date published: November 5, 2007

Visitors to the 11th annual Boston International Fine Arts Show (refer to story in around the hub), in town from November 15–18, will have an opportunity to enjoy a feast for the eyes as they savor works of art from all over the world. And afterwards, they’re bound to set out in search of another kind of feast—particularly because the South End neighborhood in which the show is based is home to some of Boston’s finest restaurants. Here’s a quick primer for those who want to make a full evening of enjoying the best art—and cuisine—the world has to offer in Boston.

Chinese: Myers & Chang
1145 Washington St., 617-542-5200
The first business venture between lovebirds/Boston culinary giants Christopher Myers (Via Matta, Radius) and Joanne Chang (Flour), this brand-spanking new eatery offers a fresh take on Chinese (as well as Vietnamese and Thai) specialties. The fresh and funky, bright and airy décor is enhanced by flavorful offerings like braised pork belly buns, green papaya salad (with chilis, peanuts, lime and dried shrimp) and Thai BBQ chicken. With a reasonably priced menu (most dishes are $8–10, and nothing is over $15), Myers + Chang have quickly established themselves as the first names for great Chinese cuisine.

Cuban: Miami Café
68 Aguadilla St., 617-859-8360
It’s not fancy, it’s not big, and it’s not expensive...still reading? If so, prepare to enjoy one of the South End’s hidden treasures—Miami Café. Essentially a glorified take-out joint, Miami Café has some of the best Cuban sandwiches in the city, as well as authentic and delicious plantains, beans and rice and other delicacies. The menu’s in Spanish, but the friendly staff will help you through it if you’re a gringo. Wash your meal down with a cup of “café” or fresh mango juice, and you’ll be feeling as though you’ve been transported south of the border.

Ethiopian: Addis Red Sea
544 Tremont St., 617-426-8727
While diners have become increasingly familiar with European and Asian cuisine over the years, African restaurants are still something of an unexplored culinary adventure for many. Addis Red Sea acts as a perfect primer for Ethiopian food—one of the most vibrantly tasty African flavors out there. The restaurant is authentic all the way, from the special honey wine that gets meals off to a sweet start, to the traditional dishes like yesega alcha (beef cubes simmered in a sauce of butter, onion, ginger and turmeric) and doro wot (chicken marinated in lemon butter and sautéed in a spicy red pepper sauce). Communal dining is encouraged, with guests sitting around barrel tables and eating from shared trays, and patrons are encouraged to eschew Miss Manners and eat the Ethiopian way, sans silverware.

French: Gaslight Brasserie du Coin
560 Harrison Ave., 617-422-0224
Another recent arrival on the South End dining scene, Gaslight is modeled on the traditional French “brasseries,” or neighborhood restaurants. Stylish and sophisticated in appearance with its beamed wood ceilings, antique mirrors and wood floors, Gaslight’s frequently updated menu is full of traditional French favorites at reasonable prices—just like its Gallic counterparts—and gives South End denizens a hint of Parisian feel without any of the snooty French attitude.

Italian: Sage
1395 Washington St., 617-248-8814
Formerly one of literally dozens of restaurants jockeying for attention in Boston’s North End neighborhood, Sage made the move to the South End earlier this year and has, in no time, carved out a reputation as one of the neighborhood’s finest spots for Italian fare. Chef Anthony Susi serves up delicious modern takes on classic Italian dishes like arancini, gnocchi and stuffed veal loin, in some cases incorporating just a hint of French and Asian influence. The desserts are handmade on the premises, and even a drink at the bar is special thanks to the frequent screenings of Italian films on the televisions. A meal at Sage is truly La Dolce Vita all the way.

Japanese: Oishii
1166 Washington St., 617-488-8868
For nearly a decade, Oishii has been racking up awards and plaudits from local and national publications, and Bostonians continue to flock to the eatery to indulge in some of the city’s best sushi. From the modern and minimalist décor so popular with sushi bars, to the exquisitely fresh high-end ingredients like bluefin tuna in the Oishii Sashimi Maki and the Kobe beef carpaccio, Oishii promises a dining experience that will satisfy any seasoned sushi veteran and leave novices marveling at what they’ve been missing.

Mexican/ Southwestern: Masa
1166 Washington St., 617-488-8868
If your realm of experience with Mexican cuisine is tacos, chimichangas, burritos or anything else drowning in cheese or beans, liberate yourself from the heftiness of said dishes and experience the range of flavors on display at Masa. This popular eatery applies the spices, flavors and techniques of Southwestern and Mexican cooking to a full and varied range of dishes, while incorporating seasonal tastes. For fall, Masa has added warm and sumptuous creations like cinnamon roasted pumpkin and goat cheese quesadillas, Negra Modela braised pork shoulder with roasted apple salsa, and the New Mexican roasted fall vegetable enchiladas with smoked gouda.

Middle Eastern: The Red Fez
1222 Washington St., 617-338-6060
Originally opened in 1940 (and revamped in 2002), the Red Fez is one of this South End’s most venerable eateries. Specializing in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, the Fez offers all the traditional favorites like hummus, babaghanush, falafel and kebabs, as well as more unique offerings like the Damascus Chicken (hand-chopped, char-grilled chicken seasoned with red bell peppers and parsley) and the Red Fez Lamb (cooked in Neapolitan sauce, wrapped in fried eggplant and served with a light garlic yogurt). Wash it all down with one off their creative signature cocktails (like the Lost in Space, which unites Stoli orange and Triple Sec with that old astronaut’s favorite, Tang), and you’ve got a culinary experience like none other in the city.

Venezuelan: Orinoco
477 Shawmut Ave., 617-369-7075
Snug and intimate, Orinoco describes itself as “a Latin Kitchen,” inspired by the casual roadside cafes in Venezuela and throughout South America. That unpretentious vibe is reflected both in the food—delicious, rib-sticking dishes like empanadas and arepas (grilled corn pocket sandwiches stuffed full of everything from black beans and cheese to shredded chicken, beef and pork)—and the prices, which are among the most affordable in the South End. Accompanied by a wide range of Chilean and Argentinian wines, Orinoco’s food is an authentic slice of sub-Equatorial spice in the heart of Boston.

Vietnamese: Pho Republique
1415 Washington St., 617-262-0005
Long renowned as one of the South End’s hippest nightspots/eateries, and one that helped place the neighborhood on the map as a destination for great food, Pho Republique boasts Vietnamese delicacies packed with spice and flair. The menu explodes with flavor: pineapple Kung Pao chicken, candied garlic spare ribs, pork and ginger potstickers, and the heaping bowls of pho (chicken broth and noodles) for which the restaurant is named. Throw in a selection of exotic cocktails and a range of boutique sakes, and you have a ton of tasty reasons to pledge allegiance to this Republique.

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