Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Boston Neighborhoods: South End

On the second post of the Boston Neighborhoods series, my dear friend (and soon to be  the cutest new mamma in town) Alaina shares her favorite places and shops in the South End.

Hello, SCAVENGENIUS readers! My name is Alaina, and I am a fellow Boston Blogger and fellow big fan of Ana’s lovely blog here. I am so happy to be here blogging about one of my favorite places in Boston: the South End.

I moved to the South End on a whim. When we made the decision to move to Boston, I immediately started googling apartments and lofts in every area of the city. I fell in love with one online, but wasn’t sure I wanted to commit before seeing it in person. It was meant to be when we got out to Boston, two months later, and the unit was still vacant and waiting for us in Boston’s epically fantastic South End. Without seeing any more apartments, we signed a lease and got to know our new hood. I already had some familiarity with that part of the city - my dad lives in Southie, and we frequently ventured into the South End for SOWA and the amazing restaurants.

One of my first thoughts when I moved to the South End was ‘yay! super close to all the amazing shops and restaurants in Back Bay!’ but after just a few weeks of exploring, I realized there are just as many awesome shops and restaurants in the South End as there are in Back Bay. There aren’t as many sights to see as there may be in other parts of the city, but that’s because the South End is mostly a neighborhood. People live here. There’s not too many offices, not too many must-see sights. It’s just a lovely place to live and wander around. That being said, here are a few of my fave places to wander.

what to see
One of the biggest things on my South End list is SOWA. On any given Sunday, you can find me sorting through handmade goodies at the open air market, picking up fresh fruit from the farmer’s market, perusing the vintage market, standing in line at the food truck court or wandering the halls of the artists’ open houses. If you can’t find something to keep you occupied here, this just isn’t your city. SOWA runs every Sunday, May through October.

For something a little different, check out the Boston Center for the Arts. Usually thought of as a playhouse, the center features theater companies from across the state and country, with everything from dance troupes to shakesperian dramas. There’s also a gallery inside, constantly curated with rotating art exhibits. For a complete schedule of shows and visiting exhibits, check the BCA website. 

The South End is the perfect place to leisurely wander. While it’s fine to wander aimlessly, make sure you find your way to Union Park at some point. The street is filled with picturesque Victorian townhouses and a park in the middle just between Tremont street and Shawmut avenue. The homes and gardens are just to die for if you love city living like I do.

where to eat
It should be noted that my favorite thing to do in the South End is EAT. I say this without guilt. I’ve been eating in the South End for years before I even moved to the neighborhood. This is because you will find some of the best restaurants in the city here, and you can usually get a table there, too. The best of both worlds. I’ve tried to narrow down my list of must-visit eateries for brunch or for dinner, but really, just stop in everywhere you can. You won’t be sorry.

At the top of my list is Gaslight. Gaslight is a charming French brasserie, filled with dimly lit lamps, white subway tiles, intimate booths and a cocktail menu to blow your mind. This is easily our go-to spot for date nights or a dinner with out-of-towners. Try it for dinner or for brunch - you can’t go wrong.

If it’s Italian you’re craving [which, who am I kidding, I frequently am] Cinquecento is a new South End staple. These guys make poached eggs on Italian bread out-of-this-world, which can be a difficult feat. Once the sun goes down, eggs are traded in for freshly made pastas, perfectly roasted meats, and can’t-miss cocktails.

Though many know it just for drinks [their bartenders are some of the best in the city!] the Gallows also flaunts a pretty epic brunch and dinner menu. Comfort food with flair is what you’ll find at any time of day, whether it’s chicken and waffles in the morning or a seasonal poutine at night. Yeah… don’t skip the poutine.

Of all the bakeries in Boston, the South End Buttery is definitely my favorite. It’s the perfect little neighborhood gem to stop in while shopping on Shawmut avenue, grab a freshly brewed coffee and pastry and move along. You can also snag reservations for brunch, or just order at the counter and grab a seat outside once the weather is nice. You’ll find everything from bagels with fresh lox to perfectly buttery quiches on the menu.

I saved the best for last. Easily my favorite restaurant in the South End is Stella, with it’s giant patio and eye-catching yellow awnings. Their bolognese is easily one of the best of the city [I should know, I order bolognese at almost every italian restaurant I go to] and not to be missed.

where to shop
Located right on Tremont street in the heart of the South End, Gifted is one of those boutiques where you can find something for everyone. Since my first baby is due in less than six weeks, I’m partial to picking up cute little onesies there - but their selection of non-traditional souvenirs will have you picking up gifts for all your friends.

If it’s clothes you’ve got a weakness for, the best place to find them in the South End is Flock. Filled with boho goodies for your feet, top, bottom and home, this boutique is a cross between Anthropologie and Free People. Except owned by a mother-daughter duo in Boston, which makes it even more perfect.

As far as interiors go, there’s no question that the best shop in the South End is Hudson. You can find the perfect preppy New England essentials or more fun and funky vintage items. The shop is packed to the brim with lighting, furniture, textiles and accessories for every corner of the home. You’ll want to allow yourself extra time to browse the sale items, too.

Known throughout the city, Olives and Grace is one of those little shops that brings people to the South End just to stop in. Everything in the boutique is made by individual artists and makers throughout the country. The shop features everything from gourmet marshmallows to hand stitched kitchen towels. If you’re in to shopping small, this is your place.

Luke Adams Gifting Company is a new shop I stumbled on with Anathalia one day after a tea date and we both kind of fell in love. Their selection of stationary and greeting cards is some of the best I’ve seen, but it’s their glass blowing that is the shop’s specialty. You can find goodies from local artist and crafters, or even sign up for your own glass blowing class.

Here are a couple of my posts on the South End: rainy morning walka very hot + vintagey weekend.

Thank you so much, Alaina! I have been to a few of these places and they are really not to miss!

For addresses and working hours, click on the names of restaurants and shops and check back soon for more insider's tips of Boston neighborhoods!

images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


  1. I can't wait for some slightly warmer weather and a free Sunday to go wandering in the South End!

  2. love the south end so much! eagerly awaiting sowa to come back for the season ;)

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  4. adorei o post . lindas as fotos.

  5. Love Alaina's list of restos and shops!! I really have to spend more time in the South End. Who's in?!

  6. What a great guide! I love this - lots of ideas for the next time I'm walking around the South End! :)