Just how much has Southie changed since Amhreins first opened? Well, the 130-year-old tavern still stands—for now— but it’s just a few steps down Broadway from Boston’s newest Top Chef-run hotspot, Fox & the Knife. The historic, working-class neighborhood of South Boston is changing by the day with soaring new high rises and moneyed new residents, but the community’s strong sense of identity is ever-present. (And luckily, so are all the Irish pubs.) Below, check out the best restaurants in South Boston—from the stronghold diners, to the boozy brunch bars, to the late-night haunts. Here’s where to eat in Southie right now.
This great location was once Southie’s longtime Boston Beer Garden. The same owners refreshed the space in 2017 to align with today’s neighborhood needs—which include weekend brunch with booze-infused doughnuts, and creative cuisine like bacon-wrapped Brussels sprouts, “street corn” nachos with salsa roja, and wood-fired pizzas. The bar program is more advanced now, too, with a solid craft beer selection and cool cocktails like an espresso martini on nitro tap.
726 E. Broadway, South Boston, 617-307-6480, thebroadwaysouthboston.com.
The homey decor and soul-warming food at this cozy Polish Triangle restaurant, on the edge of Dorchester, make you feel like your own babushka is making you dinner, whether it’s broiled kiszka (blood sausage) with sweet caramelized onions; Hungarian goulash and house-baked bread; or crisped-up pierogi with a heavenly creamy potato-filled interior.
611 Dorchester Ave., Boston, 617-269-0110, cafepolonia.com.
Fox & the Knife
James Beard award-winning chef Karen Akunowicz’s bold and soulful ode to the Emilia-Romagna region reimagines Italian simplicity with new classics like fennel panzanella, saffron spaghetti with clams, taleggio-stuffed focaccia, and pizzelle-gelato sandwiches. Can’t get a reservation, thanks to the well-deserved hype surrounding the two-time Top Chef competitor’s ownership debut? Arrive for aperitivo hour—here in Southie, it starts at 4 p.m.—and dine at the bar once the kitchen opens at 5:30 p.m.
28 W. Broadway, Boston, 617-766-8630, foxandtheknife.com.
A new arrival at the tail-end of 2019, this sister wine bar to American Provisions elevates what the next-door grocer has been doing so well since 2012: Make stellar wines and world-renown cheeses accessible to everyone. Chef Marcos Sanchez, a Tres Gatos and Tasting Counter alum, lets seasonality drive his eclectic menu of shareable plates like grilled lamb skewers with garlicky chimichurri; burrata with mixed mushrooms and arugula; and eggplant Milanese.
615 East Broadway, South Boston, 617-269-1001, grayshall.com.
Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant
This New Southie standby is an indispensable reason to get out of bed in the morning, and a prime place to stay up late. But daily brunch and food ’til 1 a.m. are just some of the reasons to love Lincoln. Other reasons include pizza, piles of pancakes, and the fact that the owners got such a warm welcome, they have since debuted a mini-empire on Broadway. The eclectic group of Broadway sister spots includes Loco Taqueria, Capo ristorante, and Fat Baby Sushi and Cocktails.
425 W Broadway, South Boston, 617-765-8636, lincolnsouthboston.com.
Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar
The second effort from Lincoln owners Eric Aulenback and Michael Conlon, this boisterous cantina serves a fresh mix of street tacos, snacks, seafood—and plenty of sweet-and-salty takes on tequila. It’s suddenly a fiesta when fun-flavored margaritas pair with uncommon combinations like street corn doused in spicy mojo sauce; crab and mango guacamole; and a carnitas “crunchwrap” with tangy jack queso and smoked guacamole.
412 W. Broadway, Boston, 617-917-5626, locosouthboston.com.
This neighborhood gem isn’t the most atmospheric Italian joint in town, but the homey Sicilian fare will cozy you right up. The glowing, branded soft-drink cooler and gilded “pizzeria” signage may steer you toward a House of Pizza-style order, which is a totally respectable move—pizza crust is structured and chewy, sauce is sweet and satisfying, and sandwiches are stacked and inexpensive. But don’t sleep on the pasta plates, like well-balanced penne alla vodka, and tender eggplant Parmigiana. Pro tip: Bring cash.
200 L St., South Boston, 617-269-9701.
A one-time Olympic-bound gymnast, Los Angeles stuntwoman, and Boston College Honors Program grad, chef Asia Mei brings fierce and fun intensity to everything about her first ownership venture. It starts with creative brunch and burger specials, and lights up through fiery flavors like “angry chili sauce” on meltingly tender fried chicken wings, and jalapeño-crab Rangoons drizzled in spicy honey. Oh, yeah: Jell-O shot specials alongside food ’til 1:30 a.m. amp things up every night.
152 Dorchester Ave., South Boston, 617-752-4191, moonshine152.com.
This longtime favorite closed its original location on A Street to make way for a condo development, but unlike much of long-lost Southie, it found a new home in the fast-changing neighborhood. After first establishing a suburban outpost in Melrose, My Diner returned to South Boston in 2018 with the same gigantic plates (eggs and home fries, whipped cream-laden French toast, hot turkey lunches, club sandwiches, and more) that make everyone want to call it their own.
455 E First St., South Boston, 617-765-8654, mydinerboston.com.
An eclectic menu of street food-inspired fare—like tuna crudo tacos, truffle and ricotta gnudi, funghi flatbread, and half a chicken grilled asado-style—complements a range of experiences at this bistro and garden. The energetic bar teems with drinks dreamed up by co-owner Teodora Bakardzhieva, the first woman to tend bar at the legendary Locke-Ober. The dining room offers a communal table and cozy banquettes. But the amenity that’s most “for the public good?” That’s the vine-draped central atrium, which opens up in season to light up the outdoor bar; and is cozy in wintertime with roaring fireplaces and lodge-inspired decor.
11 Dorchester St., Boston, 617-622-5700, publicoboston.com.
Rondo’s Sub Shop
Expect a crowd during peak hours, but the wait for a hefty tuna salad sub, chicken parm, or a lean and loaded steak and cheese is well worth the wait. Keep in mind that this is another old-school spot where cash is king.
134 West Broadway, South Boston, 617-269-0274.
Six / West
Located at the new Cambria hotel on the corner of Traveler Street and Broadway, Southie’s latest rooftop bar will certainly be a hotspot on hot days. All day, every day, though, the ground-floor restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus remixed cocktails. Following morning-friendly fare like house-made pop-tarts and an avocado Benedict, chef David Daniels’s all-day menu reaches new heights with shareable tastes like duckfat-buttered popcorn, king crab ravioli with tonkotsu ramen “jus;” and a signature set of sliders he calls American caviar panini (an ounce of roe, crème fraîche, and chives on a potato roll).
Six / West, Cambria Hotel, 6 West Broadway, South Boston, 857-496-0245, sixwestbroad.com.
Sullivan’s Castle Island
This seasonal institution overlooks Pleasant Bay—not a bad place to wait in line for beach-shack snacks like fresh lobster rolls, soft-serve ice cream, raspberry lime rickeys, and snappy hot dogs, made exclusively for Sully’s by Chelsea-based Kayem Franks. Sound like a local and order it “all around,” with mustard, relish, and onion.
2080 William J Day Blvd., South Boston, 617-268-5685, sullivanscastleisland.com.
Just a little more elevated than its Somerville and South End siblings (Five Horses Tavern), this Broadway-facing bar boasts 40 craft beer tap handles, plus a leather-bound lineup of 100-plus whiskeys. The gastropub fare takes global inspiration—think: gochujang-glazed Korean-style wings; red lentil and chickpea falafel; affogato for dessert. It’s also one of the only places in Boston where you’ll find deep dish pizza pies.
22 W. Broadway, South Boston, 617-752-4206, wordenhall.com.