The best places in any city (in my opinion) are the ones just outside the high traffic, “tourist” zones. These are the neighborhoods, restaurants, coffee shops and bars that are in the fringe areas – just a few streets over from the hyped, well-known neighborhoods that end up on “places to see” lists. These are the well-kept secrets that the locals like to keep for themselves, and boy do I love finding them.
Boston’s South End is one of those places. The northern edge of this neighborhood is just a few blocks from Boston’s famed Back Bay, but those few blocks make a world of difference. On a recent trip to Boston, my family and I had the pleasure of fully experiencing Back Bay and South End- with a few hidden gems in the heart of the city.
My family and I were staying at Garrison Square apartments near Copley Place and we were so surprised to find our location offered the best of both worlds. Out the front door and across Huntington ave. we had Copley Place and the Back Bay, with its shopping, high-end restaurants, Fenway Park, and well, crowds. My daughter was convinced we would see Tom Brady and Giselle walking the streets and spent the afternoon searching through the crowds for the couple. Not so surprisingly, she didn’t spot them.
But on the other side of our apartment, out the back door, was the quiet South End neighborhood with its brownstone walk-up apartments, community gardens, churches, local eateries, markets and bars. During a Sunday morning walk along the nearly 5-mile Southwest Corridor Park, I saw only a handful of dog walkers and joggers. I thought to myself, “is this really downtown Boston?” I made my way over to Columbus Avenue in search of a cup of coffee and found Render Coffee and opted for the trendy pour over cup of coffee. This was a treat for me and although I’m sure most of it is gimmick, I did enjoy the process as much as the coffee. Next stop was Café Madeleine for some fresh baked pastries to bring back to the family, but not before balancing the breakfast with some fresh fruit from South End Food Emporium, a local market.
Later that night, my wife and I scoped out Yelp and found Giacomo’s for some Italian food, but the 40 minute wait prompted us to venture to the bar/restaurant next door. Anchovies was a great spot for killing some time while waiting for a table. But, as it turns out, their menu looked amazing and we opted to eat right there at the bar! We later learned that both restaurants had the same owner. In any case, the food and prices were fantastic. I can only imagine that this is the kind of place that locals cherish on those snowy Monday evenings. Only a few blocks, but worlds away from the crowds and tourists.
Love these Boston neighborhoods? Share your favorite hotspots in the comments below!