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Natalie Schaefer

Saltie Girl

Seafood  in  Back Bay
Written by
Natalie Schaefer

We’ve noticed something weird at Saltie Girl: people talking to each other. Not people who know each other, but complete strangers. Steve Jobs put the internet on our phones precisely so that we wouldn’t have to do this and, in Boston, not talking to each other has worked out pretty well for the last couple of centuries. Sometimes, we don’t have a choice, like when we’re in a CVS that doesn’t have automatic check-out. But regular small talk between strangers? Remarks about how a tuna crudo looks, or friendly jokes about throwing back cocktails at two in the afternoon? That’s not usually how we roll.

Saltie Girl in Back Bay is different, though. This is a seafood restaurant - but not the typical kind with oyster crackers and tanks of drugged-out lobsters. Instead, this place could be a bar on the mega yacht that Brad Pitt charters when the world’s most beautiful people meet to decide who’s going to date whom for the next 12 months (that yacht has three bars: a champagne bar with chandeliers made from lava rocks dug out of the Earth’s core, the Saltie Girl bar where they go to relax, and an Applebee’s). Frankly, it’s hard not to talk to people in a place this fun.

Natalie Schaefer

In terms of the menu, Saltie Girl takes the broad category of “stuff that doesn’t live on land” and then does whatever it wants with it. If you’re the type of person who changed majors three times before giving up on the world and going to law school, your inability to commit to anything will actually be rewarded at Saltie Girl, where you can have Italian, Japanese, Spanish, or traditional New England seafood in one meal. The New England basics are really well done, with fried shellfish that has more belly meat than grease, and chowder that strikes the right balance between too thin on one hand, and Neil Armstrong could plant a flag in the bowl on the other. If you branch out, you’ll find that the crudos and small plates might be the best sections on the menu, and things like the fried lobster and waffles aren’t just gimmick foods.

Emily Schindler

Be sure to dive into the giant collection of tinned fish, too. It might seem like kind of a waste to order something at a restaurant that could’ve just come off a store shelf, but (1) that’s never stopped you from downing a bottle of wine, and (2) this isn’t exactly the kind of tinned fish you can get at the same grocery store that stocks your K-Cups and frozen pizzas. These are briny, buttery, tender little bites of fish served on a charcuterie plate with bread and awesome housemade butters and spreads. It’s the type of thing they’ve been enjoying on the Mediterranean for years, and they definitely serve it at the Brad Pitt parties.

Keep in mind that this place is very, very small and almost always packed. You’ll usually have to wait for a table or bar seat, but the crowds just add to the party atmosphere. So the next time you get sick of living in a city with terrible weather, guerrilla skirmishes over parking spots, and draconian alcohol licensing laws, head to Saltie Girl and be transported to a better place for the evening. Maybe even say hello to the stranger at the next bar stool. We can all go back to being our normal, emotionally-closeted selves after we finish the oysters.

Food Rundown

Natalie Schaefer
Holy Trinity of Clam Chowder

This is one of the best clam chowders in the city has the best clam chowder in the world. Seems like something you should probably try.

King Salmon Crudo

The mixture of apple, pistachios, jalapeño, and avocado oil it’s topped with is good enough to be eaten with a spoon. Luckily, though, salmon crudo tastes better than a spoon.

Natalie Schaefer
Charred Octopus Empanada

Don’t be afraid to mix it all together (it comes with Cojita cheese, avocado, and jalapeño sauce).

Natalie Schaefer
Torched Salmon Belly

It’s pretty much perfect. If we told you anything else it would ruin the surprise.

Natalie Schaefer
Gloucester Lobster Roll

Warm or cold, it’s good either way, and both versions come with some of the best homemade salt and vinegar chips you’ll ever have.

Natalie Schaefer
Snow Crab Toast

The soft creamy cheese on top is stracciatella, and it’s as good to eat as it is fun to say.

Natalie Schaefer
Saltie Girl Burger

Less of a burger and more of a tower of delicious foods (pork belly, avocado, fried lobster) placed in the vicinity of a beef patty and and a bun.

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