How would you like to experience Boston like a local? While we’re not from Boston, we’ve done a deep dive into the city to discover 15 spots that the locals love. From Sicilian-style pizza to cash-only sweet shops, add a few of these stops to your Boston must-see list. You won’t be disappointed and we promise that you won’t leave hungry.
5 PLACES TO GRAB A BITE
Cambridge Brewing Company | 1 Kendall Square, Bldg 100, Cambridge
A quick drive over the river into Cambridge, Cambridge Brewing Co. is a local favorite thanks to a fantastic food menu, great brews on tap and live entertainment. If you’re looking for a spot to feel like a native Bostonian, Cambridge Brewing Company is the spot with a rich New England vibe.
Galleria Umberto | 289 Hanover Street
You’ll notice a few spots on Hanover Street in this post. Locals seem to love the North End and I completely agree having fallen in love with it myself while visiting. This cash-only spot serves up mouthwatering Sicilian-style pizza for affordable prices. The catch? They're only open for lunch and once the pizza runs out, it’s out! According to our research, 3PM is the average end time. Our suggestion? Go early when they first open or take your chances with a late lunch after 1:30PM.
Grotto | 37 Bowdoin Street
For Italian food in a more traditional setting, head over to Grotto. This restaurant is intimate with lots of character thanks to the exposed brick walls and the fact that it’s actually located in the basement of the building. Need to impress someone? Maybe a date or the in laws? Grotto is the place to go. It's still on the down-low so you won’t need to beat out tourists for this particular restaurant but you will need to beat out the locals.
Saus | 33 Union Street
For the best fries you’ll ever eat, Saus is the place to go. All the potatoes are hand washed and cut before fried to perfection. Try them with any of the fifteen homemade sauces from a classic Ranch dip to cheesy Bacon-Parm or Curry Ketchup. Dress your fries up even more with their poutine, fries topped with cheddar curds and Saus gravy. This happens to be a local favorite and can be dressed up with different meats and toppings for a personalized experience. Don’t come here expecting to cut calories but definitely come here to dive into a pool of flavor.
Tikki Masala | 3706 Washington Street
Making our way over to Jamaica Plain, Tikki Masala is an Indian food joint that locals flock to for an explosion of flavors. Located in one of Boston’s most diverse neighborhoods, Tikki Masala has earned the position as a favorite ethnic restaurant. Tourists don’t typically venture to Jamaica Plain so you’ll feel like a local while enjoying your Tandoori Chicken. Side note: if you head to Boston, Jamaica Plain is definitely worth checking out so make sure it makes your list.
5 SPOTS TO GRAB SOME JAVA
1369 Coffee House | 2 locations both in Cambridge
Named after the jazz club that came before it, 1369 Coffee House is a true neighborhood hangout. They serve several house blends as well as coffee from Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia and Indonesia. Tea drinkers can rest easy as they have 25 different varieties of fine loose leaf plus more.
Crema Cafe | 27 Brattle Street, Cambridge
Crema Cafe is right over the river in the heart of Cambridge’s Harvard Square. This space is enormous making it a favorite for locals to grab a bite with a friend or meet with a group for study and work sessions. Crema serves MEM tea, George Howell coffee and a variety of other specialty roasters accompanied by delicious pastries from the in-house bakery, salads, sandwiches, soups and breakfast items. We recommend their quiche of the day.
CuppaCoffee | 1 Merrimac Street + 2 other locations
A tiny stand alone coffee bar at the corner of Merrimac and Market Streets, CuppaCoffee is the perfect on-the-way-to-work coffee stop. There are a few seats if you’re lucky enough to grab one but the West End location is more of a grab-and-go spot. Want more from them? Go to their South End location (57 Traveler Street) for Australian specialties like the Great Aussie Pie and other treats.
Gracenote | 108 Lincoln Street
The 2016 winner for best coffee shop in Boston by Boston Magazine, Gracenote is a place for true coffee lovers. For those who like to rate, dissect and examine every cup of coffee, Gracenote will not disappoint. They are as passionate about coffee as those who enjoy sipping it which is felt in every roast and cup.
Thinking Cup | 236 Hanover Street + 2 other locations
A local stomping ground for caffeine addicts in the North End, Thinking Cup makes one of the best cappuccinos I’ve ever had. They serve Stumptown Coffee and Third Wave Coffee exclusively with the mission to provide a premier coffee experience. I can personally say they have succeeded. They also have an extensive food menu for breakfast and lunch with gluten and dairy free options as well.
5 SPOTS TO INDULGE YOUR SWEET TOOTH
Flour Bakery + Cafe | Various Locations
Every single article we found about bakeries in Boston included Flour. Known for crusty, warm baguettes, silky cream pies and fresh, customized salads and sandwiches, Flour is every Bostonians favorite place for comfort food. Whether you want sweet or savory, they have your fix and luckily there are 8 locations to stop in to.
JP Licks | Various Locations
How did I miss JP Licks? That answer is most likely rooted in my fear of lactose-induced complications when I indulge a little too freely. JP Licks is all over Instagram. You can’t be a Bostonian, it appears, and not have tried JP Licks at one time or another. Try one of their monthly flavors, grab a cup of coffee that they roast themselves, order a cake for a special occasion or try one of their specialty ice cream options. After looking deeper into JP Licks, I am beyond disappointed I didn’t try one of their dairy-free options but it gives me a reason to head back to Boston...right?
Mike’s Pastry | 300 Hanover Street
Considered the “Home of the Cannoli” in Boston, Mike’s Pastry always has a line out the door. This cash-only spot has plenty more than cannolis but you will see most tourist boxes filled with several. Being such a hot spot, you wouldn’t think locals love it so much but they do! You might find them picking up a few more treats other than cannolis though.
Tatte Bakery & Cafe | 70 Charles Street + several other locations
Located in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, Tatte’s is a local favorite all over the city of Boston. The original location is on Beacon street in Brookline but this cafe has become so popular, they’ve expanded to Beacon Hill and four different locations in Cambridge. The Charles Street location features an open kitchen, a large outdoor patio and full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. I stopped here for a cup of Belgian hot chocolate and a meatball sandwich on a cold, rainy day in Boston. It was my first day exploring the city and I instantly fell in love.
Union Square Donuts | Various Locations
The brick and mortars for Union Square Donuts are in Somerville, MA and Brookline but you can find them sold all over the city including the Boston Public Market. These donuts are a local favorite and for good reason. They’re phenomenal! Go traditional with a vanilla bean or go out-of-the-box with the maple bacon. They also serve vegan donuts and donut holes.
Are you a Boston local? Tell us where your favorite hangouts are