Noshing on copious amounts of East Coast shellfish in Boston was a treat for this West Coast family. Seafood and comfort foods prevail but seemingly any cuisine is available—it’s quite a foodie’s paradise. The nation’s best mac and cheese awaits inside Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Dunkin’ Donuts fuels the entire city through outlets on seemingly every street corner.
The North End heaves with thin crust pizza and other Italian favorites. We managed to hit an Indian buffet near our hotel (Four Seasons Hotel Boston), which also happens to be within walking distance of Chinatown. In case you’re wondering where to eat in Boston, especially with kids in tow, here are some dining experiences that we particularly enjoyed.
Aragosta Bar and Bistro (Now Battery Wharf Grill)
Situated on the waterfront in the North End, Aragosta Bar and Bistro is where Italy meets New England. As the Fairmont Battery Wharf’s signature restaurant, the vibe is contemporary though casual-upscale. In good weather, the outdoor terrace beckons. Some tables have fire pits in the middle to cook decadent New England lobster bakes, gourmet s’mores, and even fondue.
The lobster bake is cooked in the restaurant kitchen and set over the fire in cast iron pot to stay warm. Gorgeous one-pound lobsters, fingerling potatoes, corn on the cob, clams, and chorizo, simmered in a seaweed broth. Roll up your sleeves–bibs are supplied, too–and crack in. DIY gourmet s’mores end the feast.
In addition to roasting her own s’mores, my 7-year-old enjoyed the theatrical aspect of the fire and watching us get messy while diving into lobster. She ordered mac and cheese and nibbled on our flatbread appetizer.
Battery Wharf Grill
3 Battery Wharf
Boston, MA 02109
The Bristol Lounge
We opted for spur-of-the-moment drinks and dinner at The Bristol Lounge Bar inside Four Seasons Hotel Boston, preferring the more casual sofa seating with our daughter in tow to The Bristol Lounge main restaurant. Which was a bit silly as she would have been fine there, too.
Our server was spot-on with drink recommendations from cocktails to wine to this mouthwatering duck entree cooked to absolute perfection. Over several hours, shishito peppers, blue crab dip, popcorn rock shrimp, mouthwatering oysters and more rolled out from the kitchen to our table. The lounge is also known for its selection of local beer and signature martinis.
A kids menu is available here, too. If our stay would have permitted, afternoon tea in The Bristol Lounge looks like a perfect place to spend an afternoon. The family-friendly Boston restaurant offers a special tea set for kids featuring Georgetown Cupcake.
The Bristol Lounge
200 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02116
Legal Sea Foods Harborside
Legal Sea Foods restaurants are everywhere in Boston (including the airport) but Legal Sea Foods Harborside is the flagship with each of its three floors featuring a separate menu and concept.
An oyster bar (up to 14 varieties are offered each day), fish market and menu of casual seafood favorites grace the first floor. Private dining and more elegant fare are found on the second floor while the third floor features bites and cocktails under a retractable roof.
Patio tables on the first floor boast spectacular water views along Boston’s HarborWalk and is the perfect place to unwind (with wine) after a long day of touring. My daughter occasionally took a break from our multi-course meal to peek through the fence into the water, which happened to be full of cool-looking jellyfish.
Everything was delicious with oysters and the wild mushroom and lobster pizza—a dish we could never order at home—as highlights. Of course, Boston cream pie finished the eating bonanza though my daughter’s housemade ice cream proved richly delicious, too.
On weekends from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., kids are invited to “catch and release” trout in the lobby pond.
Legal Sea Foods Harborside
1 Harborside Dr
Boston, MA 02128
Mr. Bartley’s in Cambridge
If your family vacation to Boston includes a visit to Harvard University, try a gourmet burger at Mr. Bartley’s. This cash-only joint is uber-casual with walls plastered with random political and Hollywood memorabilia.
Some might classify it as a dive—in fact, it was featured on the Food Networks’ popular Diners, Drive-ins and Dives TV show—but you can’t beat the flavorful burgers and unique toppings with names based on famous people who have eaten there.
I ordered The Guy Fieri burger (muenster cheese, tomato, lettuce, red onion, Russian dressing) while my husband went for the Charlie Baker burger (bacon, American cheese, grilled onions, jalapenos).
They also boast the best frappes in Boston and my daughter’s strawberry frappe tasted more like an icier milkshake (yum). Go early as it does get crowded quickly and keep in mind that they do need to turn over the tables quickly. Mr. Bartley’s is also closed on Sundays.
1246 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Barking Crab
So, here’s a major the benefit of the Barking Crab… it’s a very kid-friendly option right around the corner from the Boston Children’s Museum and the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. If you’re starving and don’t want a deli sandwich, this is a great option in this part of town.
It’s touristy (though there were plenty of locals when we were there) and a touch pricey but we dove into a giant pile of awesome seafood paired with a pitcher of beer while seated at picnic benches in this very casual, open-air restaurant. It is here that our daughter developed a love of crab legs.
It does get crowded. Other menu items are pretty typical ranging from clam chowder to lobster rolls. It’s meant to look like a New England crab shack.
The Barking Crab
88 Sleeper Street
Boston, MA 02210
Where do you like to eat in Boston?
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
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