Chef-owned restaurants, creative cuisine, and a cool vibe make the Fort Point area of the South Boston Waterfront a top choice for experiencing the city's thriving restaurant scene.
Fort Point lies between the Fort Point Channel separating the South Boston Waterfront from the downtown Financial District on the west and the sprawling Massachusetts Convention and Exposition Center on the east.
As you'll see if you take a quick walk around the neighborhood, this is an area of former warehouses and factories, where art galleries, restaurants, and museums vie with pharmaceutical and financial services companies for space.
Some of Boston's most applauded chefs have opened restaurants in this increasingly trendy area, offering innovative cuisine that attracts enthusiastic foodies from all over the Boston area.
Although Fort Point restaurants lack the waterfront views of many restaurants in the adjacent Seaport area, if you want to avoid crowds of tourists along the waterfront while experiencing some of Boston's best cuisine, this is the place to come.
To explore the culinary options, start with Congress Street, where three Barbara Lynch establishments - Menton, Sportello, and Drink - attract serious fans of her exuberant food, superb wine selections, and hand-crafted cocktails.
Elsewhere on Congress Street and side streets to the north and south, you'll find gastropubs, coffeehouses, fresh local seafood, a renowned bakery/cafe, and even a tiny brewery (no pour service, but you'll see the line for carryout growlers stretching down the sidewalk).
If you're visiting the Children's Museum or the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, attending an event at the Convention Center, staying at the Residence Inn or Envoy Hotel, or exploring the numerous Fort Point art galleries and studios, stop by one of these restaurants for a memorable meal.
Positioning Blue Dragon as an "Asian gastropub" (a term that somehow hardly does it justice), Chef/owner Ming Tsai serves an addictive mix of Asian fusion small plates, along with premium sake, craft beers, wine, and cocktails.
Five different menus - lunch, lunch to go, afternoon, dinner, late night - provide compelling reasons to stop by throughout the day, particularly because each dish contains an explosion of delicious flavors and textures.
Favorites: Teriyaki salmon salad with veggies, soba noodles, and wasabi vinaigrette; rice bowl with braised short ribs, crispy duck egg, and kim chi; lemongrass chicken and house pate banh mi; garlic-chili braised octopus; Japanese sweet potato chips.
Special occasion splurge experience: A reservations-only omakase dinner with off-menu creations made specially for you and up to 4 guests, with seating directly across from the open kitchen. (Boston Insider's Tip: You should reserve well in advance of your target date.)
234 A Street | 617-338-8585 | www.ming.com/blue-dragon.htm | Closed on Sundays
Sharing owners and oyster beds with Island Creek Oysters in Fenway, Row 34 offers a more informal ambiance but with the same emphasis on impeccably fresh high-quality seafood.
Located in a former steel factory, the restaurant features a sleek, airy indoor space with a variety of seating options, and a patio for outdoor dining during warm weather.
Although Row 34 showcases oysters and other shellfish with house-made dipping sauces on display at the raw bar, cooked dishes are equally good - including the lobster rolls, which are a serious contender for being the best in Boston. Whatever you order, make sure you get some of the grilled sourdough bread, especially if you have something to dip it in.
Favorites: Warm buttered lobster roll, beer-steamed mussels with chorizo and a fabulous sauce, grilled scup, roasted snapper, grilled veggies, butterscotch pudding
383 Congress Street | 617-553-5900 | www.row34.com
Owned by an artist whose colorful paintings hang on the walls and surrounded by artists' studios, Incidental Matter serves superb coffee, organic teas, craft beer, and a nice selection of wines along with bistro cuisine.
The ambiance is friendly, the food and drink are excellent - this is a spot where you can grab a quick bite, or linger with friends throughout the afternoon or evening.
As a bonus, look for occasional entertainers, and a revolving display of art created in the neighborhood.
Usually open only Monday - Friday, but sometimes open for neighborhood special events, such as the Fort Point Art Walk - check website for special event hours.
Favorites: All of the house-made soups, kale salad with cornichon mayo, the charcuterie and fromage platters - and don't miss the excellent lattes
35 Channel Center Street #100 | 857-233-5873 | www.internalmatter.com
Tavern Road is ... well, a tavern ... but the menu goes far beyond typical bar food.
Owned by brothers Louis (also the chef) and Michael DiBiccari, Tavern Road offers sandwiches, salads, and "street foods" for lunch. Dinner is when the food shines, with a menu of mostly small plates of innovative creations which change with the season.
Favorites: Cioppino made with local seafood, harissa-spiked lamb meatball gyros, fish tacos with pickled kohlrabi and uni, white sweet potato samosas, grilled asparagus with sumac hummus, chickpea frites with tomato jam
343 Congress Street | 617-790-0808 | www.tavernroad.com
Flour Bakery + Cafe
Flour's motto, "Make life sweeter ... eat dessert first!" sums up why you'll love this bakery/cafe, although its savory treats, sandwiches, and salads are as good as the pastries, muffins, scones, and desserts.
Just be aware that Flour is extremely popular, with an almost cult-like following, and since everything is made fresh daily, items do sell out.
So if your heart is set on, for example, one of chef/owner Joanne Chang's famous pecan-studded sticky buns, your best bet is to call ahead and reserve it.
Favorites: Sticky buns, brioche au chocolat, coconut cream pie, lemon meringue tarts, barley and kimchi salad, roast chicken and brie salad
12 Farnsworth Street | 617-338-4333 | www.flourbakery.com
Starting first as a food truck featuring Vietnamese street food, Bon Me continues to attract enthusiastic fans to their Fort Point location.
An attractive seating area provides a place to eat your meal, but since Bon Me serves its generous-sized portions in cardboard to-go containers, lots of customers carry it out. Even if you eat there, you will still probably have some left to take home or back to your hotel.
Bon Me offers 4 main choices (plus options): Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches on a toasted baguette (you choose the filling), noodle salads (you choose soba or rice noodles, the filling, and the type of Vietnamese dressing), rice bowl (choose white or brown rice), and mesclun-based salad (choose toppings and dressing).
Regular fillings such as spice-rubbed chicken, miso-braised pulled pork, and roasted soy and paprika tofu are always available, and a few specials are usually on order. Everything is fresh and made to order.
Bon Me's food should come with a warning that it is seriously addictive.
Favorites: Soba noodle salad with roasted tofu and spicy peanut sauce (shown in photo), sandwich with lemongrass chicken (when available), any of the options with the miso-braised pork, bubble tea
313 Congress Street (across from the Children's Museum) | 857-350-4035 | www.bonmetruck.com
Located in an attractive brick-walled former warehoused and modeled after a French bistro, Bastille Kitchen starts with French classics but updates them with American ingredients and an innovative twist that you won't necessarily encounter in France.
Seafood is especially good here, with plenty of locally caught and sustainable choices.
Favorites: Bastille burger on brioche, sautéed sole with capers and rhubarb salad, seared scallops (shown in photo, and the frisee salad with duck confit, duck bacon, and a poached egg
49 Melcher Street| 617-556-8000 | www.bastillekitchen.com
With an open kitchen featuring a gorgeous Florentine oven and rustic decor with a sort of retro vibe, Pastoral serves up plenty of pizza in an informal setting. Just as interesting, though, are other dishes that take advantage of the super-hot oven such as the oven-roasted chicken wings, roasted potatoes (available for Sunday brunch), and the wood-fired dough knots.
Pastas are a good bet here also. Even more interesting are the veggie dishes served as sides.
Favorites: Fennel sausage pizza with buffalo mozzarella and from-age blanc, English pea hummus with fried zucchini and eggplant, calamari with green olives and kale, ricotta dumplings with mushrooms, lavas, and smoked lobster, and the fried olives stuffed with sausage
345 Congress Street | 617-345-0005 | www.pastoralfortpoint.com
Menton is the crown jewel among chef/owner Barbara Lynch's mini-empire of Boston restaurants.
As the only Boston restaurant to gain 5 stars from a variety of rating sources, it offers a superb dining experience.
Menton is pricey - but interestingly, you could spend more elsewhere and not dine or drink as well, which also makes it somewhat of a bargain.
What to expect: Two prix-fixe tasting menus with about 8 courses and optional wine pairings are offered. Menus change seasonally.
354 Congress Street | 617-737-0099 | www.mentonboston.com | Dinner only; reservations strongly recommended
Styled like a rather elegant lunch counter, Sportello is another Barbara Lynch restaurant, next door to Menton but offering a more affordable price point.
Lunch and dinner menus feature Italian cuisine and fresh local ingredients, with an emphasis on seafood, and wonderful artisinal Italian wines.
Favorites: Spaghetti alla puttanesca, chicken Caesar salad, potato gnocchi with mushroom ragu and peas, and tagliatelle with bolognese sauce and fried basil
348 Congress Street | 617-737-1234 | www.sportelloboston.com
Downstairs from Sportello, Drink completes the triad of Barbara Lynch gems on this block.
No need to look for a beverage menu.
Just let the bartender know what type of alcohol and flavors you like, and you'll be presented with a specially selected wine or handcrafted cocktail created especially for you.
Although cocktails rightfully take front and center stage at Drink, the food shares the spotlight.
Favorites: Grilled peaches, Rhode Island calamari, and corn dogs created from house-made smoked duck sausage and mustard greens
348 Congress Street | 617-737-1234 | www.drinkfortpoint.com