A California newspaper wrote about Wahlburgers and got a few things wrong about Boston

The article, which has since been changed, even merited a response from Donnie Wahlberg.

Exterior view of a Wahlburgers restaurant in Hingham.
Exterior view of a Wahlburgers restaurant in Hingham. –Paul Marotta / Getty Images

Wahlburgers is bringing their fast-casual pub fare to California, but apparently the institutional knowledge of the Wahlberg brothers’ home town did not follow.

In an article Tuesday about Wahlburgers’ new location in Palo Alto, the San Jose-based Mercury News seemed to confuse a number of things about Boston, including a particular misused colloquialism that just won’t go away.

Let’s begin with the headline:

“Wahlburgers in Palo Alto: How to eat like a Southie”

Ah. We’ve been here before. For the unfamiliar, “a Southie” is not really a term applied to a person, but a well-known slang nickname for the neighborhood of South Boston. Even natives or residents of South Boston would not be referred to as “a Southie.”


The Mercury News at least has good company in this respect. Both The New York Times (in a profile on chef Barbara Lynch) and The Simpsons made similar missteps within the last year or so. However, as the founder of a local Southie magazine pointed out, the Wahlbergs aren’t even from the neighborhood. The family’s nine children grew up in Dorchester.

On to the actual article.

After a brief introduction to Mark, Donnie, and Paul Wahlberg, the Mercury News got into describing the food at their growing burger chain.

The dishes are nostalgic throwbacks to the family’s roots in working-class Dorchester, south of Boston.

The article does correctly name the Wahlbergs’ origins, but last time we checked, Dorchester was still very much part of Boston, rather than south of the city. Wait, hold on. (Checks the City of Boston’s neighborhoods webpage.) Yup, Dorchester is still part of Boston.

Later in the article, we were hit again with another “Southie” reference.

What if you just want to eat like a Southie instead of a West Coaster? Well, then Harp suggests you consider the crispy panko-coated fish sandwich — it’s made with haddock, popular on the East Coast — and a frappe.

To give credit where its due, the Mercury News did go on to accurately explain what a frappe is (and how it’s pronounced) in New England.

The article resulted in a number of Bostonians taking to Twitter to correct the newspaper and its author. Among them was none other than Donnie Wahlberg himself, who put the Southie issue in terms a Californian could understand.


“Calling one ‘A Southie’ is akin to calling one ‘A Palo Alto,'” he tweeted.

Wahlberg also helpfully set the record straight of his and his brothers’ upbringing.

“We’re from Dorchester,” he said. “Which doesn’t make us Dorchesters.”

In an update Wednesday afternoon, the newspaper made a sweeping update to the article. The headline was changed to “How to eat like you come from Southie.” Dorchester was updated to be accurately described as a “neighborhood,” instead of a separate jurisdiction south of Boston. And the mention of “a Southie” in the article was updated to “a Southie resident.”

They did not appear to run a correction.

As Wahlburgers opens more locations in California, hopefully this episode will provide a lesson for future newspapers on writing about SoBo.