You may think you know Boston, but this historic city holds a lot of secrets. We give you our tips on where to go, where to eat, where to spot celebrities and more.
Hit the hot neighborhood
Boston’s burgeoning waterfront frequently sees new places popping up, so much so it can be hard to keep up.
In 2015, celebrity chef Mario Batali debuted his first Boston-area restaurant, Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca, to wide acclaim in the Seaport District (his popular Eataly is slated to open in Copley later this year) and this summer, Bostonians can look forward to welcoming Chloe Coscarelli, the first vegan chef to win the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars to the area. She’ll open a branch of her popular restaurant just a few blocks from Babbo.
Fort Point, one of the first neighborhoods in the district to transform, saw the 2015 opening of The Envoy Hotel, which has an amazing roof-deck bar with views of Boston Harbor. It’s a great spot to linger in warm weather. The Rose Kennedy Greenway, which winds through the district, has an innovative public art program, and from April through October world-renowned artist Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads will surround the Rings Fountain.
Then in September, the weeklong Grand Prix of Boston event will feature everything from music to driver appearances, ending with an IndyCar Series race on an 11-turn, 2.25-mile temporary street circuit around the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Without a doubt, the waterfront is an exciting place to be these days. We can’t wait to see what’s next.
When a restaurant in Boston debuts and celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Mary J. Blige are clamoring to dine there, you know it’s not a typical venue. In 2015, local restaurateur Nick Varano, who is on a first-name basis with seemingly everyone, opened Strip by Strega in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel with a bang, and the buzz hasn’t stopped.
The restaurant, which rejects the usual steakhouse décor in favor of a sleek and sexy vibe with cozy white banquettes and pulsing music, is a celebrity magnet, not to mention popular with the city’s who’s who. Among the familiar faces spotted there are Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, actor Kevin James and a host of pro athletes like boxing great Floyd Mayweather, and the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Chandler Jones and Julian Edelman.
While Strip doesn’t look like the typical steakhouse, you don’t need to fear that the food veers too far from the familiar. In fact, executive chef Farouk Bazoune remains true to the spirit of the concept — large cuts of beef, decadent sides you can share — yet manages to elevate everything with a skillful hand.
Tuna tartare, presented atop a giant cube of ice with a dollop of avocado cilantro sorbet, is dramatic and over the top, but it’s also beautiful, and more important, delicious. Order the waygu carpaccio, and if you like, the server can show you its certificate of authenticity from Japan.
Certainly, everything at Strip is bigger than life, which is probably why it attracts people who are, too.
Enjoy a little-known cigar service
For more than 30 years, Grill 23 & Bar in the Back Bay has been serving up steaks and martinis to its loyal fans who want nothing more than a perfectly cooked cut of meat done exactly how they like it, paired with a well-made drink. Grill 23 doesn’t fool around with its menu or recipes — that’s part of its charm — but it did add something new last year: premium cigar service. If what you’ve been missing after dinner is a smoke to finish the night, all you need to do is ask. It was the first restaurant in Boston to offer such a service.
The steakhouse teamed up with L.J. Peretti, a family-owned and -operated business that has been a favorite of cigar enthusiasts for more than a century. Choose from a wide variety of cigars, including Davidoff flagship Classic No. 2’s, Rocky Patel Decade Torpedoes, Arturo Fuente’s Hemingway Signature and Padron Anniversary Imperials.
Ask for the menu when you first come in. Your selected cigars then will be presented to you after dinner in a tableside humidor. The catch is that smoking is not permitted inside, but staff will prep them for you to smoke later that night or seal them for you to enjoy in the future.
Sip at a discreet champagne lounge
In Boston, you needn’t go to a fine-dining restaurant to enjoy top-notch bites and bubbly. The Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Boston paired up with French winemaker Champagne Taittinger to open a discreet pop-up champagne lounge that you will want to visit.
Tucked into a corner of the lobby, which sports comfortable couches and an eye-catching fireplace, the small bar serves some pours by the glass, as well as a few specialty champagne cocktails, including the Boylston Blizzard, made with vanilla simple syrup, kirsch brandy and Luxardo cherry; the Fireplace, with orange bitters, a splash of orange juice and a citrus peel; the Nor’Eastern, with honey, pear, ginger and fresh sage; and the classic French 776, with angostura, sugar and lemon.
A small bar menu features dishes that pair nicely with drinks, such as raw oysters, Oscietra caviar with smoked salmon and buckwheat blini, and Gloucester lobster on petite brioche.
Have an exclusive dinner
If you want a more substantial meal, head to Mandarin Oriental’s Bar Boulud Boston, just down the hall. For an exclusive and intimate affair with friends, book the chef’s table, which can seat up to eight in a private room overlooking the kitchen.
Chef Jonathan Kilroy personally walks you through the multi-course meal, describing each dish as it is presented. For a completely curated experience, the sommelier can also pair wines with the meal.