5 Boston tourist destinations that also have outstanding food

These museums put almost as much emphasis on dining as they do on history and art.

Café G at Isabella Stewart Gardner
Café G at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. –Isabella Stewart Gardner

Tea service, pan-seared cod cakes, farm-to-table fare: You could find these on menus in upscale restaurants around Boston, or you could take a trip to some of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. Swapping out the standard premade sandwiches and wilted salads for upgraded dining options, these five local attractions take pride in their culinary offerings. Take care of your sightseeing needs and hunger pangs in one trip at these Boston institutions.

Abigail's Tea Room
Abigail’s Tea Room. —Abigail's Tea Room

Abigail’s Tea Room and Terrace at the Boston Tea Party Museum
Perhaps the most quintessential Boston attraction, the Boston Tea Party Museum provides a chance to actually sample types of the tea that were so defiantly tossed overboard in 1773. Accompanied by a waterfront view, the tea room serves a selection of teas (with the opportunity to purchase a souvenir mug), hot and cold apple cider, scones, brownies, muffins, and other baked treats. Or, for a more substantial meal, diners can order chowders, sandwiches, and seasonal soups. Looking for something stronger than tea? Seasonal beers from Harpoon Brewery, wine, and cocktails are all available, including the nautical Dark ‘n’ Stormy made with ginger beer and rum. (306 Congress St., Boston)  


Café G at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
You don’t have to be a museum ticket holder to eat at Café G (though you’d be wise to peruse the incredible and eclectic collection at this storied Boston museum). Lunch is available every day except for Tuesday, and the cafe offers dinner on Thursday nights until 8 p.m. Chef Peter Crowley focuses on seasonal ingredients and changes the menu frequently, but diners will likely come across plates of roasted eggplant with coriander yogurt, fig and prosciutto flatbread pizza, and polenta Milanese. Beer and wine are served here as well — enjoy a glass on the cafe’s outdoor patio during a warm afternoon. (25 Evans Way, Boston)

Map Room Tea Lounge at the Boston Public Library
Map Room Tea Lounge at the Boston Public Library. —The Catered Affair

The Courtyard Tea Room and Map Room Tea Lounge at the Boston Public Library
Copley Square’s Central Library recently revamped its dining options — and added the city’s first tea-inspired cocktail bar. After taking in the artwork in the Puvis de Chavannes Gallery or finding solitude while studying in Bates Hall, visitors can head to the Courtyard Tea Room for one of two traditional afternoon tea services, both of which include tea sandwiches, scones, petit fours, soups, and salads. Looking for a drink instead? Stop by the Map Room Tea Lounge, a dark, woodsy bar where cocktails are given literary-inspired names like the vodka-based Dorian Gray made with earl gray tea. Don’t skip out on the tartines. (700 Boylston St., Boston)


Harbor View Café at the New England Aquarium
In January, it was announced that Patina Restaurant Group had partnered with the New England Aquarium to manage the aquarium’s catering, events, and two dining concepts: indoor eatery Harbor View Café and seasonal outdoor deck The Reef. PRG has launched exceptional food experiences in cultural establishments across the country, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in LA, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, and Walt Disney World in Orlando. At the Harbor View Café, PRG revamped the menu with cod fish and chips featuring horseradish coleslaw; a BTC Sandwich with Applegate smoked bacon, tomato, and cheddar on Iggy’s sourdough white bread; and fresh-pressed juices and smoothies. They also added the Dog ’n Claw, Patina’s hot dog and lobster roll cart on the Aquarium’s plaza. The Reef will return in June with both an updated look and menu — keep an eye out for more details as the reopening gets closer. (1 Central Wharf, Boston)

New American Café at the Museum of Fine Arts
New American Café at the Museum of Fine Arts. —Museum of Fine Arts

New American Cafe at the Museum of Fine Arts
The MFA’s fine dining restaurant, formerly known as Bravo, is currently closed for renovation (it will reopen under a new name in summer 2019), but there are still plenty of excellent dining options to discover at Boston’s famed art museum — in particular, the New American Cafe. Inside the museum’s glass-enclosed courtyard, the cafe — named by Food & Wine as one of the best museum restaurants in the country in January 2014 — serves regional dishes from across the US: barbecue pulled pork sandwiches, pan-seared cod cakes, brick oven chicken quesadillas. Lord Hobo recently partnered with the MFA to release Museum, a limited-release Triple IPA available on tap here. Other dining options include Taste, a wine bar with light snacks, and Garden Cafeteria, a family-friendly dining option. (465 Huntington Ave., Boston)