Here’s How to Score 60-Plus Dining Deals While Helping to Save Boston Restaurants

Boston magazine's Taste Passport program unlocks weeks' worth of free food, supports a vital advocacy organization, and earns you entry to virtual chef demos.

Unique bottles by female winemakers are uncorked at Nathálie in the Fenway. / Photo by Kristin Teig / Styling by Chantal Lambeth/Anchor Artists / Props by Grandview Prophouse

Need some extra incentive to order a delicious takeout dinner? Want to support Boston-area restaurants when they need it most? Miss listening to adult dinner conversations when you’re trapped at home, feeding Dunkaroos to the kiddos? (Or yourself—no judgment!)

Well, here’s some good news: Boston magazine is taking its annual Taste celebration in a totally different direction for 2020. And because there’s no guest-capacity limit on this seven-week soiree, everybody’s invited. (That means you, so please prepare to don your finest, favorite Eating Pants.)

Instead of planning a gala, as in previous years, we’re launching our first-ever Taste Passport program, which will run from November 16 through December 30. Over 60 Boston-area restaurants have signed on to offer exclusive deals to our Passport holders who swing by for on-site or takeout dining during that time. Free tacos? Yes. Bottomless coffee? You got it. Bonus gift cards? They’re handing them out. Oh, and bourbon lovers should take note: There’s a slew of spots offering complimentary take-home mason jars when you order a Maker’s Mark cocktail.

Don’t worry if your dining-out budget is a little lean right now. We get it, and that’s why your Passport to all these deals is just $15 (available here). In other words, it’ll pay for itself in noshes in no time.

Who is participating? Glad you asked. Many of these places recently made our list of the 25 Hottest Restaurants around, including the fabulous farm-to-table Craigie on Main (which is giving out its Bloody Mary mix with your order), the swish wine bar Nathalie (offering lamb arancini), and the Italian stunner MIDA (doling out gelato for dessert). And there’s plenty of other always-excellent dining destinations on board too.

Soleil chef-owner Cheryl Straughter perfects southern-inspired cuisine at her Roxbury restaurant. / Photo by Pat Piasecki

But wait, you wonder, aren’t restaurants in a serious pinch right now? The unmistakable answer is yes. And that’s why 100 percent of Taste Passport proceeds will be donated to Mass Restaurants United, a collective of Bay State indie-business operators who are advocating for industry-dedicated financial relief from Beacon Hill, among other efforts. It’s support that’s desperately needed—as our November issue’s cover feature makes clear, this is the year that changed local dining forever. While some resilient restaurateurs will stay afloat, the already-tragic number of closings will only increase as the cold weather continues to roll in, making patio seating hard to sustain.

If you want to better understand the issues that are facing Boston restaurants, hear the inspiring stories of pandemic-era innovation that chefs have to share, or just kick back with a virtual wine-tasting—well, we’ll help you with that too. Every Passport purchase will automatically give you access to nightly online events during the week of November 16. We’ve got special guests planned for every evening: MIDA chef Douglass Williams, just named one of the best in the country by Food & Wine, will bring us inside his kitchen for a cooking demo and chat about his new upcoming restaurants; Fenway-side wine bar Nathalie will offer wine-and-cheese packages so you can sample along with acclaimed sommelier Haley Fortier; and Nia Grace (Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen) and Cheryl Straughter (Soleil restaurant), leaders in the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition, will be joined by Pagu chef-owner Tracy Chang, cofounder of the nonprofit Off Their Plate, to discuss how local restaurants are finding creative ways to fight for the lives of their businesses.

Look, even in the midst of an extraordinarily contentious election season, there’s one thing we can all agree on: 2020 has been a year like no other. We’ve been unable to plan dinner parties with friends—and even Thanksgiving, the pig-out feast around which our annual hankering for turkey and tryptophan revolves, is going to look very different for many families this year. So we hope this year’s Taste Passport program and virtual events will be a way to bring everyone together from around their own kitchen tables, while supporting an industry that needs us now more than ever.

Find your Passport here, and prepare to get stamped—and, well, stuffed.