Boston's South End is the kind of neighborhood that makes you feel like you're in a romantic comedy. Its red brick, bow-front row houses with thick cement steps leading up to steadfast wooden doors are exactly the kind you can picture Meg Ryan walking up after a perfect date, telling some charismatic guy, "Well, this is my stop." The area's charm stems from its diverse history. Its distinct qualities as a neighborhood started to emerge in the mid-19th century, making it North America's largest Victorian district and landing it on the National Register of Historic Places. Up until the 1950s it was considered the jazz mecca of Boston, featuring a variety of different clubs including Wally's Paradise, which survives to this day. Now known as Wally's Café, the venue still features live performances from professional musicians and students looking to break into the business.
Other than its beautiful Victorian houses, the South End is probably most well-known for its restaurants and cuisine; Tremont Street, which runs through the district, is also called "Restaurant Row." For breakfast, try the popular Flour Bakery & Café on Washington Street and for lunch you can stop by at the Spanish Los Ventas on Harrison Avenue. Toro boasts some of the best tapas in Boston, and Orinoco is known as the place to be for Venezuelan. Restaurants help the South End's diversity really shine, with culinary picks from classic American to Thai, Indian, Japanese, Korean and more. The European standards are there, as are more exotic African, Middle Eastern and Caribbean options. One would think it's impossible to cram the world's food into one district of Boston, but the South End certainly makes an effort.
Shopping has started to bloom in the South End as well, with small, independent stores cropping up all over the place. The neighborhood also is a new haven for the arts, including the Boston Ballet, the Boston Center of the Arts, and numerous galleries and theaters. The seemingly inexhaustible South End has been evolving, changing and growing ever since the Victorian age, and it gives no indications of stopping now.
South End Resources
- South End Website: www.south-end-boston.com
- Recommended Restaurants:
- Flour Bakery & Café: 1595 Washington Street, Boston, MA, 617-267-4300, www.flourbakery.com
- Las Ventas: 700 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA, 617-266-0905, www.lasventasspain.com
- Orinoco: 477 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, 617-369-7075, www.orinocokitchen.com
- Toro: 1704 Washington Street, Boston, MA, 617-536-4300, www.toro-restaurant.com