Restaurateurs Tim and Nancy Cushman of O Ya fame explore their wild side at Hojoko, a loud and colorful take on the Japanese izakaya. The chaotic-good decor pays homage to Kenmore Square and the Fenway neighborhood’s punk-rock history—and, well, Hello Kitty. On the menu, a mix of classic Japanese fare—like robata-grilled specials, traditional sashimi, and Karaage Fried Chicken—meets mash-ups like Funky Chicken Ramen the Hojoko Wagyu Cheeseburger with American cheese, dashi pickles, and special sauce. An extensive sake menu and stiff frozen cocktails may tempt you to have one drink too many—in which case, snag a room at the funky Verb Hotel that hosts it.
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We don’t have anything against Fenway Franks, but there’s much more variety to the dining options around Boston's ballpark. Whether you're pregaming an event or just checking out the scene around Kenmore Square, the Fenway neighborhood is a year-round dining destination. Despite lots of change and some recent high-profile closures (pour one out for Eastern Standard), plenty of new dining options have moved in. From a Vietnamese coffee shop to a modern food hall, here are the best bars and restaurants around Fenway Park.
Nathálie Wine Bar
Throw out any preconceived notions about what a Fenway bar is like and pull up a stool (with a back!) at Nathálie Wine Bar. Located on Brookline Ave. near Park Drive, this natural wine bar comes from the same team as Downtown Crossing destination, Haley.Henry. She puts a proudly feminine stamp on the wine scene through decor and a wine selection that’s focused on female producers. Nathálie will open any bottle of wine if you commit to two glasses, so there’s always something new to taste. Food-wise, farm-informed small plates are wine-friendly and range from snack-sized (Marinated Olives, Prosciutto-Wrapped Shishito Peppers) to More Than Snacks, such as Mushroom Pakoras with tomato yogurt and garam masala.
Tiffani Faison is a bonafide Food Network star these days, between hosting Chopped and winning other competitions herself. But the Boston chef made her name in the Fenway, beginning with Sweet Cheeks Q. An ode to Texas-style barbecue, this Boylston Street standby smokes meat on-site, a fact you won’t forget while seated on the prime outdoor patio. Big trays of brisket, ribs, and fried chicken are done right, thanks to barbecue know-how as much as the top chef’s side dishes, such as Cita’s Broccoli Cheese Casserole and fluffy, softball-sized World-Famous Buttermilk Biscuits available by the bucket. A solid craft beer menu and drinks served in 16-ounce Mason jars complete this spot’s living-large appeal.
This cute coffee shop on the restaurant row of Peterborough Street showcases sustainably sourced beans from Vietnam and brews filtered in a traditional metal phin. The lineup of drinks at Phinista includes a foamy egg coffee, oolong teas, floral flavored syrups, and the classic iced Phin Latte sweetened with condensed milk. Brunch is on every day, with French-influenced dishes like Nutella Crepes with soft-scrambled eggs in the morning and Viet-style rice bowls and sandwiches for lunch, topped with herbs, pickles, and a house-specialty butter aioli. The Lemongrass Steak or Seitan sing with sweet and savory flavors, but you can’t go wrong with the Classic Cold Cut Banh Mi.
Fenway is the lucky neighborhood that gets to be home to the Boston outpost of Maine’s world-renowned Eventide Oyster Co. Eventide Fenway is a much larger, sleeker version of the raw bar and seafood shack, boasting a chic version of the oyster rock with a daily selection of shellfish shucked to order and a bigger Brown Butter Lobster Roll. Signature soft serve sundaes, seasonal crudo, and choice wines and craft beer bring something new to the table every visit. Fast-casual service befits the neighborhood, but Eventide Fenway is nevertheless one of Boston’s absolute best oyster bars showing off what’s so great about New England, in the heart of one of Boston’s most iconic areas.
Trillium Brewing Company
The Fenway Park pregame route has a location of a brewery often regarded as one of the best in the world. Trillium Brewing Company earns acclaim for brews across the spectrum, from hoppy numbers like the huge Headroom to fruity sours like Daily Serving Berliner Weiss series. A full selection is on draft at Trillium Fenway, a year-round taproom reminiscent of a greenhouse, situated on the lawn of 401 Park. The indoor-outdoor bar doesn’t have a food menu, but the eclectic options at Time Out Market are just next door. It’s a casual place that gets busy, but is always welcoming on game day.
Remember when Kenmore Square was a gritty locale with a famous punk rock scene? Yeah, we don’t either. But the family behind India Quality does. This subterranean restaurant on Comm. Ave. has been a favorite for house-made Spinach Poori and creamy Chicken Korma since 1983, nearly 15 years before The Rathskeller shuttered. It’s still a go-to for tons of vegetarian options and some of the most tempting appetizers around Fenway, such as sub-$5 Vegetable Pakoras and crispy Samosas. India Quality keeps things elevated with white tablecloths and necktie-clad waiters, but is also a reliable takeout spot.
Time Out Market
When Time Out Market opened in 2019, it pretty much doubled the number of local restaurants in the Fenway overnight. The food hall located in the Art Deco landmark at 401 Park Drive is home to an outpost of Union Square Donuts, Cusser’s Roast Beef and Seafood, new concepts from O Ya and Hojoko, Bisq Sandos, Taqueria el Barrio, Anoush’ella Saj Kitchen, Gelato & Chill, La Saison Bakery, and more. In-house bars shake up seasonal cocktails and pour an excellent selection of craft beer, or you can take your food to-go into Trillium Brewing Company’s greenhouse taproom next door. Time Out Market has extra-long tables inside plus tons of outdoor dining, too.
Fool’s Errand is a wine and cocktail bar from chef Tiffani Faison, just down Boylston Street from her barbecue joint Sweet Cheeks. Mostly standing room for 20 to 30 people, this tiny jewel box wisely became a private-events space during the era of social distancing. Now it’s back open every Wednesday through Saturday night serving finger foods, fortified wines, and fun. The menus skew seasonal and snacky: Think local cheeses, charcuterie, and Crudités with Sour Cream and Onion Labneh all dressed up with fresh herbs, bright pickles, and the Food Network star’s playful touches. Drinks lean low-ABV, featuring sherry and vermouth in ways fit for pregaming Red Sox games or winding down from a concert.
There is no shortage of sports bars in the area around America’s oldest ballpark—but to find the best one, you don’t need to go very far. Bleacher Bar is accessible from Lansdowne Street and nestled under the center field bleachers at Fenway Park, with a big window in the barroom overlooking the baseball diamond. The shades close during games, but you never feel far from the action (our guy friends tell us they can see the field from their restroom, too). The lively atmosphere is brought home with a solid selection of draft and bottled beers, and satisfying pub food like double-stacked burgers and beer-battered onion rings with chipotle aioli.
Eric Twardzik contributed reporting.