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Top 8 Spots for Lunch in Boston

Perhaps it’s Bostonians’ puritanical work ethic. Or perhaps Yankees really do prefer a sandwich at their desk. Whatever the reason, many of Boston‘s top chefs seem curiously anti-lunch.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a midday feast in Beantown. Here are eight of our favorite spots for a delicious lunch in Boston. (All addresses are in Boston unless otherwise noted.)

If you’re going to Harvard Square …

Just steps from the Harvard campus, you’ll enjoy a true taste of New England cuisine at Harvest (44 Brattle Street, Cambridge). There’s a delicious lobster roll, a New England cod chowder and, of course, the de rigueur raw bar that sports some of the freshest oysters and clams in town. A favorite at commencement time and with Harvard professors year-round, Harvest is hard to pass up. Stopping by is simply the smart thing to do.

If you’re in Back Bay …

Chef Pino Maffeo is Boston’s answer to Spanish gastronomic wizard Ferran Adria. But you won’t find soup syringes at Restaurant L (Louis Boston, 234 Berkeley Street). Instead, you’ll find a mix of Boston’s media elite and ladies who lunch gorging on Maffeo’s ingenious Asian fusion — like barbecue pork ribs with Thai green chile sauce and sticky rice, or pappardelle with pheasant jus and maitaki mushrooms. For dessert, leave the restaurant for a sweet reward at Louis Boston, the city’s most chic department store.

If you’re going to the Boston Aquarium …

Sel de la Terre (255 State Street) offers up rustic French fare like grilled steak frites and a roast beef sandwich with grilled onions and brie on fresh multigrain bread (made daily on the premises). If you don’t have time to sit down for a decadent lunch, the on-site boulangerie also sells hearty soups and sandwiches to go for a quick picnic on the water. Bon appetit!

If you’re visiting the Public Garden …

Year after year, Via Matta (79 Park Plaza) is voted Boston’s best Italian restaurant. And it’s no wonder. This noisy trattoria brings together the cuisine of Italy’s best regions — Piedmont, Liguria, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna — in a convenient location near Boston Common. Graze over small plates like bruschetta with chick peas, crispy prosciutto and oregano, or be decisive and choose from a variety of sophisticated main courses such as grilled chicken with sliced apples, avocado, romaine and pancetta, or classics like lightly fried chicken Milanese. It’s where U2 comes when they’re in town. Isn’t it good enough for you too?

Call it one-stop shopping. Parish Cafe (361 Boylston Street) offers a rotating list of sandwiches created by the city’s best chefs. From The Elephant Walk, Gerard Lopez proposes a French baguette topped with omelet-style eggs and vegetables, while Susan Regis from Upstairs on the Square offers “The Regal Regis” — flank steak and portobello mushrooms in a soy, scallion and balsamic marinade, served on romano-crusted French bread. There’s also a small selection of appetizers, salads and great desserts. With almost everything under $15, it’s a bargain to boot.

If you’re shopping at Faneuil Hall …

Chef Todd English is an international star. His empire stretches from here to Tokyo (with outposts in New York, Aspen and Las Vegas in between). But Boston will always be his home town, and nowhere does he pay it more tribute than at Kingfish Hall (188 Faneuil Hall Market Place). Here you’ll find a fine raw bar, a swordfish sandwich, a classic New England lobster roll and of course, the obligatory burger. The portions are big, the staff is friendly and the prices are reasonable. It’s fish lovers’ heaven.

If you’re shopping at Downtown Crossing …

If it seems odd to find a top-class restaurant inside a gym (however top-class the gym), that’s because it is. But when you walk in, you’ll understand why Bostonians flock to blu (4 Avery Street) for a midday escape. A wall of windows offers a panoramic view across the city, and the food will set you soaring. Try the roasted beet salad, served with watercress, fennel, oranges, almonds and goat cheese — or, for something more hearty, the lobster roll with arugula tomato and pancetta on a brioche roll. And don’t worry about indulging at dessert; if you really go overboard, you can always talk your way into a one-day gym pass.

If you’re taking in a Red Sox game …

Kenmore Square is in the middle of a renaissance, led in no small part by the success of Petit Robert Bistro (468 Commonwealth Avenue). Chef Jacky Robert, who led the kitchen at Boston institution Maison Robert for more than two decades, opened this no-frills, classic bistro in April 2005 to prove that fancy French food wasn’t impossible at bourgeois prices. Yummy sandwiches, a “burgerdog” and a variety of egg dishes round out the affordable menu. Stop in before a trip to Fenway Park or think of it as a mini-vacation — to the Left Bank of Paris.

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–written by Jane Black


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