Where to Eat and Drink in New Bedford, Mass.
Tia Maria’s European Cafe
Tucked in a colonial-style house on one of downtown New Bedford’s cutest cobblestone streets, this family-owned spot really feels like visiting loved ones for breakfast or lunch. (It also serves dinner Friday and Saturday.) Tia Maria’s is named for its founders’ Portuguese aunts and it shows: Friendly servers will set you up with freshly baked pastries, strong shots of espresso, hearty plates, and Portuguese wine. We love this spot for brunch, which features plenty of specialties such as the Portuguese Breakfast Sandwich on bolo lêvedo (a subtly sweet roll) with egg and linguiça (a salty, seasoned pork sausage). Try the foamed milk-lightened Galão instead of your usual latte. Take me there.
For more than 20 years, this downtown Tex-Mex spot has been a favorite pick for lunch in New Bedford thanks to quick service and quality food. The mix-and-match menu of proteins as burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and more is familiar, but No Problemo dishes up distinctive styles such as a chipotle-spiked Spicy BBQ sauce; and the Zapata Burrito with roasted red peppers and guacamole. Decorated in folk art-style skateboards, the cash-only restaurant on Purchase Street is a takeout-focused on one side, with an open kitchen behind the ordering counter and a reach-in cooler full of Jarritos and Polar seltzer. The full-service dining room has a bar stocked with wine and craft beer (try the Buzzards Bay Brewing Golden Flounder). Take me there.
Cisco Brewers Kitchen & Bar
The South Coast is home to a few homegrown breweries, including Moby Dick, a brewpub in downtown New Bedford; and the bucolic Buzzards Bay Brewing located in Westport, a farm town about 30 minutes away. Nantucket-born Cisco Brewers also has an outpost in New Bedford, which has an unmatched location adjacent to Davy’s Beach on the city’s South End peninsula. Unlike Boston’s Cisco in the Seaport, this one is year-round with an indoor bar and restaurant that takes reservations. A beachy outdoor beer garden offers with multiple bars and on-site food trucks serving up lobster rolls, oysters, barbecue, and more. Find live music here multiple nights a week (and even certain afternoons). Take me there.
Waves of immigrants from Portugal and its former colonial islands of the Azores, Madeira, and Cape Verde began arriving in New Bedford in the 1800s. Today, the Lusophone influence is everywhere, and the city boasts a bounty of authentic Portuguese restaurants like Antonio’s, a casual family-friendly favorite for more than 30 years. Fresh seafood stands out at this Coggeshall Street spot, such as Littlenecks & Shrimp Antonio’s, a zesty saute of shellfish in garlicky saffron sauce; and traditionally grilled fresh Sardines. An order of chouriço-Stuffed Quahogs (chopped-up clams, spicy sausage, and breading) is undoubtedly on every table. Meat lovers are also well served by this hearty cuisine: Order up a beef steak or pork dish and don’t be surprised when it arrives with rice, fried potatoes, a slice of ham, and a sunny egg. Take me there.
Union Flats Seafood Co.
As the country’s No. 1 fishing port, New Bedford teems with seafood. But one restauranteur couple (who also own the excellent dNB Craft Kitchen, a nearby spot that specializes in burgers) saw an opportunity to highlight bycatch and less in-demand species. With an eye for sustainability and Asian-inspired flavors, Union Flats Seafood Co. tempura-batters and fries up local hake for “Clean” or “Dirty” Fish & Chips—takes which keep it simple, or doll it up with malt vinegar-powdered fries and okonomi sauce (think of it like Japanese Worcestershire). Monkfish stars in a Bib Bim Bap bowl with crispy rice and kimchi. Popular local delights, like New Bedford scallops, are also treated with care and served with seasonal produce. A special spot for dinner, Union Flats boasts one of New Bedford’s coolest cocktail bars: We love the dirty martini garnished with a freshly shucked oyster. Take me there.
Cultivator Shoals took the name of a bygone fisherman’s dive bar when it opened up on Union Street in 2016—but it brought something new (and much-needed) to downtown New Bedford: A serious cocktail bar. The Cult, which is situated in a historic house that was once home to Herman Melville (according to its website), has a relaxing vibe dimly lit with candles, and a bar helmed by pros crafting artisan drinks. Cocktails seasonally change and are rooted in the classics, like an Old Fashioned sweetened with smoky maple syrup; a Daiquiri that swaps rum for pisco and chartreuse; and a New York Sour based with rye milk punch. The food menu, meanwhile, riffs on common bar snacks, such as “hell”-style Deviled Eggs and mango-buffalo-sauced 3 Smoked Wings. Take me there.
The Pour Farm Tavern
A gem of a craft beer bar since 2008, The Pour Farm Tavern got new owners in 2022 and has only upped its game. It’s still an endearing dive, but with updated restrooms and squeaky-clean tap lines pouring a rotating selection from the likes of Trillium Brewing Co., Foam Brewers, The Veil, Rhode Island’s best breweries, and more. The PFT also has a well-stocked fridge of craft beer cans, plus wine and cocktails (and the food has gotten better lately, too). The narrow yet spacious barroom has a chill outdoor beer garden just off Purchase Street, decked out in an eye-catching mural. Inside, it continues to host live music, plus frequent tap takeovers and special beer events. Take me there.