10 restaurants to discover on beautiful long walks
Last summer, DigBoston looked at 10 hikes in the Greater Boston area that led to some truly great picnic spots, and while hiking to a place where you can eat a peanut butter sandwich or a salad is all well and good, hiking to a place that serves burgers and beer might just be a wee bit better (as long as you don’t drink too much beer at the hike’s halfway point). And surprisingly enough, there are a number of restaurants and bars in the local area that you can get to via long hikes through the woods or along the water; the 10 listed below are casual enough for you to go to even if the bottom of your sweats are muddy (though you may want to clean up a bit if you’re going to Steel & Rye, which is closer to being a “smart casual” spot).
KO Pies at the Shipyard, East Boston
While most people drive to this offbeat dining spot within the Boston Harbor Shipyard, it is actually along a route commonly used by walkers and hikers that extends from the back of Logan Airport into Jeffries Point and all the way into the heart of Eastie via the East Boston Greenway, making for a long and at times spectacular trek (especially at Piers Park, which has one of the best views anywhere of the Boston skyline). KO sits right along the route, making it a popular spot with joggers, walkers, and bikers, and its outdoor patio area is a great place to watch the world go by while eating Australian meat pies and drinking local brews.
KO PIES AT THE SHIPYARD. 256 MARGINAL ST., EAST BOSTON. KOCATERINGANDPIES.COM/EAST-BOSTON
J.J. Grimsby’s & Co., Stoneham
There aren’t too many restaurants or bars inside Route 128 that are in the middle of the woods, but this family-friendly eatery is one such place, as it is partially surrounded by the Middlesex Fells. J.J. Grimsby’s is one spot that can actually be hiked to directly from some deep woods, as a couple of minor trails lead from the bucolic Virginia Wood section of the Fells right out to the Pond Street/Lynn Fells Parkway intersection where the restaurant sits—and these minor trails can be accessed by a number of other trails within the Eastern Fells, with one starting point being the Flynn Rink in Medford. Grimsby’s focuses mostly on classic American fare, so a burger or wings might be good options before heading back out onto the trails.
J.J. GRIMSBY’S & CO. 301 W WYOMING AVE., STONEHAM. JJGRIMSBYS.COM
Quincy is full of both good restaurants and great hiking areas, and the two definitely combine at Hough’s Neck, though the trails are a bit hidden here. It is possible to hike all the way from Wollaston Beach through a small neighborhood area to a long trail on top of an MWRA dike overlooking endless salt marshes, then cut through another little neighborhood to the stunning Edgewater Drive Beach, which at low tide allows you to walk directly to Louis. A good map, some online research, and a GPS are recommended since the dike trail is tough to find, but the hike is worth it for its constant scenery, and once you get to Louis, you’ll find a neighborhood spot with excellent seafood and lots of classic comfort food items.
LOUIS. 1269 SEA ST., QUINCY. LOUISHN.COM
Steel & Rye, Milton
Until recently, you could take a gorgeous waterside walk from almost the Rainbow Swash gas tank by the Southeast Expressway in Dorchester all the way to Steel & Rye in Milton where the Neponset Trail/Neponset River Greenway ended. And the key word is “ended,” as now the trail has been extended all the way to Mattapan Square, so instead of enjoying this wonderful New American spot at the end of a walk, you can hit it and then keep walking. As mentioned earlier, this dining spot is a bit more upscale than the others listed here, but since the trail is well-graded and paved in some spots, chances are you won’t be ordering a plate of charred octopus or slow-roasted pork shoulder while looking like Grizzly Adams.
STEEL & RYE. 95 ELIOT ST., MILTON. STEELANDRYE.COM
Country Pizza, Lincoln
Much of the tiny town of Lincoln is conservation land, with trails found within every nook and cranny of this peaceful western suburb of Boston, and some of the best hikes in town begin at Lincoln Depot, which also happens to be home to one of the weirdest eateries in the region. Country Pizza is a bit tough to find, in part because it’s hidden away in an auto garage (yes, an auto garage). This unassuming pizzeria actually has some very fine pizza, leaning a bit toward New London-style, which is a little like Greek pizza and with slight bar pizza influences as well. And while you might not want to do an 8-mile loop that starts at Walden Pond if you have a belly full of pizza, you can do just that by following a number of paths that cut through some of the nicest parts of town.
COUNTRY PIZZA. 161 LINCOLN RD., LINCOLN. DOHERTYSGARAGE.COM/COUNTRY_PIZZA.HTM
Crossing Nines, Quincy
For those who have climbed the Quincy Quarries, you know how spectacular the views are from these local treasures. Well, because of easy trails that lead up the ledges of the quarries, hikers make their way here as well, and there’s a route that can be taken from the Shea Rink in West Quincy (where the Blue Hills also begin) that meanders its way up to the quarries, then continues on via a hidden trail to the Granite Links Golf Club, which is home to the Tavern at Quarry Hills as well as this mostly unknown bar across the way. The Crossing Nines is a perfect place for hikers to grab a drink (but perhaps only one because remember, you’re hiking back through the quarries), as it has the same outstanding views of Boston that you’ll find along the way. It also has a perfect vantage point to watch the sunset over the golf course and the Blue Hills—that is, if you decide to start and end the hike here rather than at the rink or the quarries, since you’d be hiking back in the dark (a big no-no).
CROSSING NINES. 100 QUARRY HILL DR., QUINCY. GRANITELINKSGOLFCLUB.COM
Dumpling Daughter, Weston
This is perhaps one for the more experienced hiker, not because it is technically difficult, but because both Lincoln and Weston have huge swaths of conservation land in which it is really, really easy to become hopelessly lost. But for those who are a bit on the adventurous side, a series of trails can be taken starting at Lincoln Depot (and maybe some pizza as an appetizer—see above), cutting through a long stretch of undeveloped land that includes Drumlin Farm in Lincoln along with Ogilvie Town Forest and Jericho Town Forest in Weston, eventually winding up on a little spur trail that leads to the outer edge of Weston Center where Dumpling Daughter resides. And what to get at this rather hidden spot? Well, dumplings, of course, but also great takes on ramen, buns, rice bowls, and more. Just remember—a map and compass are a must for this hike/food outing.
DUMPLING DAUGHTER. 37 CENTER ST., WESTON. DUMPLINGDAUGHTER.COM
Hillside Pub, Canton
One of the best places to hike to is this tiny Irish pub in the shadows of the highest hill inside Route 128. Located more or less at the base of Great Blue Hill in the Blue Hills Reservation, the Hillside Pub is pretty easy to get to via the beautiful Skyline Trail, which starts all the way over in Quincy but can also be accessed from Great Blue Hill if you don’t feel like hiking 10 miles. It eventually goes up Little Blue Hill with trails there leading left onto Royall Street, which leads to the very short Royall Avenue where the place resides. Hikers (and others) may want to consider the excellent steak tips and outstanding Irish pizza here, along with a well-poured pint of Guinness.
HILLSIDE PUB. 2 ROYALL AVE., CANTON. HILLSIDEPUB.COM
Sullivan’s, South Boston
Ah, Sullivan’s… so many people have so many memories of driving to this seaside snack shack at Castle Island for its burgers, dogs, lobster rolls, ice cream, and more, but did you know that it makes for a perfect destination as part of a hike along the Boston Harborwalk? You can start at the JFK/UMass T station and walk several miles by the water past Carson Beach and onto the causeway along the “Sugar Bowl,” with endless views of the ocean, the Boston skyline, and the Blue Hills in the distance. Or if you’re really motivated, you can even start near the Rainbow Swash and make it a really long hike along the Harborwalk, and yes, while technically you could do an even longer riverside/harborside walk all the way from Steel & Rye in Milton (see above), that would seem just a bit much, so don’t do that.
SULLIVAN’S. 2080 WILLIAM J DAY BLVD., SOUTH BOSTON. SULLIVANSCASTLEISLAND.COM
Ocean Sushi, Melrose
We wrap up with an odd one here, as this friendly little sushi spot can be reached via hikes through two separate wooded areas: Pine Banks and the Middlesex Fells. It is the latter that is the focus here, mainly because of the much more plentiful hiking options. As with J.J. Grimsby’s above, you can hike a variety of trails from Flynn Rink in Medford or you could even hike from Winchester Center for a very long hike through remote lands. The end is tricky, as you come down a minor trail from the breathtaking Black Rock that more or less leads to the Oak Grove T station, then you cross the tracks right into the Windsor at Oak Grove luxury apartment complex, which is where Ocean Sushi can be found. By the way, Ocean Sushi has some of the freshest sushi we’ve tried in the Boston area, so if you’re ok with walking through the woods with a belly full of raw fish, this is the hike for you.
OCEAN SUSHI. 16 OAK GROVE AVE., MELROSE. OCEANSUSHIONLINE.COM
Marc is the founder of @hiddenboston, a textbook editor, a hike leader for @AppMtnClub, and a food and travel writer and commenter for DigBoston, NBC/NECN, WBZ, WMFO and indie617.