Boston’s signature dishes draw from a number of influences: the city’s Puritan heritage, its proximity to the ocean, the Dunkin’ Donuts Big ‘n’ Toasty. Here, an entirely subjective power ranking of the “must-try” Boston foods (hint—you mustn't try all of them).
LOBSTER ROLLS: Chunks of briny lobster, a light butter dressing, and a side-split bun spell New England summer bliss. Be sure to clarify what “market price” means, and maybe take out a mortgage. WHERE TO GET IT: Neptune Lobster (North End).
BOSTON CREAM PIE: The official dessert of Massachusetts, this confection of yellow cake, custard, and chocolate glaze is really stretching the definition of “pie.” It does, however, make a delicious breakfast in donut form at your local Dunks. WHERE TO GET IT: Flour Bakery (locations in Harvard Square, South End, Back Bay, and others).
FENWAY FRANKS: It’s a hot dog that you buy at a ballpark from a teenager carrying a metal case of them on his head, and it’s fantastic. The correct topping is mustard, and mustard alone—get out of here with your ketchup or (god forbid) mayo. WHERE TO GET IT: Fenway Park.
FRAPPES: A frappe (rhymes with crap) is just a milkshake—don’t be fooled. And definitely don’t say it like frapp-AY, or Mark Wahlberg will instantly show up and slap that frappe right into your lap. WHERE TO GET IT: J.P. Licks (locations in Harvard Square, West Roxbury, and others).
CANNOLI: There’s nothing wrong with the cannoli, a fried pastry tube stuffed with cheese masquerading as frosting. But they tend to be better ‘grammed than nommed. WHERE TO GET IT: Mike’s Pastry (North End).
CLAM CHOWDER: None of this tomato-y New York stuff—New England clam chowder is gelatinous, off-white, and hearty enough to get you through a long winter. If you can get your mind around eating creamy ocean water, Boston has lots of options for you. WHERE TO GET IT: Summer Shack (Alewife).
BOSTON BAKED BEANS: This weird, syrupy legume dish gave the city its lamest nickname, Beantown. Leave it to Jay Bush and his anthropomorphic dog—your gastrointestinal system is begging you. WHERE TO GET IT: Don’t.