What Food is Boston Known for?


What food is Boston known for? For starters, Massachusetts cuisine, and particularly the food of Boston, is renowned for an abundance of fresh seafood dishes.

Additionally, in Boston’s North End, you’ll find delicious specialties brought to Beantown by Italian immigrants. Some traditional foods date back even further to British settlers and Native Americans. On the flip side, some of the most legendary Boston food creations were invented at a local hotel.

There are plenty of famous foods from Boston that you should try while you’re in the city. Keep reading to see what we find so noteworthy about Boston food!

What’s Special About Foods in Boston? 

An exciting feature of the Boston food scene is that they incorporate both local ingredients with the influences of immigrants and local history. 

Foods from Boston commonly use ingredients pulled directly from the Atlantic Ocean, producing classic seafood dishes like lobster rolls and clam chowder. Influences of Italian immigrants have also brought an appreciation for fine Italian cuisine to the area. 

Beyond this, Boston is a hub of New England food more generally, boasting some of the classic dishes of the entire region like the New England boiled dinner and fish & chips. 

With the cold weather in this geography, Boston food is often hearty and filling, as a weapon against the cold. There are many foods in Boston that are worth trying when you’re in the area!

1. Boston Clam Chowder

Boston Clam Chowder

Clam Chowdah… as the locals like to pronounce it, has been in Boston for centuries, thanks to all the settlers – Nova Scotian, British, or French. These settlers brought the trending thick soup into New England in the 18th century.

Although there are a plethora of versions to this style of dish, Boston has nailed the New England version of clam chowder that comprises a white chowder concocted out of shellfish, clams, milk, or cream, potatoes, and thickened oyster crackers.

2. Lobster Rolls

Lobster Rolls

If you enjoy seafood, you cannot leave the city without trying one of the famous foods from Boston: lobster rolls! 

In Boston, you’ll find the New England preparation of lobster rolls: chilled lobster meat, coated in a light dressing, in a bun. The buttered roll brings over the indulgent flavors of the lobster and makes this dish one of the standout foods of Boston. 

The dressing usually consists of mayonnaise, with a little lemon and seasoning. It is very minimal to allow the natural flavors of the lobster to come through. While you will have no trouble finding this food in Boston, some of the most popular spots for lobster rolls are Neptune Oyster, James Hook & Co, and B&G Oysters.

3. Parker House Rolls

Parker House Rolls

These delicious dinner rolls originated in Boston’s Parker Hotel, and they are known for their special shape, texture, and preparation style. With a delicious, buttery flavor and distinctive shape, you’ll always know if you have this Boston food in your hand! 

Parker House rolls are generally folded in half, which gives a flatter, moon shape when baked. When preparing this classic roll, bakers add a lot of butter, which gives the rolls their rich, buttery flavor. The texture is also very fluffy and soft, making them extra delicious – you should definitely get a taste of this famous food of Boston.

4. Roast Beef Sandwich

Roast Beef Sandwich

Feeling a sandwich? This convenient yet delish dish is a must-try! 

Roast beef sandwiches have a special place among foods in Boston because of their distinctive preparation and style. The beef especially is thinly sliced and slow-roasted to achieve a really unique flavor. 

Despite the trim cut of the meat, Boston roast beef sandwiches are known for being especially juicy, since the meat is allowed to cook in its own juices. 

Beyond this, the roast beef sandwich is basically an institution in Boston. There are plenty of sandwich shops around that have been serving them for decades, so it’s almost like this Boston food is part of the local fabric.

5. Boston-Style Pizza

While Boston is not the pizza mecca that New York or Chicago are known to be, pizza is still among the famous foods of Boston. 

Boston-style pizza is characterized by a thin crust that offers both an initial crunch and a soft texture. In terms of flavors, you can get classic Italian pizzas or gourmet offerings; there is plenty of options to satisfy different preferences.

Boston Pizza is so worth getting to know that there are pizza tours available in the city! If you’re more partial to Italian flavors, we suggest a North End Pizza (& History) tour. These activities offer a unique combination of Boston food and history, which is fun for the whole family!

6. Lobster tail

Lobster tail

Similar to a sfogliatelle, Italian bakeries in Boston’s North End have cleverly branded these large, horn-shaped pastries as lobster tails. The pastry consists of a very crispy puff pastry shell filled with pastry cream.

Personally, I don’t find them especially flavorful. If you only have room for one Italian-inspired pastry from a Boston North End bakery, I recommend a cannoli!

7. Boston Cream Pie

Among all the indulgent foods of Massachusetts, Boston Cream Pie has a special place as an iconic dessert in the area. This delectable dessert has been the official dessert of the state since 1996, and it is emblematic of Boston cuisine and the culinary traditions there.  

A Boston Cream pie is made with two layers of light sponge cake, filled with smooth pastry cream, and topped with chocolate ganache. The decadent, yet slightly bitter, flavor elevates the pie both in taste and presentation. 

Although it’s called a pie, this dessert is technically a cake – make sure you give this food Boston is known for a try! 

8. Cannolis

While this treat hails from Italy, it has become iconic among the foods of Boston. The Italian community in the city, especially in the North End, brought Italian flavors to the forefront of the Boston food scene. 

Cannolis are made with a crisp, flakey pastry tube, filled with a sweet Ricotta cheese mixture that is absolutely divine! 

If this taste of Italian food isn’t enough for you, consider spending more time in the North End. Of all the places to sample different cultural foods in Boston, the North End is certainly the hub for Italian food. Enjoy European flavors in this area of the city with a North End walking food tour

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