The South End, with its blocks of Victorian brick row houses, upscale restaurants, and art galleries, is swiftly becoming one of the most popular places to live in Boston. Many of the row houses underwent renovation starting in the 1960s. Located just minutes from downtown and the Back Bay, in recent years the South End has become one of Boston’s most popular neighborhoods. It has attracted a diverse blend of families, young professionals, a gay and lesbian community and a thriving artistic center to this Boston Landmark District. You will be sure to notice the South End’s renowned Victorian brownstone buildings and homes as you walk along Tremont Street, Columbus Avenue, Washington Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Small business owners also enjoy the amenities of the South End and are supported by the national award winning Washington Gateway Main Streets Program. Some of Boston’s finest restaurants, a thriving arts community and nearly thirty parks also call the South End home.
The T does not run directly through the South End, but several stops are only a block or two north.
- Green Line: The Arlington and Copley stops are a couple blocks north of the border between the Back Bay and the South End.
- Orange Line: The Back Bay and Massachusetts Ave. stops are a block north of the border with the Back Bay. The New England Medical Center stop is slightly farther north.
The SL4 and SL5 routes of the Silver Line bus rapid transit service make several stops in the South End:
- Herald Street (the most northern section of the South End)
- East Berkeley Street (the northern section of the South End)
- Union Park Street (the center section of the South End)
- West Newton Street (the center section of the South End)
- Worcester Square (the southern section of the South End)
- Massachusetts Avenue (the most southern section of the South End)
The Back Bay station is served by Amtrak trains, and by MBTA commuter rail (Attleboro/Providence, Framinghham/Worcester, Needham, and Franklin lines).
South End has some of the most wonderful restored brownstones in the area, which offers a stark contrast from the modernism of some other parts of Boston. It is also a very enjoyable place to stroll in the evenings. Many small gardens and parks are tucked between the warren of small, intimate streets.
Bay Village is one of the smallest neighborhoods in Boston, about 6 square blocks around Piedmont Street east of Arlington. After the original mud flats were drained in the early 1800s, many craftsmen involved in the construction of Beacon Hill's premier residences built their own modest but well-crafted houses here. Consequently, there are many architectural similarities between these two neighborhoods. It wasn't until the Prohibition years (1920s) that Bay Village got its bohemian ambience. It has now become the center for Boston's gay community.
Boston Center for the Arts - 4 Smaller Venues serving over a dozen Boston theatre companies. Box office at Calderwood Pavillion, 527 Tremont Street.
- Counter-Productions Theatre Company, . A collaborative group of imaginative and driven people passionate about Theatre that creates high-quality, thought-provoking productions in the greater Boston area and throughout New England. Its home is at the Factory Theatre at the Piano Factory on 791 Tremont St. Visit the website for performance details.
- The Factory Theatre, 791 Tremont St (Entrance in back, off Northampton St.), ☎ 617-817-6600, . The Factory Theatre is a 49 seat Black Box Theatre, with high ceilings and beautiful exposed bricks. Home to some of the best fringe theatre in Boston.
Trendy restaurants brush shoulders with coffeshops and Mom & Pop grocery stores along Tremont Street and its side streets all the way down to Washington Street (link to Wash. Main Streets), which is experiencing an artistic revival - a significant number of artists are moving in, and galleries are cropping up around the area to show their works.
The last several years have seen a resurgence of new restaurants in the South End, particularly on Tremont and Washington streets. South End dining tends to be fairly expensive, especially towards the north side of it, near Union Park Street.
- Addis Red Sea, 544 Tremont Street. Cheap and tasty Ethiopian Food.
- Appleton Bakery Cafe, 123 Appleton Street, . A great place to have lunch. The menu has variety of imaginative and delicious sandwiches as well as several prepared dishes changing daily. Appleton also brews very good coffee and caries an eclectic selection of chocolates and snack foods. There is a moderate amount of seating.
- The Butcher Shop, 552 Tremont Street. This is a new wine bar/French and Italian bistro, part of the No. 9 Group of Boston Restaurants (with No. 9 Park and B&G Oysters) serving fresh cuts of premium meat, a healthy variety of cheese, a wide and well-stocked selection of wines, and several house specialties.
- Circle, 604 Columbus Ave, +1 617-247-2537. Romantic lounge-aurant featuring contemporary French cuisine. Chef Malcom Aalders had a former Rialto chef consult with him to create the menu. A carefully selected beer list is available. They spin jazz music in the background and plan to bring live music, as had the establishment that previously occupied this space: Bob's Southern Bistro.
- DeLux, 100 Chandler St. A cute south end hangout right off of Clarendon St. The drinks are fairly cheap, the atmosphere is cozy and the food is delicious.
- Emilio's, 536 Tremont Street. Traditional Italian deli, great place to grab a sandwich or a slice. Cheap eats in the upper South End.
- Franklin Cafe, 276 Shawmut Avenue. This place is very small and quickly gets crowded but it has great food and drinks. One of the only late-night (serves food until 1:45 a.m.) restaurants nearby.
- Francesca's, 564 Tremont Street. Francesca's is a great place to grab some coffee and a muffin or to sit down for a sandwich or breakfast. They have a limited but tasty and cheap menu. The best part is definitely friendly wait staff.
- Hammersly's, 553 Tremont Street. Gordon Hammersly is a Boston legend, and so is his signature Roast Chicken. Upscale, comfortable bar and restaurant serving honest food.
- Picco (Pizza and Ice Cream Company), 513 Tremont Street., 617-927-0066, . Gourmet Pizza, Calzones and Ice cream. Great soup and sandwiches also on the menu.
- Rachel's Kitchen, 12 Church Street, (Bay Village), . Rachel's is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch. Everything is prepared to order with an emphasis on freshness and quality. The place is tiny, seating only about 12 people comfortably.
- Sibling Rivalry, 525 Tremont Street. Brother-chefs David and Robert Kinkead duel with culinary weaponry, melding an "Iron Chef" concept with a beautiful interior, healthy portions, a lively bar and a knowledgeable, friendly staff.
- Stella, 1525 Washington Street. Stella is a modern, elegant Italian restaurant, great bar, pricey but food is well-worth it. They have a late-night menu and several specialty cocktails.
- Thai Village, 592 Tremont St. This place is okay but there are definitely better Thai restaurants around Boston. (Try Chili Duck near the Prudential Center.) The food here tends to be slightly overpriced, but it is a lot cheaper than some of the neighboring South End restaurants.
- Union Bar & Grille, 1357 Washington St, ☎ 617-423-0555, . 5:30p-12p. Good food done great. Impeccable service and drinks all at a fair price. The bar and restaurant fill up fairly quickly with local residents as well as out-of-town visitors. Brunch is great and inexpensive with a $9.95 prix fixe menu all day Saturday and from 10am until 11am on Sunday.
- Estragon, 700 Harrison Ave, ☎ 617-266-0443, . Spanish tapas restaurant. Unlike other tapas places in the Boston area, which tend to do Spanish fusion cooking, the tapas on the menu here are exactly what you would expect from a taperia in Spain.
- Mela Indian Cuisine, 578 Tremont Street, ☎ 617-859-4805, . 11:30a-11:00p 7 days a week. Contemporary Indian food near the corner of Tremont St. and Union Park. Fair prices, given the location and living costs of Boston, and the taste is great. They have special "Dinner for 2" package options for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, which includes mulligatawny soup, samosas, naan bread, choice of 2 entrées, and choice of dessert.
- Aquitaine, 569 Tremont Street, +1 617-424-8577, . A French bistro with great dinner and weekend brunch. Dinner will run about $120 with tax and tip. Brunch is a very affordable $15 a person. Small and slightly cramped, they do take reservations for dinner and brunch. Saturday brunch is prix fixe at $9.95.
- Sibling Rivalry - great unique drink menu ($10)
- L'Aquitane - very small bar, better to eat here
- Rouge, Columbus Ave. Small but inviting bar.
- Pho Republique - Very cool Vietnamese restaurant with a good bar scene after 11PM.
- Franklin Cafe - Late night cuisine and crowded bar
- Stella, Washington St. Great restaurant with a good bar crowd on the weekends
- 28 Degrees - Restaurant/Lounge atmosphere on Tremont
- The Eagle - Really sleazy gay bar on Tremont. Fun to check out if you are being ironic.
- Clery's, Columbus Ave. Largest south end bar. Long lines not much good to say about it.
- Berkeley Residence (YWCA Boston), 40 Berkeley Street, ☎ +1 617/375-2524, . communal showers and toilets. Single room for $62- per night.
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