When you think of American cuisine, hot dogs and hamburgers are what come to mind. However, not all states are the same, and Massachusetts doesn't live up to the stereotype. Here you will find tasty fish dishes, recipes originating from the old continent and much more.
Among the many things to do and see in Boston, a food tour should be at the top of the list. You will discover the history of the city while tasting its specialties.
1. North End tour with pizza tasting
In the United States, pizza is synonymous with Chicago. The Illinois metropolis is famous for its taller-than-usual bread base and delicious cheese toppings. However, between the 19th century and the early 20th century, Boston welcomed a large Italian colony that brought with them their customs and typical recipes, just the ones you can learn about with this tour.
Most of these immigrants settled in the North End, the oldest neighborhood in the city. More than a century later, this area still concentrates a good number of traditional pizzerias that in recent years have been complemented by more modern and creative establishments.
Normally, the tours include three or more stops at the most outstanding restaurants with portions of the famous food and a cannolo for dessert. If you're not familiar with it, it's a delicious rolled pastry with a sweet ricotta filling.
I'm sure you're familiar with it, it even appears in "The Godfather"!
The beauty of these visits is that they don't rely solely on the gastronomic offerings. The pizza slices are an incentive to explore the neighborhood. In between bites you'll see the following attractions:
- The Paul Revere House, the residence of the eponymous patriot. His most famous exploit is the ride to warn the Lexington rebels of the coming British.
- Old North Church & Historic Site, the oldest church in town and another historic site of the American Revolution. Inside is a bust of George Washington that bears a strong resemblance to the original character.
- Bunker Hill Monument, the obelisk that honors the battle fought in June 1775. At that time, the British and Colonial armies clashed for control of the city and its ports.
- Skinny House, also nicknamed "Spite House", the house of spite. It is the narrowest dwelling in the whole city.
- Copp's Hill Burying Ground, a historic cemetery dating back to the 17th century. Many claim that inexplicable events occur in its perimeter. By the way, if you are interested in the subject, I recommend reading the post about the best ghost tours in Boston.
- USS Constitution, the oldest warship in the United States and a very valuable piece of the navy with stars and stripes: it was never defeated in battle.
Each tour has an experienced guide who will explain anecdotes about the history of Boston. There are also some tours that do not focus only on pizzas and include entrance to Italian delis where you can taste cheeses and cold meats.
Please note that in some cases, the total price does not include admission to the Old North Church.
- Duration: about 2 hours and a half
- Price: between 40 € and 50 €.
- Means of transport: on foot, the best way to get to know the area.
2. Boston brewery tour with lunch or dinner
In the United States, the metropolis of Massachusetts is widely known for its beer culture. The proximity to the universities of Boston and Harvard plays an important role but it is not the only one. The first tavern specializing in this drink opened here in 1634 and the hobby did not wane even during the Prohibition era.
In fact, when Prohibition was in force, the police had to deal with the "Lady Bootleggers" (women who hid alcohol in baby carriages) and search incessantly for speakeasies, the famous speakeasies. Fortunately, nowadays you don't have to hide to taste a good pint.
On these tours, a local guide will tell you about the history of beer in Boston and accompany you on a tasting of the most popular varieties both downtown and in nearby towns. Below is a short list of the pubs you might want to check out:
- Winter Hill Brewing Company, a pub that brews more than 10 varieties of beer. If you travel to Boston in the spring, you can have a pint in their outdoor space, perhaps accompanied by a juicy pulled pork.
- Samuel Adams Boston Brewery, a brewery known mainly for Boston Lager. Its creators claim that it can be paired with any type of food, from appetizer to dessert.
- Night Shift Brewing - Lovejoy Wharf, a bar that brews dozens of varieties. However, its crown jewels are the American IPA "Santilli" and the Hazy Pale Ale "Whirlpool".
To shorten distances, travel is by bus. If you wish, you have the option of adding lunch or dinner. I recommend you do so, you will have the opportunity to taste American style grilled meats.
- Duration: about 5 hours
- Price: more or less 100 €.
- Means of transportation: bus or van
3. Dinner cruise in Boston Harbor
If you are traveling to Massachusetts with your partner, surprise her with a romantic evening aboard a ship.
As a general rule, ships depart from the docks at Rowes Wharf, a modern area overlooking the harbor. A short distance from here is the Boston Aquarium, so keep this in mind if you want to do this activity before the cruise.
Let's get back to business. The boat makes a route between the river and the Atlantic. During the trip you will be able to admire the following attractions:
- George's Island, the island that hosts Fort Warren, a bastion of the American Civil War with a typical pentagon shape. If you want to visit it, I recommend you consult the website of the Boston Harbor Island company. Note that you can only do it from mid-May to early October.
- Charlestown Navy Yard, the former U.S. NavyYard.
- Little Brewster Island, the island that houses the Boston Lighthouse. It was erected in the 18th century and has suffered from fires, storms, and significant damage during the Revolutionary War. However, it is still in operation and is an icon of the city.
- Waterfront, a pedestrian promenade overlooking the harbor.
- Castle Island, an island best known for Fort Independence and its large sandy beach. It is also a destination for airspotters, airplane enthusiasts. From here you can get a close-up view of landings and take-offs.
As for dinner, it usually includes three courses - appetizer, main course and dessert - accompanied by a bottle of wine. Once finished you can have a cocktail on the deck admiring the Boston skyline.
- Duration: about 2 hours
- Price: between 150 € and 200 €.
- Means of transport: by boat, obviously
4. Donat Tour, the sweetest route
Did you know that the famous Dunkin' Donuts chain was born in Boston? The Massachusetts metropolis is home to more than 250 franchises and boasts the only Art Deco store on the planet. It is located at 230 Congress Street, in the heart of the financial district. As you can imagine, Boston is crazy about doughnuts!
The routes will take you to the most beloved stores and bars located in different neighborhoods of the city, from Central Market to the North End. Find more information in the list below:
- Kane's Donuts. There are dozens of varieties but the most peculiar are the Apple Fritter (a doughnut with apples, cinnamon, spices and a honey glaze) and the French Culler (egg batter, soufflé and honey glaze).
- Boston Public Market, a covered market with dozens of gourmet options.
- North End, the neighborhood that in the last century welcomed a large number of Italian immigrants. In addition to donuts, this area of the city is home to several quality pizzerias. You can taste some slices by choosing a gastronomic tour of Boston
- Bova's Bakery, an establishment that has been baking sweet and savory treats since 1926. It is not so famous for its donuts but for its Sicilian cannoli, red velvet cake, tiramisu and other specialties.
- Union Square Donuts, a fairly new but no less tasty chain.
In addition to the donuts, the total price includes hot drinks (coffee or tea). I recommend you to book in advance, tickets fly!
- Duration: about 2 hours
- Price: between 30 € and 40 €.
What are Boston's gastronomic specialties?
New England cuisine is a mix of recipes from the mother country, local ingredients and the classics of stars and stripes. If you like seafood, Massachusetts is your state. The Atlantic guarantees an endless supply of fresh, quality produce. Here are some of the tastiest recipes:
- Lobster Roll, a sandwich with lobster, mayonnaise and a few drops of lemon, at least in the traditional version. Today you can also find gourmet reinterpretations in several places in the city. According to connoisseurs, you can taste the best lobster roll in Boston at Pauli's (65 Salem Street).
- Clam chowder, a tasty cream based on clams, bacon and vegetables. The ideal recipe to warm you up if you visit Boston in winter. You will find it in most restaurants; however, the Neptune Oyster chowder is one of the most coveted (63 Salem Street).
- Fish & Chips, a classic from England that has adapted very well to the New World. Many believe the best is fried at Cusser's (304 Stuart Street).
- Oysters, the star ingredient in New England. The season runs from mid-October through April; during these months you can sample the freshest at Black Lamb (571 Tremont Street), B & G Oysters (550 Tremont Street) and other establishments both downtown and out.
Why take a food tour in Boston?
The metropolis of Massachusetts has a wide range of attractions and if you stay only one or two days in Boston, a gastronomic tour is highly recommended. The options described combine tastings with anecdotes about the history of the city. A rounded experience that allows you to organize your time in the best way.
Are food tours suitable for children?
It depends on the chosen experience. Without a doubt, it would be better to avoid the brewery tour, while the North End tour with pizza tasting is the most suitable.
As for the cruise, this activity is mostly chosen by couples, although children can get on the boat. Please note that babies must sit on the lap.
Fortunately, the city offers alternatives suitable for children, such as the LEGOLAND Discovery Center or the Museum of Science. For more information I recommend you to read the post about the 10 things to see and do in Boston with kids.
What are the advantages of taking a tour vs. booking a restaurant on my own?
Food tours are a great way to combine a passion for good food with historical analysis. In all the options described above, you will discover the history of the city or of a particular neighborhood while enlivening the route with traditional dishes. Moreover, the price is advantageous: you would spend much more paying for each snack separately!