NFT Boston South End (Lower)

South End (Lower)

The South End is America's largest Victorian neighborhood, has the city's largest gay population, and, after years of gentrification, is now a "destination" spot. All this hipness, of course, makes the South End more expensive than it was a decade ago. Ultra-trendy boutiques rub shoulders with family-friendly brasseries (especially on happening Tremont Street).

Start your night at Delux, a beloved neighborhood bar complete with Elvis shrine. Pick up some steaks for dinner at The Butcher Shop. When darkness falls, hit up The Beehive for a great nightlife scene. The morning after, treat your stomach to Mike's City Diner or the pajama brunch at See more.

>Tremont 647. If you're still alive after all that, call us. Bring pictures...and mimosas.

Street parking north of Washington Street is a disaster, a situation compounded by the paucity of parking lots and garages. Visitors should strongly consider using the Silver Line, particularly to go to any spot on or near Washington Street. Check Gaslight for the food and the huge parking lot for diners.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
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.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Charlie O'Brien
Photo:  Charlie O'Brien

J.J. Foley's
JJ Foley's is the oldest, continually family run Irish bar in the city of Boston. It was here almost 100 years ago that the Boston Police decided to unionize. Although there are 2 locations throughout the city (with the other location in between the Financial District and Chinatown), this bar has retained it's character and personality through the revamp of the South End. Don't be fooled by the fact that they now serve food and have a restaurant (with great pub grub) attached to the bar. You'll still find a variety of people huddled up to the bar ranging from young and swanky, to old and toothless. Whether you are one of the ol' regulars that has been a patron for 50 years, or a new addition to the South End, JJ Foley's promises to deliver one of the best dive bar experiences around.

Posted By:  Peter Malfatti
Photo:  Peter Malfatti

Mike's City Diner
After seeing this place on the Food Network, there was no question I was going to miss out on their turkey. Unfortunately, We didn't get there until Sunday, and they only do breakfast on the weekends. Bummer. That didn't stop us from enjoying an amazing breakfast before the drive back. I ordered the "Emergency Room": Two Pancakes, Two Eggs, Hash Browns and Bacon. And there was a lot of it. We must have hit just between rushes because we bellied right up to a wide-open counter. Before we even got our food, the stools were filled and the line was out the door. At diners I've had great breakfasts and I've had terrible breakfasts. This one was excellent. With the hype this place gets locally and national, I half-expected the waitstaff to be weary from the revolving door of tourists. Nope. All were very friendly. The owner himself was around, happy to greet. I had such a good time, I pulled the ultimate tourist move and bought a souvenir mug before I left. Next time I’m in Boston, I'll definitely hit up Mike's on a weekday and get myself some turkey (and maybe buy a t-shirt)!

Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Delux Café
Delux Cafe has been the best kept secret in the South End for years. With great food on a menu that rotates every 8 weeks, awesome music, low, low prices, and an old school ambiance (wood paneling covered in old record albums, Elvis memorabilia, and other assorted chotchkies; ladies room covered with pages from the children’s book Eloise), this place is like a mirage in comparison to its location, especially in terms of price. But recently I saw a blurb about Delux on the Phantom Gourmet and my first thought was, "Shit. They know." The fact is, it's not a very large space and now that Phantom went and told all the yuppies, it's only a matter of time before it becomes the "in thing" and all the tables are taken up by a bunch of squares in suits. The only thing that might stave them off is Delux's cash only policy. Just in case, my fellow hipster, I suggest you head down there right now and eat up the delicious Blueberry cobbler before the turf war begins.

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Boston Center for the Arts
The Superheroine Monologues, playing at the Plaza Theatre through September 26th, takes a unique tights and cape wearing look at the last 60 years, and presents them to it's audience in one of the most engaging and hilarious ways I've seen: Through Comic books. Starting with Wonder Woman in the 1940s, this play holds a character up as an avatar for each decade, and lets each of them explain the times, from Catwoman in the 1960s discovering free love and recreational catnip, to Supergirl, the quintessential '80s teenager who also happens to be bulletproof. Keep an eye out for the following two performers, who not only made me laugh, but who also transported me to the time periods they each represented. Lois Lane (Amanda Good Hennessey), was so convincing as a 1950s housewife, it was like listening to my Grandma tell a story, and Batgirl (Elizabeth Rimar), managed to perfectly show the 1970s ideal of boring life by day, wild woman by night. Art Hennessey of the ensemble also turns in a Wolverine that is laugh out loud ridiculous. There's only a few Bat-times and Bat-channels left True Believers, so don't miss this episode.

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Don Ricardo's
Albondigas. Even the word itself is delicious. Now picture them, slow cooked with onions and spices and black olives in a tomato spicy sauce, and served with a pile of rice and beans. If you are now salivating like I am, then Don Ricardo's is a destination you need to hit up. This place is hidden gem status for those of us outside the South End, as it's on a lesser travelled street, unless you're looking for the post office next door. The older couple that run the place are FREAKING ADORABLE. They chat with people, and sit and talk with each other while you dine. I totally saw them hold hands, and they are crazy nice. The menu itself is very varied, with a great deal of fish offered, but my meatballs were so damn amazing I've gotten them twice. I also highly recommend the flan, as it's the perfect after touch to their slightly spicy meals, and is so damn good I'd bathe in it if I could get enough. Take a stroll off the normal beaten path of the South End and find Ricardo's, and I guarantee you'll keep coming back for flan again and again and again and again...

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

South End Pita
New spots pop up and fade away quite a bit in this city, but occasionally I manage to find one that I find freaking delicious as hell. Pita, god willing, will be one of those spots that sticks around for a bit. I'm looking at you non-tourists, to do the following, to ensure that my newest favorite middle eastern spot makes it through that first year. Here we go. First, head on down. It's on Albany St, so you can easily find parking without any issue. Second? Order the shwarma combo plate. I'm talking chicken and beef shwarma, with tahini, hummus, and falafel. Allah be praised, it's god-damn glorious, slow roasted amazingness. I've tried a lot of the menu, but after the combo, it's all I can order going forward. I feel unadventurous, but screw it. It's fantastic. Third, and most importantly, talk to the owner. He's always there, he's insanely proud of his establishment, and he'll give you the remote control for the TV in the shop so you can feel right at home. His food and his attitude make every step inside worth it. Don't let me down. I'd much rather eat here than cook.

Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Myers + Chang
Oooh, this place is gooooood! Myers + Chang is definitely a new favorite of mine. It's a bit like another South End fav, Pho Republique, in terms of hip Asian fusion. But Myers + Chang has a larger menu, and that always wins extra points with me. And for even more points, M+C gives each table its choice of chopsticks: bamboo, plastic, or forks. (I appreciate utensil options.) It's also safe to take folks with dietary issues, as M+C has thoughtfully created nut-free, gluten-free, shellfish-free, and meat-free menus that actually have more than just salad on them. But if you are free from dietary restrictions, and you go for lunch, order up a bahn mi (Vietnamese sandwich), a higher quality and more cost effective version of a Chinatown favorite (it comes with shrimp chips!!!). M+C prices aren't especially high, but as usual, you will probably lose control and order way too much once you taste the supreme awesomeness that is M+C. I don't blame you. But I'm not paying for you, either.

Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Ginger Park
If I'm going to spend $30 on an entree, the food had better be "something different." Luckily, BanQ pulls this feat off fluently with an executive chef direct from New Delhi. Many different fun flavors collide on your plate, combining traditional Eastern ingredients with innovative recipes. Definitely check out the flash seared Vietnamese shrimp, the pan seared scallops, and the Muscovy duck breast. But beware: unlike many upscale restaurants, the portions at BanQ are huge. I was actually so full after decimating my dinner that I couldn't bear to look at the dessert menu. The only critical point I can give about BanQ is that the chef is a bit overzealous in the number of ingredients per dish, and could benefit from employing a bit more simplicity. That said, everything was still delicious and worth every penny (as long as you have a lot of pennies). But if the economy is dragging you down, consider checking out BanQ's Bailout Menu, a 3 course prix fixe at $29.95, Sunday thru Thursday, from 5:30 pm-7:30 pm. That's the kind of bailout we can all get behind.

Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Addis Red Sea
If you're wary of uncharted ethnic culinary territory, allow me to sell you on Ethiopian food with my scientifically proven method. (Note: actual science may vary.) Do you enjoy sitting in comfortable chairs at dinner? Has your inability to master silverware prevented you from enjoying a meal outside the home? Are you often chastised by friends and family for stealing food off their plates? Well, my bizarre buddy, Addis Red Sea has the answer to these and all life's problems! With a relaxed atmosphere rich in Ethiopian culture, the Addis Red Sea experience invites you to pull up a comfy stool and gather with friends around a little round woven table called a mesob. All your entrees are served on one giant serving of round, sourdough bread called injera, which is also used to pick up your food. And you can try everyone's dinner without being intrusive, because it's all on the same plate. The fare is spicy, but not overwhelming, with heavy emphasis on vegetables and chili powder, and goes great with a nice glass of honey wine. Check out Addis and be the envy of your friends and neighbors. You'll wonder how you ever lived without it!

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Sibling Rivalry
Sibling Rivalry is another fancy restaurant in the South End that makes delicious food and mixes up some great cocktails. So what sets it apart from the other restaurants of the same caliber? Well, it's simple: the variety of dishes on their menu. As the name suggests, instead of having one head chef, you have two, and they are brothers. What you are getting is two restaurants under one roof. I can't even begin to tell you where to start on the menu since most of the dishes by both chefs are delicious. And, for you eaters who do not like to pay full price, they have a $35 Prix-Fixe menu every Monday night. The best thing about this is that you have two menus of appetizers, entrees, and desserts to choose from unlike at most restaurants where the prix-fixe options are very limited. However, if $35 is still more than you want to spend, you can always get one of their $15 fancy burgers, and, yep, you guessed it, each chef has made his own burger creation for you to choose from.

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

The Cyclorama / Boston Center for the Arts
If you missed the American Craft Beer Fest AND the Belgian Beer Fest, don't worry! I'm here to recount the triumphs, detail the failures and fill you in on a night you'll never experience. The Saturday evening session sold out; beer nuts were so eager for their nectar, they had no mercy for their fellow beer guzzlers. There were many limited edition brews and for the Saturday afternoon there were over 100 (Get that! One hundred!) brews from more than thirty breweries. Since it was a Belgian beer fest, there were little to no stouts or porters. While most of the beers were from the East Coast, there were several importers showing off some international beers. I was looking forward to what Stone, Chimay, The Lost Abbey, and Unibroue had to offer. Yep. That I was.

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church
I crave Greek Food at least a few times a month. Unfortunately, there are only a few Greek restaurants in the area, and hell, I don't like any of them. Lucky for me, it's Greek Fest season! For those who don't know, this is the only time when good Greek food is available in Boston. Too bad for you that my favorite Greek Fest took already took place. Don't be too sad though since the South End's Greek Fest is almost here. From September 19th to the 21st (Friday=Greek Night, Saturday=Block Party, Sunday=Family Day), head over to Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church at 15 Union Park Street and eat plenty of Gyros and Loukomades (my favorite Greek desert), and drink plenty of wine. You might even get to see Mayor Mumbles in the flesh. *LL Cool J 4ever

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Metropolis Café
Occasionally, you hear a great buzz about a place for its dinner menu, ambiance, wine list etc. "Oh it's just so hard to get a table there on a Thursday night," blah, blah, bullshit. You want to know how good a restaurant is, you see how long you stand in line, on a cold damn day, for brunch. See a crowd standing for fifty minutes, and belly the hell up. I don't say this lightly, but their brunch menu is sexy. Spicy black bean hash and chorizo on one plate makes me a bit breathless. A sunny side up egg is always a good yardstick to how serious the short orders are taking things, and mine were perfectly cooked and seasoned, ready for toast dipping, so applause for the boys. On the downside, the place is tiny. We're talking Smurf Village, knees touching, elbowing the people next to you, tiny. On the other downside, as I mentioned before, it's always packed, so if you're expecting a second cup of coffee, might want to hit Dunkin before you stroll in. If you're looking for a lingering breakfast, with someone interesting, after church, this place is right up your alley. Eat slow.

Posted By:  Stuart Kurtz
Photo:  Stuart Kurtz

You don't have to have an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School to deduct this: When you open what you bill as a gourmet pizza and ice cream restaurant, you don't go out of business. It's everything at once. It's casual, elegant. You have comfort food, done well. For instance, the mac and cheese is cheddar, gruyere, taleggio, and Parmigiano Reggiano. And the "mac" is actually penne. It's familiar and trailblazing all at the same time. The pizzas are well done unless you request otherwise. Take my advice: get them well done. In Naples, the Eden of pizza, the crusts are thin and toasty, the sauce light, and the cheese is in balance, not gooey and overdone. Sorry Uno's. Picco gets the Neapolitan style perfecto! Now for the ice cream: They go around the world for the best ingredients (Madagascar for the vanilla bean). Try the Prune Armagnac flavor when they have it. The whipped cream is fresh too, and they shoot it out right in front of you. They're carbon conscious too. That means local produce in the right seasons and biodegradable detergent.

Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

The Cyclorama / Boston Center for the Arts
Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest is, in my humble opinion, one of the best reasons to live in Boston. This is not a beer fest where frat boys contest to see who can drink the most, and consequently puke the furthest. Nor is it a beer fest that offers little more than bland, mass-produced, watered-down beer resembling contaminated tap water. At the risk of sounding pretentious, Extreme Beer Fest is for beer snobs. Held annually at the Cyclorama in Back Bay, Extreme Beer Fest brings together the best and brightest microbrewers from across the country: Dogfish Head, Rogue, Berkshire, Allagash, etc. The Friday night session is Night of the Barrels, featuring wood-aged beers (using bourbon, oak and wine barrels). Saturday offers two sessions in late afternoon and early evening. Attendees are given a 3 oz. PLASTIC cup with which to sample the many brews appearing at the event. It’s like a wine tasting, except you don’t have to spit anything out. And yes, water is free. You have to pay for the snacks at the general sessions, but that’s not going to deter you. Sunset Grill & Tap brings a special collection of yummy, nibbly things and the geniuses at Waffle Haus bring their evil little delicacies, made from yeast-based dough and beet sugar.

Posted By:  Charlotte Strode
Photo:  Charlotte Strode

If you haven't already, you better jump on the bandwagon and head to the Beehive pronto, which has quickly become the bohemian hot-spot in Boston. Located in the heart of the South End in an old boiler room (seriously!), you will feel as though you have stepped into an artist's studio in (the previously cool) SoHo. In fact, the Beehive got its name from the French word "La Ruche", which was an artist's residence in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris in the 1920's. Beyond the name, the feel and decor of the place is certainly La Ruche—so rustic, but ultimately chic. And to make Beehive even cooler, they support Boston's art and music scene—local artwork flanks the walls, and every night beginning at 10:00 there is live jazz music featuring professional musicians from around the area. But overall, my favorite part about the Beehive is the diverse crowd—there is a mix of artists, yuppies, gays, 20-somethings, grandparents, and students... to name a few. There is usually a line—so arrive on the early side and maybe even make dinner reservations (the burger is damn good). Beehive is one of the few places in Boston to serve Peroni on tap, as well as Pisco (a delicious Chilean liquor)… order a "Pisco Sour" and dance your socks off.

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Gaslight Brasserie
I’m a sucker for new restaurants. I turn into a complete rube when I see one, all shiny and pretty, asking me to buy it a drink. I’m an even bigger sucker for French food, so it only took a moment of calculation to decide to bring the little lady to Gaslight 560 for her birthday meal. This place is great. Gaslight goes out of its way to make sure you get what you pay for. From the amazing stainless steel bar, where your drink appears almost as fast as you say it, to the hostess who put a free appetizer on your table for seating you five minutes late, this is the way restaurants should make you feel. And the food certainly lives up to its roots, with plenty of traditional dishes and some fun modern twists tossed in. Throw in our amazing, worth every cent of his tip, waiter, who was patient enough to help us non-francophones decipher the menu and you’ve pretty well covered everything. If only Anthony Bourdain had showed up to tell me he was dedicating his next book to me, our experience would have been perfect. Here’s hoping for next time.

Posted By:  Todd Strauss

There is nothing I like more than a cheap delicious meal, but when my friends gave me a gift certificate to L’Espalier, one of Boston’s fanciest (most expensive!) restaurants, I had no problem putting on my suit and pretending that I was one of Boston's elite (or a very rich tourist). While a weekend dinner might set you back about $150 per person (for three courses, wine, & tip), you can find cheaper nights or afternoons to go when they have a menu for us regular people. And, since they are going to be moving from a mansion to a hotel sometime in the next year, now is the time to go. Everything on our plates was delicious. The food was not just about the main ingredient, it was also about the sides. While the food was amazing, I cannot imagine paying this much for a meal if all the cash came out of my own pocket. So, now is the time to tell all your friends and relatives that you want gift certificates to L'Espalier for your birthday and the holidays.

Posted By:  Knox Gardner
Photo:  Knox Gardner

The Beehive
I spend a good amount of my time in Seattle. And in Seattle, they’re reading about Boston’s new hip joint, Beehive. It got that kind of buzz. I can’t recall what’s been in the bottom of the Cyclorama previously, but the star of the Beehive is the space itself and its gloss of cabaret. That there aren’t more spaces like this, converted basements and odd nooks in old Boston is a bit of a mystery, though one suspects if I was hipper, I’d know a which door to knock. Everyone is knocking on Beehive’s door. It’s packed, loud, and honestly, not a place I’d want to take a date to. With the volume, it’s better that you go with folks you feel comfortable yelling at. Food? Yes. And considering the number of tables they are hustling around, better than you’d think.

Posted By:  Matthew Killorin
Photo:  Matthew Killorin

Mike's City Diner: an oasis of cheap grease in the land of expensive restaurants with adjectives for names. It’s great to see that it exists, even better to know that it thrives on the short orders of such a varied clientele. The portions are healthy--especially when you order mashed potatoes. Generally, I find myself at diners for breakfast, and theirs holds it’s own. I had the traditional 2 eggs over easy, with hash browns, bacon and rye toast. Sure, a tough order to screw up, but nonetheless, the potatoes--while not crisp--were tasty and the bacon was well done, the way I ordered it. Mike’s sister diner, Victoria’s, on Mass Ave in Roxbury, is like Mike's--hold the trendsetters wearing designer jeans and expensive Italian footwear.

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