Restaurant News

Ask the Editor: Where to Have Lunch around Boston’s Art Museums

This reader is looking for vegetarian options around the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.


Welcome to Ask the Editor, Boston magazine’s dining advice column. Need a restaurant recommendation? Ask a pro.


Lemongrass pork dumplings, the Pork Rossi scallion pancake sandwich, and complimentary crab Rangoons at Mei Mei

(Clockwise from left) Lemongrass pork dumplings, the Pork Rossi scallion pancake sandwich, and complimentary crab rangoons at Mei Mei. / Photo by Jacqueline Cain

Question:

Museum trip! I’m heading to the MFA and the Gardner on Sunday. My friend is vegetarian, and we’re trying to be cheap. Any food recs for lunch?

—M.C.

My first money-saving museum tip for you is to make sure your Red Sox gear is clean. Sunday could be Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, but year-round, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum offers $2 off admission for fans showing their support, in honor of its Red Sox-loving founder. If your Mookie T-shirt is in the laundry, just make sure to save your receipts. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Gardner have a partnership which offers guests who visit both places a $2 discount.

Now, fuel! Mei Mei is a great option for you. Located about a 15-minute walk through the lovely Emerald Necklace from the museums, it’s likely to be less crowded on game day than many places closer to Fenway Park. With an all-day menu of dumplings (including the vegetarian classic Three Sisters, with heirloom beans, squash, sweet corn), scallion pancake sandwiches (including the vegetarian-friendly Beetnik), and vegetable-focused small plates, there are a ton of options for both you and your plant-eating friend. The mix-and-match menu is budget-friendly, with options to share (or not) and counter service. Plus, if you’re a late luncher like I am, you can take advantage of a free order of crab rangoons with any beer, wine, or creative cordial cocktail purchase—the “happy hour” special runs every day from 2-6 p.m. (506 Park Dr., Boston, 857-250-4959, meimeiboston.com.)

Brave the Fenway crowds at Saloniki, the original fast-casual Greek spot from James Beard Award winning chef Jody Adams. It’s not all gyros and lamb meatballs; your vegetarian friend can build a pita or a grain bowl around zucchini-feta fritters, or select a seasonal salad. Alongside iced teas, fresh juices, and seltzer, there’s a house saison by Harpoon, Greek wines on tap, and a new selection of cocktails. It opens daily at 11 a.m. (4 Kilmarnock St., Boston, 617-266-0001, salonikigreek.com)

Or, head to Mission Hill and check out Milkweed, a year-old neighborhood restaurant from the family behind Dorchester’s Blarney Stone. It serves casual breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. Before 3 p.m. on Sundays, you can choose among egg dishes, shakshuka (vegetarian, or with optional meatballs), jazzed-up pancakes, sandwiches, salads, plates like fried chicken with chicken sausage bourbon gravy, and more. It has a range of coffee drinks, plus local beers, wine, and cocktails after 11 a.m. (1508 Tremont St., Boston, 617-516-8913, eatatmilkweed.com)

Enjoy Boston’s exquisite art museums, and our locally owned lunch scene. And go, you Red Sox!