Inspired by the western-coastal and southern cuisines of Mexico, Lone Star Taco Bar has created an easy-to-love menu where most everything is gluten-free. At the Allston location near BU as well as at a Cambridge outpost, the Tex-Mex haunt is always open late and known for tacos ranging from Beef Barbacoa to Veracruz Fish and the fan-favorite Birria. The Allston spot also boasts an umbrella-shaded backyard deck, perfect for slugging down a margarita or two.
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Boston University: where The Food Lens officially began. BU is where TFL founders Molly and Sarah first met—and got a taste for all that Boston has to offer. The surrounding campus neighborhoods are jam-packed with awesome restaurants fit for any budget. From easy lunch and late-night options to restaurants worthy of bringing visiting parents, here’s where to eat around Boston University.
In the student-friendly heart of the Fenway neighborhood lives the lively, musically-centric, modern-day izakaya Hojoko. Opened by Tim and Nancy Cushman of O Ya, Hojoko nails the genre’s Japanese pub grub, from Spicy Salmon Rolls and Ramen to a burger that’s the perfect blend of classy and trashy. And the ultra juicy bites of Karaage Fried Chicken dusted in togarashi—oooh, baby. Absolutely worth the short jaunt from campus.
A self-proclaimed “urban oasis” with locations throughout Boston and Cambridge including right at BU, Life Alive encourages us all to add a few more veggies to our lives. Organic, vegan, and flavorful grain bowls, salads, and soups are not just nourishing but absolutely scrumptious. (One of our all-time favorites will forever be the Thai Peanut Sutra.) Life Alive is also a juice bar with vibrant smoothies and acai bowls. The colorful cafe on Comm. Ave. is a comfortable spot to reset and refuel.
The original spot for acclaimed restaurateur Tiffani Faison, Sweet Cheeks Q is always a go-to for killer barbecue in the city. An ode to Southern hospitality, the Fenway smokehouse dishes trays of Texas-style barbecue and sides like Mac ’n Cheese and gigantic buckets of highly sought-after biscuits. Along with the smoky bites, we love the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, both on its own and on a sammie. And be sure to leave room for a sweet treat like the Giant Nutter Butter Cookies. On the same block as Faison’s other cool spots, check out Fool’s Errand for a nightcap (or Tenderoni’s, if you’re somehow still hungry for a massive pizza pie).
The Bay State extension of Portland, Maine’s cult-followed Eventide Oyster Co. serves some of our favorite seafood. Just like its sibling, Eventide Fenway is best known for the legendary Brown Butter Lobster Roll served on a pillowy steamed bun; and, of course, oysters. Fancy plated crudo are always worth exploring, but the Fish Sandwich that keeps things super-classic is a necessity. A sweet swirl of homemade soft serve always rounds out the order. Originally a place where you ordered at a counter, Eventide Fenway recently renovated and now offers a full bar and booths with friendly service.
It’s all about the noodles at Futago Udon. The menu is built around hot and cold udon, a thick wheat noodle served in a variety of ways in Japan. For hot noods, the Sukiyaki Udon is a must—thin slices of marinated beef, tofu, Napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, and a poached egg all swimming in a sweet-savory broth. When it comes to cold noods, we keep things fire by ordering the Mad Tiger Udon, which features spicy miso pork, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and a poached egg. Hot or cold, there is no wrong choice.
This bustling bakery tucked into a residential nook of Brookline is within stumbling distance from BU. As the name implies, Clear Flour Bread is always brimming gorgeous homemade bread made with traditional European methods. From fluffy, fragrant focaccia and crackly Batards to daily specials like Soft German Pretzels, the only downside is trying to make a decision. As if 26 varieties of bread is not enough, Clear Flour also bakes off tremendous sweets and tea cakes plus breakfast staples such as flaky croissants, seasonal scones, and Black Currant Doughnuts.
The Boston University area is filled with restaurants to satisfy any Asian food craving. When it comes to dumplings, look no further than Dumpling Kingdom. It’s part of a local group of restaurants known for Mini Juicy Buns, aka soup dumplings, filled with steaming-hot broth and gingery pork. Try the crispy Taiwan Style Pan Fried Dumplings or some steamed shumai with shrimp for a lighter option. Dumpling Kingdom also serves up heaping portions of Chinese takeout favorites like Egg Drop Soup, scallion pancakes, and more.
Pho Viet’s is where to go for some of the best Vietnamese food in the Boston area. The family-owned restaurant group is a mainstay of the Comm. Ave. area, now located a stone’s throw from the BU campus. It also has an outpost in Newton Centre. Serving up fresh rolls, bowls of the namesake pho, and bun (vermicelli) with lemongrass pork, it’s the Banh Mi that really puts Pho Viet’s on the map. Springy sliced ham and terrine, tofu, or grilled meats paired with crunchy veggies and herbs on a crusty roll make for one of the best sandwiches around BU.
Within equal walking distance from Fenway and BU, Audubon is an essential neighborhood bar and kitchen. The menu is primarily shareable snacks and sandwiches along with a few salads and pasta dishes; and as we’d expect from the same owners as Trina’s Starlite Lounge and Parlor Sports, it serves up plenty of great cocktails. A super savory Katsu Chicken Sandwich is mouthwatering good, and weekly Taco Tuesday specials bring us out regularly. The real star, though? The heated, backyard patio is a hidden gem with low-key vibes and an outdoor TV.
Started as one of Boston’s original food trucks, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese added a brick-and-mortar in the greater-BU area with its namesake sandwiches on center stage. (Roxy’s also has a shop in Central Square.) The grilled cheeses run the gamut from a Classic Three Cheese (fontina, muenster and Vermont cheddar) to Hot Honey Bacon and The Allston, a vegetarian favorite with herbed goat cheese, fig jam, caramelized onions, and arugula. At the Allston location, Roxy’s even offers a fully vegan-friendly grilled cheese menu with plant-based butter and cheeses.