NFT Boston Back Bay (West) / Fenway (East)

Back Bay (West) / Fenway (East)

Traffic on Mass Ave! MassPIRG on Newbury Street! Berklee students between classes! This area is always insane, and always active. The striking group of buildings that comprises the Christian Science Center, together with the Pru and 111 Huntington (the "Daily Planet"), looks great at night.

Trident Booksellers and Café is a terrific spot for brunching and browsing. Beer drinkers who can handle Tunnel-level stereo volume and a touch of attitude should try Bukowski's. Berklee students often sit in at Wally's, joining more established musicians to play live jazz most nights of the week.See more.

Traffic is always nasty on Mass Ave during the week. On weekends it becomes a parking lot, so avoid driving around here on Saturdays and Sundays if at all possible. And remember: there's no left turn from inbound Boylston Street onto Mass Ave. Few spots in Boston make it so easy for traffic cops to fill their quotas.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Spectacular Views of Boston

By Emily Doutre
"From Bunker Hill to the Blue Hills, from the Charles River to Charlestown, there are a number of spots to catch spectacular views of the city as a whole, both inside and out of Boston proper.  So kick back and enjoy the views."
Boston's Rock Roots

By Suzanne Cope
I wanna rock! Rock! Long before Bostonians were sailing to America and hanging witches, they were performing live, sold-out rock shows decked out in glittery makeup and five-inch heels while harems of slithering females with golden candelabra headdresses did weird swishy circular hand dances around their faces. Don't believe me? Tell it to Suzanne Cope.

Nightlife After College

By Katherine Hayes
Just because you graduate doesn't mean you have to stop having fun! RIGHT GUYS!!? Take it from Katherine Hayes and never be lonely (for post-collegiate revelry) again.

Living on the Cheap in Boston

Cheap things in Boston--whores, crack and donuts. The old sacred triad is true no longer. Lacey Prpic-Hedtke knows better.

Literary Boston

By Kevin Spak
Boston: Some call it the cradle of literary civilization, some just call it... uncle. Don't worry. Kevin Spak will set you straight.

Car Vanity on Newbury St

By Macy Raymond
"You are not Bill Clinton. Don’t pretend you are. If it really makes you hot—mounting a machine like a loose mustang in Utah, only to vroom-vroom for ten feet because inevitable jay walkers impede your gallop line, because old ladies buy flowers and need to cross the Street—then you should breathe, take a melatonin, and sleep yourself off. Maybe, by morning, you’ll go away."


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Sonia Weiser
Photo:  Sonia Weiser

The Red Room @ Cafe 939
Fun fact, this was my first legit non-classical concert ever. And the Red Room was a great gateway to the dive bars in my future. The Red Room @ Cafe 939 is Berklee's student-run music venue. Showcasing anyone from one of Berklee's rising musicians to youtube favorite Pomplamoose (whose sold out concert on June 21 was my first and definitely not my last Red Room experience.) Red Room's concerts provide entertainment to more than the 21+ crowd. Literally a red room, the venue has a completely chill vibe. Small with couches lining two of the walls, the room says, "Come and enjoy" to all. At Pomplamoose, there were "tie-dyed hippies, classy parents, and little kids," explained one Berklee student. Michele Lapegna, a woman who came all the way from Central Maine to hear Pomplamoose described the audience as "artistically minded, outside the box thinkers, progressive and liberal...None of us are Republicans," she joked about her group. While this transition to ticket prices is awkward, The Red Room is run smoothly. And decently priced, the concerts generally run from Free to around $15. Take advantage of this place. You don't know when that next student gig will be performing for a packed house at the Garden.

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Vinny T's
Well that's strange Patrick, you might be saying. I see that you've written a review of Vinny T's on Boylston, but for some reason you've only uploaded a photo of a tree. How odd. I can explain. First, Vinny T's is not the most horrible place on the planet to get Italian food. That's Olive Garden. Vinny is trying really hard to get that crown though, with enormously oversized portions, gimmicks that I'm sure tourists adore, and monstrously bland tasteless food. You could eat the scrap bucket of any place in the North End, and you'd probably enjoy your meal far better. In a moment of weakness, I entered a Vinny's to get a meal for re-fueling purposes only. The tree in my photo, located about 8 blocks from the Boylston Street. location, is where my entire digestive system rebelled against the far too rich and oversized horror. I'll spare you the gore, but I did manage to ruin several items of clothing, and showered immediately when I got home. Perhaps you have a calloused stomach, and can handle such onslaughts of cream and cheese, but I'd personally rather lick the sidewalk.

Posted By:  Stuart Kurtz
Photo:  Stuart Kurtz

Mapparium/Mary Baker Eddy Library
If words and ideas can embody themselves in matter, this is the place for it. Don't think this is a religious setup. They don't push religion here. The Mapparium center instructs you about Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the sect, about the Christian Science Monitor, about geography, and about great thoughts. The coolest part is a huge walk-in globe of the world in stained glass as it existed in 1935. You walk onto a glass bridge to see it all. They added a sound and light show at some point, so they highlight various parts of the world during the narrative. You hear about achievements in politics, and science. Be careful what you whisper; the acoustics are perfect. In the Hall of Ideas is a fountain by sculptor Howard Ben Tre and "word physics" expert, David Small. Letters projected from mirrors and LED technology bubble up from the wellspring, spin out and onto the "page" of gently spilling water, and form 784 inspirational quotes. The quotes then "spill" off the surface and re-gather on the floor to go up onto screens to reinforce the fountain. It stirs the imagination. The whole building does.

Posted By:  Charlotte Strode
Photo:  Charlotte Strode

Do you ever just feel like spending a Friday night with no complications, fattening bar food, Irish Car Bombs, and good booty dancin'? Sometimes trolling around town in search of interesting things or exploring the latest raves gets exhausting. Why not just kick back, embrace the mood for regularity, and go to Dillon's bar. There is absolutely nothing spectacular or unique about the place—it screams "All American" more than an Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement (just think Red Sox crowd, cheeseburgers, buffalo wings, and Jager). But despite Dillon's unoriginality, for some reason it is just absolutely guaranteed to give you a good night. I have tested my theory on many occasions, and after going to the bar over 40 times, it has never failed to give me my Sexy Back.

Posted By:  Charlotte Strode
Photo:  Charlotte Strode

Trident Booksellers & Café
"Umm I would like a tall no-whip, non-fat, hold the sugar mochachino please." Blaaaaaaah! Sometimes you just need a break from the tongue-tying lingo, over-marketed reading material, and bank-breaking beverages. That's when you head to Trident Booksellers & Cafe, nestled on the Massachusetts Ave. end of Newbury Street. Near Boston's art and music colleges, the shop is frequented by a more dare-I-say intellectual, eccentric crowd, making it a fun and cozy place to check out new books, read the paper, or simply have a coffee. The bookstore selection is small but comprehensive, reminiscent of a personal book collection that contains all the essentials and current raves, but has also, luckily, weeded out the crap. On the coffee shop side, there are small tables as well as a long cafe bar providing ample area to satisfy your sweet tooth (the hot chocolate and carrot cake are winners), chat with some friends, or accomplish some work with the free Wi-Fi. But one request—please leave the Starbucks lingo at the door.

Posted By:  Leah Bagas
Photo:  Leah Bagas

Condom World
Pornos, vibrators, flavored condoms and bachelor/bachelorette party favors, oh my! These are the kinds of things you will find in Condom World. An adult store with class, you won't feel seedy and gross walking in because the windows are all boarded up and there are XXX's everywhere. This is a naughty little shop hiding out in the lower levels of Newbury St (between Mass Ave and Hereford St). What's neat is that some of the toys and things have little stickers on them that say "recommended" and the staff, will in fact, explain why they recommend the rabbit or whatever else it is if you are not too shy to ask. Two thumbs up for the shop and one, erm, thumb down for the overpriced dvds.

Posted By:  Charlotte Strode
Photo:  Charlotte Strode

DeLuca's Market
Who would have ever thought that a tiny market with sloping floors, rumored mice infestations, and prices through the roof could be so awesome? But Deluca’s Market manages to pack both necessities and luxuries into one small neighborhood spot. They have gourmet cheeses, a fully stocked wine cellar, freshly made breads…not to mention delicious sandwiches. Instead of dealing with the madding crowds and annoying register beeps at Shaw’s, head to DeLuca’s for prosciutto, German chocolate, and harmless flirting with cute foreign employees—all necessities, in my opinion. Why not indulge…you’re grocery shopping.

Posted By:  Charlotte Strode
Photo:  Charlotte Strode

Bukowski Tavern
Your mood: It's a weekday. You're a little tired but want to do something, and there is no way you're making any effort whatsoever in terms of your appearance. You want to sit cozily with friends in a low-lit spot, and are simply craving a good beer. This is the point at which you head over to tiny Bukowski's in Back Bay, which fulfills all of these mood requirements and more. The small, skinny bar packs in people like sardines and only accepts cash, but there is a massive beer selection (100+) to make up for it. During the weekday, you can usually grab a table and order some delicious bar food (burgers, spinach artichoke dip, etc.); however on the weekend, forget about a table, standing room, or pretty much any oxygen supply whatsoever. I would definitely suggest going on a weekday only.

Posted By:  Charlotte Strode
Photo:  Charlotte Strode

The Last Drop
Nightlife in the Back Bay can often deny some people a generous last call, closing the taps around 1:30am. If you find yourself absolutely needing to get that last shot of tequila before you head home to dance to Daft Punk (whatever), head to The Last Drop on the corner of Marlborough Street and Massachusetts Ave. It’s dingy, smells like sweat, peanuts, feet, has quite the distinguished Red Sox crowd and on top of that it’s known to have the latest last call in Boston! I lived in the Back Bay for two years before I even knew it existed, but once I stepped foot in the low-lit sauna I realized I had found a secret gem. Also, if it happens to be one of those weeks where you are digging up change from under the couch cushions, Miller High Lifes are $2.

Posted By:  Charlotte Strode
Photo:  Charlotte Strode

Jordan the Tailor
Ah, Winter; the season of thick fabrics, constricting shirts and layer upon layer of itchy wool. Anyone need a good tailor around here? Well, funny you should ask. Jordan the Tailor on Newbury Street is my personal favorite—not only does he do a great job, he keeps his prices modest and has stories that will entertain you for hours (we’ve become quite friendly, and you will too!). His shop will take you back a hundred years—rusty scissors, thread spools, pincushions and thimbles galore. So grab your mis-fitting clothing, pay Jordan a visit, and maybe even hear a good story or two.

Posted By:  Claudia Ricker
Photo:  Claudia Ricker

The Compleat Strategist
A hardcore gamer I am not, but as it turns out, I am engaged to one. If you can’t beat ‘em (and I definitely cannot, and probably should not), well, then sometimes you have to join ‘em. They’ve seriously got every kind of game paraphernalia you would want, from board games, card games, and a bajillion varieties of dice, to DVDs, magazines, and role-playing games. The guys working at this place are clearly in their dream jobs and are super passionate about the subject matter. I was treated to a long discussion about the ins and outs of my new personal favorite, a card game I recently purchased called, “Berserker Halflings from the Dungeon of Dragons: An Epic Fantasy B-Movie Card Game.” So, at this point, I’ve made few stops at the Compleat Strategist and I think they were quite happy to have me. I am female after all … just kidding!

Posted By:  Claudia Ricker
Photo:  Claudia Ricker

Anton's Cleaners
Though I don’t find them terribly inspiring, a good dry cleaner can make life better. Anton’s Cleaners on Mass Ave is no exception. If you drop your vestments here, you pretty much get what you were expecting—your clothes returned to you in a cleaner, straighter state for a reasonable price. Sometimes they throw in gems like a $5 coupon for every $100 you spend. I am also quite partial to the twisty ties that come when you’ve dry cleaned more than a few items at once. It’s the small things, right? So, the bottom line is: if you’re in the market for a solid job, quick turnaround, and consistently nice service, this is the place.

Posted By:  Claudia Ricker
Photo:  Claudia Ricker

Pizza Pie-er
In addition to proclaiming they have “quite extraordinary pizza,” Pizza Pie-er also has overpriced pizza. Being the sucker I am for fresh ingredients, though, I don’t see my patronage relenting anytime soon. The menu makes saucy claims like, “An idea, an expression, an emotion…there are no limits to your individuality.” Better yet, they “guarantee you will not experience a more sublime pizza.” As for the actual food, it is just as bold as the highfalutin claims that come with it. Bad ass creations like the Meatichoke (meatballs and artichokes) and the Brimp (shrimp and broccoli) actually work. I freak out with happiness over the texture of the multi-grain crust, comprised of rye, oat flake, millet, flax, and sesame. Also encouraging nirvana is the veggie crust, embedded with carrots, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, and onions. So, though the chic pizza boxes may ask much of the wallet, I hold no grudge. Both my stomach and my soul have been satisfied. p.s. My fiancé wants you to know they don’t offer individual slices and it really pisses him off.

Posted By:  Claudia Ricker
Photo:  Claudia Ricker

Nestled neatly among the shops opposite the Christian Science complex on Mass Ave, Bön Bön is much sweeter than the Church Park monstrosity looming over it. A sign-plate out front challenges you to “come in and see what real Italian gelato tastes like.” Don’t be a wimp. Go in. It’s fantastic. Regulars have the cojones to order three different flavors per cup without the bat of an eyelash. So far, I’ve only braved two: mint stracciatella and bacio chocolate. The result? A delicious depth of authentic flavor that far surpasses anything that wretched Coldstone Creamery can dish. You might try pomegranate and black currant (one flavor), white pear yogurt or maybe pumpkin spice. If, however, you just say no no no to gelato, then perhaps you’d fancy a tea? Here there are 30 varieties of international teas including black, oolong, yerba mate, green, white, herbal, and decaf. The cadeau that keeps on giving, Bön Bön also garners up plenty of nostalgic candies and other sweets: raspberry linzers, sesame florentines, baklava, and gourmet Belgian truffles to name a few. Fun, fancy, and fattening? Fucking fabulous I say.

Posted By:  Claudia Ricker
Photo:  Claudia Ricker

Prudential Tower
Don’t get me wrong, I love city living but sometimes I need a break from the sirens, dog poo and throngs of confused Red Sox tourists in from the suburbs. Because I’m lazy, I like to get away from it all without actually doing so and the Prudential Center’s South Garden fulfills that preference. It is somewhat of a hidden gem and at the risk of ruining it, I will share it with you. It is accessible from a number of entrances, all of which are inside of the Prudential Mall. There is one across from the Pru Post Office and another by Club Monaco. You exit the mall through glass doors and emerge into a wide, open air, fully landscaped garden, complete with trees, lush green grass, water fountains, shade and ample seating. Due to its design, the noise pollution that awaits just steps away on Boylston and Huntington is noticeably absent from the pristine garden. Look up and you’ll see tall buildings as well as open sky. You can sit here for hours and it won’t cost you a penny, which is helpful considering how much you’ll spend purchasing anything from Pru’s overpriced establishments.

Posted By:  Claudia Ricker
Photo:  Claudia Ricker

Dorothy's Boutique
Fishnets and hooker heels and wigs, oh my! Dorothy’s Boutique, a costume candy land with a twist of raunch, expands on traditional streetwalker wear to include all kinds of Halloween appropriate apparatus. On display are at least 100 wigs in colors, lengths, and styles ranging from the Denise Huxtable-esque to the many iterations of Jenna Jameson and everything in between. Prices depend on style and range from about $10-35, with costume wigs being cheaper than the natural looking ones. For costume make-up, they go far beyond anything found in the local drugstore to provide a wide array of stage and beauty make-up as well as fake eyelashes in quite a few sizes. Don’t worry, old classics like colored hairspray and fake skin are available, too. Year round Dorothy’s also has a huge selection of Halloween costumes. For the do-it-yourself-er who wants more than the Insta-Pimp-in-a-Bag, they also have numerous accessories like Lucite platforms, petticoats, jewelry, donkey masks, parrots, Viking horns, and even a Native American headdress ($29.99). More costumes can be found online at For those wishing to strut their inner slut (or even just their timid scarecrow) Dorothy’s Boutique will deliver!

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

I really hate to write a radar about a restaurant that has the atmosphere of everything I despise. If you don't want to step foot in this restaurant, I respect your decision, but you will be missing out on one of the best desserts I have ever had in Boston, their Pan Seared Cookie Dough. This dessert enables me to see past their fake trendy dance club atmosphere. If you are brave enough to step foot in this place, you should also order an Espresso Martini, which perfectly compliments the Pan Seared Cookie Dough. If you are anything like me, I suggest that you get there soon after they open to avoid their regular crowd.

Posted By:  Katherine Hayes
Photo:  Katherine Hayes

I’m a really picky eater, so I never expected to become such a big fan of Indian food. One of the restaurants that helped me develop my taste for it was Kashmir on Newbury Street. Their food is fantastic—I especially like the murg saagwala. But the real draw of Kashmir is the location. It’s the perfect restaurant for a spring or summer night. It has a below-street outdoor patio, so you can people-watch the shoppers on Newbury Street while still enjoying your privacy. And for all this, the prices are reasonable. Kashmir is a great place to check out any time of year, but when the weather soon warms up, this gem on Newbury Street gets even better.

Posted By:  Stephanie Fritz
Photo:  Stephanie Fritz

Amidst the trendy boutiques that line Newbury Street, there are few stores that can offer up a unique shopping experience. One is Firefly Jewelry & Gifts. Walking into the store, you are overwhelmed by the amount of stuff. Every square inch of the store is covered in clocks, doorbells, trinkets, and best of all, jewelry. The highlight of the collection is the Roman Glass jewelry made of 2,000 year old glass dug up from ancient ruins in Israel (prices start at $65 for necklaces, earrings a bit less). Each cut of glass reflects different facets of light, so no piece is exactly the same. There are other collections as well, such as the hand-blown Venetian/Murano glass, Opal-Essence collection, and the Newbury collection (somewhat of a Tiffany’s knock-off). If you go into the store not quite sure what you are looking for, the staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and very patient. Last year, they helped me find the perfect Christmas gift for my mom, right in my price range (and were extremely tolerant as I had them pull out just about every piece of jewelry in their case!). Ms. Hepburn can have Tiffany’s, I’ll take Firefly.

Posted By:  Stephanie Fritz
Photo:  Stephanie Fritz

Ever notice that for a college town, Boston has very few quiet places to study that are open past 9 pm? Maybe it’s because the full time students close up their books at 9 and hit the bars? Who knows?! Even the coffee shops close early here! In my quest for a quiet place to study that wouldn’t kick me out at 10 pm, I found a safe haven in Trident Booksellers & Café. Not only does Trident offer a full dinner menu which they serve until 11:30 pm, they offer coffee, tea, beer, wine, and even specialty coffee. The reason I find this café to be more quiet than others is because of the adjoining bookstore. Since most of the patrons are perusing books and magazines from the store’s selections, there isn’t the usual caffeine-induced chatter. In fact, Trident was voted Best Newsstand 2006 by Boston Magazine (for the second year in a row). Make sure to check out the staff’s picks, displayed as soon as you walk in the door if you’re stumped on what to read.

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Restaurants (30)
Nightlife (13)
Shopping (19)
Landmarks (7)