The North End
The North End is the bright, cutesy little slice of Italy you didn’t know you needed in your life, or that Boston was even classy enough to have. Adorable side streets and a brightly lit thoroughfare house countless restaurants in the general Italian theme. It’s a great place to both stroll around with parents if they come visit you and bring dates that you probably won’t have.
You’re going to want to get off at the Park Street station and then make the hike to the North End. First, because the walk is picturesque and full of selfie-able shit. Second, because you’re going to ingest a lot of empty calories eating Italian food. Not that that’s a bad thing, because the food is to die for. Especially if you have family history of heart disease. Yeah, the extra walk won’t hurt.
You could go to one of the places that has a big crowd of basic-ass people in line outside. But for maximum pleasure, we would suggest that you not join the sheeple and try this cute little place that’s on the main thoroughfare but a little ways down called Maurizio’s. This adorable little joint peddles “contemporary Sardinian cuisine.” It is fucking delicious. Seriously, there’s this spaghetti stuff that had cream and spices and salmon and it’ll make you feel like you’ve stepped foot into Italy. This place has amazingly courteous service and a family-owned type of feel. It’s picturesque as hell, too, and the food is worth every penny (this place is not cheap, but it’s completely worth the splurge for the ambiance and deliciousness). So, if you don’t come for the artwork reminiscent of the craftsy Italian grandma you always wanted, come for the owner who will smile and seat you at “the best seat in the house.” Also the original Mike’s Pastry is just up the street, so there’s that.
We imagine that there was once a market for hay at this spot, before industrialization rendered horses obsolete. Today, it’s an outdoor fruit and vegetable market in the heart of Boston. And capitalism hasn’t rendered those obsolete (yet). So, your dhall might be a place where flavorful fruit goes to die. Scratch that. Fruit with flavor never even made it past the swipe desk. When was the last time you had a grape that wasn’t fermented? How about a peach that didn’t give you a loose tooth? We just can’t take that risk anymore.
So instead, load up on food that doesn’t taste like feet at Haymarket, located in the aptly named Haymarket Square in Boston right by the Haymarket T stop on the Green Line. Or, just come for the vaguely European outdoor market atmosphere. This place is known for being very affordable, so if you need something to make you feel like a bargain hunter after hitting up Newbury Street, Haymarket’s got your back. As with anything, the early bird gets the worm—or the best zucchini. So, show up in the morning and bring that cash (admittedly little cash—if you play your cards right this place is cheeeeap). Open year round on Saturdays and Sundays during daylight hours, but you will likely be less frostbitten in May than mid-January. And so will your collard greens.
You and your friends might visit Chinatown when you want to get a good meal away from campus but don’t have the funds to eat somewhere like Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Not only is Chinatown one of the most economical places to get a good meal (and possibly leave with a lot of leftovers, depending on where you go), but it’s also got some extremely rich culture. The Chinatown in Boston is the third largest Chinatown in the US, and, although the area doesn’t initially look noticeably different from the rest of downtown Boston, it houses some of the most traditional and genuine eats if you’re feeling homesick, or if you’re trying to expand your palate past chicken nuggets and milkshakes. Additionally, there are multiple festivals held in Chinatown year-round that bring crowds of people, even from out of state, so there’s really no excuse for you to not see them too. You can get to Chinatown by heading to Downtown Crossing station and transferring to the Orange Line, or you can just take the brief walk from Downtown Crossing.
One of the biggest festivals in Chinatown is the August Moon Festival, held in mid-August every year to celebrate the end of the harvest season. The August Moon Festival is sort of the Chinese equivalent of Thanksgiving, except they have moon cakes and that is already a stark improvement from your aunt’s shitty Thanksgiving beet salad. The festival features plenty of homemade crafts, food, and dancing, which is why it’s arguably the most anticipated festival in Chinatown each year. In addition to the August Moon Festival, Chinatown also has a Chinese New Year Festival and Parade (spanning from February to early March) that involves Lion Dances, music, and art. This festival will particularly interest the more artsy folk who want to properly experience Chinese culture, not exclusively cram dim sum into their craw.
Speaking of dim sum, it’s obvious that Chinatown’s food is completely out of this world. If it’s a little chilly outside, we suggest heading to Chinatown for any kind of steaming-hot dumpling because they are so delicious they will make you cry, and not in the pretty way. For fairly cheap dumplings, head to Gourmet Dumpling House, China Pearl, or Dumpling Café (they have other delicious food too). After eating, feel free to grab some dessert at one of many cheap confectionary stores (we’re looking at you, Boston Tea Shop).