By Jacqueline Cain·
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Deep Ellum serves more than just beer and bar snacks, such as this salmon special. / Photo by Rebeccah Marsters
Robust student and immigrant populations help to make Allston one of the most vibrant dining districts in all of Boston. Really! Contrary to certain undergrad associations, it’s not all dive bars—though those are great here, too. (Shoutout to the Sil!) Whether you’re looking for a quick meal before a rock show, a date-night place with a patio, or authentic Korean and Chinese restaurants, here’s where toeat in the diverse neighborhood.
Burgers and beers at the Avenue. / Photo by Mallory C. via Yelp
A dark bar at all hours, this isn’t necessarilya place to take your parents for dinner—it’s where to go for second dinner. After 10 p.m., there’s always a well-seasoned burger option priced at just $2. No matter what time you arrive, there will be cold beer on draft (30 of them, in fact), Pat LaFrieda patties, tacos, and wings. The kitchen stays open until last call.
1249 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, 617-903-3110,avenuebar.com.
Carlo’s Cucina Italiana
This Brighton Ave. spot has been a friendly, fresh, family favorite for more than 40 years thanks to homestyle fare like calamari Veneziana (sautéed with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, cherry peppers, and olives and smothered in a sweet tomato sauce), and house-made fusili with garlicky broccoli rabe.
131 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-254-9759, carloscucinaitaliana.com.
Kimchi fritas at Coreanos. / Photo courtesy of Coreanos
The indie music playing inside this tiny counter-service spot is always on point, making it a perfect stop ahead of a show at nearby Brighton Music Hall. The spreadmight include traditional Korean dishes like spicy tteokbokki, but don’toverlook fun fusion fare from one of the area’s first restaurants doing Los Angeles-style Korean-Mexicancuisine. That includesthings like bulgogi tacos, and kimchi fritas topped with house-fermented kimchi, cheese, and a runny egg.
172 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-208-8822, coreanosallston.com.
An indispensable watering holefor notonly Allston but all of Boston, this cool bar specializes in European-style beers and brown spirits. It’s also a late-night standby (with snacks and sandwiches available nightly until last call), a brunch favorite (any and every day of the week), and it has one of the best hidden back patios in the entire city. Cheers to you, Deep Ellum.
477 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-787-2337, deepellum-boston.com.
Photo courtesy of Dumpling Kingdom
Among ampleAsian cuisine options in Allston is one branch of the soup-filled empire of chef Peter Wang, who’s also behind Chinatown mainstays Dumpling Café and Taiwan Café, as well as Dumpling Palace in the Symphony area. Wang’s “mini juicy buns,” or xiao long bao (soup dumplings) are always steaming hot and flavorful, and there are a ton more dumpling options and Taiwanese dishes to choose from. The Kingdom is another music venue-adjacent go-to that serves nightly ’til 2 a.m.
137 Harvard Ave., Allston, 617-562-8888, dumplingkingdomallston.com.
Allston is a refuge for vegetarian diners, thanks in large part to this longtime Chinese food favorite. The entire menu is vegan, including dumplings, and interpretations of traditional dishes like scallion and ginger “lobster,”black pepper “beef,” and orange “chicken.” It’s often crowded—because it’s relatively inexpensive and soundly satisfying.
1 N Beacon St., Allston, 617-254-8883, grasshoppervegan.com.
Expect globe-spanning gastropub specials like chipotle chicken tostadas at Hopewell. / Photo courtesy of Hopewell
Hopewell Bar & Kitchen
With daily oysters, 16 draft beers and even more whiskeys, and gastropub fare like grilled pizzas, roasted mushroom gnocchi, and house-ground beef burgers, this is a nice spot for dinner and drinks. But it’s a bar that knows its audience: Young folks flock here to play arcade games and shuffleboard—and to try out creative, seasonal cocktails.
1277 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-208-8925, hopewellboston.com.
Lone Star Taco Bar
Sister spot to next-door bar Deep Ellum, this taqueria shares familial traits like daily brunch and late-night options (and abundant Topo Chico). But it also serves some of Boston’s best tacos, filled with the likes of Dallas-style spicy beef, house-made chorizo, and beer-battered white fish with sweet-and-spicy mango-habanero aioli.
Lone Star Taco Bar, 479 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-782-8226, lonestar-boston.com.
The patio behind Lulu’s in Allston. / Photo courtesy of Lulu’s
One of the neighborhood’s favorite spots for brunch, this spot specializes in comfort food like loaded French toast, spiced tots, fried chicken, and steak bomb tacos. It also has a great bar scene—hello, 50 well-curated beers on draft—and a glorious backyard, complete with its own bar and bocce courts.
421 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-787-1117, lulusallston.com.
This small, eclectic, basement dining spot continuously exceeds expectations in terms of service and value. When in need of affordable, fresh sushi in Allston, pop in for impressive rolls like the Fire Bruins Maki, a shrimp tempura roll tucked in an aluminum foil boat and served flaming hot—literally.
185 Harvard Ave., Allston, 617-202-3808, facebook.com.
Matzo ball soup at Our Fathers Delicatessen. / Wayne Chinnock Photography
Our Fathers Delicatessen
Come for the reuben, stay for the deep gin selection. This modern Jewish restaurant from the Franklin Restaurant Group (Tasty Burger, Franklin Café) has a takeout deli on one side, dealing in Katz’s-rivaling hand-cut pastrami, smoked fish, and bagels; and on the other, a full bar and restaurant with a diaspora-spanning menu, from seasonal spreads with Markouk bread to za’atar-spiced salmon. The sleek, mid-century-inspired space fits right into the bustling, Harvard-built Lower Allston area it anchors.
197 N. Harvard St., Lower Allston, 617-303-0101, ourfathersboston.com.
Roxy’s Grilled Cheese
What began in a former hot-dog mobile as one of Boston’s first food trucks has turned into a sandwich empire, with multiple trucks and two restaurants. This is Roxy’s first brick-and-mortar, featuring a lineup of beloved grilled cheeses like hot honey bacon; the avocado-packed Green Muenster; and the Allston, with herbed goat cheese, fig jam, caramelized onions, and arugula. There are vegan options, plus a rotating menu of creative burgers and canned craft brews.
485 Cambridge St., 617-202-5864, roxysgrilledcheese.com.
A selection of Thai dishes. / Photo courtesy of S & I to Go via Facebook
S & I to Go
This humble Thai haunt serves up pad see ew withexcellent wok char, just-sweet-enough pineapple curry, and a soulful pad gra prow with enough heat to make you sweat. But if you want to sweat even more? Ask for the Thai-language menu for authentic dishes like crispy double-fried catfish laced with whole sprigs of fresh peppercorns; and volcanic som tums flavored with raw salted crab. It’s only 12 seats, so prepare for a wait—or take it all home, as the name suggests.
168A Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-254-8488, sanditogo.com.
The signature beef-bone soup (seollongtang) is the reason to put this spot on your list of Korean go-tos, thanks to its subtle broth of rich marrow. But bring friends to sample more of the family-style menu—and make good use of the generous banchan, including fresh kimchi and sweet-and-sour radishes.
1245 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, 617-505-6771, seoulsoulongtang.com.
Shabu-Zen hot pot photo by Marlana Y. via Yelp
Head here for the city’s best hot pot, served in a large and lively dining room by friendly staff. Soup selections include Thai and Japanese flavors, but we suggest the spicy Mongolian-style broth, which gets even more complex as your table-mates dip in all the fresh and tasty ingredients.
80 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-782-8888, shabuzen.com.
You might contend with occasional reverberations from the show going on at next-door rock club Great Scott. But it will be worth it for well-executed, traditional Shanghainese dishes like porky soup dumplings, rice wine and ginger-scented seafood, and tender lion’s head meatballs served with steamed bok choy.
204 Harvard Ave., Allston, 617-566-7344, shanghaigateboston.com.
The Cassie at Whole Heart Provisions. / Brian Samuels Photography
Whole Heart Provisions
Chef-owner Rebecca Arnold is an alum of hallowed halls Sarma and Alden & Harlow, and she brings that fine-dining, flavor-forward training to her growing empire of vegan-friendly counter-service spots. Her first restaurant is in Allston, where omnivorous crowds delight in her punchy salads and street-food snacks,such as sesame shishitos and a signature falafel dog.
487 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-202-5041, wholeheartprovisions.com.
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