A neighborhood guide to the area’s best sea- and riverside restaurants
Plenty of dining options are available near Boston’s Downtown waterfront, yet only a handful of them are right on the water itself. The Boston Harbor Hotel hosts one such eatery in the Rowes Wharf Sea Grille. Enjoy fresh seafood and views of Boston Harbor any day of the week, and enjoy free live music outdoors on the terrace Tuesday through Thursday nights as part of the hotel’s Summer in the City series. Smith & Wollensky may be a chain, yet it remains one of the best places to enjoy premium chops in Boston. Add a perch right near the mouth of the Fort Point Channel, and you can combine a great steakhouse experience with cool ocean breezes. Speaking of the Fort Point Channel, the nearby InterContinental Boston is home to the Channel-facing Miel, a delightful French brasserie that boasts a beautiful waterside patio.
Although Boston’s Italian enclave has loads of restaurants and quite a bit of water-facing real estate, the Venn diagram of the two doesn’t have a great deal of overlap. One that makes the cut is the Battery Wharf Hotel’s Battery Wharf Grille, which features a menu of American and New England favorites along with sweeping views of Boston Harbor. Overlooking Christopher Columbus Park and adjacent Long Wharf, Joe’s Waterfront—sister location to the Joe’s on Newbury Street —is a popular meet-up spot that boasts an outdoor dining deck right on the water along with award-winning clam chowder and burgers. The nearby Boston Sail Loft is also perched on the water and serves its own lauded clam chowder, as well as sandwiches, fried seafood and more.
Facing Boston Harbor is the newest location for Davio’s Italian Steakhouse, which serves its fine mix of hand-made pastas, juicy steaks and fresh seafood all within a stone’s throw from the water. A Davio’s neighbor and equally luxurious, Mastro’s Ocean Club also offers high-end seafood and steaks in a spectacular, harbor-facing setting on Fan Pier. Woods Hill Pier 4 dishes out its farm- and ocean-to-table cuisine from the former site of legendary Anthony’s Pier 4, while nearby newcomer Nautilus, sibling to the one on Nantucket, brings island flair and Asian-inspired menu items to the neighborhood. Several restaurants offering everything from American pub fare to Mexican food occupy Liberty Wharf, which is anchored by the three-story Legal Harborside (pictured), an offshoot of the lauded Legal Sea Foods empire. Alongside the Fort Point Channel, sup on Mexican specialties and sip on margaritas, mojitos and sangria indoors or out at Lolita.
Dominated by the TD Garden, this neighborhood hosted zero waterfront spots until the advent of the Charles River-facing Lovejoy Wharf development a few years ago, which is currently occupied by Alcove, a purveyor of creative New England cuisine and cocktails, and Night Shift Brewing, which offers its own (sometimes experimental) brews alongside scratch-made pub fare like its new, Detroit-style pizza.
Across Boston Harbor in Eastie, ReelHouse offers internationally inspired New England fare, including plenty of fresh seafood, courtesy of acclaimed chef Marc Orfaly. While not directly on the water like ReelHouse, nearby Cunard Tavern boasts a roof deck with panoramic harbor views, a great spot for enjoying such gastropub creations as moules frites, black garlic sea bass and coffee-rubbed flat iron steak.
Pier 6—just around the corner from historic Charlestown Navy Yard, home to the iconic USS Constitution—juts out into Boston Harbor, giving the restaurant unparalleled views of the city skyline. Sup in nautical splendor on such dishes as blackened swordfish tacos, pan seared scallops and the lobster roll. For a more casual dining experience, head to The Anchor at the Navy Yard itself. This open-air destination is part two-story beer and wine garden, part gathering place for games and live music, and all fun. Food options include hot dogs, lobster bisque and clam chowder.
The Seaport (see above) is technically part of South Boston, yet “Southie” proper does have a handful of oceanfront dining options. One classic is the seasonal, super-casual takeout staple Sullivan’s Castle Island, known for its hot dogs, lobster rolls, soft-serve ice cream and inviting beachside locale since 1951. Between M Street Beach and Pleasure Bay and just a couple of blocks from the coast you’ll find Local 149, known for serving exceptional takes on familiar comfort food made with local ingredients.
Boston’s sister city just across the Charles River has a few dining options along that famed waterway that are worth a visit. At the Royal Sonesta Boston, partake of burgers, steak frites and the vegan harvest bowl while sipping on exotic cocktails like the vodka-based watermelon mule and the bourbon-forward “Mass Smash” at Art Bar. A few steps away near the Lechmere Canal lies Bambara, an eatery ensconced inside the Kimpton Hotel Marlowe that serves globally influenced fare. The adjacent community of Somerville isn’t rife with waterfront real estate, yet it is home to the ever-growing Assembly Row development, which hosts several noteworthy dining destinations right along the Mystic River. One of them is the aptly named River Bar, which has a spacious river-facing patio complete with fire pits to set the mood for imbibing outstanding craft cocktails and noshing on plates inspired by street food from across the planet.