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The 10 Best Restaurants for Pre- and Post-Show Dining in Boston’s Theater District
These downtown wine bars, casual pubs, and occasion-worthy restaurants set the stage for a perfect night on the town.
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In 2020, culture vultures trained their eyes on virtual performances for a fix of theater in pandemic-times. Now, though, stage lights are finally back on for a new season of live shows at area venues, including the sparkling marquee-crowned venues in Boston’s Theater District. It’s exciting enough to be able to return to the hallowed halls of the Opera House, Wang, and elsewhere—but hey, you might as well add a pre- or post-curtain dinner to the program, to really make the most of a night out downtown. Here’s where to go when you head out for a show.
To quote Hamilton’s compatriots, here’s where to raise a glass to freedom: The business plan at this Downtown Crossing brewpub calls for livable wages and ownership stakes for employees. It’s a beer hall that takes the best parts of European pubs (namely classic ales and a cozy snug for private dining), and combines them with seasonal New American grub. Chef Miguel Zambrano’s menu—which includes a stout-braised pulled pork sandwich with honey Sriracha, beer-steamed mussels, and hickory-smoked Buffalo wings—pairs perfectly with brewmaster Mike Smith’s suds, including the juicy, heavily hopped Big Fellah, a double IPA.
35 Temple Place, Downtown Crossing, Boston, 857-217-BREW, democracybrewing.com.
The 4th Wall
This playful gastropub is a solid choice for pre- or post-show sandwiches, salads, snacks, and plates like bourbon-marinated steak tips, blue cheese-stuffed burgers, and soy ginger-glazed salmon—the full menu is available until last call every night. Friendly and relaxed, the bar offers a handful of craft beers and fun cocktails, including the gin- and Prosecco-made Combat Zone, whose name nods to the Theater District’s nickname back in grittier decades. Bonus: boozy gummy bears, for those who need a vodka-infused kick before getting the show on the road.
228 Tremont St., Boston, 857-957-0909, 4thwallrestaurant.com.
Sometimes you just need a small nosh before the show starts, or somewhere to unwind with wine and swap best-actor nominations after the curtain falls. Either way, head to Haley.Henry, downtown Boston’s nationally lauded, quirky wine bar that is always a fun place to try new juice, pop tins of seafood, and bob your head to the soundtrack of deep-cut hip hop. Throw back some “Biggie Small Plates” like beef sliders with horseradish aioli, secret sauce, and fried shallot, and tip back a glass of—well, whatever you like. After all, the bar will uncork any bottle if you commit to two glasses.
45 Province St., Boston, 617-208-6000, haleyhenry.com.
An early, important entry in Boston’s contemporary gastropub scene, JM Curley feels rejuvenated by the recent return of bar star Kevin Mabry, who helped establish the spot’s early popularity. Now back as a managing partner, Mabry oversees a snacks- and sandwich-focused menu that includes a signature burger—topped with grilled onions, pickles, and Russian dressing—as well as Nashville hot fried chicken and porchetta on ciabatta with cherry peppers, broccoli rabe, and smoked paprika aioli. In the mood for something more elevated? Check out the charcuterie, shrimp cocktail, and chops served inside JM Curley’s clandestine sibling steakhouse, Bogie’s Place, tucked away in the rear of the larger restaurant.
21 Temple Place, Boston, 617-338-5333, jmcurleyboston.com.
Montien Thai Restaurant
For more than 30 years, a generous menu, convenient location, and speedy service has made this spot not only a Thai standby but also a reliable pre-theater favorite. There are rice noodles and coconut-y curries aplenty, but the real stars take center stage on the menu section specifically dubbed “authentic.” Try the spicy, coconut milk-free jungle curry, hot and sour lemongrass noodle soup, and a bright and fresh papaya salad.
63 Stuart St., Boston, 617-338-5600, montienthaiboston.com.
Right at the intersection of Chinatown and the Theater District, Q is a comfortable, long-running destination for Mongolian hot pot: Bubbling broths—the tongue-tingling “crazy” mala, perhaps?—arrive to your table ready for cooking up A5 Wagyu beef, New Zealand lamb, Japanese scallops, and more. Rather leave the work to the pros? Sushi rolls and Chinese cuisine standards like Kung Pao shrimp arrive ready to eat; the drinks, meanwhile, include “Q-Tini” cocktails made with lychee, basil, and more.
660 Washington St., Boston, 857-350-3968, thequsa.com.
Head to Boston’s pioneering Asian gastropub (and Chinatown’s first hipster haunt) for kicky cocktails served with smoked pork bao, salt and pepper calamari, kimchi fried rice, and fun energy. Reservations are strongly encouraged to ensure the timing works out, but frankly, the Best of Boston winning poutine, a nontraditional take referred to as Shadowless Fries, is a showstopper all on its own.
9A Tyler St., Boston, 617-423-7888, shojoboston.com.
Chef Sarah Wade’s downtown restaurant is a real crowdpleaser thanks to its playful yet trussed-up takes on comfort food. The “Sexy Snacks,” for instance, include blue cheese and thyme biscuits for swiping with whipped chicken drippings butter; the fried chicken is crusted with Ritz crackers and served with a charred three-onion butter; the peanut butter and jelly sandwich-inspired creme brûlée, meanwhile, topped with strawberry compote and candied peanuts, is a terrific finale. The whimsy translates to cocktails, too, including the Purple Drank of blueberry vodka, persimmon liqueur, and hibiscus syrup.
120 Kingston St., Boston, 617-936-3079, stillwaterboston.com.
Pre-show dining is this trattoria’s calling card: The Italian name literally means “theater.” Share a grilled, thin-crust pizza, or dig into house-made pastas, fresh seafood, and charcuterie. The casually glamorous space sets the scene for illustrious chef Jamie Mammano and his team to work their behind-the-scenes magic. Alternatively, Mammano’s elegant seafood spot Ostra, located just five minutes’ walk away, will make the night out a truly special occasion.
177 Tremont St., Boston, 617-778-6841, teatroboston.com.
The glittering crystal chandeliers, gold fixtures, and luxurious velvet decor are fit for any A-lister, but the globe-spanning menu proves this place isn’t just for show. From “crispy tater cubes” with Dutch-style Joppiesaus, to tuna conserva with wild fennel on toast, to a fork-tender bavette steak “Mirabeau” that wouldn’t be out of place at predecessor Locke-Ober—a bastion of Boston fine dining for 150 years—refined revelry is the main event here.
2 Winter Place, Boston, 617-267-0047, yvonnesboston.com.
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