South End Restaurants
1395 Washington St., South End
The Gallows is a gastropub done right.
102 Waltham St., South End
Stir—a dreamy all-in-one demo kitchen and cookbook store—is the kind of place you pile into with a group on a chilly Wednesday night to learn pasta-rolling and wine-swilling from the masters. A bunch of stools surround the chef’s island, bordered on one side by the open kitchen and on the other by floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with culinary tomes from kitchen gods around the world. Browsing is encouraged. If you’re more the hates-to-cook-loves-to-eat kind, Stir regularly holds tasting menu evenings where you might go with old friends or alone to make new ones. Either way, everyone sits around the intimate table, sharing food and conversation in a setting so cozy, it feels like home.
550 Tremont St., South End
Chef Barbara Lynch has her hometown all figured out. She knows what the Bostonians want: oysters, at least twelve varieties with nearly as many fixings, served in the cozy basement of a classic brownstone, with chatty servers to talk booze and bivalves with. In fact, B & E Oyster moonlights as one of the South End’s most famous wine bars—the seventy-bottle-strong list is that good. Really. We recommend forgoing the Tabasco and dousing your oysters in the restaurant’s prosecco-based mignonette instead. Oh, and book in for a shucking class with the pros—usually held on weekday afternoons, champagne included.
Banyan Bar & Refuge
553 Tremont St., South End
Dim sum, avocado bao, spicy salmon poke, chicken tikka masala, dragon noodles, and kimchi fried rice—the number of dishes we like to order at this Asian-influenced restaurant seems to grow with every visit.
Barcelona Wine Bar
525 Tremont St., South End
Barcelona is a convivial, lively wine and tapas bar in trendy South End, an area that's also home to the long-established Toro. But clearly the neighborhood’s appetite for Spanish food has spiked—both spots are perpetually full. There are a few other Barcelonas, and all are good, but here, it’s the atmosphere as much as the food that keeps guests planted in the wooden seats well past bedtime. Given that Spanish food is designed to be shared, going with hungry friends—and therefore an excuse to order half the menu—is entirely sensible. A heavy, steaming pan of saffron-flecked paella is made for many spoons, while garlicky gambas (prawns) al ajillo, boquerones (anchovies) slick with oil, and a platter of jamón sit firmly in the dig-in-with-your fingers category. Linger at the table with a last glass of sweet sherry, and mop up every remaining morsel with hunks of crusty bread.
Myers + Chang
1145 Washington St., South End
South End has come into its own, and local restaurateurs are racing to set up shop. Myers + Chang (operated by a husband-and-wife team) was one of the first in. It’s like a South Asian diner with great street food. And don’t be fooled by the casual, graffiti-laden setting. The food is incredible. The menu is laid out by dietary restriction—nut-free dinner, gluten-free dinner, shellfish-free dinner—to address how many of us eat today. It can be tough to eat in Boston without pasta or fish taking center stage, but the vegetable dishes at Myers + Chang put to rest the notion that meals need animal meat (although the chicken wings and pork belly buns are heaven). Try the red-miso-glazed carrots or any of the noodle dishes. Spice- and herb-soaked vegetables sautéed in a piping hot pan and twirled with noodles is possibly the perfect meal. And the dim sum brunch on weekends is a welcome change of pace from eggs and bacon.
383 Congress St., South End
Whether you're dining in or grabbing an order to go, this Fort Point spot is unapologetically pro oysters and beer. However, we’d be remiss not to mention that the menu does take into account that we can’t all live on mollusks alone. The eye-wateringly hot fried chicken and bacon burger (with fried oysters, if you must) are stellar options, too. The beer menu is one of the best in town and the high-ceilinged, unpretentious industrial room is casual enough to never make diners feel rushed. Spend a slow afternoon working through the chowders, the Old Bay–spiced onion rings, the buttery lobster rolls, and, of course, a dozen or so Massachusetts oysters with a full sampling of craft beers on the side.
513 Tremont St., South End
Pizza and ice cream play equal starring roles at Picco in the South End, although it should be noted that they have a great draft beer list, as well. The pizza is wood-fired with Picco's signature well-done crust, and the ice cream list covers all the essentials from plain dishes and cones to brownie sundaes, plus some desserts geared specifically to the 21-and-over crowd, like The "Adult" Ice Cream Soda: raspberry Belgian Lambic poured over vanilla ice cream. There's a casual outdoor patio, along with a small interior that reads like a cozy bistro.
1704 Washington St., South End
While Boston isn’t known for its tapas scene (though there is more than one option in the South End), Toro serves truly good Barcelona-style dishes using locally sourced ingredients. A collaboration between noteworthy Boston chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, Toro is open for dinner every night (no reservations), weekday lunches, and Sunday brunch. Big on sustainability, the restaurant composts all biodegradable waste, makes its takeout products from renewable or biodegradable materials, and serves organic, biodynamic wines and spirits.