A Chicagoan’s Guide to Boston Food



(Editor’s note: Andy is from a small town in Nebraska and has spent about a year in Chicago and Boston. He knows he’s not really from either city so he shouldn’t speak for them, but he can do both city’s accents horribly. So that’s good enough for us.)

As a guy now in Chicago who gained substantial weight living in Boston, it’s a great city with an incredible food history. In Boston you can drink a Sam Adams while looking at the grave of Sam Adams. And in Chicago you can get legally drunk in a cemetery.

This guide is meant for the Blackhawk fan visiting Boston sometime during the Stanley Cup finals. I used to live in Boston and my mom visited one time so I had to take her to non-fast food restaurants. This means I’m the right kind of person to impart some of the Walking City’s important culinary knowledge. So Bears fans, enjoy your time in Beantown! (Yes, everyone there calls it Beantown, so be sure to say Beantown constantly during your trip. It will make the locals think you’re cultured.)

Clam Chowder — This is the No. 1 dish in a city known for about six dishes. While you may know about Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza, Boston’s take on clam chowder is their famous deep clam chowder, which is the dish served in a bowl that’s six inches deep, twice the size of normal Massachusetts bowls. Serious clamchow, that. (Clamchow is a phrase Bostonians use, so order a side of deep clamchow and you’ll fit right wicked in!)

The North End — Everything you’ve heard about Boston’s North End is true: This neighborhood is home to an amazing improv theater in the basement of a CVS and where the French Revolution began. You’ve also probably heard about the neighborhood’s Italian food, which is served in at least two of its restaurants. One restaurant, Assaggio, has the word “ass” in its name. Another restaurant, Goody Glover’s, is named after an Irish woman who was hanged as a witch. Both are indicators of the neighborhood’s strong Italian presence. Be sure to walk past the Holocaust Memorial on your way to the North End so you can feel extra bummed while you wait in line for a slice of pizza from the world-famous famous “Modern Pastry.”

Legal Sea Foods at the Copley Place Mall — You’ll get the best of both worlds here at Boston’s most quintessential restaurant: deep clamchow and lobster bake (Lobster bake is Boston slang for cheeseburger). The restaurant’s also the only place you can eat seafood without breaking the law. That last part’s a joke — seafood’s been banned in the state since John Winthrop’s 1632 decree, which also outlawed hugging and the formation of South Shore hardcore bands after 2003. Very prescient, that Winthrop. The Copley Place Mall’s long history adds to this particular location, as you can see remnants of ancient colonial shops, such as Borders Books, and Yankee Candle, which was where Paul Revere bought the candles used in his famous noontime ride. Be sure to order the restaurant’s famous shrimp kabob (Bostonian’s pronounce it ‘shimp,’ dropping the R) and live it up like a Puritan.

LeeChen’s Mexican Grill and Chinese Food — This restaurant is nestled in the heart of South Boston, a neighborhood made famous in the Ben Affleck movie “The Bourne Ultimatum.” Known for its deep Irish roots, the neighborhood is home to lots of traditional Irish food, such as this combination Mexican and Chinese food joint. That means you can order a chicken burrito and crab rangoon, or as it’s translated into Gaelic: “fahkin creb rangoon.” When I moved to Chicago I probably impacted their profits by about 12 percent, because come on, Mexican and Chinese food at the same time. Just another reason Boston’s a great town for foodies.

Photo by Andy Boyle. Andy misses Boston but he doesn’t miss the train stopping before 1 a.m.