Since the Seaport changes every seven-and-half minutes, it’s hard to get a handle on it as a neighborhood. On one hand, there’s the sea! And some shaded cafe tables where you can sit and enjoy it! On the other, it’s definitely where all the corporate warlords are going to live in the year 2242, when the rest of us are stuck underground, powering the neighborhood’s luxury stores and power lunch spots with our brainwaves. Until that day comes, though, there are some places to eat and drink that are worth going out of your way for. Here are 15 of our favorites.
Every once in a while you just want to eat a bowl of pasta and drink a glass of wine by yourself. That’s not being anti-social, it’s called being human. With a big countertop facing an open kitchen and some really well-made pasta, Sportello is a great spot to do just that. If you want to bring some friends or a date you can do that too, and its airy, cafeteria aesthetic works particularly well for lunch. If you’re not in the mood for pasta, you should still come here for a great bowl of tomato soup.
The beers at Trillium in Fort Point are outstanding enough on their own for this to be a destination for anyone who has moved on from Bud Light. But they added a full-service restaurant anyway and it’s great. If you just want to drink, you can do that in the first floor tap room or third floor roof deck, but if you’re interested in good bone-in ribeye, fried chicken, and seared scallops, head up to the second floor and get some food to go along with some of the world’s best beer.
Blue Dragon looks and feels like a neighborhood gastropub, the type of little-known place where you might come to grab a beer and split truffle fries. But instead of greasy American food, the menu is filled with Asian small plates. Come here with a few people, because you’re going to want to try just about everything, from the braised harissa lamb postickers to the dan dan noodles which have a great ma la spice.
There aren’t a lot of places left in the Seaport that look like, you know, an actual port. But there is Yankee Lobster, a tiny seafood shack at the end of an aluminium fish processing plant. Come here for lunch when you’re looking for the eighth best lobster roll in Boston and the rare Seaport dining experience that doesn’t make you feel like you’re eating in an outdoor mall.
Unless you work at Reebok, Chickadee is in a part of the Seaport you probably didn’t even know existed - an industrial corner far from the new development by Fort Point Channel, in a giant building where you feel like you need to flash a longshoreman union ID to get into. But once you’re there, you’ll find some very good Italian dishes, like squid ink fusilli topped with crunchy olive bread crumbs. The dining room can feel a little sterile, but the bar area is crowded and fun just about every night, with high-top booths you can often get as a walk-in.
Row 34 is Island Creek’s fun little brother, the one who finished college with no direction, and bartended in Mallorca for a few months before figuring his life out. It’s got the same quality seafood you get at the original Island Creek location in Kenmore Square, but in a big loud space with an outstanding craft beer selection that feels a little like a bar. In the case of the lobster roll, it’s even topped its big brother - the simple hot butter roll on brioche is one of the best in the city.
We usually wouldn’t recommend a chain that has a location at Reagan Airport, but the flagship Legal’s would be worth going to for its location alone. It’s in a big, three-story building that sits directly on the water, with a roofdeck where you can stare out at the harbor islands (a slightly better view than acres of tarmac and a Hudson News kiosk). Moreover, every floor has its own menu, giving you a more exciting Legal’s experience than you get elsewhere. You can still get the classics like the lobster roll and the chowder you’ve already had 826 times in your life, but now you can also opt for some sushi on the casual roof deck, steaks and poached lobster on the white tablecloth second floor, or fried clams downstairs.
There was a time when Boston had just two breweries and if you wanted to show that you were cool and serious about beer, you told everyone you preferred the truly local Harpoon to the mass-produced, soulless, not-even-actually-brewed-in-Boston Sam Adams. Now, we have more breweries than functioning Green Line cars, and if you want to show you’re cool and serious about beer, you tell everyone you prefer your neighborhood brewery with live music and hazy IPAs over the mass-produced, soulless Sam Adams and Harpoon. But even though you can now find Harpoon’s flagship (non-hazy) IPA at Applebee’s all over the country, that doesn’t mean the tap room still isn’t a great place to hang out. It’s a large, cool space with big communal tables, hot pretzels, and beers you won’t find at the liquor store.
Lookout Rooftop and Bar
There’s no food at Lookout and the drinks are just OK. But you need to come to this bar on the roof of the Envoy Hotel, anyway, because it may have the single best view of any drinking establishment in the city - a straight shot across Fort Point Channel to the Downtown skyline and views of the harbor. There are few better places to be on a summer evening than on one of these couches with a fruity cocktail as the sun sets, and it’s even great in winter, too, when the roof gets taken over by technicolor igloos.
If you’ve always dreamed of eating pizza in a garage, then you should get some new dreams, because, frankly, you’re not aiming high enough. But you’re also in luck, because that’s exactly what getting a pie at the bar at Pastoral feels like. This place built in a converted Fort Point warehouse has a small selection of pasta and flatbread sandwiches, too, but make the wood-grilled pizzas with light crusts your priority. If you just want to come here for a post-work drink it’s a good option for that, too, especially if they’ve set up their mini indoor bocce court.
Lunch options in the Seaport tend to be either grab-and-go spots or power-lunch places with a lot of people wearing convention badges around their necks. Committee, a Greek place with two lively bars is a good option for when the boss is away and you want to stretch lunch out without feeling like you’re expected to close an airline merger by the time the check arrives. The burger with a spiced char to it is a good option if you don’t mind getting something a little heavy in the middle of the day, otherwise you can stick to a nice menu of Greek salads and small plates. It’s a lot of fun at night, too, especially since one of those lively bars is outside.
Many Seaport drinking spots attract one of two crowds: (1) a lot of people in business casual complaining about having to re-write a memo because Mitch screwed it up again (that would be the bars at Del Frisco’s or Strega), or (2) a lot of people waiting in line for 45 minutes to buy overpriced drinks and unsuccessfully hit on the servers (The Grand and Scorpion Bar). If you just want to hang out with some good friends, drink some good cocktails, and hear some live music instead of a DJ, head to Lucky’s, an underground bar on Congress. It feels like a speakeasy, but without the pretension of ice cubes engineered in a lab, or the artifice of a fake entrance through a hair salon. It’s got a menu of decent bar bites, but you should prioritize classic cocktails over wings here.
Given that the entire neighborhood derives its name from the fact that it’s right on the harbor, it’s strange and disappointing that there’s only a handful of restaurants where you can actually eat right one of the water. One of our favorites, though, is Temezcal, where you can grab a drink and some tacos in a dining room that overlooks the harbor and the fish pier nextdoor. As you probably guessed by the name, they have a great selection of mezcal and margaritas, but pretty much anything you drink tastes great when you’re drinking it with the sea breeze.
There’s no drink menu at Drink, an underground cocktail bar on Congress Street. You just tell the bartender what you like and they whip something up for you. Maybe this freaks you out because you don’t trust yourself, but get some confidence, and don’t worry about it, because the cocktails are really well made and, regardless, the food here is good enough to make Drink the rare cocktail bar that’s worth visiting even if you don’t want any alcohol. Get the really cheesy wagyu burger if you want dinner here, or the beet hummus and mushroom hush puppies if you just want a little something to snack on.