Readers and friends who have tickets for the Pops or Boston Symphony Orchestra always ask us, "Where can we dine around Symphony Hall?" And, once the conversation is open, it's followed by, "Where can we park?"
Please add your favorite spots for dining and parking around this area in the comments below. And, if you try one of our suggestions, let us know how it worked for you.
(Postcard image circa 1901-1907 from the Boston Public Library Collection.)
Here's our primer for a great visit to the BSO or Boston Pops at Symphony Hall.
We say, make dining and parking a joint decision. Our first suggestion is always to leave the car at home or at a park & ride and take the MBTA to the concert.
But, if you must have a car at hand, the Prudential Center is our favorite parking place to recommend in the city. It has its own exit off the Mass Pike. It's connected to mass transit, has taxis available at the doors, and there's a great choice of dining options within the complex. And, best of all, Google estimates that Symphony Hall is a 6-minute walk down Huntington Avenue. (map)
Update 04.09.14: When this topic was discussed over on the Trip Advisor Boston forum, regular contributor Ting clued us in on the special Prudential Center parking discount for those attending Symphony Hall, Berklee, Huntington Theater, Jordan Hall,and other events. Details here.
If a splurge is on the menu, L'Espalier is the star of the show and has valet service. If a mini-splurge is more in line with your budget, reserve a seat in their Salon for a glass of wine and a bite before the concert, or dessert and a cheese course afterward. The restaurant is accessible from inside the Prudential Center via the Mandarin Hotel.
Woody's Grill & Tap
It's a six minute walk from Symphony to 58 Hemenway Street and Woody's Grill & Tap. It had been years since we'd been there but we wandered in recently with our friends Liz & Mick and enjoyed an excellent meal. The pizzas were as great as always but excellent appetizers and salads shined and will have us coming back often. Try the grilled asparagus!
Park at the Pru and dine on Newbury Street. After dinner you can even walk to Symphony by reentering the Prudential Center and making part of your walk to the concert through their climate controlled corridors.
Since we walk all over the city, we would consider a few of the restaurants on Newbury close to symphony. La Voile is a great choice for French Bistro food.
And, we love to stop into Tapeo for a few tapas at the bar or a table full of choices to share with a group of friends.
Another Great Choice is Brasserie JO
We also recommend that concert goers consider a Boston gem that's often overlooked – Brasserie JO at The Colonnade Hotel. This place always comes through with French flair, great service, and a good meal. It's also a short walk on that same map, because it's across from the Prudential Center.
We love their bar to have a glass of wine and a light meal. And, after the concert, this is a wonderful place for a memorable dessert. They have a way with chocolate sauce!
(Waiting for unreserved seats for the Friday afternoon concert circa 1950 from the BPL collection)
Ethnic Options for less formal dining
If you want an ethnic meal or a quick bite before the show, we have a few favorites to recommend.
- Moby Dick - our friend Francine Crawford pointed us to this little gem. It's one of her favorite pre-concert spots.
- Pho Basil on Massachusetts Avenue does Thai and Vietnamese food and pleases us with both cuisines. Here's a post on some of the dishes we really enjoy at Pho Basil.
- Lucy Ethiopian Cafe is across the street from Symphony and is fun and delicious. But, give this choice a bit more time. The pace of this cafe's warm hospitality and made-to-order food is a bit slower than many places. They also have wonderful coffee and a selection of desserts for after the show.
- India Samraat on Massachusetts Avenue between Commonwealth and Marlborough is a bit further away but still within walking distance, especially if you park near Newbury Street. This is a restaurant we enjoy sharing with friends. (Update 04/09/14: sadly this favorite of ours has closed. We miss the food and the family.)
- Chili Duck, right across Boylston from the Pru, is a hidden gem and another great spot if you're meeting the gang.
- Symphony Sushi , (Update 09/22/13) reader Rob Marais (a long time member of the BostonZest community) added this to the list down in the comments section. " I'd also suggest Symphony Sushi around the corner from Huntington on Gainesborough St, it's solid sushi and a nice option for those looking for a light dinner before a Symphony Hall concert."
Other resources and opinions
"Where to dine for Symphony?" is a question routinely asked of the crew over on Chowhound's Boston board. Here are a couple of recent conversations with some options that we haven't tried yet.
- Any good restaurants near the Berklee Performance Center? (same area)
- La Voile or Lucca Back Bay before symphony?
- Any new restaurants near Symphony Hall?
- Quick bite near Symphony Hall
- Craft cocktails near Symphony Hall?
- More locals chime in on favorite places over on Trip Advisor
- Ginger Exchange gets a nod on Chowhound.
Here are maps to help you find more options:
If this type of information is helpful to you, consider saying thank you by starting your next Amazon shopping trip from here. They have the things you want including Boston Pops and BSO music and a full line of MP3 Downloads.
301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-4557 (map)
Writers: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photo: Courtesy of the Boston Public Library