Sign up for The Dish
Stay up to date on the latest food news from Boston.com.
Welcome to Allston-Brighton, a community filled with students, music, and a host of dining options to explore. The neighborhood, home to Boston University and Harvard University campuses, has no shortage of things to do. You’re able to listen to concerts at Brighton Music Hall and Paradise Rock Club, while taking in vibrant street art. And when you’re not occupied by these pastimes, there are many places to eat and drink.
In a recent Boston.com quiz to help readers find their perfect Boston neighborhood, a majority of the more than 5,000 participants landed in Allston-Brighton. To learn more about the area, we asked readers to tell us about the cuisine and nightlife. With diverse food and beverage possibilities from its rich immigrant community, over 100 readers, including those on social media, recommended 47 restaurants in Allston-Brighton.
“I’ve been describing [Allston-Brighton] as Never Never Land, mixed with Alice in Wonderland,” general manager of The Avenue Bar and Grill Kyle Riess said. “Every September, there’s a huge turnover of rent leases. Hundreds of people move, and hundreds of people come in, so it always stays hip. There’s lots of shops, lots of music, tons of different genres of people, the variety that makes this whole thing a melting pot.”
We’ve put together a guide to the best restaurants and bars in Allston-Brighton, according to reader recommendations. Brighton Bodega and The Avenue Bar and Grill tied for first place, both earning 9% of the vote. Below, find the top places to eat and drink in Allston-Brighton, including a full list and map of all recommendations.
Called a “hidden gem” by one reader, this bustling restaurant is a way to experiencing the quality of the North End without actually setting foot there. Menu items to try include the pollo Irene, a sautéed chicken dish, and the rigatoni Rachele, which comes in a plum tomato sauce. Laura from Allston said, “We always order at least one tortellini pesto. I also like the linguine frutti di mare, and my husband likes the gnocchi spezzatino. I like that they still do takeaway; I miss their cozy indoor space, but it’s a little too cozy for me with COVID. So I miss out on knowing what the specials are, which is a pity, but I can still enjoy all the old favorites.” Carlo’s took 6% of the vote.
131 Brighton Ave., Allston
A classic brunch spot serving Mexican street food, Lone Star Taco Bar in Allston has a relaxed vibe and dishes full of flavor. Also taking 6% of the vote, the spot serves up Baja fried fish tacos, served with mango-habanero aioli, as well as beef birria and grilled avocado tacos. Readers recommended the grilled street corn and the chips with chile con queso, but you may also want to place an order for dry-rubbed wings or Frito pie. On their drink menu, you can find a horachata made with two kinds of rum, and the Lucha Libre, composed of tequila and orange blossom water. Jen from Rockland said, “Carnitas tacos and the margaritas are to die for! We routinely drive in from the South Shore just for the tacos!”
479 Cambridge St. #477, Allston
Another beloved place in Allston for a midday meal, Lulu’s serves up New American comfort food with a twist, led by chef Dante Funes. Earning 7% of the vote, the popular restaurant offers a pomegranate short rib, fried chicken with anise honey butter, and items like the avocado toast served with watermelon radish. Their brunch cocktails include a classic bellini, a superbrew “smoothie” made with mango vodka and creme de banana, and breakfast cereal shooters, with the two flavor options of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios.
Jessica S. from Arlington said, “I’ve been going here for a few years after first hearing about it on Phantom Gourmet. Constantly changing menu, but still keeps some of the more popular items. Good vegan/vegetarian options. Amazing selection of beers. One of my fave restaurants in the Boston area.”
421 Cambridge St., Allston
At this neighborhood hangout spot that took 9% of the vote, you can find casual pub eats, as well as craft beer and cocktails. Readers had a few plates to recommend: The veggie burger with waffle fries and a glass of Siete Leguas was one. Others spoke highly of the packed quesadillas, pulled pork tacos, and chicken tenders. To drink, their cold weather cocktails include the pumpkin pie martini and the rum n’ cocoa, made with Swiss Miss hot chocolate.
“I have staff who are pretty hip, so whenever we’re coming up with the names for drinks, I go with what’s fresh and seems to be cool these days—what the kids are drinking,” Riess said. He added, “We always do a shot of the week, and that’s a reference to something that’s viral, or an old-school Disney reference, something like that.”
The place is “unpretentious,” according to Sean from Allston. “Great staff, good food at reasonable prices. Neighborhood bar, not overrun with college kids… People actually talk to each other here. Sooner or later, everyone in Allston ends up here,” he said.
1249 Commonwealth Ave., Boston
With a globally inspired menu, a raw bar, and street food fare to enjoy, this local joint is a favorite among readers, who also gave it 9% of the vote. The cuisine is eclectic, with readers commending the steamed buns, which come filled with Nashville chicken, Korean fried cauliflower, and confit duck. They also chimed in about the fresh seafood and cocktails such as the Red Right Hand, made with hibiscus rye. Try the fried rice with crispy chicken and hot butter lobster rolls, and you’ll be in for a treat.
General manager Tricia Medas-Power told us that the menu changes every day and is inspired by executive chef Gordon Power’s journeys. “Prior to arriving here, he traveled the world and would eat street food. That’s where it comes from, a little bit,” she said. “He’s constantly looking to try different things and calls it a job and a hobby.” Of the menu, she added, “There’s a little bit of everything. We publish and print daily. It’s fun to have the ball constantly moving.”
Reader Jen from Brighton said, “The menu is constantly rotating with delicious small plates that are so unique and inviting, it’s hard to not want to order everything on it. The cocktail list is also top notch—I’m never disappointed by anything I order from Bodega. To top it all off, the staff and management are so great that they’ve genuinely become good friends of mine at this point. Cannot recommend this place more!!”
Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen: This local brewery and restaurant in Brighton specializes in craft beer and home-made sausages. Brato has a creative grilled cheese menu, with five different kinds of the sandwich, as well as pitchers of ale. 190 N Beacon St., Boston
Readers say: “This gem came to Brighton about three years ago—a neighborhood that desperately needed and deserved a brewery. The beers are decent (except the Zwickels—those are AMAZING), but the food is crazy good. They always have grilled cheeses and sausages which are great, but the rotating specials are awesome—they have probably done at least six different specials using Jaju pierogis. The people who run it are also really kind and hardworking.” –Kat, Brighton
Jim’s Deli & Restaurant: Readers praised the sandwiches at Jim’s, a casual spot where guests can order subs, burgers, wraps, and more. Try a turkey melt, served with fries, or the hot pastrami and Swiss on a grilled roll, topped with spicy mustard. 371 Washington St., Brighton
Readers say: “Chicken deluxe. Fast and friendly service. Everything is fresh, and you can’t go wrong with the daily specials.” –Phil M., Millis
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Lulu’s chef. The chef is Dante Funes. Boston.com regrets the error.
Stay up to date on the latest food news from Boston.com.
Stay up to date with everything Boston. Receive the latest news and breaking updates, straight from our newsroom to your inbox.