Bring your Green Monster-sized appetite to these home run spots serving fresh oysters, boatloads of buccatini, and more.
Where there’s a will to eat, there’s a Fenway. Whether you’re hanging around before the Sox hit the field, or just looking to run the bases around some of the city’s hottest restaurants, this neighborhood has it all. Bring your Green Monster of an appetite for the big-league flavors of these ten restaurants, from fresh oysters to boatloads of buccatini.
Citizen Public House
Sure, this beloved gastropub by Fenway Park serves a bevy of upgraded-tavern-style fare, like the garam masala-rubbed pork and “What’s the Craic?” burger topped with truffle oil and red wine demi. But the biggest draw? That would be the decadent whole pig roasts that feed up to 10 people (and require a 48-hour preorder). The porky pig-out features a whole suckling pig that’s been slow-roasted for over 14 hours, plus a spread from the raw bar and a boatload of seasonal sides. While the family-style feast is available to-go, it’s best enjoyed in the laid-back environ of the pub, and washed down with sips from the 350-bottle-strong whiskey list.
1310 Boylston St., Boston, 617-450-9000, citizenpub.com.
El Pelón Taquería
Many moons before the more recent boom of new eateries in the Fenway, people were already calling Peterborough Street the neighborhood’s “restaurant row.” The signs on most of the doors have changed over the years—right now, they include Gyro City (a Greek spot), Phinista Café (a Vietnamese joint), and Thornton’s Fenway Grille (surprise, an American grille). One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is El Pelón, which has been offering its bold take on Mexican flavors since 1998. Since then, the rave reviews have piled higher than the piles of rice on the chicken, steak, and fish plates. In particular, we’re forever fans of El Guapo burrito—filled with grilled steak, black beans, jack cheese, rice, and the kick of the scratch-made fire-roasted salsa tempered by fried plantains—as well as the splashy pescado taco, which pairs crispy cornmeal-crusted cod with arbol chile mayo, and pickled veggies.
92 Peterborough St., Boston, 617-262-9090, elpelon.com.
There’s lots to love at the Boston offshoot of Portland’s seafood-showcasing Maine event, Eventide Oyster Co. Come for a quick lunch of a panko-crusted fish filet served with house-made tartar sauce, or linger over the raw bar for a while and crush a dozen just-shucked oysters. (Washed down with some Guy Larmandier Grand Cru champagne, naturally.) Between the Thai-inflected lobster stew with coconut milk and the delectable nori-dusted potato chip, you might have a few daydreams of pan-Asian travels while people-watching at the wide windows. The real star of the show—the gorgeous brown butter lobster roll—anchors much closer to home.
1321 Boylston St, Boston, 617-545-1060, eventideoysterco.com.
What happens when you set a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired Japanese izakaya inside a former Howard Johnson’s hotel? You get the beautifully bonkers Hojoko, restaurateurs Tim and Nancy Cushman’s more playful sequel to downtown’s super-fancy O Ya. Here, on the other hand, it’s all about the playful playlist of flavor mash-ups, from the ginger-soy marinated karaage fried chicken to the Best-of-Boston-winning Wagyu cheeseburger with zingy dashi pickles and special sauce. Sushi offerings similarly hit with a remix of funky ingredients, from the truffle salsa in the shiitake mushroom tempura roll, to the smoked Oaxacan pasilla chile pepper that lights up the spicy salmon.
1271 Boylston St., Boston, 617-670-0507, hojokoboston.com.
This wine bar is the kind of darkly lush and inviting space you’ll want to bring a date to in order to compare tasting notes and savor an unhurried dinner of excellent small plates (the bright branzino crudo and wine-braised octopus are among the standouts), and dig into desserts. Even if you know nothing about wine, though, we can guarantee the bartenders will guide you well through the menu of natural grapes (from mostly women producers and small vineyards) before you finally dig into dessert. Will it be the savory cheese plate with a nutty manchego or the sweet chocolate orange bread pudding? Answer: Both, and another glass of the crushable and fruit-forward Baptiste Nayrand gamay while you’re at it.
186 Brookline Ave., Boston, 857-317-3884, nathaliebar.com.
Orfano, a modern Italian-American fine-dining eatery, had the dubious luck to open only about six months before the early-pandemic shutdown of restaurants. Fast-forward two years later, and star chef Tiffani Faison has earned a James Beard Award nomination for the place, which has since reopened with all the red sauce you can handle. (Not to mention all that cheese oozing out of the giant mozzarella stick appetizer.) Right now, crowd-pleasers include the heavenly “chicky” parm, the linguine with clams kicked up by chili, and the beef osso bucco marsala; also crowd-pleasing is the return of the martini cart, which lets bartenders mix the classic cocktail tableside. The place also looks as swanky and ever, with velvet and glints of gold—exactly the baller vibe you want when ordering a caviar cannoli or a 30-ounce aged ribeye from the Super Luxe section of the menu.
1391 Boylston St., Boston, 617-916-9600, orfanoboston.com.
You’ll certainly find more than just beverages at this jewel of a French Vietnamese café—there’s the fluffy baked egg dishes in the morning, for starters, as well as a lunchtime vegetarian bahn mi that will have even the most ardent carnivores swearing, “hail, seitan.” (Keep an eye out for an evening menu of small plates coming soon, too.) All that said, no one would fault you if you never made it past the rich menu of coffee and milk-steeped teas that make for sippable desserts. Look no further, in fact, than the Phin Rosé, a flirtation with Vietnamese iced coffee that features rose petal syrup, or the ube iced tea with its purple hue and kicky sweetness.
96 Peterborough St., Boston, 617-262-7700, phinista.com.
Maybe right now you can’t just get up and jet off to Greece for a vacation spent strolling narrow streets, munching a warm pita from a vendor. You can, however, more quickly make it over to fast-casual restaurant Saloniki, which offers the next best thing. The Fenway spot is this local chain’s original location, a bright, chic setting that offers even brighter flavors: There’s the charred lemon gracing the whole chicken plates, the tzatziki that abounds, and the spicy whipped feta you might choose to accompany the lamb meatballs or herby-salty pitas wrapped hug-like around, say, grilled chicken thighs or zucchini fritters.
4 Kilmarnock St., Boston, 617-266-0001, salonikigreek.com.
Sweet Cheeks Q
Okay, unlike Tiffani Faison, none of us walked away with $100,000 as the recent winner of the Food Network’s third installation of Tournament of Champions. But at least we can head to her first restaurant for our consolation prize: a bucket of delectable buttermilk biscuits best enjoyed with a slathering of honey butter. The homey barbeque spot boasts a bounty of meats, from the smoked short rib to tender and juicy pulled chicken. Savor all these beauties as a tray, doused in house-made sauce (especially the zippy, Carolina-style vinegar one) alongside scoops of classic mac ‘n’ cheese or barbeque ranch beans. Oh, and there’s one thing you will walk away with—a question. Namely, “How the heck did a barbecue joint make a Cajun shrimp po’ boy this good?”
1381 Boylston St., Boston, 617-266-1300, sweetcheeksq.com.
Though this much-loved local chain has expanded around the city and into Cambridge, the O.G. Fenway location still knocks it out of the park with no-frills feasts of juicy stacked burgers, perfectly crispy fries, and milkshakes that will have you licking the inside of your cup (no judgment). A special shout-out to the classic buffalo chicken sandwich and the side of 50/50 fries and onion rings combo, best enjoyed with chili and cheese for dipping. And as meal deals go, it’s tough to beat the Starvin’ Student combo, a $10 happy-making meal of a burger, fries, and tall boy beer.
1301 Boylston St., Boston, 617-425-4444, tastyburger.com.