I love to travel with my family, and finding delicious, high-quality food is always on our agenda. I do research before traveling so we don’t have to settle for unhealthy restaurant options when we’re hungry at meal time. I’m writing a series to highlight family travel destinations that provide ample opportunity for travelers to enjoy healthy, locally-sourced food. The first stop is close to home for me: Boston, Massachusetts.
Real Food Travel: Boston
There’s so much to do in Boston, you probably can’t fit it all in during one vacation here. With dozens of museums and historical landmarks, Boston is full of cultural and educational opportunities for the whole family. There are many beautiful outdoor spaces to enjoy, including the Boston Common and Public Gardens, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the Harbor Islands, the Arnold Arboretum, and the Charles River. If you have sports fans in your family, there are professional teams playing year-round, and the spirited Boston fans make sporting events here quite an experience.
If you’re on vacation in Boston, you’ll have no problem finding wonderful restaurants. The problem will be deciding which ones to try. I’d like to highlight 10 restaurants in the Boston area that focus on locally-sourced food. I’ve eaten at some of these places, and the rest are on my list to try.
Henrietta’s Table (Cambridge): This is the premier farm-to-table restaurant in the Boston area. If I could pick just one nice restaurant to visit on a vacation to Boston, I’d probably pick this one.
The Farmhouse (Needham): This farm-to-table restaurant just west of Boston has a wonderful menu and casual atmosphere. I loved the vegetarian entrée, which is a sampling of four or five different vegetarian dishes that are prepared according to the chef’s whim. The white gazpacho was a highlight.
TW Food (Cambridge): This beautiful restaurant is great for a special night out. They focus on the purity of the ingredients, insuring that meat is raised humanely and vegetables are grown using traditional methods.
Rox Diner (Newton and West Roxbury): This diner uses bread from a local artisanal bakery and local, organic eggs. They focus on organic produce from area farms, and their meat is farm-raised and all-natural. Rox Diner gets their maple syrup from a farm in Vermont that dedicates an acre of its land to supplying syrup to the diner. No Mrs. Butterworth’s here!
Four Burgers (Boston and Cambridge): Their menu is simple, with just four types of burgers: grass-fed beef burger, all-natural turkey burger, wild salmon burger, and vegan black bean burger. They also offer Niman Ranch all-natural beef hot dogs as well as house-cut French fries and sweet potato fries.
Garden at the Cellar (Cambridge): This gastropub is located between Harvard and Central Squares. The menu changes with the seasons, and it’s a great spot for brunch, lunch, or dinner.
The Fireplace (Brookline): The first Green Certified Restaurant in Boston, the Fireplace offers “hearty, clean food with integrity.” This New England grill received the best burger in Boston award last year, and they’re hoping for a repeat this year.
Flour Bakery + Café (4 Boston locations): This well-known local bakery serves delicious salads, sandwiches, and desserts. I can’t tell you that the desserts are healthy, but you’re on vacation, so indulge a little! Flour does carry multi-grain bread that’s made primarily with whole wheat and buckwheat flour.
Sofra Bakery (Cambridge/Watertown Line): This Middle Eastern bakery and cafe uses fresh produce from the chef’s family farm, Siena Farms. This is a great place to grab a quick bite to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
If you’d like to see other high-quality restaurant options in different towns throughout the Boston area, Edible Boston Magazine has a great guide to restaurants that prioritize local ingredients.
There are over 30 farmers’ markets in the city of Boston, and it seems like every surrounding town has one too. This is a wonderful resource for travelers looking for fresh, locally-sourced food. Edible Boston has a list of all the farmers’ markets in Boston and beyond. If you’re visiting Brookline, the Coolidge Corner Farmers’ Market is conveniently located near the T, and there’s also plenty of parking available nearby. Don’t miss the Taza Chocolate table. Copley Square has a bustling market too, and there’s also a new mobile farmers’ market in Boston called Fresh Truck. Their vision is to give everyone access to fresh, local produce.
Food trucks are becoming more and more popular in urban areas like Boston, and food truck festivals are the latest way for people to sample many unique types of cuisine all in one place. Because each food truck serves a small, specific menu, they tend to have fresh, local ingredients. Two trucks that focus on locally-sourced ingredients in Boston are Compliments and FUGU Truck (voted best food truck in New England). You can check their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds to see where they’ll be parked.
Bakeries and Grocery Stores
If you’re planning a picnic or you want to grab some unprocessed food for snacks throughout the day, grocery stores are a great place to shop. Aside from the Boston area’s mainstream grocery stores, you’ll find several Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Markets. There’s also a wonderful market in Jamaica Plain called City Feed and Supply that focuses on local specialty foods. If you’re looking for whole wheat bread, you can find a Great Harvest in Newton and Lexington.
Seasonal Food Festivals and Events
Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, there’s always a festival going on somewhere around Boston. Area farms host strawberry festivals, apple picking events, pumpkin festivals, and berry picking extravaganzas. If you’re visiting in the fall, don’t miss the Boston Local Food Festival. This celebration of local New England food is the event of the year for locavores around here, and it’s scheduled for Sunday, October 6, 2013 on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Dozens of vendors will be offering samples and selling products for a reduced cost at the festival.
If you have other suggestions for where to eat real food during a Boston vacation, I’d love to hear them in the comments.
Check out the other posts in my Real Food Travel series for more inspiration.