Where To Eat And Drink In Fenway And Kenmore Square
The best restaurants and bars in a neighborhood that offers a lot more than just a ballpark.
Just about everyone in America knows the name Fenway. But the majority of people who visit only ever see the part of the neighborhood that stretches from the Kenmore Square T stop to Gate A on Jersey Street. But between the art museums, parks, and people who are actually living here instead of just stopping by for selfies on Lansdowne street, there are a lot of great things to experience in the neighborhood. See for yourself at one of the 9 spots below.
photo credit: Tina Picz
Those soldiers who were stuck in a South Pacific jungle for 30 years because no one told them World War II had ended probably suffered from history’s worst case of FOMO. Walking past the never-ending party that is Hojoko and not going in might be a close second though. You can always count on blaring music, a random ’80s movie playing on a big screen in the back, and tables next to what must be Boston’s only outdoor pool that’s open year-round (it’s heated). Hojoko isn’t just fun, though. The izakaya menu (from the same people behind O Ya) is outstanding. Start with the karaage fried chicken, play wasabi roulette with a roll that includes one really spicy piece of salmon, and definitely get the wagyu cheeseburger.
photo credit: Tina Picz
Going out for seafood often isn’t easy. It’s pricey, it needs to be fresh to be any good, and some of it requires you to eat it while wearing an article of clothing that’s normally sold at Buy Buy Baby. That’s why Eventide is so essential - it’s white tablecloth-worthy seafood brought to you Chipotle-style in a bright space. The brown butter lobster roll is as good as you’ve heard, but it’s not the only thing you should be eating here. The chowder is made with big fat whole belly clams, the fried oyster bun is great, and you’ll have trouble slowing down on the the french fries once you start.
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If you’re looking for a place to drink in the neighborhood that won’t be confused for a wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, you don’t have a ton of options. But you do have Nathalie, a tiny wine bar with a small menu of tapas plates. They specialize in natural wines, and if you’re not familiar with those, you may initially demand a refund on a glass of Malbec that tastes like someone with athlete’s foot stomped the grapes that went into it. But the staff is extremely helpful and will guide you to something you’ll like. If you’re hungry, get the lamb brochettes or sautéed calamari.
There aren’t a lot of barbecue places where the thing you have to order doesn’t involve meat, but that’s the case with the honey butter biscuits at Sweet Cheeks. Having said that, the meat is damn good, too. If you’re looking for a fun, casual spot to take a group that has rolls of paper towels on the tables, head to this place on Boylston that might be the closest thing Boston has to offer to a Carolina roadhouse.
photo credit: Mike Diskin
If you’re an 18th century European princess, you’ll feel at home in Fool’s Errand, because with glimmering gold chandeliers and patterned wallpaper, it probably looks a lot like your bedroom. For the rest of us, it’s still a great place to go, and not just because there’s a picture of Snoop and Martha Stewart holding each other in the prom pose in the bathroom. This tiny little cocktail bar doesn’t have any seats, but it does have good drinks and a menu of finger sandwiches and small bites that would really impress you if they were passed around at a wedding reception. Start with the kuri squash croquettes.
Bennett's Sandwich Shop
Lobster rolls are obviously great, but deciding between drawn butter or mayo can be stressful. You don’t have to do that at Bennet’s on Peterborough, because the roll here is made with both. This little counter-service spot should be where you go to stock up for a picnic in the Fens.
Basho Japanese Brasserie
Basho sits comfortably in that range of sushi restaurants that’s not quite at the level of places you save for once-a-year special occasions, but well above the spot where you pick up your desk lunch. It’s a big space, so you can usually walk in and get a table, but it’s also a lot of fun with a bar that gets pretty lively at night and sometimes has live music. They do much more than just sushi, too, with a menu of barbecue bites, steamed buns, and heavier fish and chicken entrees.
El Pelon Taqueria
If you live in the neighborhood, El Pelon is going to be where get take-out multiple times a month, because no matter how many other pizza and Thai menus you look at, you’re always going to want to get more of these tacos. Our favorite is the fish taco made with cornmeal crusted cod, but just about everything at this colorful little counter-service spot is worth trying. It’s got a spacious patio that’s bigger than the restaurant itself when the weather’s nice, too.
Being able to have brunch outside on a bamboo-lined patio on a Sunday in June should be an enumerated Constitutional right. Until that day comes, we at least have Audubon. This small gastropub with an American menu is the type of place that only locals know about, and while the food isn’t going to blow you away, you’ll come to regard a few of your favorite dishes like old friends.