When you start college in Boston, especially at BU or BC, you hear about Allston and its infamous house parties. It sounds like a magical land of freedom and red solo cups, and well, it is—a true freshman dream. Once you get past this one facet of the neighborhood’s reputation and spend more time there in the daylight you’ll see how diverse and unique Allston truly is. A little hipster, yes, a little grungy, sure, but full of rich culture, cool cats, and great food of all types—especially all foods Asian.
This neighborhood has character and is filled with impressive street art that has been sponsored by the city to keep graffiti and “tagging” off the walls. We think this neighborhood is worth paying a visit to if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path. Join us on our new Allston Arts & Eats tour for an afternoon and reference this list to explore further.
Where to Eat
Anything with a * next to it is a stop on the Allston Arts & Eats Tour
Known for their boiling hot silken tofu soup and classic Korean dishes, prepare for your table to be filled as well as your belly. We suggest ordering the seafood pancake to snack on while your soup cools down to a fathomable temperature (it takes a while, but it’s worth it!). Psst, you should also get the Kalbi (short rib…bottom right in the photo above).
Address: 58 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134
Truly a kingdom of dumplings, this spot stands out amongst the numerous storefronts on Harvard Avenue because of its handmade dumplings packed with flavor. When they arrive at the table silence ensues as everyone reaches to grab one. The rest of the menu is lengthy, filled with various dishes of Chinese origin, giving plenty of options to accompany those dumplings.
Address: 137 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134
Korean-Mexican fusion is one of the newest culinary trends to emerge and Coreanos is one of the spots responsible for bringing it to Beantown. You likely haven’t tasted the flavors that they’re offering—like bulgogi beef tacos and kimchi quesadillas. They also offer some traditional Korean dishes that are packed with flavor, like the Tteokbokki (don’t worry, correct pronunciation NOT required).
Address: 172 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134
It’s easy to walk right by Hanmaru without giving it a second look because of its unassuming exterior, but be sure not to miss it! If you’re craving some comfort in the form of soup they offer huge hot pots to share with your table and excellent ramen.
Address: 168 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134
Carlo’s seems like a strange find in Allston, classic sit down Italian with beautiful murals covering the walls. But this family-run restaurant serves up some heart-warming Italian food that you don’t want to miss. The lobster ravioli are to die for and their tomato sauce is smooth and creamy from the touch of Mascarpone, it goes down much too easy!
Address: 131 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134
This ice cream shop scoops some of the thickest, “creamiest,” creative, vegan (don’t write it off!) ice cream we have ever tasted. Made with a coconut milk base, it satisfies any craving for ice cream (vegan or not) that you might find yourself with.
Address: 481 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134
This humble, family-owned coffee shop is a staple in Allston. They bake all their doughnuts in-house and are very affordable. For a real taste of the neighborhood stop in to refuel with a coffee and a doughnut (honey dipped and butternut never disappoint).
Address: 501 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134
For a relaxed drink and meal Lulu’s is ideal. The quality and creativity behind their elevated bar fare will surprise you. Definitely make sure to get some of the cajun tots!
Address: 421 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134
For some of the best gourmet, oozy grilled-cheese you have ever tasted you cannot miss out on a sandwich from Roxy’s. They started out as a food truck and now have a brick and mortar in Allston where they have perfected the grilled-cheese equation.
Address: 485 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134
This tiny place gets packed quickly but the tacos are top-notch and the drinks are fantastic. We highly recommend the Paloma (we’ve had a few for R&D purposes), and sometimes they even serve it frozen!
Address: 479 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134
This new-ish establishment is a fresh face in Allston. Also serving elevated bar fare, and often offering delicious specials, their woody, lodge-like atmosphere is comforting and inviting. To stay entertained they have pool, shuffleboard and other games.
Address: 1277 Commonwealth Ave, Allston, MA 02134
Allston Diner has a special place in our hearts. When we want a feel-good brunch this is our number one pick. There are always cartoons on the TV and they serve their coffee in silly, mis-matched mugs. It’s charming and laid-back, and small so be prepared to wait at peak times. We love the buttermilk waffle with fresh berries and the cornbread waffle & chicken.
Address: 431 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134
This little plant-based spot is another vegan-but-wouldn’t-know-it kind of places. It’s bright and fresh, offering filling and flavorful bowls and kombucha tea on tap. For a positive boost to your system definitely grab a bite here!
Address: 487 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134
This bar/restaurant is a chain in the city but is THE spot for college kids to go out and party in the night hours. It’s bumpin’ after hours, but if you want a calm lunch and a variety of draught beers stop by in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.
Address: 161 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134
This Sunset location is just a mile from the other one near BU but no one’s complaining! They serve killer nachos and great spinach artichoke dip. They are also known for the tons of tap beers they offer. A great place to go with friends or grab a late night snack.
Address: 130 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134
Where to Shop
Buffalo Exchange/Other thrift stores
Super 88 – Asian grocery store & food court
Mr. Music – Music store
Orchard – Skate shop
What to See/Do
Brighton Music Hall
Lots of bars to play trivia in at night and dance
Where to Stay and Getting There
Allston does not have many places to stay unless you’re planning on crashing with some college kids, but Brookline and Brighton neighbor it and have plenty of options.
Closest MBTA Stops
Harvard Ave. – Green Line (B), buses
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