The Best Restaurants in the South End

By Jacqueline Cain
MYERS + CHANG vegan food

Don’t be fooled by the low-key ambiance; these brownstones hide countless stellar restaurants run by some of Boston’s top chefs. Whether you're craving Asian cuisine, European fare, or a classic Boston raw bar experience, South End restaurants have it all—so it's no wonder why the South End is a top dining destination in the city.

Interior of Myers + Chang

Chinese, Thai, Indonesian—there are nods to many different cuisines on the family-style menu at acclaimed chef Joanne Chang’s Asian fusion favorite Myers + Chang. Classics like Pork + Chive Dumplings and Dan Dan Noodles have become signature dishes, coexisting alongside modern classics like Soy + Wasabi Deviled Eggs and a Shoyu Tuna + Spicy Salmon Poke bowl. Myers + Chang serves a super-fun dim sum brunch on Fridays and Saturdays, and it may also be one of Boston’s most thoughtful restaurants for diners with dietary restrictions like vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, or shellfish-free.

Oysters from B&G oysters

South Boston native Barbara Lynch has opened more than a few of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants, including No. 9 Park and Menton—but B&G Oysters is the chef’s one and only exploration of classic New England seafood. The subterranean space has a petite and pristine raw bar, and a menu serving perfectly Fried Ipswich Clams and simple, expertly garnished cold lobster rolls. The list of East Coast oysters is meant to be savored over a bottle of ice cold grüner veltliner or rosé, and during good weather the backyard patio is an excellent venue for al fresco slurping.


Corn from Toro

Chef-power duo Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer may have opened their first restaurant together, Toro, more than a decade ago, but the Barcelona-style tapas restaurant still inspires hours-long wait times—even on weekday nights. Once you do get a seat—whether inside the crowded bar and restaurant or outside on the lively back patio—diners are rewarded with dishes like pressed Uni Bocadillo with miso butter, roasted bone marrow with oxtail marmalade, and a classic grilled street corn. Keep the energy up by sharing wine from a porrón or a fun cocktail or two.

Kava Neo-Taverna

Though it’s located on a picturesque corner in Boston’s South End, Kava Neo-Taverna will actually transport you to the Greek Islands. White-washed walls and  nautical details set the scene for an array of Mediterranean Mezedakia (small plates) and Kyrios (entrees) like like lamb meatballs, grilled octopus with lemon and olive oil, rich and creamy Mousaka, and grilled Mediterranean sea bass. Limited reservations are available inside and on the street patio, but if you have to wait for a table, no one will mind taking a stroll around the neighborhood.

Pasta from Coppa - The Ultimate Dining Guide to the Best Fresh Pasta in Boston

Another hit from Bissonnette and Oringer, tiny Coppa channels the duo’s creative energies into pizza and pasta. And with great success; decadent Spaghetti Carbonara with sea urchin, and a N’duja pizza with spicy Calabrian sausage and roasted eggplant have earned local fame among top-tier Italian restaurants. Start with a plate of cheese and salumi (best enjoyed on the patio that spills into the adjacent sidewalk) and a pitcher of Aperol spritz. As the name implies, Coppa is excellent at cured meats—try the Italian Grinder to experience the ultimate stack.

Meatballs from SRV

SRV reminds us that Italy is a mosaic of regional food traditions: Not your everyday red sauce joint, it’s a Venetian-inspired bacaro, or lively bar for sipping wine and supping on small plates. The traditional style of bar bites are called cicchetti, and you’ll want to order up a few, including Baccala Mantecato and tender pork and beef Polpette. Risotto are a Venetian specialty and worth of your daily carb count, but we also love pasta dishes here made with fresh-milled grains and seasonal sauces. The backyard patio strung with lights is one of the prettiest plots in the South End, too.

Delux Cafe

Every neighborhood should be so lucky to have a bar like the Delux. Retro and rockin’ with a tiny kitchen that produces scratch-made food that punches well above its weight, Delux Cafe is a South End gem. Settle into a black vinyl booth for a cocktail or beer (your choice: something cheap or crafty, like a fresh Lamplighter IPA on draft). In the warmer months, a street-side patio is perfect for people-watching and bedecked in lush, colorful flora.

Name a more iconic duo than pizza and ice cream. Picco—the pizza and ice cream company—knows what’s up, serving up charred crusts topped with melty cheese and good toppings alongside sundae-ready, house-made ice cream. That’s not all, however: We can’t get enough of the specialty four-cheese Mac and Cheese, and even the chicken wings here are an ultimate rendition. Picco is a takeout favorite, but it’s also a casual, comfortable South End spot that’s as fit for a kid’s birthday party as it is for Saturday date night

Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Jamaica Plain-born taqueria Chilacates has expanded its empire to Shawmut Ave. and the South End is better for it. Beloved for taco plates with fresh corn tortillas and behemoth burritos filled with your choice of Carnitas, Chicken Tinga, Papas con Chorizo, Lengua, and more, it does some of the best Mexican food in Greater Boston. No matter which street food canvas we pick on a given day, ae always grab a couple cups of the house-made hot sauces (our favorite is the mild, herbaceous green sauce) and a fresh-made Horchata or Jamaica Agua Fresca to drink, too.

Bar Mezzana

Salmon Crudo - Bar Mezzana
Salmon Crudo - Bar Mezzana

Bar Mezzana made a splash in the South End when it first debuted, so much so that chef Colin Lynch and partners have since expanded with the tropical bar Shore Leave, neighborhood bistro Black Lamb, and special-occasion sushi bar No Relation. This coastal Italian original impresses with deceptively simple-looking Crudo such as a Scottish Salmon set with dainty dollops of Thai basil pesto, house-made pasta dishes, and refreshing aperitifs of all kinds. Bar Mezzana also boasts a serene patio perfect for spritzing the day away.

Eric Twardzik contributed reporting.

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