Seafood is a local specialty and is found on the menu at almost every restaurant. Local shellfish includes clams (Essex and Ipswich), Atlantic lobsters, Wellfleet oysters, mussels, scallops and shrimp.
If you order lobster boiled or steamed, you’ll be given a plastic bib to protect your clothing, a nutcracker for breaking open the claws and tail, a pick for the legs and drawn butter for dipping the lobster pieces in. If you prefer to have someone else do all the work, lobster is also available in a casserole, in a sandwich, stuffed, with pasta, in salad, and in a creamy bisque.
New England clam chowder is a world famous delicacy. It is loaded with fresh clams and thickened with cream – but never includes tomatoes. If you’re looking for clams but not in soup, steamed clams (‘steamers’) are available – often served as an appetizer. More common are hard-shell clams (‘littlenecks’ or ‘cherrystones’), served raw, like oysters.
Traditional Boston baked beans date from colonial days, and they are what earned Boston the nickname ‘Beantown’. Durgin Park Restaurant in the Quincy Market serves an excellent version, along with good cornbread. Brown bread is often served alongside as well – which is really a steamed pudding of whole wheat and rye flour, cornmeal, buttermilk, molasses and raisins. A traditional local dessert is called Boston cream pie – which in fact is a layer cake filled with custard and topped with a chocolate glaze.
In addition to seafood, which is featured at most eateries, you’ll find some excellent steakhouses and grills here, such as: Grill 23 & Bar; the Oak Room, in the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel; and Abe & Louie’s, on Boylston street. The North End Boston’s Italian-American sector boasts dozens of excellent eateries. After your meal, head for the local cafes for an espresso or cappuccino and pastry. If you’re in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace area, the well-known McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant has a branch here in the North Market Building. Cambridge has an active dining scene, with many of its restaurants centered around Harvard Square.