaport District started out as a fish supplier for restaurants and shops. Happily for seafood lovers, the wholesaler also has a restaurant, where crab cakes are about $14, clam chowder is about $5 and traditional lobster rolls are about $24.

Sara Flight, director of public relations at Mandarin Oriental, Boston, says, "Being a local, it's about authentic seafood. In the city, I would recommend the smaller countertop places like Yankee Lobster."

Ostra

For a more upscale experience, Boyle says, "Ostra is the top seafood restaurant in Boston, in my opinion. The quality of food is unmatched, and the raw bar is incredible. Not only that, but the service and ambiance are top-notch."

Kim Weeks, guest ambassador at the Kimpton Marlowe Hotel, agrees, saying, "For high-end, a superb quality experience is Ostra in downtown Boston. It is amazing."

Located in the Back Bay, Ostra focuses on Mediterranean seafood dishes. New England coastal fish soup is a delicious starter for $18, and a popular entree is the "Valenciana style" paella, with bomba rice, saffron, Maine lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, octopus, squid, drumette confit and chorizo, for $48.

Row 34


Row 34

Row 34 (Morgan Yeager)


Boyle says, "Row 34 is a more casual, equally delicious favorite of mine. The food is fresh, and the ambiance is chic. It is the perfect date spot" if you're looking for a place that serves oysters, lobster rolls and quality draft beer.

Located in the Fort Point area of South Boston, Row 34 is the sister restaurant to Island Creek Oyster Bar (see below) and offers a wide selection of seafood dishes and beer. It's a lively and popular after-work spot, with raw oysters and calamari flying out of the kitchen. Lager-steamed mussels with scallion butter are a perfect appetizer at $15, and entrees include a special daily whole fish cooked how you like for $28, while beer-battered fish and chips are $18.

Island Creek Oyster Bar


Island Creek Oyster Bar

Island Creek Oyster Bar (Michael Harlan Turkell)


Located in the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square, Island Creek Oyster Bar, named for the Duxbury Bay farm where the tasty oysters come from, is a wildly popular spot for seafood. Island Creek Oysters show up on menus all over town (and the country), so don't be surprised when you see them elsewhere.

[Read: 5 Top Breweries to Visit in Boston.]

The creative menu features dishes like oyster sliders and mussel toast, as well as classics like clam chowder, and fish and chips. The fish selection changes daily, but recent offerings have included herb-crusted cod, with fingerling potatoes, asparagus and Vidalia onions, for $36, and New Bedford sea scallops, with lentils, curry and pesto, for $36.

Legal Harborside


Legal Harborside

Legal Harborside (Chip Nestor)


Loveless says, "If you're going to do waterfront dining, Legal Harborside is absolutely awesome."

The flagship of the renowned Boston seafood empire that is Legal Sea Foods is a three-story, 20,000-square-foot property right on the waterfront in the Seaport District. The first floor is a casual restaurant and bar, with an oyster bar and a market. The third floor offers the real showstopper, though, with a rooftop lounge that has a retractable glass roof and walls.

Signature dishes like New England clam chowder for $7.50, crab cake for about $17 and steamed lobsters (market price) are available on the first floor, while on the rooftop, sushi is the main focus of the menu.

To experience more of what Boston has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

15 Best Foodie Destinations in the USA


Photo Gallery
Friends eating pizza at a restaurant.
The Las Vegas strip at sunset.
Philly Steak Sandwich with Au Jus
Telescope overlooking the Seattle skyline.
USA, South Carolina, Charleston, Church Street, St. Philip's Church
Close-up of Burgers and Hot Dogs on the Barbecue, Houston, Texas, USA
Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. during late March.
Foodie tour classic Chicago hot dog with french fries
San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge at sunset.
New Orleans Beignet
Dramatic sky over Los Angeles.
|

What makes a great foodie destination?
More and more travelers are planning their vacations around the eateries they want to visit in any given destination. After all, a large part of a city's culture lies in its cuisine. But what makes a place worth visiting for the food alone? The answer depends on who you ask.

Some would say it's a distinct, authentic cuisine that the city does best, while others value a wealth of options that range from ethnic to innovative. Others say it's placing heightened importance on using only fresh, local ingredients. No matter the definition, the 15 cities that appear on U.S. News' first-ever Best Foodie Destinations in the USA ranking share one common factor: they offer unforgettable gastronomic experiences that travelers keep coming back for. 
(iStockPhoto)

15. Pittsburgh
Home to hearty Eastern European classics like Polish sausages and cabbage rolls, plus french fry-topped sandwiches and salads (which aren't going anywhere anytime soon), the Steel City is graduating to a more sophisticated culinary style. The gastronomic resurgence in recent years has caught the attention of publications like Zagat, Bon Appétit and Food & Wine Magazine. While critics are singing Pittsburgh's praises, locals are embracing the edible renaissance with open arms. 
(Getty Images)

14. Asheville, North Carolina
This small mountain town may be known for its laid-back, hippie vibe, but it still packs a palatable punch in its 45 square miles. While the Appalachian Trail may seem like a strange place for a culinary hot spot, chefs and curious eaters have started congregating in western North Carolina in pursuit of inventive, offbeat creations. Aside from its impressive restaurant lineup, Asheville boasts more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the country, meaning you'll have plenty of interesting suds to pair with your meal.  
(Getty Images)

13. Las Vegas
High rollers have to eat too, right? And in Vegas, they expect to eat well. Sin City has raised the stakes when it comes to dining, dazzling tourists with whimsical, over-the-top decor and celebrity chef-backed restaurants from the likes of Wolfgang Puck and Pierre Gagnaire, whose only U.S. restaurant is in the Mandarin Oriental. And if you lose in the casinos, don't worry: Sin City still boasts plenty of affordable options and cheap all-you-can-eat buffets to keep you going. 
(Getty Images)

12. Philadelphia
In 2015, Philadelphia was named the first World Heritage City in the United States. Though the City of Brotherly Love is certainly home to a fair amount of history, that doesn't mean its food scene is stuck in the past. While classics like cheesesteaks and soft pretzels still reign supreme, Philly balances those hallmark dishes with vegetarian and vegan eateries, as well as a wealth of genuine Italian and Jewish fare. Plus, the city originated the BYOB policy and now boasts more than 200 bring-your-own-bottle restaurants.
(Getty Images)

11. Seattle
No visitor to Seattle can pass up a trip to Pike Place Market, but there's more to the Emerald City than watching people throw and catch fish. The city's abundance of fresh seafood (namely salmon and oysters) along with its Asian culinary influences have shaped its gastronomy. Seattle's selection of sushi and rice bowls, along with its unique Seattle teriyaki, known for its thick, Korean-inspired sauce, have been recognized by critics and discerning food lovers as some of the best in the country. 
(Getty Images)

10. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston put low country fare at the forefront of the foodie scene. The regional cuisine, known for relying heavily on seafood with a mix of Southern, Caribbean and African flavors, is what this quaint South Carolina city does better than anywhere else. Though the city is proud of its well-preserved history, its chefs have started reinventing staple dishes (like shrimp and grits and she-crab soup) to fit the needs of 21st-century palates.
(Getty Images)

9. Miami
Miami's vibrant nightlife and scantily clad beachgoers often overshadow the city's rich culinary scene. But its cuisine shouldn't be overlooked. The city whips up the best Cuban food outside of Havana, and the proximity to the Caribbean also brings a multitude of full-bodied island flavors. Plus, the restaurant scene is full of young chefs who continue to bring something new to the table.
(Getty Images)

8. Houston
Houston has the savory chops that only the largest city in the Lone Star State can claim. Business travelers from around the world are continually surprised by the culinary diversity here – from mom and pop takeout shops that locals line up for to fine dining pioneers that attract a more upscale clientele. The city is also home to a large Vietnamese and Chinese immigrant population, allowing Asian dishes like spring rolls and pho to intermingle with area classics like barbecue and Tex-Mex.
(Getty Images)

7. Washington, District of Columbia
A city that attracts everyone from small-town tourists to international diplomats has to provide ample options to satisfy them all – and the nation's capital measures up to the task. Boasting an all-encompassing restaurant scene that offers some of the best ethnic food (especially Indian and Ethiopian), as well as area staples like bottomless brunches and happy hour specials, D.C.'s food landscape is anything but boring. When you're touring the monuments, don't forget to stop and grab a half-smoke (the half-beef, half-pork cousin of the hot dog that's a D.C. specialty).
(iStockphoto)

6. Chicago
Deep-dish pizza. Distinctively dressed hot dogs. Italian beef. Cheese and caramel popcorn. Plantain encased sandwiches called jibaritos. Plus the Greek answer to grilled cheese, saganaki. The Windy City's calling card lies largely in its hearty, gooey and iconic dishes. But Chicago's culinary power extends from those staples into a toothsome and ever-evolving dining culture that's as big on innovation as it is on flavor. Plus, Chi-Town beckons talented chefs (40 James Beard Award winners call Chicago home) who ensure that this Midwestern authority presents a robust offerings, so no one goes hungry.
(Getty Images)

5. San Francisco
Regularly lauded by critics and visitors for its culinary chops, San Francisco is a hotbed for foodies of all kinds. The City by the Bay is also known for its knack of modernization and invention, meaning gourmands who flock here expect to be at the forefront of dining trends – and chefs here deliver. But with the influx of tech money and the constant rising of rental rates, the city isn't known for cheap eats.
(Getty Images)

4. Portland, Oregon
Portland might as well have invented the word "foodie." From its emphasis on ingredients (the fresher and more unusual the better) to its affinity for low-cost, high-quality food carts, Portland has emerged as the foodie capital of the Pacific Northwest. The city has become a favorite of industry experts for its eagerness to present unique yet affordable options, from doughnuts to craft beer.
(Getty Images)

3. New Orleans
The Big Easy has an identity all its own – a mix of Cajun, Creole and French – that has always made its food distinct. Now, 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, the city has retained its unmistakable character while pushing forward to become something entirely new. Aside from the mouthwatering dishes, the deeply rooted sense of community that's attached to the food here makes it a must for any self-declared epicurean.
(Getty Images)

2. Los Angeles
Los Angeles presents the ultimate in culinary mashups. The city that tailors to celebrities and wealthy patrons with fine dining establishments that boast big price tags also delivers some of the best street food in the country. And since the City of Angels is home to large immigrant populations – namely Hispanic and Asian communities – the opportunities to please your taste buds with globally inspired cuisine are endless. From food trucks to strip malls to trendy eateries, local establishments churn out creative dishes with high-quality ingredients, helping LA stay at the top of the gastronomic food chain.
(Getty Images)

1. New York City
A visit to New York City can include meals inspired by just about every continent, country and culture. Simply put, the Big Apple has it all. It's the premier stage for chefs looking to gain notoriety, and the restaurant scene progresses at breakneck speed, meaning the eateries that stick around have earned the stamp of approval from notoriously opinionated locals. Whether you're craving a pastrami sandwich from the corner deli or a meal on white tablecloths prepared by a celebrity chef, New York City has you covered.
Getty Images/Tetra images RF

Friends eating pizza at a restaurant.
The Las Vegas strip at sunset.
Philly Steak Sandwich with Au Jus
Telescope overlooking the Seattle skyline.
USA, South Carolina, Charleston, Church Street, St. Philip's Church
Close-up of Burgers and Hot Dogs on the Barbecue, Houston, Texas, USA
Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. during late March.
Foodie tour classic Chicago hot dog with french fries
San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge at sunset.
New Orleans Beignet
Dramatic sky over Los Angeles.
USA, New York State, New York City, Aerial view of city with Freedom tower at night

What makes a great foodie destination?
More and more travelers are planning their vacations around the eateries they want to visit in any given destination. After all, a large part of a city's culture lies in its cuisine. But what makes a place worth visiting for the food alone? The answer depends on who you ask.

Some would say it's a distinct, authentic cuisine that the city does best, while others value a wealth of options that range from ethnic to innovative. Others say it's placing heightened importance on using only fresh, local ingredients. No matter the definition, the 15 cities that appear on U.S. News' first-ever Best Foodie Destinations in the USA ranking share one common factor: they offer unforgettable gastronomic experiences that travelers keep coming back for. 
(iStockPhoto)

15. Pittsburgh
Home to hearty Eastern European classics like Polish sausages and cabbage rolls, plus french fry-topped sandwiches and salads (which aren't going anywhere anytime soon), the Steel City is graduating to a more sophisticated culinary style. The gastronomic resurgence in recent years has caught the attention of publications like Zagat, Bon Appétit and Food & Wine Magazine. While critics are singing Pittsburgh's praises, locals are embracing the edible renaissance with open arms. 
(Getty Images)

14. Asheville, North Carolina
This small mountain town may be known for its laid-back, hippie vibe, but it still packs a palatable punch in its 45 square miles. While the Appalachian Trail may seem like a strange place for a culinary hot spot, chefs and curious eaters have started congregating in western North Carolina in pursuit of inventive, offbeat creations. Aside from its impressive restaurant lineup, Asheville boasts more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the country, meaning you'll have plenty of interesting suds to pair with your meal.  
(Getty Images)

13. Las Vegas
High rollers have to eat too, right? And in Vegas, they expect to eat well. Sin City has raised the stakes when it comes to dining, dazzling tourists with whimsical, over-the-top decor and celebrity chef-backed restaurants from the likes of Wolfgang Puck and Pierre Gagnaire, whose only U.S. restaurant is in the Mandarin Oriental. And if you lose in the casinos, don't worry: Sin City still boasts plenty of affordable options and cheap all-you-can-eat buffets to keep you going. 
(Getty Images)

12. Philadelphia
In 2015, Philadelphia was named the first World Heritage City in the United States. Though the City of Brotherly Love is certainly home to a fair amount of history, that doesn't mean its food scene is stuck in the past. While classics like cheesesteaks and soft pretzels still reign supreme, Philly balances those hallmark dishes with vegetarian and vegan eateries, as well as a wealth of genuine Italian and Jewish fare. Plus, the city originated the BYOB policy and now boasts more than 200 bring-your-own-bottle restaurants.
(Getty Images)

11. Seattle
No visitor to Seattle can pass up a trip to Pike Place Market, but there's more to the Emerald City than watching people throw and catch fish. The city's abundance of fresh seafood (namely salmon and oysters) along with its Asian culinary influences have shaped its gastronomy. Seattle's selection of sushi and rice bowls, along with its unique Seattle teriyaki, known for its thick, Korean-inspired sauce, have been recognized by critics and discerning food lovers as some of the best in the country. 
(Getty Images)

10. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston put low country fare at the forefront of the foodie scene. The regional cuisine, known for relying heavily on seafood with a mix of Southern, Caribbean and African flavors, is what this quaint South Carolina city does better than anywhere else. Though the city is proud of its well-preserved history, its chefs have started reinventing staple dishes (like shrimp and grits and she-crab soup) to fit the needs of 21st-century palates.
(Getty Images)

9. Miami
Miami's vibrant nightlife and scantily clad beachgoers often overshadow the city's rich culinary scene. But its cuisine shouldn't be overlooked. The city whips up the best Cuban food outside of Havana, and the proximity to the Caribbean also brings a multitude of full-bodied island flavors. Plus, the restaurant scene is full of young chefs who continue to bring something new to the table.
(Getty Images)

8. Houston
Houston has the savory chops that only the largest city in the Lone Star State can claim. Business travelers from around the world are continually surprised by the culinary diversity here – from mom and pop takeout shops that locals line up for to fine dining pioneers that attract a more upscale clientele. The city is also home to a large Vietnamese and Chinese immigrant population, allowing Asian dishes like spring rolls and pho to intermingle with area classics like barbecue and Tex-Mex.
(Getty Images)

7. Washington, District of Columbia
A city that attracts everyone from small-town tourists to international diplomats has to provide ample options to satisfy them all – and the nation's capital measures up to the task. Boasting an all-encompassing restaurant scene that offers some of the best ethnic food (especially Indian and Ethiopian), as well as area staples like bottomless brunches and happy hour specials, D.C.'s food landscape is anything but boring. When you're touring the monuments, don't forget to stop and grab a half-smoke (the half-beef, half-pork cousin of the hot dog that's a D.C. specialty).
(iStockphoto)

6. Chicago
Deep-dish pizza. Distinctively dressed hot dogs. Italian beef. Cheese and caramel popcorn. Plantain encased sandwiches called jibaritos. Plus the Greek answer to grilled cheese, saganaki. The Windy City's calling card lies largely in its hearty, gooey and iconic dishes. But Chicago's culinary power extends from those staples into a toothsome and ever-evolving dining culture that's as big on innovation as it is on flavor. Plus, Chi-Town beckons talented chefs (40 James Beard Award winners call Chicago home) who ensure that this Midwestern authority presents a robust offerings, so no one goes hungry.
(Getty Images)

5. San Francisco
Regularly lauded by critics and visitors for its culinary chops, San Francisco is a hotbed for foodies of all kinds. The City by the Bay is also known for its knack of modernization and invention, meaning gourmands who flock here expect to be at the forefront of dining trends – and chefs here deliver. But with the influx of tech money and the constant rising of rental rates, the city isn't known for cheap eats.
(Getty Images)

4. Portland, Oregon
Portland might as well have invented the word "foodie." From its emphasis on ingredients (the fresher and more unusual the better) to its affinity for low-cost, high-quality food carts, Portland has emerged as the foodie capital of the Pacific Northwest. The city has become a favorite of industry experts for its eagerness to present unique yet affordable options, from doughnuts to craft beer.
(Getty Images)

3. New Orleans
The Big Easy has an identity all its own – a mix of Cajun, Creole and French – that has always made its food distinct. Now, 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, the city has retained its unmistakable character while pushing forward to become something entirely new. Aside from the mouthwatering dishes, the deeply rooted sense of community that's attached to the food here makes it a must for any self-declared epicurean.
(Getty Images)

2. Los Angeles
Los Angeles presents the ultimate in culinary mashups. The city that tailors to celebrities and wealthy patrons with fine dining establishments that boast big price tags also delivers some of the best street food in the country. And since the City of Angels is home to large immigrant populations – namely Hispanic and Asian communities – the opportunities to please your taste buds with globally inspired cuisine are endless. From food trucks to strip malls to trendy eateries, local establishments churn out creative dishes with high-quality ingredients, helping LA stay at the top of the gastronomic food chain.
(Getty Images)

1. New York City
A visit to New York City can include meals inspired by just about every continent, country and culture. Simply put, the Big Apple has it all. It's the premier stage for chefs looking to gain notoriety, and the restaurant scene progresses at breakneck speed, meaning the eateries that stick around have earned the stamp of approval from notoriously opinionated locals. Whether you're craving a pastrami sandwich from the corner deli or a meal on white tablecloths prepared by a celebrity chef, New York City has you covered.
Getty Images/Tetra images RF

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Tags: Boston, travel, vacations, food and drink


Kim Foley MacKinnon is a Boston-based editor, journalist and travel writer. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, AAA Horizons, Travel + Leisure and USA Today, among others. She has also written and contributed to several guidebooks.

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