This week we’re heading to the home of Fenway Park — the city best known for its baked beans, its marathon, and serving as the setting for Cheers. (And, we suppose, its football dominance.) That’s right, it’s Boston, a city filled with revolutionary history, some dope places to score cocktails, Kennedy family lore, contemporary art, stunning architecture, and a great beer scene. It’s a city that has a lot to offer, including its restaurants, which is why we asked Chef Brian Young to lead us on a tour.
You may recognize Brian Young from this season of Top Chef, where he geeked out on butchery and seemed likely to start a ska band. Indeed the chef did work as a touring musician for a spell. He later cooked barbecue at BB King’s Blues Club before attending the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont. For a time, he ended up in Big Sur, CA, where he honed his skills at Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn, before heading back to the east coast to work as a sous chef in Saint Albans, VT.
From there, Young joined Chef Mary Dumont’s team at Harvest as an executive sous chef before serving as the executive chef at Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar, chef de cuisine at Post 390 and co-chef at Townsman alongside Chef Matthew Jennings. This hard work earned him inclusion on Zagat Boston’s “30 under 30” list in 2013. He’s also cooked at The James Beard House and competed on “Beat Bobby Flay.” Before entering Top Chef, Young was Chef De Cuisine at Cultivar, and we defy you to look at some of their food without feeling pangs of desire.
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Delicious, hearty fare from @cultivarboston 🥘 #1 was the winner 💯 1. Foraged mushroom tartine. 2. Smoked duck carbonara. 3. Short rib “Bollito Misto.” 4. Ice cream trio. … #boston #foodies #dineout #cultivar #wintereats #ameshotel #cultivarboston #marydumont #chefmarydumont #dineoutboston #visitboston #eaterboston
Now that we’ve seen what the man can do, let’s see what Brian Young has to say about dining in Boston.
PIZZA: Santarpio’s Pizza
Santarpio’s Pizza in East Boston is inarguably the best pizza in Boston proper. Tucked literally under a bridge just a quick Blue Line ride under the harbor to Eastie, Santarpio’s is in the ground floor of one of Boston’s “famed” multi-family homes. At first blush, it doesn’t necessarily look the purveyor of an amazing dining experience. Santarpio’s has a reputation for being inhospitable, impatient, and tragically Boston.
Take a closer look: get to know your server, be decisive and ready to order … you’ll have the best and most authentic Boston experience $35 can buy. Just make sure you have cash.
TACOS: Lone Star Taco Bar
I have had the most fun eating traditional and non-traditional tacos while drinking killer cocktails at Lone Star Taco Bar in Allston. It’s where I brought the pastry chef of my dreams (now SRV’s Pastry Chef, Meg Thomson) to schmooze her into working on our opening team at Matt Jennings’ Townsman. She said yes after a round of beef barbacoa tacos, and a (few) round(s) of Sazeracs.
ASIAN: Peach Farm Seafood
Peach Farm Seafood is literally the first restaurant I went to when I moved to The Hub. Serving food until 4 am most nights, it’s a no brainer for the vampires that work in Boston’s restaurants. Go say “hi” to Debbie, who has been a server there for longer than most of Boston’s noteworthy restaurants have even existed. The surf clams & xo sauce are amazing, scallops with yellow chives are a must, and the salt & pepper shrimp is so craveable, I’ve literally had dreams about them.
Get in before the 2 am post-bar-close rush, or go enjoy the melee of Peach Farm in its natural form … packed, loud, and fun. Trust me, whatever you do, do NOT start a food fight. (My co-conspirators know who they are…)
STREET FOOD: Roxy’s Grilled Cheese
Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, started by some hardcore Boston dudes, has everything you could ever ask for in a grilled cheese with a side of throwback hardcore band-themed grilled cheese merch. Whether you’re a washed out punk or just love grilled cheese … it’s always worth stopping if you see their truck parked somewhere. Watching the little grilled cheese truck that could grow into a thriving restaurant group has been a great treat and a testament to the power of PMA.
SWEET FOOD: SRV
Meg Thomson, pastry chef at SRV in Boston, is the best active pastry chef in Boston… period. She’s smart, like REALLY smart. The thing that sets her apart from the cupcake-making masses is that she thinks savory and speaks fluent sweet. Her desserts are shockingly simple without being dumbed down, sweet without being fussy, and fancy without being snobbish.
We won’t have a pastry chef at The Emory, but I’d send people out of their way just to eat Meg’s food any day of the week.
FINE DINING: Bar Mezzana
I send all of my out of town Boston visitors to Bar Mezzana for a finer dining experience, and they make me look good for doing it time and time again. Colin Lynch is an amazing chef, and his crudos are literally the best in the city … but he can’t make a layup on the basketball court to save his life. Love you, buddy.
CASUAL: Little Donkey
For my money, Jamie Bissonnette’s Little Donkey restaurant in Central Square, Cambridge has the best bar eats on either side of the Charles River. Osetra caviar on a Martin’s potato roll? Yes, please. The pastas are inspired by Biss’s travels to Thailand, Italy, you name it. It’s just f***ing delicious.
If you’re a chef, you already know… I NEVER get to go to brunch anywhere that isn’t my own restaurant, and that’s usually to work the line. In a perfect world, I’d go to Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette’s TORO in the South End every “Sunday morning coming down” moment of my life.
ICONIC BOSTON FOOD: Neptune Oyster
Neptune Oyster in the North End, a.k.a Boston’s little Italy (only called this by tourists) has one of Boston’s best selections of raw oysters at any given time and the best freaking lobster roll ANYWHERE. Don’t agree? Fight me. The hot buttered lobster roll is worth the 1.5-hour wait in the cold, and the wine selection is awesome once you’re safely inside. It’s one of Boston’s best/worst kept secrets. Get there early, they don’t take reservations.
ODD CULINARY EXPERIENCE: Anchovies
Italian nachos at Anchovies in the South End… weirdly delicious, especially a few rounds deep at 12:30 am.
GUILTY PLEASURE: Tasty Burger
Tasty Burger is the ultimate Boston guilty pleasure. It’s like In ‘n Out, but the food is better (sorry, West Coast peeps). Save the Shake Shack trip for New York City, Danny Meyer ain’t a Red Sox fan … go to the original location in the Fenway neighborhood, so close to the cathedral of Boston sports (Fenway Park), even your kid could hit it with a baseball from the parking lot.
HANGOVER FOOD: TORO
This is another great chance to go to TORO. It is specifically designed to kill a hangover the old-fashioned way: with an appropriate amount of potatoes, eggs, aioli, and the classiest amount of pre-5pm booze.
Thank you, Chef Brian Young, for taking us on a culinary tour of Boston!
Stay tuned for more EAT THIS CITY — where each week we’ll feature a premier chef in a different city sharing their insider eating tips! Missed a week? Check out Jersey City, Long Beach, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Washington D.C., Dallas, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Napa Valley, Asheville, Charleston, Columbus, Kailua-Kona, Monterey, San Antonio, Louisville, Nashville, Raleigh, San Diego, Cambridge, Hoboken, Hollywood, Return to Miami, Return to Las Vegas, Manhattan, Oakland, Paris, Portland, Tampa, Durham, Toronto, Baltimore, Monterey, Vail, Lexington, Bentonville, San Antonio, Warsaw, Kansas City, NYC, Washington DC, New Orleans, Cleveland, Miami, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sydney, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Providence, Memphis, Orange County, Boston, and Detroit.
See you next week!