The Best Restaurants in East Boston

By Eric Twardzik
03/23/2022
Pizza from Santarpio's
Santarpios Pizza: The Works

If you’re not on a boat or an airplane, visiting East Boston—which is wedged between Boston Harbor and Logan International Airport—requires taking the Blue Line or traversing an underwater tunnel in a car. So the neighborhood wasn’t always well-traveled by many foodies from elsewhere around the city—but it should be. As the historic immigration hub of Greater Boston, Eastie is home to some of Boston’s most diverse, delicious, and affordable dining. Next time you’re seeking a restaurant near Logan Airport or just want to check out Eastie, try our top picks of restaurants in East Boston.

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

Chilaquiles from Angela's Cafe

Angela’s Cafe now has locations in the East Boston neighborhoods of Eagle Hill and Orient Heights, but you could say its hometown is Puebla, Mexico. The late Angela Atenco Lopez had been cooking there for almost 50 years before she moved to Boston and teamed up with her sons to run Angela’s Cafe. The flavors of the south-central Mexican state are infused into unique dishes like the signature Mole Poblano de Angela, a sauce of chocolate, almonds, peanuts, raisins, sesame seeds, crackers and banana, served with a side of house-made tortillas, rice, and beans (we like to add pork loin). We also love Angela’s for more familiar Mexican cuisine like Enchiladas, Tacos, and chicken Sopa de Pozole.

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 served up with hot cherry peppers and fresh-baked Italian bread—a true taste of Eastie.

Lobster ravioli from Rino's Place

Red tablecloths, gigantic servings of Pollo 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 Lobster Ravioli, expertly cooked Calamari Fritti, and—naturally—plenty of fresh pasta. Just don’t let its sleepy residential location lull you into a false sense of table security: The word is out (thanks, Guy Fieri), and wait times can be downright epic. Luckily Rino’s does takeout, too.

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 located near Logan 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—such as pozole, horchata, and huevos rancheros—can also be scarfed down with abandon; nothing here will leave much of a dent in your wallet.

The Quiet Few

Credit: Scott Jensen

Dimly lit, friendly, and full of whiskey and fries, this is the kind of bar that everyone wishes was in their neighborhood. In fact, that’s The Quiet Few origin story: A married couple of hospitality pros (whiskey and wine experts, respectively) opened the bar a few years after moving to Eastie and discovering something like TQF didn’t exist. Now, the Jeffries Point hole-in-the-wall boasts one of the best brown-spirits lists in the city, especially at the price point; plus seasonal frozen cocktails, craft beer, and natural wines by the glass. The tiny kitchen dishes out bodacious bar food like a Simple Smash Burger with whiskey in the spice mix, and an unbeatable $14 option to add on high-quality caviar from the nearby EBO & Co. Grocery.

Updated by Jacqueline Cain

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