Where to Eat Lunch in Boston
Lunchtime comes often… and most days, I’m wondering what I should eat. Does this sound familiar? I’ve been meal planning for awhile, but some weeks are just off (you know the ones) and lunch is always the thing that gets lost in the shuffle. Lucky for my stomach (and yours), there are plenty of great options for a casual lunchtime meal, or something more leisurely, depending on how much time you have. Today, I am sharing where to eat lunch in Boston with some tried and true favorite restaurants.
A quick lunch / take-out
My husband, Matt, has been a longtime lover of Anna’s burritos, but I’ve been slower to jump on the fan bandwagon. I finally came around, and I’m so glad I did. Anna’s burritos are delicious and inexpensive. Bonus: there are locations all around town, with the newest one opening at the Prudential Center.
What to order: a burrito with grilled chicken, or if you like spice, order the chile verde.
Located downtown, Zo is only open during lunch hours. It’s the perfect spot for a Greek sandwich which is satisfying and fresh. The warm flatbread sandwiches are so good, especially on a chilly day.
What to order: the chicken gyro wrap with tzatziki sauce.
I love that there are so many delicious, innovative and healthy food options popping up around town. Pressed has locations in Beacon Hill and the South End, although the South End has much better seating options. Stop in for a smoothie or one of their lunch items.
What to order: pepita avocado smash toast (I could eat this 3x a day), calm shake (with housemade chai), raw heirloom tomato lasagne, and any of the ready-to-eat salads.
Eataly recently opened their doors at the Prudential Center, and we love popping in for a glass of wine, a quick bite, or a little grocery shopping. It’s such a fun place to explore, and there are so many different things to eat!
What to order: rather than dine at one of the four onsite restaurants, we like to peruse the various vendors and choose whatever looks good that day. Some of our favorites include the Sicilian pizza, the tomato soup, and of course, gelato for dessert.
Jugos is a tiny little place located next to the Back Bay train station. I love the friendly staff, who always come outside to take my order when they see that I have a stroller (which doesn’t fit well in the shop). Jugos is known for their smoothies and juices, but they also have a great selection of open-faced sandwiches and ready-made eat-anytime options like chia pudding, hummus and veggies, and cut fruit.
What to order: pan con palta (avocado toast), chia pudding (so good, and I love that they offer two sizes and flavor variations), samba smoothie, and Sao Paolo acai bowl.
Matt worked downtown for many years, and he would frequent Piperi for lunch. I would meet up with him for lunch several times a month, and he would typically suggest Piperi as our meeting spot. It’s delicious! The line moves quickly and there aren’t too many menu options, which I appreciate as an indecisive lunch orderer.
What to order: I love choosing a salad base with falafel (but I’ve heard the chicken is excellent, too). I usually get all the toppings. Hard to go wrong here!
Mother Juice on Newbury Street (they also have locations in Kendall Square and at the Boston Public Market) is a beautiful green oasis. I love the wall of hanging plants and it feels like you’ve just stepped into a greenhouse.
What to order: any of the salads! A favorite is The Rabbit, especially if you want lighter fare. We love the Newbury Street outdoor seating area, so be sure to snag a seat if you have the time and enjoy your lunch al fresco.
The New York City-based Dig Inn opened its first Boston location last year and I’ve probably consumed dozens of their hearty bowls. The food is always fresh, appetizing, and without question, I have difficulty deciding what to order. Everything always looks yummy! There is usually a seat at the communal table, where you can enjoy your lunch and take a moment to relax.
What to order: it’s impossible to order wrong at Dig Inn; everything is good! I love looking at the menu while waiting in line (don’t worry, it moves quickly) but always take a gander at the items before I order. You never know what will call your name as you walk by. Dig Inn creates their menu based on seasonal availability, and they do a really great job at developing recipes that are delicious and feel healthy. I love ordering a bowl with lots of veggies (their sweet potatoes are so good, and really any of the seasonal vegetables) and I usually choose chicken breast as a protein, but all of the options look good. I recommend the housemade pesto to top it off.
Another Mexican option, because I love burritos. The thing I love best about Tenoch is their chicken. It’s never dry, and well seasoned. The restaurant is also well-known for their tortas (sandwich), but I am a big fan of the burrito.
What to order: burrito with marinated chicken, but pastor torta looks so good, too!
With locations across Boston, Brookline and Cambridge, Tatte is a beloved bakery and cafe in town. There is one rule while eating here: you have to order dessert. Honestly, the cookies, brownies (we love the original and halvah brownies), cheesecake, and any of the tarts and cakes are all good bets. Okay, but on to lunch…
What to order: the halloumi salad is my go to because it is delicious and filling. I also love shaksuka (from the breakfast menu… if you are early enough to order it!), and the short rib grilled cheese.
I’ve been eating at Cafe Jaffa for years. My dad would often take us to the Gloucester Street restaurant for early dinners, and not much has changed in the years that I’ve been dining there. It’s a no-frills restaurant, but sometimes that is a good thing. Try to grab a seat in the window if you can.
What to order: any of the appetizers – hummus, tabouli, grape leaves! I love the falafel plate or wrap, as well as the Greek salad wrap. The fries are great, too.
There’s a lot to love about the Thinking Cup, and with three locations in the city (North End, Downtown, and Back Bay), you’ll find yourself always “close enough” to pop in for a coffee and bite. Seating can be tricky, especially at the Back Bay location, but we almost always tend to find a seat at the other two locations.
What to order: a customized grilled cheese — you choose the bread, type of cheese, and any additional items you want like tomato or spinach. We also love the chia pudding, orzo salad, and the hazelnut latte is so delicious.
Another Boston favorite, Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery & Cafe has locations across the city, but we end up at the Back Bay location on Clarendon Street (there is a little playground across the street). We love the sweets (best cookies!) and lunch offerings. There is something for everyone on the menu. It can get a little chaotic at lunchtime, and you may have to wait awhile for your food, so we like to come on the early or late side of lunch, if we can. Good to know: you can order 1/2 sandwiches, which I appreciate, since then you have extra room for a cookie.
What to order: the signature raspberry seltzer, chia pudding, curried tuna sandwich, and the chunky lola cookie.
The Paramount has two locations in the city — in Beacon Hill and South Boston, and is a city favorite. Known for their brunch (best pancakes), we also love their lunch offering. Good to know: you can still order breakfast at lunch. The restaurant is known for their “order first, then sit” policy, and it really does work. It may seem busy, but once you get your food, there is always a seat available.
What to order: everything is good but our favorites are pancakes (anytime of day!), the BBQ chicken chopped salad, and the off-menu grilled chicken sandwich with a mix of sweet potato fries and french fries. They also serve fresh squeezed OJ, which we love.
Luke’s Lobster is a great little spot right in the heart of the Back Bay (they also have a location downtown). As soon as you walk in the door, you feel like you are on vacation. There’s something about seafood that just makes you feel that way! The menu offerings include rolls (lobster, crab, or shrimp), soups, and lobster tails.
What to order: a lobster roll, of course! If you’re extra hungry, add on a clam chowder.
Lunch meeting / Take yourself out on a lunch date
Picco is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. Why you may ask? It is always consistently delicious. I love that I know exactly how the food is going to taste and that no matter what, it is going to taste good. In the warmer months, the South End restaurant has an awesome patio for dining al fresco (and people watching). I love to grab a seat at the bar indoors or dine at one of the tables. The pizza is on the crispy side, so if you’d prefer it to be cooked for less time, be sure to let your server know. Good to know: Picco is extremely kid-friendly! (You can leave your stroller at the front, and they have high chairs available.)
What to order: the Caesar salad, tacos, and pizza. I love creating my own pizza with sausage and carmelized onions. Good to know: they also can do “pizza bowls” if you are gluten-free. Great draft beer list, and don’t leave without ordering a scoop or two of their homemade ice cream.
Barbara Lynch’s Fort Point restaurant has great lunch specials. We love the ambiance at Sportello. Grab a seat at the bar and enjoy a big bowl of pasta! There are a few tables, but most of the seating is at the bar, so we recommend it mostly for parties of 2 (or 1).
What to order: the tagliatelle with bolognese sauce, and an affogato for a sweet caffeine boost before heading into the afternoon. Decadent!
Lincoln is a great place to meet up with friends, and it’s super kid-friendly. I really enjoy sitting at the bistro tables at the front of the restaurant that look out onto the street. On nice days, the windows will open and you may even get a nice breeze. Lincoln has a great menu, ranging from salads to sandwiches and pizza, there’s something for everyone’s palate.
What to order: the burger, any of the salads, and the chicken wings. Grab a bistro table in the front, and on a nice day if the windows are open, you’ll be able to people watch as people walk down West Broadway Street.
Pastoral has everything you want: good pizza, good drinks, and a great location. I guess it’s safe to say that I love pizza. We love bringing Milo here because the staff is so accommodating. They have gluten-free pizza (which Laura loves) and a great drink list.
What to order: roasted garlic wood-fired knot, margherita pizza.
If you don’t eat gluten, Laura shared a list of gluten-free restaurants here. I’d love to know, what are your favorite lunch spots around town? Which restaurants are you hoping to try next?
Photo credit: 1/ Luke’s Lobster, 2/ Natalie Kurtzman, 3/Tenoch, 4 & 5/ Natalie Kurtzman