Top Five Restaurants to Try in Boston

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Our first guest blogger of 2012 is Peter, a historian and artist working as a private guide in Boston, MA. Peter has been living in Boston for over three decades and during that time has accumulated a wealth of local insight to share. Today he shares with us five must-try restaurants in Boston.

It may be known as the home of the bean and the cod but there's plenty more than that to eat when you visit Boston. The development of Boston's diverse and delicious restaurant scene can be attributed to two factors that give the city so much of its identity: its location on the sea and its broad ethnic and cultural diversity. Founded in 1630 and bounded by the Charles and Neponset rivers and Massachusetts Bay, the city is almost entirely surrounded by water. Popular saltwater seafood is plentiful here and depending on the season it can include cod, haddock, bluefish, flounder, mackerel, bass, lobster, clams and oysters.

Boston restaurants offer food prepared in practically every imaginable style: Italian, Greek, classical French, African, Caribbean, Asian, South American or southern American. Almost every restaurant in town offers its own twist on the popular local favorite: chowder (pronounced "chow-dah"), which is typically made from clams or other seafood.

It tough to pick the five best restaurants in Boston because so many are so good, but here are some that stand out for the quality of their food, and their ambiance:

The oldest restaurant in Boston, indeed the oldest continuously operated restaurant in America, is the Union Oyster House located in the Blackstone block along the famed Freedom Trail. There you can eat at the same raw bar where Daniel Webster enjoyed his customary three dozen and pint of rum or slide into booth 18, JFK's favorite table there.

For sheer variety and freshness, try Legal Sea Foods, a Boston-based chain that operates all over the east coast. Their flagship harborside restaurant in the seaport district is actually three restaurants in one, offering a different atmosphere on each of its three floors. All have great views of the Boston skyline and waterfront. Nearby is the Legal Test Kitchen, where new recipes are perfected before being rolled out to the other locations.

Speaking of wonderful views, a visit to the Top of the Hub, located on the top floor of the Prudential Tower is a must while you're in town. From the fifty-second floor you'll see a 360 degree view of Boston and its environs, from the mountains of New Hampshire to Cape Cod, as you sip your favorite beverage, enjoy excellent food and service, and hear a live jazz combo playing in the corner.

Bold flavors and wood grilling are the specialty at the East Coast Grill and Raw Bar in nearby Cambridge, just across the river from Boston. The atmosphere is informal, the food is spicy and wonderful and the service is great. The menu includes everything from succulent seafood to flavorful BBQ.

If it's a quiet, romantic dinner you're looking for you won't find better than Pigalle in the theatre district. Their delicious, creative menu and excellent wine selection will make any meal special and memorable.

Well I've described five excellent restaurants to visit when you come to Boston, but I've barely scratched the surface. I didn't get around to any of the hundred or so restaurants and bakeries in Boston's North End—our famous Italian neighborhood, where you'd have to try pretty hard to find a bad meal. (It's also the neighborhood where you can visit the Paul Revere House and the Old North Church—remember; "one if by land, two if by sea!"). And I never got to the Asian restaurants of every description that can be found in Boston's Chinatown—the fourth largest in the United States.

If you're planning a trip to Boston, plan on eating well. You might consider visiting during Restaurant Week, March 18-30, 2012, when most restaurants offer their best menus at reduced prices. Consider meeting up with Peter when you’re in Boston; he will be happy to make recommendations that can be tailored to your specific tastes and interests!
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