NFT Boston Downtown Crossing / Park Square / Bay Village

Downtown Crossing / Park Square / Bay Village

Downtown Crossing is abuzz with pedestrians from all walks of life. You'll find a lively mixture of financial types, shoppers, New England Medical Center doctors, and the down-and-out. The giant hole in the ground from stalled development projects is still here, but maybe someday we'll have that high rise we were promised.

Locals still mourn the loss of Jordan Marsh. It's hard to get excited about TJ Maxx and Marshall's. The best way to finish a weekday shopping excursion here is with a scrumptious sandwich from the amazing Mike & Patty's. For a top-end meal, try No. 9 Park across the Common.

This area is well served by the T and buses, and there's little reason to drive around here. Note that Tremont Street runs in only one direction until it intersects with, uh, Tremont Street, and that Washington Street north of Temple Place in Downtown Crossing is a pedestrian mall closed to traffic.See more.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Nightlife After College

By Katherine Hayes
Just because you graduate doesn't mean you have to stop having fun! RIGHT GUYS!!? Take it from Katherine Hayes and never be lonely (for post-collegiate revelry) again.

Literary Boston

By Kevin Spak
Boston: Some call it the cradle of literary civilization, some just call it... uncle. Don't worry. Kevin Spak will set you straight.

When the Weather Outside is Frightful

By Sarah Shemkus
Winter in Boston: Scourge of God or Beauteous Overlay Inspiring Indoor Activities? Only Sarah Shemkus can tell.

Take One: The Boston Film Festival Circuit

By Nancy Howell
Gay and Lesbian, International, Irish, Jewish and Latino-centered, the Boston Film Festival has it all! Unless you want to watch films about mating sea turtles, in which case this city has nothing to offer you.

Where To Go When You Really Have To Go

By Julie Salickram
Ah, to be human. Julie Salickram eases the woe of living. Read and weep.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Sam Adams Home
In the infancy of the United States, the homes of the Founding Fathers were just, well, homes. Historic preservation didn't come into play until decades later, and as a result, many of the lesser historic structures of the Revolution did not receive the attention they deserved until it was too late. Case in point: the home of Samuel Adams. From 1784 until his death in 1803, Adams lived in a three story wooden house on what is now Winter Street. The structure was torn down in 1820 and replaced with granite houses, and eventually the area morphed into the busy retail center that is now part of Downtown Crossing. All that is left now is a bronze tablet marketing the spot, erected in 1893. We have Sam's cousin John Adams' Peacefield, we have Washington's Mount Vernon, we have Jefferson's Monticello. But for the non-presidential Founding Fathers like Sam Adams and Ben Franklin, their homesteads have been lost to the ages. Nice going, America.

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Silvertone Bar & Grill
The Silvertone is one of those spots that everyone in the city should visit at least once. It manages to be casual and yet slightly upscale all at the same time, inviting regulars and tourists fresh off the Red Line to sit and eat and drink in a relaxed underground beer cellar. The things you need to take away from this place are the following. First and most importantly--they make their own raspberry vodka on site, and serve it up in various mixes and fantastic drinks. I'm not one for the girly booze, but a raspberry vodka goes down like a Lime Rickey, and five minutes later you're stuck in this basement bar wondering how to crawl up the stairs. Second? This place must be an atrocious date destination because it’s one of the loudest joints when it’s packed full of people. The small space, low ceilings and sheer volume of conversations and music mean that this might be a good spot to stop for a few vodkas to loosen that date up before hitting the restaurant. Check it off your list of places to go.

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Mike and Patty's
I'm about to break every cardinal law about reviewing a restaurant, but screw it. Mike and Patty's makes the best fucking sandwich in the Boston area. If you don't agree with that statement, you are not only dumb, you are ugly. I'm serious. Not enjoying Mike and Patty's to the fullest actually makes you less attractive. Let me explain. Located where Rachel's Kitchen used to reside, this tiny storefront is always packed, always welcoming, and has a menu on which I've made it my goal to try everything. Mike and Patty, the two owner/chefs, stand less than 10 feet from you the entire time you're inside, quickly preparing whatever amazing bite you've chosen from their offerings. I highly recommend you try the Torta. They serve up, on amazingly fresh bread, a chicken chorizo sandwich, with taters, avocado, black beans, and some goat cheese. It's so good it practically cures cancer. I've really got nothing else to tell you about them. I could probably write a thousand words to convince you to go, but don't you think that the place that makes the smarmy reviewer speechless is worth a shot? It's just that phenomenal.

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

I've walked on Tremont Street, past the corner of Bosworth, hundreds of times, but I never looked down the dead end street before. That's why when someone suggested eating at Marliave, I assumed it was a new restaurant. But to my surprise, it began its life in 1885. It still has that old Boston feel. The restaurant is separated into three parts: the oyster bar downstairs, the bar and casual dining area on the main floor, and the fancy restaurant upstairs. The first thing that struck me after looking at the menu on the main floor was that this place is a hell of a lot more affordable than I expected. You can get an amazing sandwich for $9. However, if you dine in the actual restaurant, be ready to spend quite a bit more. All I can say is that in the bar area, you get great service, amazing (and expertly crafted) drinks, delicious food, an old school atmosphere, and, best of all, it doesn't break the bank (long as you don't go overboard with the drinks).

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Boston Bodyworker
My girlfriend had never had a massage, but after a week of dealing with a sore back, she started to ask some friends for recommendations. The consensus was that she should go to Boston Bodyworker. Unlike most massage places around town, this place is about clinical deep tissue massages that work to heal your muscles. For a thirty minute massage, it does cost a whopping $60, but if you have health insurance, the price drops to $45. After spending 30 minutes with Chad Fix (yeah, that's his real name) at their downtown location, her back felt better and she learned a few tips on preventing the pain from coming back. Keep in mind that this deep tissue massage is not one of those relaxing massages since it really works your muscles, but you do come out feeling a hell of a lot better.

Posted By:  Leah Bagas
Photo:  Leah Bagas

Smith & Wollensky
Shoot me for citing some fancy fine dining chain, but the dessert at Smith and Wollensky's must be mentioned! Of course the desserts are all homemade, and they better be for the price, but they are worth every bite. The chocolate cake is layer upon layer, reaching up into heaven. However, it was the coconut cake which was really celestial. The cake was so moist and the icing was this rich creamy coconut. They also had a trio of creme brulees: chocolate, vanilla and pumpkin. I wonder if it the pumpkin turns into gingerbread creme brulee in the winter... Also, the place is in a castle (the old armory building)--how can you go wrong with that!?

Posted By:  Stuart Kurtz
Photo:  Stuart Kurtz

Lu's Sandwich Shop
Banh Mi are Vietnamese sandwiches. If you like Vietnamese food but don't feel like a sit-down meal and don't have deep pockets, try this encounter. Banh Mi are an alloy of Vietnamese ingredients and the Western tradition of cold cut sandwiches. The failed French colonial enterprise in that country left this culinary oddity. The clincher is the hero roll--baguettine in French. The Vietnamese add a little rice flour to make them chewier and crunchier on the outside. They slap on butter and cold cuts, cilantro, shredded cukes and carrots, and chilies. For veggies, there is a tofu choice at all shops. Vinegar fish sauce complements those. If you want more of a meal, there are box lunches such as rice pork and beans wrapped in a banana leaf; sour sausage; and marinated chicken. Desserts may strike some as weird. Have you ever seen tapioca in a milk shake (are we bubble tea savvy around here)? New Saigon and Lu's staffs are especially friendly.

Posted By:  Charlotte Strode
Photo:  Charlotte Strode

Boston Center for Adult Education
Have you ever wanted to learn the basics of printmaking, how to knit your own cardigans, or master salsa dancing? Do you need some serious classroom time to prepare for the LSAT, or learn effective business writing to improve in your job? Luckily for those of us in this lovely city, the Boston Center for Adult Education provides cheap classes on all of these topics, and hundreds more. The courses can be a bit random--"Choosing the Right Look for Your Hair" and "Dinner to Impress a Date"--but they also cover basics in humanities, creative arts, business, foreign languages, and professional growth. In my opinion, the Center is a fantastic way to give your brain a workout, while avoiding the expense and pressure of "real" school. So go forth, and learn.

Posted By:  Andrew Palmacci
Photo:  Andrew Palmacci

Rock Bottom Brewery
From the looks of it, Rock Bottom Brewery near Tremont Street downtown didn't seem like a gem of an establishment, what with its big neon sign and location near touristy Downtown Crossing. But one Saturday about a little over a month ago, I went there with friends on one's suggestion. And upon entering, the place did have a vast interior, with its share of large television screens. To cut to the chase, I ordered the fish (salmon) and chips, which were quite delectable, along with their take on tartar sauce. I also quaffed one of their in-house microbrews, a light ale, which was highly refreshing. The friend who had thought of the restaurant in the first place got a bowl of their chili, which he summarily lauded. Altogether, the drink and main dish were right around a twenty-spot—not cheap, but reasonable for the area. So, if you're stuck looking for a place to eat or drink downtown, head to the Bottom. Rock on!

Posted By:  Todd Strauss

New Saigon Sandwich
What can you get for $2.50 that is delicious, big enough for a meal, spicy, crunchy, and not even fried? A bánh mì, of course. And of all the bánh mì you can get in the city, New Saigon is among the best. The veggies are fresh (you’ll get hot peppers if you ask) and the chicken curry is amazing. You can even take your vegetarian friends—the tofu bánh mì is also quite tasty. Besides the sandwiches, try all of the boxed lunches at the counter. Recently, I've become addicted to their version of the egg roll. It’s the best member of the egg roll family I’ve ever eaten. The only problem with these is that they are small and cost $1, which actually seems like a lot after spending only $2.50 on a giant sandwich.

Posted By:  Stuart Kurtz
Photo:  Stuart Kurtz

Buddha's Delight
Here's a vegetarian eatery that even omnivores will like. It's vegan, meaning no animal products were used with the exception of the milk shakes. So it must be kosher. But more of that below. The other branch in Brookline closed but has reincarnated as My Thai Cafe, under the same management. You can get mock "beef", "chicken", "lobster", "pork", "scallop" and so on. You can even stop fooling yourselves, and order tofu outright. Caramel Hot Pot Specialties are indigenous to Vietnam. The caramelized sugar is intense, and the clay bowl sizzles when brought out. The Bird's Nest at $12.95 is a chef's recommendation. The "nest" is formed from taro, a root vegetable. That's what they use in Hawaii to make poi. Don Ho told me. It is filled with stir-fried vegetables and mock meat and seafood. The owner lived with a local Jewish family for 26 years, so he knows some Yiddish. Soy Vey!

Posted By:  Matthew Killorin
Photo:  Matthew Killorin

Hello Boston Brahman paradise. This place is the most German Irish bar you’ll ever go to. Frequented by local columnists and ex-Mayors since the mid 19th century, Jake’s is a venerable who’s who of Bostonian blue blood anthropology. And yet, you can still get a bud light draft for $2. Friday nights they host a sing along around a piano, where as much as it sickens me to say so, you can listen to a gaggle of lower-upper classers in cardigans singing “What the World Needs Now” while sipping on their egg nog and gazing at the picturesque snowdrifts outside the window. That being said, it is the Bostonian’s Boston in the most Henry James sense possible and to deny its appeal is to deny a very quintessential aspect of the Hub’s history. Definitely a fun place to go once, you should be all set after that.

Posted By:  Lindsay Nixon
Photo:  Lindsay Nixon

Most places that claim they serve New York Style pizza outside of New York are typically misled and delusional. However, the owners of this hole-in-the-wall are correct. The slice is as big as your head—the way it should be—and the crust is thin and packs a good crunch. The 'restaurant' offers no frills (being totally honest, it's a dump) but when a slice costs less than three bucks who cares? Plus, you only need one to feel full for the rest of the day. Best of all NYP is open 'til 2 am (and since it's across from Emerson the place is usually packed full of drunk coeds late on weekends) and offers hamburgers, chicken fingers, and other "American" goodies in addition to its pizza. The rest of the menu is cheap too and the service is fast. If you've waited longer than two minutes for your slice, you're at the wrong place.

Posted By:  Lindsay Nixon
Photo:  Lindsay Nixon

Herrera's Mexican Grille
Everyone knows Boston is a Mexican food desert. Who would have guessed that a burrito oasis was hiding in a food court. Boston’s best Mexican food stand is tucked away inside City Place (the food court in the State Transportation Buillding). Every time I want a burrito that reminds me of the Mission I pilgrimage back to Herrera’s. The burritos are as weighty and filling as we dream burritos to be—and the nachos, tacos, and enchiladas are just as delicious. Herrera’s used to be an inside street vendor—cart and all—but now they have a legitimate restaurant front. Not to worry, the food is still as good as it was and with the extra space they’ve added a breakfast menu. Their food is fresh—made right before your eyes—and healthy. Plus the portions are generous, prices are affordable, and the meat comes marinated and chopped instead of dry and ground. You won’t be disappointed you spent $4.75 on a chicken burrito. In fact you’ll sing praises you found such a deal.

Posted By:  Denyce Neilson
Photo:  Denyce Neilson

Lambert's Marketplace
Boston is a city that has experienced a tremendous amount of change over the past decade, mostly due to the Big Dig. However, Bostonians also pride themselves on tradition and therefore some things never change. And that is a good thing when it comes to Lambert's, the thriving fruit and vegetable stand, at the center of downtown crossing. This stand may be old school, but there is nothing old about the produce. You won't find anything cheaper or fresher, (with the exception of the end of the day, when you may find a few refugee vegetables.) But, in general, this produce is great. They also sell fresh flowers at half the price of any floral shop. If you find yourself at Lambert's perusing through the goods, make sure to look under that pile of melons. On the pavement you will find "The Hub of the Universe," or at least the bronze marker for it. “The Hub" (Boston's claim to fame) was originally coined by Oliver Wendall Holmes and the nickname stuck. You can do some grocery shopping and take in a little history lesson at Lambert’s.

Posted By:  Knox Gardner
Photo:  Knox Gardner

Rachel's Kitchen
The remnant of Bay Village, with its four short blocks of early 18th Century homes is cut off from Theater District and the South End by busy roads and tower blocks. Once the lively haunt of prostitutes and nightspots (the most famous being the Cocoanut Grove where 492 died in one of America’s most famous fires), it’s notoriously difficult to access and easy to overlook. The neighbors in this trendy enclave like it better that way. It also is one of Boston’s short walking pleasures. At the center is tiny Rachel’s Kitchen. With its tight four seats, trendy colors, and small, corner view of the gas lamps of Bay Village, it feels more like a European outpost than it is. Sure, you can sip espresso and have a small dream of Italy, but the menu is decidedly American with egg sandwiches and turkey wraps. I’m unsure where you’d set your laptop here, but they also have free Wi-Fi. Every neighborhood is better for having a small, corner coffee shop to meet the neighbors. In Boston, it’s hard to beat this one.

Posted By:  Julie Salickram
Photo:  Julie Salickram

Swan Boats
The Public Gardens are a sorely overlooked treasure in Boston once the snow begins to fall. The swans, both the real deal and the boats, have been put away for the winter months and the pond is soon to be drained. But, the strong silent types remain–the willow trees. I have always loved the contrast of the willow’s size and its slumped over physique. Now don’t worry–I won’t get all poetic on you’re here. But go check them out next time you trudge over the cutesy little bridge in the Public Gardens. They are particularly beautiful and lonely looking now as their leaves begin to change and before they shed their fall coat in exchange for their winter bare.

Posted By:  Katherine Hayes
Photo:  Katherine Hayes

Tremont Tea Room
So the holidays are over. You’ve been to H&M and Macy’s and every other store in the last two months. Now it’s time to treat yourself and a few of your friends. Where to go now? To the Original Tremont Tea Room, the oldest psychic salon in the country. It’s on the 3rd floor in Downtown Crossing building, and if you weren’t looking for it, you’d never know it was there. Among the services offered by the thirteen psychics it employs are readings of tea leaves, tarot cards, rune stones, and palms, all of which can be done for $25 in 15 minutes. Longer, more in-depth readings are also available, as are classes in “psychic development.” Predictions and readings my friends and I have gotten have ranged from scarily accurate (yes, I do have a friend from Georgia contemplating a move to California) to completely wrong (no, I never met a cute guy named Eric), but you don’t have to believe in ESP to enjoy the Tea Room. You just need an open mind and a sense of humor.

Posted By:  Julie Salickram
Photo:  Julie Salickram

Boston Common Frog Pond
As a born and bred Bostonian (okay, suburban Bostonian), I know full well the delight of the ice skating on the Frog Pond in Boston Commons. But, not because I have ever done it–because, I haven’t. I just hear about it every year. It’s one of those first snow of the seasons “I should do that” and first warm day of spring’s “Oh I never did that” kind of activities. This year, I hope to brave the treachery of donning skates with my 2 year old in tow. My real affection for the Frog Pond belongs to the bronzed statues of the frogs themselves. It brings out that fairytale whimsy that can be found in nooks and crannies of old Beantown. These frogs have it written all over their faces. These smug little amphibians alone are worth a detour the next time you are darting through the park because you can’t bear (or brave) 2 more screeching stops on the green line.

Posted By:  Knox Gardner
Photo:  Knox Gardner

Unlike the Irish or Italians, Germans immigrants didn’t dramatically alter the identity of Boston. Forgotten German Corner way out in Roxbury now has a Venezuelan Restaurant and a Lebanese Social Society, in addition to a home for elderly Germans. The German pub, Jacob Wirth, then is an anomaly, and a remnant of the once thriving immigrant communities that made up the South End. You’re unlikely to Sprechen zie Deutsch here, unless you bring your own Germans, but you can choose from many fine Bavarian brews while admiring the large 19th Century bar and eating schnitzel. Of note, are the banging piano sing-alongs on Friday night—an odd but lively way to kick your weekend into high-gear.

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