NFT Boston Financial District / Chinatown

Financial District / Chinatown

Essentials
The center of the Financial District has changed from The Big Dig to the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and as it's getting very little use, it's just as controversial as its predecessor. Sit on the very pristine grass and then hit up the always bustling Chinatown. For an introduction, stroll and windowshop along Beach Street and its cross-streets.

Sundries/Entertainment
Chinatown = Hei La Moon for dim sum, Taiwan Café for the real deal or Gourmet Dumpling House for real soup dumplings. For late-night bites, remember that the South Street Diner serves well into the night. Some of Boston's top restaurants, including See more.

>Radius and Meritage, call the Financial District home.

Transportation
Small streets? Check. Everyone double parks? Check. Should you just take the T? Double check. If you don't need to drive here, don't, especially during rush hour. There is street parking on weeknights/weekend nights if you look hard enough. Really though? You want to walk. The smells and sights require that close up view.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Nightlife After College

By Katherine Hayes
Just because you graduate doesn't mean you have to stop having fun! RIGHT GUYS!!? Take it from Katherine Hayes and never be lonely (for post-collegiate revelry) again.

Read More...

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

WorkBar
I admit it: I make fun of those people working on their laptops in coffee shops. (Somewhere in a coffee shop a laptop just slammed shut.) But what I’ve never stopped to consider is that those people actually have work to do--just no good place to do it. Maybe they're freelancers. Maybe they're working on the road. Maybe they're starting a small business and can't wrap their heads around the whole home office bit on their tax form. If you're one of these people, I say to you: get WorkBar. Located downtown with an awesome modern decor, WorkBar is a shared office space designed with the officeless worker in mind. It has everything that a coffee shop can't give you: spacious work areas, conference rooms, printing, faxing, scanning, and UNLIMITED coffee. Access is amazingly affordable and flexible, with day passes for $20 a day, community memberships, nights and weekends memberships, and beyond. WorkBar also offers Wi-Fi and wired Internet, a lounge, private phone areas, a kitchen, free snacks and soda, unlimited conference calling, projectors and screens for presentations, and of course, restrooms (you had to drink all that coffee). This place makes my cubicle look like a cardboard box.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

WorkBar
One of the things I love about Not For Tourists is that it cultivates an appreciation of the cities we choose to call home. And a wonderful manifestation of that appreciation can be seen in the local art and the people who love it. A great example of this can currently be seen downtown at WorkBar with the Street Smarts Urban Art Exhibit. Featuring the works of six Boston artists, the exhibit runs through mid-March and perfectly showcases the pieces by way of WorkBar's urban modish atmosphere. And all the work is available for sale. My favorite artist featured here is Justin Pilotte (aka Skr!bner), whose works are a reflection of Japanese anime and graffiti influences combined with witty societal commentaries. This is the future of fine art: urban art at its finest.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Gourmet Dumpling House
I knew that soup dumplings existed somewhere in the city, but I wasn't sure where I might find these hyped up balls of meat and dough. I stopped my search when I found Golden Dumpling Palace, because with a name like that, and a line out the door, I figured I'd arrived at the right spot. With a menu the size of a phonebook, They've got all the fried items necessary in a Chinatown spot, but let's ignore that for now and focus on the dumplings. First, I suggest bringing a friend. When I ordered a tray of crab/pork beauties I found myself wishing I had some help to polish them off. The garlic/scallion/soy sauce combo they give you for dipping is fantastic, but the broth inside blows even that savory stuff away. The trick for those that don't know, is to bite off the top of the dumpling and slurp out the soup before devouring the rest, and devour you will. These things are just damn delicious. Now, be aware, I went in at about 3 pm on a weekday and there was still a fifteen minute wait, so if you come, come early and hungry.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Royal Arcanum
Ok, this might be my inner geek running wild here, but what in the name of Dumbledore is a Supreme Council--Royal Arcanum? Second question, what is it doing in the Financial District of Boston? Finally, if I join do I get to meet Harry, Ron, and Hermione and go on grand adventures? Do I get an owl? These are important questions, people. My discovery of this building only a few blocks away from an office I used to work in was quite amusing. Maybe I've read too many Dan Brown conspiracy theory novels, but this place looks spooky. Ok, so their cover story is that they are a Freemason like organization that does work to protect families. I'm not buying it. You throw a word like Arcanum in your title, and you're dealing with secrets, and information that only a few know. I wonder if they have a sorting hat... Anyway, it's not hard to find, right on Batterymarch Street, and while I did not get into the inner building, the sigils and glyphs outside are pretty interesting to see up close. If you do manage to get in, grab a flying broom. I'll pay top dollar for one.



Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson

Milk Street Cafe
When I worked in downtown Boston shopping and eating we're totally different than today. You could get Peet's Coffee and really good pastries at Au Bon Pain, Jordan Marsh and Filene's Basement were going strong, and the Combat Zone still had an air of danger to it. But those days have long passed. (Llittle known fact: I was an AmeriCorps member during the Clinton heyday.) Luckily amidst the mundane Subways and Cosis, my favorite lunch spot is still going strong--The Milk Street Cafe. This place serves up amazing fish entrees like Cod Provencal and incredible soups like Spanish Egg. My favorite combo is the Greek Salad with a cup of soup and homemade bread. After 2 pm it's only $5 because they discount everything 20%. Plus, you'll miss the lunch rush so you can relax and enjoy the food. The menu is always rotating so call their Menu Line 617-542-2433 to hear the daily specials. Oh yeah, Milk Street is 100% kosher and they donate all their leftovers to local food banks.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Hing Shing Pastry
Who has the best buns in Chinatown? The truth is that there are so many good buns that it is hard to choose just one. To be honest, it all depends on the filling. It seems like each bakery (yeah, that is what I’m talking about) excels at a different type of bun, but my favorite is the pork bun. I used to think of the pork bun in the traditional way, where the quality is based on the dough, taste of the sauce, and the quality of the pork. However, Hing Shing has changed all this. When you get a pork bun, you get a giant bun filled with huge chunks of pork, sausage, and some hard-boiled egg. This thing is seriously delicious.  They often run out early in the afternoon so make sure that you get there early.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Chacarero
It looks like a fast food restaurant, they operate like a fast food restaurant, and their prices are about the same as fast food. The big difference between Chacarero and fast food is that Chacarero's food is delicious. If you have vegetarian friends, leave them at home since they won't understand the powers of this amazing sandwich. What is Chacarero? It's a Chilean sandwich with either beef or chicken (or if you want both get a combo) topped with steamed green beans, cheese, and tomatoes. You don't have to get all those toppings if you don't want. Also, you can add some of their other toppings. I'm not a fan of green beans so I usually get my sandwich without. The Chacarero purists might roll their eyes at me for that, but screw them because I am invincible with my tasty sandwich.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Bikram Yoga Boston
Intense. Bikram Yoga is mind-blowingly intense. Now, Yoga in itself can be a pretty hardcore undertaking, with all the various poses and by using muscles that have never even been twitched, but you throw that into a room that just so happens to be 40% humidity and 110 degrees, and suddenly you turn intense into flat out heart stopping. I can't wait to go back. There's not much deep introspective navel gazing in these classes. They're geared towards those who are ready to embrace this as a full-on, push-yourself-to-the-limit workout. The instructors do help with words of encouragement, and tell you when you need to correct a position, but they also do tend to be a little passive aggressive when you need to take a break, and my beginner's ass needs to take several. I know that when one person sits it lets others think they can sit, honey, but I'm either sitting or passing out, so chill, ok? I can't complain about the workout though, as it really does kick your ass upside down. Currently they have a 10 consecutive day pass for only twenty bucks, so if you've been good, ask Santa.




Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Kaze Shabu Shabu
Why go to Kaze when there are so many other shabu shabu places in town? Well, Kaze serves up some of the best broths. When the menu says that a broth is spicy, it really does mean that it is spicy! Besides the broth, the quality of their cuts of meat and fish are great. And, the portions are pretty good too. For those of you looking to impress a first date, this is not the place to go unless you are willing to show your date just how much of a mess that you can make at the table while cooking and eating your meal. However, if you want a spot that is not only delicious, but fun, this is the place to go. For starters, definitely get the Fired Spicy Jumbo Tentacles.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

South Station
I was wary going into my first Chinatown bus trip from Boston to New York. I'd heard horror stories from friends in Philly, depicting sheer chaos and exasperation. But my ticket with Fung Wah was only $15 each way, so I figured the price was worth the risk. Luckily, it proved to be a pleasant and easy experience. Compared to what I've heard about other cities' Chinatown buses, Fung Wah definitely has their act together. Buses leave from South Station in Boston at Gate 25 every day at every hour on the hour, as well as the return trip buses leaving from Canal Street in New York (which sometimes even leave as often as every 30 minutes on Sundays!). It's $15 each way, and tickets can be easily purchased and printed from their no-frills website. And if you check-in early enough, you can usually find a seat on an earlier bus should you choose to take it. The seats aren't the coziest, but I challenge you to find a superior airplane seat in coach class. Besides, wouldn't you rather have money to spend once you're IN New York, as opposed to spending it all on getting there?



Posted By:  Leah Bagas
Photo:  Leah Bagas

Pho Hoa
The weather is starting to change and that means that soup will be making its big comeback. When your bones are chilled, nothing warms you up like a nice hot soup, unless perhaps you opt for a little alcohol jacket instead. That is why I love Pho Hoa. They do a great Vietnamese noodle soup. It is nice and big and tasty and after you are done eating it, you don't feel like you downed a bunch of fried greasy crap, much like you feel after dining at a Chinese restaurant. Pho Hoa also has some great little interactive rice paper wraps. You choose your fillings, then take the circle of rice paper and dip it around a bowl of hot water then make your own little spring roll or sort. Very tasty and fun!



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Sushi-Teq
If, like me, you have some friends at the Intercontinental Hotel, the best spot to kill some time as they get off shift would be Sushi-Teq, the new in-hotel restaurant that blends a Japanese sushi joint, tequila bar, and Salsa club into a delicious smoothie of awesomesauce. Now, I'm far from a tequila expert, but the bit that stands out would be the "special Mexican salt," they put around the rim of the glasses. I know, how special can salt be? Trust me. This adds a full new flavor to a typically standard beverage. As for the sushi, it's pretty fantastic to taste, but it might be one of the places where it's better to just look. One table over from me ordered a number of rolls, and the chefs arranged them into an arch, with the soy sauce and wasabi in the middle. When your sushi chef has to debate the size of a keystone, you're getting well thought-out food. Then there's the salsa music, salsa competitions on the big screens, and the waiters who will supposedly show you how to salsa on demand. I didn't ask. That's worse than the singing at Cold Stone. Just drink a good rita, destroy an arch of tuna, and bounce.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Moon Villa Restaurant
Legend has it that if you walk into certain establishments in Chinatown after the bars close, you can order a nice cup of "cold tea," and subsequently be presented with a wide selection of domestic and imported beers. Moon Villa, unfortunately, does not provide this secret option, as you'll get cold tea if you order it. That does not take away from the stunning mediocrity of the food. I mean, it's not a spot you'd probably go sober, but if you're just finishing off that last brewski, and you need a big chunk of greasy msg laden carbs to fill the pit, this is your spot. Now, I will mention that they have very fresh fish on the menu. When I say fresh, I mean they have a giant wall of small tanks, filled with the most depressed looking seafood on the earth. If carp had thumbs, they'd find a way to slit their gills while stewing in this emo aquarium. I just sit facing away from it, and problem solved. I have a group of drinking buddies who swear by this place, and if it's good enough for these cats, then it's perfect for your late night binge-eating needs.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

The International
Hunkered down in that dollar-sign desolation known as the Financial District, The International is a bar with a serious problem: A distinct lack of customers. Don't get me wrong, for two hours most evenings after work there's a great deal of people in there, laughing, drinking, and eating bar swill. After that small window, the magnetic draw of Faneuil Hall for the fresh-out-of-college crowd, and the pull towards home and primetime TV for the older-and-wisers makes the place empty out. I imagine that this is what a bar in 1970's Saigon might have felt like, patrons simultaneously whistling past the graveyard during Happy Hour and the graveyard itself when they empty out for their real destinations. It's a bar as a waypoint--a toll booth with cocktails and chicken wings and Boston sports teams on widescreens. There's really nothing else even slightly noteworthy about the place. Food is standard, beer is cold, and you catch yourself wondering if the bartender moonlights here when he's done with a job he can pull steady cash in at. For that frantic chuck of time between quitting time and the commuter rail, you could do worse.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Vinh Sun
So, here's the deal, you want Chinese food and your friend wants breakfast. The best compromise would be to head for Dim Sum, but, unfortunately, your friend demands French Toast. One way to settle this debacle would be to eat separately. Another way might be that both of you get take out. However, the best way to deal with this situation would be to head over to Vinh Sun. Here, they have a small breakfast menu that includes deep fried French Toast (ask them to put peanut butter on it to make it even better) and a Breakfast Sandwich. The rest of the menu is comprised of delicious Chinese food. If you want to keep it cheap, the soups and BBQ rice dishes are your best bets.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Hei La Moon
I am by no means a dim sum professional. But I do love Chinese food, especially for breakfast, especially when it's greasy, and especially when I'm hungover. If you're like me, and you also enjoy a buffet that comes to YOU, then you'll love what dim sum has in store. There are many selections from which to choose in Boston, particularly in Chinatown. But after quite a bit of research and subsequent food comas, I seem to have narrowed it down to what I was told was the best all along: Hei La Moon. Dumplings, shumai, sticky rice, steamed pork buns, chicken feet, yes. But they also offer a much wider array of dim sum fare that's far less likely to show up at any of its competitors, like red bean pancakes, chrysanthemum tea, and a sweet spongy cake that soaks up all that grease nicely. It usually works in your favor to go with someone who speaks at least a little Chinese; otherwise you may need to summon some energy to flag down the erratic cart ladies. But that's not such a bad deal, considering you can stuff yourself for pennies without leaving your seat.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Eldo Cake House
What was once a small shop that blended in with all the other food options around Chinatown finally stands out as you walk by the corner that used to house the Eatery. Why, you ask? Well, since they started renovations, a large sign on the scaffolding propels it forth as a beacon of half-created architecture and now you really have no choice but to go in. This shop is split into two parts. One is home to tons of containers packed full of candy, dried fruits, and other treats. The other part is the bakery. With so many things to choose from and with most of the prices ranging from .80 - $1.50, you should just bring a few bills, get a few meat filled goods and at least two things for dessert. Make sure that you try their chicken pie.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo: 

China Pearl
No matter which city's Chinatown you’re in, you always know the good dim sum spots by which one’s lines are flowing out the door on any given weekend morning. That's how I found China Pearl when I first moved to Boston. Over the years, my allegiance to China Pearl wavered as I learned about some of the other dim sum spots, but I find that I keep on coming back. The place is gigantic so you rarely have to wait more than a half hour for a table, the food is consistently delicious, and even when I catch the tail end of the dim sum hours, I find that China Pearl's carts still offer a wide variety of options. What do I suggest that you pick off the carts? Everything that looks good to you. Just remember that during a meal, you will see each cart plenty of times so there is no reason to load your table full of steamers right when you sit down. My advice is to take the meal slowly, pick only a few plates off a cart at a time, and drink a Tsingtao or two.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Barbara's Bestsellers
Smart, funny people--full of knowledge and sarcasm about how a good book can absorb them--are the best creatures in the universe. The Barbara's Bestsellers kiosk, right in the middle of South Station, is full of them, and it is they who make me return for new books by providing me with Employee Picks. I love Bookstore Employee Picks. Now, I slung libros back in the day, and I recall many a time where there was a need to get rid of overstock, and thus these haphazard books became "picks." The handwritten notes adorning the novels that BB offers seem to avoid this fate, and they're all pretty honest opinions as to the contents. I'd say, if you're ever in a rut where every looks boring, redline it out to South Station and ask the BB's to suggest something for your ride home.



Posted By:  Stuart Kurtz
Photo:  Stuart Kurtz

You encounter this gem on Kneeland Street, and you inevitably think, “there must be some mistake.” This reincarnation of a former 1930s service station leaves the most avid noodle-slurper scratching his head. There is no mistake. This is what Travel and Leisure deemed one of the fifty best restaurants in the country. You’ll find Chinese-speaking patrons, the best sign of authentic chow (or chow mein). And speaking of chow mein, that’s just one of the treasures this place has to offer. You’ll always find discerning regulars in front of heaping plates of the Shanghai Chow Mein, which is nothing like the celery-and-onions-mixed-with the-occasional-noodle dish that you’re used to. These are udon (homemade) noodles. Think linguini on growth hormones. This must be comfort food in Shanghai, I’m thinking it’s their version of mac n’ cheese. I was also curious about the rice cake, and no I don’t mean the bakery kind. They're oval noodles—1/8 inch thick and delicious. But perhaps the real reason Travel and Leisure took this place to the big time is their opus, Peking duck (or should I say Beijing duck now). Its tender fatty meat, cooked crispy on the outside and served with scallions, hot sauce, Hoison sauce, and crêpe-like pancakes. Order one day ahead.




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Restaurants (33)
Nightlife (14)
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