Don’t worry, you’ll get used to everyone who’s not from Boston saying, “Oh, Northwestern. I think my cousin went there,” when you tell them you go to Northeastern. In the meantime, you’re lucky to be in a place that’s in the heart of the city that also has an actual campus (go take a trip to BU some time to see exactly what we mean by that). Restaurant-wise, that means you’re surrounded by some great options. When you’re sick of the same cold pizza that gets served at every campus event, check out one of the spots below.
If you’ve ever been mentally and emotionally crippled by the decision of what pasta to get at a great Italian restaurant, grab a few friends and head to SRV on the corner of Mass Ave and Tremont. All the pastas here are served small plate style, so you don’t have to decide between the bone marrow risotto and the shrimp lumache - you can try just about every one. We highly recommend doing that when the weather is still nice, so you can sit out on the great patio hidden out back. But even in the winter this place is a great hang, mostly because the interior looks like one of those rustic vacation homes that get profiled in the Sunday paper.
Waking up for brunch only to end up somewhere mediocre sucks. But you are pretty much guaranteed to have a good time on Sunday mornings at Darryl’s. That’s because you get an all-you-can-eat buffet of soul food for $25 alongside live music. If you can’t make it on Sunday morning because that’s when you volunteer at the puppy shelter, they have music at night Thursday-Saturday, too, and you can always count on it for plates of chicken and waffles that are so big you’ll be covered for two meals.
Time Out Market is a giant food hall with stalls from some of the most outstanding restaurants in Boston. If you really want to try out the restaurants, you’re better off going to their actual locations because the food here tends to be smaller and priced with a tourist tax. But still, it’s awesome that you can get crispy nori tacos from the people behind O Ya, followed by a Craigie Burger and a cocktail in an outdoor space with corn hole and bocce.
Someone who graduated before 2017 will likely refuse to step foot in this place out of general principle, since it replaced Our House East, which was the quintessential Northeastern dive. But if you’re going to lose a great campus dive, it might as well be replaced by a really fun dual-concept bar. One half of this place is a beer hall with darts and a small but decent menu of bar food (the pulled pork sandwich is your best bet), and the other half is a colorful taco and ceviche bar. The food is better on the taco half, and with $15 buckets of beer and a nice margarita selection, the drinks aren’t bad, either.
You’ve probably noticed that Boston is on a harbor (if not, consider taking a geography class). As a result, we do seafood just about better than anything else. A lot of our best seafood restaurants are pricey and hard to get into, though, which is why you’re really lucky to be so close to Eventide. This place makes some seriously great things like uni fried clams and lobster stew, and does it fast-casual style. All you have to do is order at the counter, take a number to a table, and enjoy their brown butter lobster roll, the first bite of which may turn out to be a formative life experience.
This is the bar you’re going to come back to when you visit campus 20 years after you graduate. It’s a cheap, windowless basement pub with pitchers, sports on the TV, and food that tastes a lot better drunk than sober (e.g. nachos made with Cool Ranch Doritos). Almost everyone inside will be associated with the university in some capacity, which means there will be plenty of nights when you absolutely don’t want to come here. But when you’re in the mood for a few beers and some darts, there’s nowhere better.
If you want some sushi but are stuck with friends who aren’t into it, take them to Hojoko (or get new friends). This is a really loud, fun izakaya that serves things like crispy nori tacos, which are the gateway to nigiri. Even if you can’t get them to eat those, this place is one of the most fun restaurants in the city - with great drinks, tables next to a heated pool that’s open year-round, and a small cocktail bar with live music called The Groove.
When you’ve finally converted your friends to the sushi life, head to The Laughing Monk Cafe, just down Huntington in Brigham Circle. The omakase at this casual place is expensive (around $100 for 10 pieces) but it’s one of the best in Boston, with nori cut to look like lace doilies and pieces that are made with things like charcoal and gooseberry. If you want to keep things more reasonable, you can order some of the omakase pieces off the a la carte menu, along with some better than average Thai food, too.
Science says that standing up increases your focus, creativity, and wit.* With that being said, Fool’s Errand should be where you head for a first date. This tiny cocktail bar is decorated like the bedroom of a 9-year-old princess (think chandeliers and loud patterned wallpaper) and doesn’t have a single seat. Grab a spot along one of the shelves facing Boylston Street, order a cocktail and one of their finger food snacks (we suggest the smoked beef tongue sandwich), and use the magic of standing up to impress that person you met in your intro to poli-sci class.
*Yeah, sorry, we have no idea if this is actually a scientific fact. But you gotta admit, it feels like one.
The Westland is one of the closest sit-down restaurants to campus. As a result, if you come here for brunch it’ll seem to be filled entirely with Northeastern students double-fisting cups of coffee in an attempt to hide their hangovers from their visiting parents. But you should keep this American gastropub type place in mind for just about any occasion. It has one of the best burgers in the neighborhood, and the front bar area that’s separate from the rest of the restaurant is a great place to have a few early-in-the-evening cocktails.
If you’re looking to elevate your communal drinking beyond kegs of Natty Lite and some sugary punch whose exact ingredients are unknown even to the person who made it, Tiger Mama is your spot. This really fun Southeast Asian-ish restaurant has a selection of big tiki drinks served in pirate ships and treasure chests, and they’re perfect for washing down small plates like crispy chili potatoes and Singapore street noodles. Come here when you want dinner to feel like a party.
Big plates of food for under $12 are as essential to living as oxygen, water, and Amazon Prime. Boston Shawarma is a quick counter-service place where you can fill up on meaty pita wraps and sandwiches every night until midnight. You can’t go wrong with the signature shawarma sandwich, but we prefer the lamb kofta, and we almost always finish with the baklava.
If your favorite wine is boxed, then it’s time to make some upgrades. Nathalie, an unpretentious wine bar with both skateboarding stickers and contemporary art on the walls is a great place to do that. Come here for some really great natural wines made by female winemakers and a menu of small plates that’s good enough to enjoy even if your ID got rejected.
Ilona is an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant with some of the best small plates around campus. You’re going to want to try just about everything on the menu, so either come with a lot of friends or when you’re with someone else who’s footing the bill. It’s fun, it has good cocktails, and it kind of looks like a boutique hotel owned by a wildly successful fashion photographer, so come here, start with the crispy eggplant, and have a good time.
Your classmates from the South are going to endlessly complain that there’s no good barbecue in Boston. Let them do it - complaining about poor imitations of your native food is a crucial part of forging your identify in college. But while they’re busy ranting about hush puppies, head to Sweet Cheeks on Boylston. It’s a great casual spot for getting your fingers really messy and downing some ribs. Believe it or not, the big honey biscuits are actually the best thing on the menu, so don’t miss out on a bucket of those.
All that bitching your Southern classmates are going to do about barbecue? You can double that for your Californian classmates when it comes to tacos and burritos. According to them, there is nothing east of the Mississippi that should legally be allowed to call itself a burrito. Tune them out at El Peon, where you can get big, flavorful Mexican food for really cheap (everything on the menu is under $10). Our favorite burrito is the El Guapo, which comes with plantains, and we love eating it on the patio on a quiet Fenway side street out front.
A couple doors down from El Peon is Bennett’s, another place where you can fill up for not a ton of cash. It’s a sandwich shop that serves good 8 and 12 inch subs, one of which is a really good lobster roll that uses both mayo and drawn butter. But their breakfast subs may be our favorite thing in the restaurant, since one of them covers you for lunch, too.
Toro is one of the most popular restaurants in Boston and it doesn’t take reservations. But you’re fortunate enough to have a schedule that frequently leaves you with nothing to do at 3pm except watch reruns of Law & Order, so you should take advantage of that and head here off-hours for some great tapas. Grab a seat on the sidewalk or the dining room that feels more like a bar, start with an order of the white anchovies and the za’atar duck, and see why there’s really nothing not to like about this place.
465 is the full-service restaurant inside the Museum of Fine Arts, so it’s a great place to go when you need to convince someone who may or may not be paying your tuition that you actually are taking full advantage of the cultural richness that is Boston. It serves a good selection of the type of things people who have been frequenting museums for years tend to like, so you can expect a lot of heirloom vegetables, shareable small plates, and few larger meat and fish entrees. Keep it in mind for Wednesday nights, when admission to the museum is free.