“Fort Point” is scrawled across old parchment maps of colonial Boston, but the spit of land poking east from the city’s central core has been renamed the Seaport—a sprawling canvas that’s become one of its coolest neighborhoods. Culture is key, with the Fort Point Arts Community leading the charge to expand Boston’s creative spaces, but it’s the surplus of noteworthy restaurants that has earned the morphing area its highest praises. Some are even referring to the Seaport as the Innovation District for its recent influx of tech companies, start-ups, and Lyft-sponsored NuTonomy cabs self-driving their way through the gridiron.
Here's everything you need to know about this vibrant neighborhood.
What to Do: Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
Founded as the sister museum to New York’s MoMA, the ICA has played a crucial part in developing the Seaport as a creative destination since it moved into its current home—a super-sleek architectural flourish—more than 10 years ago. Its impressive collection of moving images and large-scale sculptures feels immersive and avant-garde, deftly capturing the future of art and its experiential inclinations. ICABoston.org
Occupying a massive warehouse complex so close to the sea you can actually smell the daily catch, this industrial-style brewery has recently grown into the city’s fabric as brand-new developments are erected all around. Tours happen on the hour, and they’re everything you’d want: light on the science and heavy on the samples, with a dedicated 15 minutes in a taproom where you can try every flavor available, from smooth stouts to double IPAs. The best part, however, is the homemade pretzels, boiled in beer and served with an array of dipping sauces in the main hall. HarpoonBrewery.com
James Beard Award–winner Barbara Lynch shifted the gravity of essential Italian eats away from the North End when she opened Sportello more than a decade ago. Since then, dozens of other restaurants have moved into the neighboring warehouses, but her counter-service-style diner spinning upmarket dishes continues to hold its own as the darling of Seaport suppering. The octopus carpaccio is delicious, and you defnitely don’t want to miss the homemade pasta. Everyone goes for the bolognese, but the black garlic pappardelle (with braised veal and juicy black trumpets) is killer. SportelloBoston.com
An industrial outpost from the same team behind the locally acclaimed oyster bar Island Creek, this Seaport standout packs to the exposed rafters with its after-work crowd. Focus on the exquisite raw bar (the namesake Island Creeks won’t let you down) and crudos (go for the salmon with chili oil and kohlrabi), which pair perfectly with any of the beers on the epically long list of curated draughts and bottles. Expect to hear “No Diggity” or “No Scrubs” thumping overhead when you tuck into your after-oysters snack: a warm lobster roll, overstuffed and seasoned with butter, sugar, and salt. Row34.com
Oak + Rowan
A welcome breather from all the “small plates” and “farm to table” jargon, Oak + Rowan puts the finest ingredients forward on its shortlist of dishes. A brass-topped bar cart rolls from table to table as a nomadic barkeep swirls together drinks, and while the mains feel decidedly midmarket, the desserts from executive pastry chef Brian Mercury are worthy of a Michelin nod. Try the Taza chocolate tart—an ovoid mini-pie with a shortbread crust, notes of Earl Grey and salted caramel, and a gooey core of overflowing chocolate. OakAndRowan.com
Tucked under Sportello is another one of Barbara Lynch’s award-winning venues: a self-described “cocktail party every night” that makes good on its promise with lines curling out the door and ecstatic chatter inside. Only amateurs ask for a menu; locals know to drop their orders off with the bartender. Something like “start with amaro and build an old-fashioned profile” should do the trick. He’ll even light yours on fire if you ask nicely. DrinkFortPoint.com