Top Five: Boston

Welcome to our Top Five series, where bomb women show us their city's food scene through their eyes. From speakeasies in Cleveland to roadside spam in Hawaii to whole hog barbecue in Charleston, they're showcasing their local haunts and the places you wouldn't find on your own. 


Curated by Deanna Nappi

Deanna is the Program Coordinator for The Campus Kitchen at UMass Boston, a non-profit focused on reducing food waste at the university and empowering students to get involved in hunger relief work. Deanna is also an avid runner and donut connoisseur who spends way too long planning out training runs that end at one of Boston's finest donut establishments. When she's not running or devouring a classic-glazed, you can find Deanna people-watching at a downtown coffee shop or experimenting with new recipes in her tiny apartment's kitchen.

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(1) Coffee

Loyal Nine

660 Cambridge St. East Cambridge, MA

Ethically sourced coffees and teas, baristas that know their stuff, great patio, beautiful pottery - Loyal Nine has got it all! Whether you're meeting up with a friend, looking for a place to study, or just in need of a Sunday coffee shop hang, Loyal Nine always has the relaxed vibe that makes you never want to leave. Even though their restaurant doesn't open until dinner at 5, you can take your drink from the cafe into the dining room which means there is ALWAYS space - pretty rare to find on a Saturday in Boston. If you go during the summer, make sure you come prepared with sunglasses, a book, and several hours to kill sitting back on their patio. 


Credit: Boston Common Coffee Co. 

(2) Breakfast

Boston Common Coffee Co. 

515 Washington St. Boston, MA

Right in the midst of downtown, Boston Common Coffee Co. is the perfect coffee stop for basically any Boston commute. The fair trade coffee is delicious, the breakfast sandwiches are amazing, and all of the breads and pastries are baked right in house - you can't go wrong! While there are now 4 locations, BCCC is an independent coffee roaster and each of the locations gives off the "small family business" vibe. The owners often even bring their kids in to the roasting facility and shops to help out. And did I mention that they do specialty gourmet donuts every Thursday based on flavor recommendations by customers? There's a reason that I'm late to work every Thursday...don't tell my boss.


(3) Lunch

Blue Nile

389 Centre St. Jamaica Plain, MA

The best Ethiopian food I've ever had. Period. With amazing options for both meat-eaters and vegetarians, it's my go-to place to take visiting family and friends. They are also a small, family-run restaurant so I would recommend going for lunch if you want to secure one of the 5 small tables. If you go the dinner reservation route - be prepared to still have to wait around a half an hour. And make sure to try the honey wine!


Credit:  Oleana

Credit: Oleana

(4) Dinner 


134 Hampshire Street Cambridge, MA

Oleana's executive chef, Ana Sortun was named the Best Chef in the Northeast by the James Beard Foundation for her creative middle eastern flavors, and just a quick glance at the menu will show you why. As a fine-dining, small-plates restaurant, Oleana is the perfect place for a celebration dinner or just a treat yourself night out with friends. And if you go in the summer you may even be lucky enough to score a table out on their garden patio!


(5) Drinks

Lamplighter Brewing Co.

284 Broadway, Cambridge, MA

I love beer, so the exponential growth of the craft brewery scene in Boston makes me so happy. But with all the good beer in the city, Lamplighter definitely takes the cake. Not only is their beer amazing - from IPAs to Stouts, you can't make a bad choice - but so is the atmosphere of the brewery. With Longfellows Cafe serving some delicious espresso options right on site, Lamplighter is a great place to hang out mid-day (or "work" off-site) where you can enjoy a quality beer in an environment that feels more like a coffee shop. If you can, try to time your visit with one of their amazing food pop-ups featuring a variety of awesome local Boston food entrepreneurs.