Downtown Crossing Restaurants
9 East St., Downtown Crossing
A long, narrow, galley enclosed by brick walls sounds a little…bare-bones. But the smooth walnut counters and softly muted lighting give O Ya, a former firehouse, a seductive, intimate vibe. Come with a friend or lover and ask for a seat at the counter. Chef and owner Tim Cushman is one of those multihyphenate creative types: a music graduate turned chef who spent years in Europe and Asia before opening a Japanese-style restaurant in Boston. The menu is not strictly traditional—the sushi, sashimi, and sides are certainly rooted in the Japanese tradition but are finished with Cushman’s gone-rogue flair. The menu is divided into nigiri, sashimi, truffles and eggs, and other unexpected pairings to give an idea of the breadth. For a taste of (almost) everything, order the seventeen-course omakase menu. For a more considered meal, choose a few plates off the à la carte menu and be sure to include the legs and eggs (teeny, meaty lobster legs dotted with white sturgeon caviar) and the completely unexpected (in a Japanese restaurant anyway) tea-brined pork ribs caramelized with hot sesame oil and sweet honey.
Union Oyster House
41 Union St., Downtown Crossing
Housed in a prerevolutionary building and open since 1826, Union Oyster House is a little touristy but it makes sense why: It’s iconic Boston, and the clam chowder is out of this world. Go at least once—it’s located on the Freedom Trail so you can stop in along your walk. Bonus: It’s also steps from the famous New England Aquarium (which is right on the water), where littles can check out a multistory tank, a gorgeous penguin sanctuary, and get up close and personal with seals.
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