Ken Oringer's Boston

Courtesy of Rosebud

Chef and restaurateur Ken Oringer shares his picks for dining, drinking, and sightseeing in Boston, from evening cocktails at the Gallows to Saturday afternoons exploring the SoWa market. Oringer owns six restaurants in Boston, New York, and Maine, though he calls Boston home.

What neighborhood do you live in and how long have you lived there? South End, 18 years.

Where do you put up friends visiting town? I would probably opt for Nine Zero, it’s got a great location, plus I’m a big fan of Kimpton. It’s a great hotel (90 Tremont St.; 617-772-5800;

Where is the best place to find your hometown’s signature dish? Oysters at Island Creek Oyster Bar (500 Commonwealth Ave.; 617-532-5300;, a lobster roll at Neptune (63 Salem St.; 617-742-3474;, or chowder at Legal Sea Food. I'm still kind of stickler for Legal Seafood (Various locations;

What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? Sarma in Somerville. It's a really fun, Middle Eastern/Turkish spot with small plates and a great energy (249 Pearl St.; 617-764-4464; I also like Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar in Somerville. My buddy Johny Delpha is the chef, and he's a Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational BBQ champ, so they’ve got super tasty food and great cocktails (381 Summer St.; 617-629-9500; If I’m near Fenway, my go-to is always Island Creek Oyster Bar (500 Commonwealth Ave; 617-532-5300;

Where can you find the best cocktails? Gallows. This is one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants with no pretension. They've got a super friendly/outgoing ownership and the food is so satisfying and inexpensive, a lot of people don't realize how great the cocktails are, too. They're affordable and without attitude—seasonal and creative but not overcomplicated. I'm a tequila guy, so one of my favorites is La Malinche, which they make with reposado, aperol, curaçao, bitters, and this great grilled lime simple syrup (1395 Washington St.; 617-425-0200;

Beer list? JM Curley is great for lots of reasons: Their burger for one, but also for their big outdoor patio. Once the weather gets nice it's a great place to sit outside, have some oysters and drink beer on a beautiful spring or summer afternoon. Their beer list is very artisanal but they also respect dive beers. You can order everything from Narragansett tall boys to a whole gamut of seasonal microbrews and special release bottles (21 Temple Pl.; 617-338-5333; 

Wine list? For my favorite wine list, I would have to say Barbara Lynch's The Butcher Shop. Cat Silirie does all the wine programs for Barbara's restaurants and she has a very obscure palette and is always curating unique varietals and off-the-beaten-track wines, with interesting stories behind the winemakers. It's a great place to start the evening with some charcuterie, cheese, and a couple bottles of wines before your next destination (552 Tremont St.; 617-423-4800; 

Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? I would take my wife to Grill 23 and order oysters and the wagyu prime rib. We’d also drink a lot of champagne, preferably Châteauneuf-du-Pape (161 Berkeley St.; 617-542-2255;

What is your go-to after-hours bar? Anchovies. I'm obsessed with dive bars, and this one’s the crème de la crème. Dim lights, no frills, the smell of beer in the air. They also serve late night food, which is actually crave-able. My go-to drink is either a shot of tequila, or a Miller High Life (433 Columbus Ave.; 617-266-5088;

What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon in town? During the spring, SoWa market is really fun. It's a farmers market, an eclectic artisan market and also a food truck area. There are a lot of art galleries, places for brunch, it’s really fun area to walk around. My kids love it too (460 Harrison Ave.;  

What is your Sunday morning routine in your neighborhood? Most Sunday mornings, I walk around the South End with my family, then pop into Coppa (253 Shawmut Ave.; 617-391-0902; or Toro for brunch (1704 Washington St.; 617-536-4300; I like to sit around with family and friends for hours drinking rose or bloody marys, just chillin’. Some days we’ll hit a farmer's market, just enjoying the beautiful South End where we live.

Where do you go for the perfect cup of coffee? Joanne Chang’s Flour. She’s got locations popping up everywhere, and for good reason. Flour is a combination of everything a coffee shop should be: cozy ambience, great coffee, killer pastries, plus they've got great lunch offerings: sandwiches, quiches and more. Something for everyone. My wife and I love their croissants and her team has been working hard to improve these over the years. I commend their progress! (Various locations;

What’s your favorite view in town (that tourists might not know about)? The café at Sam's in South Boston. You get a great view of the harbor and the skyline. The outdoor patio is very chill—you don't even feel like you're in a city (60 Northern Ave.; 617-295-0191;

What’s your favorite path or trail to follow on a walk? Walking along the waterfront from the North End to South Boston. You get a beautiful view of the harbor, plus it's like a walk through history, taking you from the historic Italian North End to the increasingly gentrified South End.  

What are your favorite offbeat cultural attractions? When we need a quick escape, we like to head up to Maine, the diverse coastline allows you to take a step back in time, and most people don’t realize but it’s only an hour and a half away from Boston. If we’re staying local, I like going to the ICA; it’s a really cool contemporary art museum on the waterfront (100 Northern Ave.; 617-478-3100; Also not-to-be-missed: walking around Harvard Square, it's very international and makes you feel smarter just walking around the brilliance at MIT and Harvard Square.

What’s your favorite shop or boutique? John Varvatos in Copley. For me it's one-stop shopping. I love all the clothes, and the rock n' roll style, but everything's still on trend (100 Huntington Ave.; 617-236-8650; 

What’s the best-kept local secret? The best-kept local secrets are the water taxis you can take around Boston Harbor. I like to go to East Boston from there and get some amazing Mexican and El Salvadorian food; check out some cool neighborhoods that are easily accessible without traffic—plus they're relatively inexpensive.

Image Credit, from top to bottom: Nine Zero; Coppa; courtesy ICA Boston

In our Hometown Guides series, we're seeking the best restaurants, bars, vistas, and things to do in a given place from the people who know best—the artists, designers, chefs, and store-owners who live there. See more Hometown Guides »