The 30 best comfort foods youll find at Boston area restaurants – The Boston Globe

Posted By on January 22, 2022

Location: 1796 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 857-285-6103,

2. Ma Po Tofu

Where: The Baldwin Bar

Nothing warms the soul quite like tongue-tingling Sichuan cuisine, preferably washed down with a transportive tropical cocktail. Baldwin offers both: craggy, fried Chengdu chicken wings awash in chilies; crunchy pickled vegetables ideal for snacking absentmindedly on the couch; and a glossy, thick ma po tofu swirled with savory minced pork that tastes like a fiery hug. Tiki drinks incorporating unlikely ingredients, from miso butter to jackfruit, bring an extra layer of escapism to the proceedings.

Location: 2 Alfred Street, Woburn, 781-935-8488,

3. Honey-Glazed Biscuits

Where: Buttermilk & Bourbon

Buttermilk & Bourbon channels the food of New Orleans, offering a hedonism sorely needed these days. Creamy onion dip and fried chicken are caloric fun, but the sleeper hits are biscuits: Buttery and shiny as a toddlers chin, these soft, mountainous, honey-glazed carb bombs are more comforting than a nap (and they might make you sleepy). Drag them through a sweet cloud of whipped cinnamon butter and dream of good times ahead.

Locations: 160 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, 617-266-1122; 100 Arsenal Yard Blvd., Watertown, 857-760-7128;

4. Chicken and Waffles

Where: Brassica Kitchen + Cafe

Known for its wildly creative, wildly delicious dinner menus, this JP gem also serves a winning weekend brunch. Dinnertimes flaky, crispy fried chicken gets matched with waffles, maple syrup, and hot sauce, a perfect sweet-salty-spicy dish to fuel you for outdoor cavorting or taking it easy at home. While youre ordering, dont miss the breakfast sandwiches, doughnut French toast, and ever-changing pancake flavors like five-spice buttercream and apples poached in maple syrup.

Location: 3710 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-477-4519,

5. Chocolate Chunk Cookie

Where: Clear Flour Bread

Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to execute. Take the chocolate chunk cookie, which is often too sweet or not sweet enough, too doughy or too crunchy, too thick or too thin. But at Clear Flour, its always just right: crisp at the edges, substantial, with the perfect ratio of dough to chocolate a mixture of smaller semisweet and larger dark pieces. Dont miss the bakerys World Peace cookies, either. (Or its gorgeous loaves of bread, assorted croissants, morning buns, and much more, all of it excellent.)

Location: 178 Thorndike Street, Brookline, 617-739-0060,

6. Fried Chicken

Where: The Coast Cafe

This Cambridge takeout spot is all comfort food, all the time: Its tagline is Food From the Soul. Accurate. The fried chicken has a justified reputation for being one of the best versions in town, and its available in every permutation: Just thighs, wings, or breast meat, or a mix; boneless fingers; BBQ, Buffalo, jerk, or hot wings. Add mac and cheese, candied yams, and collard greens with smoked turkey and you dont just have comfort food you have a comfort feast.

Location: 233 River Street, Cambridge, 617-354-7644,

7. Cheese Dip

Where: Condesa Restaurante Mexicano

A friendly surprise tucked inside the Arsenal Yards complex, with two other locations in Rhode Island, Condesa specializes in authentic dishes created by the Len family, which hails from Jalisco and Mexico City. The chilies en nogada, a poblano pepper piped with savory ground beef and fruit, and topped with creamy walnut sauce, is a soul-warming treat hard to find in these parts. But the smooth, tangy cheese dip a shamelessly American movie-theater classic is worth driving for. Served with warm, salty chips, its just right with a night of Netflix.

Locations: 80 Arsenal Yards Blvd., Watertown, 617-402-5315; 970 Douglas Pike, Smithfield, Rhode Island, 401-349-3935; 721 Quaker Lane, West Warwick, Rhode Island, 401-828-1005;

8. Spaghetti Carbonara

Where: Coppa

Carbonara unto itself would be enough: Coppas al dente spaghetti, rich with egg yolk, pancetta, and Parmesan. But the South End enoteca adds in Maine uni, and the result is a briny, funky, unctuous, umami-laden dish that will make you swoon. Its just one hit on a full album of pasta bangers here, from rigatoni with spicy tomato vodka sauce to tagliatelle Bolognese to cacio e pepe bucatini with red kuri squash.

Location: 253 Shawmut Avenue, South End, 617-391-0902,

9. Nine-Hour French Onion Soup

Where: Deuxave

Nestled on the menu among lobster gnocchi fricassee, spiced duck breast, and other sophisticated elegance is this onion soup, wherein Deuxave distills the essence of comfort directly into a crock. Piping hot, slow-cooked, deeply beefy broth is topped with nutty, stretchy melted Comte for that perfect cheese pull. Breathe in the steam and the fragrance; this dish is a whole cozy mood.

Location: 371 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, 617-517-5915,

10. Ropa Vieja

Where: El Oriental de Cuba

Since 1994, this beloved JP restaurant has been serving up some of the citys best Cuban sandwiches, along with homey soups, plates of roast pork and oxtail, tropical fruit shakes, Cuban coffee, and more. For simple solace in a complicated world, try the ropa vieja, tender braised, shredded beef in a savory sauce of tomato, onions, and peppers, with rice and beans and fried plantains on the side. Proprietor Nobel Garca, a pillar of the community, passed away in November. His welcoming spirit still feels very present at El Oriental.

Location: 416 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-524-6464,

11. Thin Crust Pizza

Where: Florina Pizzeria & Paninoteca

This below-the-radar hideaway on the edge of Beacon Hill serves thin-crust pizza dabbed with sweet tomato sauce, pooling in the middle with oil the kind of floppy, foldable triangle that New Yorkers dream about (and cant usually find here). Charred, sooty, with burbles of crisp dough dotted like savory mini-volcanoes throughout, this is a hand-held wedge of simple satisfaction. Florina has all your favorite toppings, but the straightforward margherita lets its perfect dough shine. As of this writing, Florina is temporarily closed for repairs, so call before heading out its worth the wait until reopening.

Location: 16 Derne Street, Beacon Hill, 617-936-4494,

12. Ramen

Where: Ganko Ittetsu Ramen

There are plenty of ramen variations around town: minimalist and maximalist, traditional and experimental, brawny pork power chords and serene vegan tone poems. Ganko Ittetsus Sapporo-style ramen hits the dishs sweet spot, impressing without showing off. The spicy, hearty Gankara miso, laden with tender chashu pork, bean sprouts, egg, and more, is an excellent, warming choice. But every bowl at these two restaurants, from the soy sauce flavored Gantetsu shoyu (pictured) to the sesame-infused tan-tan, is made with attentive care (and Japans excellent Nishiyama noodles).

Locations: 318 Harvard Street, Unit 4, Brookline, 617-730-8100; 215 Thayer Street, Providence, 401-808-6383;

13. Hand-Pulled Noodles

Where: Genes Chinese Flatbread Cafe

Strappy, chewy hand-pulled noodles based in tongue-twirling hot oil: Genes will clear your sinuses and fill your belly with its thick, spicy (and easily shareable) soups, cut with garlic and cilantro. Friendly owner Gene Wu, originally from Xian, the capital of Chinas Shaanxi province, lovingly re-creates his grandfathers recipes which also include flatbreads stuffed with cumin-laced morsels of lamb and pork belly.

Locations: 86 Bedford Street, Boston, 617-482-1888; 466 Main Street, Woburn, 781-938-6888; 175 Littleton Road, Westford, 978-692-3406;

14. HK Double Cheeseburger

Where: Highland Kitchen

Since opening in 2007, Highland Kitchen has been doing so many things well: mixing balanced cocktails, stocking Somervilles best jukebox, making pitch-perfect dishes worth returning for. Come here for the HK Double Cheeseburger and youll see what we mean. Its a glorious, saucy tower with two beef patties, melted cheese, and caramelized onions, with fries and pickles. Of course you can add bacon; why wouldnt you, at this point? For a smaller dose of comfort, dont miss the ricotta and mozzarella fritters, golden, crisp, and pillowy, to be dipped in spicy honey.

Location: 150 Highland Avenue, Somerville, 617-625-1131,

15. Silken Tofu Stew

Where: Kaju Tofu House

Behind a nondescript storefront in Allston, Kaju Tofu House serves up piping-hot bowls of the Korean favorite sundubu jjigae or silken tofu stew. Featuring delicate tofu swimming in deeply-flavored broth, the stews arrive bubbling in stone pots, along with vegetable side dishes and rice. While known for its spicy food, the restaurant offers varying levels of heat, including a mild version. If youre extra hungry, order up a sizzling plate of Korean grilled meat, such as kalbi (beef short rib) or bulgogi (thinly sliced, marinated beef) to round out your meal.

Location: 58 Harvard Avenue, Allston, 617-208-8540

16. Beef Massaman

Where: Mahaniyom Thai Tapas Bar

At American Thai restaurants, massaman is often the insipid curry on the menu, sweet and earnestly stocked with root vegetables, subordinate to its vibrant green and red counterparts. At Mahaniyom, run by Thai expats in Brookline, the massaman is an entirely different story. Made with tender beef shank; rich, spicy, and complex in flavor; and served with a stack of flaky roti, it will win you over. To really warm your heart, add the gorgeous crab curry to your order, too.

Location: 236 Washington Street, Brookline, 617-487-5986,

17. Pastrami Reuben

Where: Mamalehs Delicatessen Restaurant

For Jewish soul food, the delis where its at. When friends are going through a difficult time, have a platter of Mamalehs smoked fish and bagels delivered. When youre sick, order up some matzoh ball soup. But when its ... any average day during a pandemic, and you want to treat yo self, Mamalehs pastrami Reuben hits the spot. The deli piles seeded rye with pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a schmear of Russian dressing. Doc, it aint good for the cholesterol, but I swear it boosts the old serotonin. Bites of half-sour pickle and sips of Dr. Browns Cel-Ray soda help cut the richness.

Location: 1659 Beacon Street, Brookline; 15 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, 617-958-3354;

18. Nutella and Strawberry French Toast

Where: Milkweed

Milkweed, specializing in creative takes on comfort food, does us the solid of serving breakfast until 4 p.m. This means more Nutella French toast for everyone. Take an already delightful, traditional version of French toast, smear it with the chocolate-hazelnut spread, and garnish it amply with sliced strawberries and powdered sugar. Its a Valentines Day-worthy indulgence available year-round. If for some reason that doesnt tickle your fancy, theres always the Lucky Charms pancakes.

Location: 1508 Tremont Street, Boston, 617-516-8913,

19. Tater Tot Poutine

Where: Moonshine 152

Tater tot poutine. The end. Good night. Need you hear more? Or are you already putting on your coat to head to this neighborhood joint par excellence in Southie? Ill tell you the golden potato nuggets are topped with red-eye gravy, Chinese sausage, and melty bites of cheese, and that theyre on the brunch menu but if you show up at another time, you can have party tots, served with kimchi butter, sweet chili, and truffled teriyaki sauce, so nothing lost. Its hard to single out an item from a menu that includes jalapeo crab rangoon with honey sambal sauce, the creamiest Hungarian mushroom bisque, short-rib grilled cheese with spicy tomato soup, and a pulled pork and scallion pancake quesadilla inspired by Ron Swanson of Parks and Rec. But: Tater tot poutine.

Location: 152 Dorchester Avenue, South Boston, 617-752-4191,

20. Haitian Spaghetti

Where: Neighborhood Kitchen

If only there were a Neighborhood Kitchen on every street corner, a haven for Asian-Haitian comfort food with swagger. Throw caution to the wind with mac-and-cheese topped with lobster, or red velvet waffles with fried chicken and maple cream syrup, or maybe even the fried ice cream sundae. True gluttons should request the Haitian spaghetti, pasta slicked with spicy tomato sauce mixed with onions, peppers, discs of kielbasa, and sliced hard-boiled eggs. Too much? Definitely. Delicious, even eaten cold first thing in the morning before work? You bet.

Location: 84 Spring Street, Medford, 781-391-9000,

21. Oasis Ginger Bomb Juice

Where: Oasis Vegan Veggie Parlor

The flavorful cooking is the main attraction at this plant-based restaurant in Dorchesters Four Corners. But youll need something to drink alongside your grain bowl, exuberantly spiced lentils, veggie stew, and vegan mac n cheese pie. And Oasis Vegan Veggie Parlors juices and smoothies are worth a trip on their own. The Oasis Ginger Bomb Juice a magical potion of fresh-squeezed ginger root, apple juice, and cayenne will cure whatever ails you via a little extra hydration and sinus-clearing heat.

Location: 340 Washington Street, Dorchester, 617-237-9033,

22. Ph' Dac Biet

Where: Ph' Ha Restaurant

When you want ph', go to a specialist. This longtime Fields Corner restaurant serves stellar Vietnamese noodle soups. Ph' Dac Biet is a perfect choice for those who love texture or are simply indecisive. A bowl includes a half-dozen kinds of beef: eye round steak, brisket, flank, fatty flank, tendon, and tripe. But whatever variety you get from ph' bo vien, with beef meatballs, to ph' ga, the chicken-based version the indicator of excellence is the aromatic broth. At Ph' Ha, it is clean, balanced, and restorative. So are garnishes of plentiful fresh herbs, lime, and chilies.

Location: 1370 Dorchester Avenue, Boston, 617-287-9746,

23. Stewed Oxtail

Where: Pikliz International Kitchen

Always order oxtail. But especially at Pikliz International Kitchen, where even on a menu filled with fresh, flavorful Caribbean classics such as Haitian patties, jerk chicken, and fried goat the stewed oxtail stands out. The meat is braised into unctuous tenderness with onion, garlic, chilies, green herbs, and coconut. Order it with savory black djon djon rice, Creole macaroni au gratin, sauteed okra, or fried plantains.

Location: 288 Broadway, Somerville, 617-625-6255,

24. Ice Cream Sundaes

Where: The Scoop N Scootery

What snow? Seasons dont matter when desserts can be delivered to your door thanks to The Scoop N Scootery, which specializes in colossal sundaes topped with old-time favorites (rivulets of gooey hot fudge, towers of homemade whipped cream) or treats you might not find anywhere else (apple pie, cannoli shells). In a world where so little is in our control, its nice to engineer a wildly creative sundae. And while the rich, creamy ice cream is excellent (its Richardsons), the endless toppings and speedy home delivery are icing on the cake German chocolate cake ice cream, that is.

Locations: 112 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, 781-777-2830; 75 Linden Street, Allston, 617-208-8016; 360 Washington Street, Brighton, 617-208-8101;

25. Shakshuka

Where: Sofra Bakery & Cafe

At this sunny oasis on Cambridges fringes with lines down the block, James Beard semifinalist Maura Kilpatrick and James Beard winner Ana Sortun craft inventive Middle Eastern sweets and savories, from syrupy cinnamon baklava with golden flakes to buttery hummus the color of honey. Its all lovely, but for maximum solace, tuck into the shakshuka: runny poached eggs swimming in a stewed tomato broth with hints of coriander and cumin, topped with spicy green zhoug brightened with cilantro. Sop the yolk with a pita and exhale.

Location: 1 Belmont Street, Cambridge, 617-661-3161,

26. Goat Cheese Croquettes

Where: Tashan

Tashan specializes in elevated Indian dishes that go beyond standard curries (though familiar standards like gingery saag paneer and a cumin-forward lamb biryani make an ideal weekend meal). Of note: velvety goat cheese croquettes coated in semolina crust, crunchy on the outside and smooth within. Theyre satisfying enough on their own, but swirled in an onion cream sauce with threads of crispy red chilies on top, its the perfect combination of richness and heat, ideally sponged up with buttery, garlicky naan.

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The 30 best comfort foods youll find at Boston area restaurants - The Boston Globe

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