East Boston

By Eric Twardzik
Pizza from Santarpio's
Santarpios Pizza: The Works

“Where’s East Boston?” It’s a question we hear entirely too much, considering this neighborhood—wedged between Boston Harbor and Logan International—hosts some of the city’s most diverse, delicious, and affordable eating.

Tawakal Cafe

Tawakal Halal Cafe is just a stone’s throw from Logan Airport and proves just as transportive. The family-run restaurant specializes in comforting, spice-driven Somali cuisine, including Beef “Hilib” Sambusas  stuffed with meat, onions, peppers, and garlic; Goat “Hilib Ari” Biryani; Grits “Soor iyo Maraq” cooked with coconut milk; and the “Tawakal Plate,” which features strips of chapati (a crispy, unleavened bread) in a spicy tomato sauce alongside spinach stew and a choice of beef, chicken, or chickpeas.

Meat pie from KO Pies

Compared to its original Southie location, the East Boston outpost of KO Pies is positively supersized. KO at the Shipyard serves the same range of authentic Aussie meat pies and beer as its sister store, plus location-specific specials like Wok Tossed Salt and Pepper Wings and Piri Piri Chicken sandwiches. It also commands panoramic views of Boston Harbor and the city skyline, and picnic tables allow you to take pies al fresco in warmer weather.

Chilaquiles from Angela's Cafe

Angela’s Cafe now has locations in Eagle Hill and Orient Heights, but you could say that its real home is the state of Puebla, Mexico. That’s where Angela herself hails from, and she infuses flavors of the south-central state into unique dishes like battered-and-fried poblano peppers in a walnut-cream sauce and her signature mole. While a dinner menu provides small plates and less familiar Mexican specialties, the lunch menu offers classic flautas, burritos, and enchiladas.

Exterior of Santarpio's Pizza

For many eaters, Santarpio’s Pizza is the reason to visit East Boston. This legendary establishment, which began as a bakery in 1903, doesn’t disappoint its many pizza pilgrims. The no-frills dining room offers huge, moderately priced pies with dozens of possible topping combos. (If it’s your first time, try the Italian Cheese and Garlic.) On the non-pizza front, you’ll find steak tips, lamb skewers, and homemade sausage at eye-poppingly low prices.

Lobster ravioli from Rino's Place

Red tablecloths, chicken parmigiana, murals depicting the old country—Rino’s Place is the platonic ideal of the Italian-American restaurant. It may check all the boxes, but it’s anything but mediocre; the family-owned establishment has been courting locals for decades with Nonna-approved classics like oversized ravioli, expertly cooked calamari, and—naturally—a homemade red sauce. Just don’t let its sleepy residential location lull you into a false sense of table security: The word is out, and wait times can be downright epic.

Tacos from Taqueria Jalisco

If you’ve been on a quest to find authentic tacos in the Boston area, you can stop right now. The answer to your cravings is Taqueria Jalisco, an unassuming storefront a stone’s throw from the airport. Taco fillings like beef tongue, spicy chorizo, and tender carne asada are just as authentic as the tableside salsas that accompany them. Other Mexican specialties—pozole, horchata, and huevos rancheros—can also be scarfed down with abandon; none of it will leave a dent in your wallet.

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