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Eating Up Boston's History
If you’re planning a trip to Boston, chances are you’ll find yourself pounding the pavement or, more likely, contending with scraggy cobblestones, along The Freedom Trail, a popular tourist attraction that may be familiar to you. Winding through the heart of the city, the 2.5-mile, self-guided trek connects 16 sites of historic importance—most centered on the Revolutionary War era—via a red-painted line on ground. Walking it was one of my first jobs on the job here at Where. I found that this mobile adventure into the past sapped up a lot of energy, so you’ll probably need some nourishment along the way, too. And with that, we’ve got restaurants en route that serve up delectable eats as well as striking biographies of their own.
Parker’s Restaurant—Steps from King’s Chapel Burying Ground stands Parker’s Restaurant, the birthplace of Boston Cream Pie—so if you’re going to try the iconic dessert while you’re in town, you must do it here. Also of note, both culinary and cultural personalities have worked in the kitchen, including Emeril Lagasse, bam!, as sous-chef, Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh as a baker, and African-American activist Malcolm X as a busboy. 60 School St., 617.227.8600
Union Oyster House—Opened in 1826, Union Oyster House, with its gold-scripted signage and glowing, wide-paned windows, is the nation’s oldest, continuously operating restaurant. It was here in the 1770s where Isaiah Thomas printed his weekly pro-Patriot political rag The Massachusetts Spy, and where Ebenezer Hancock paid out wages to the Continental Army. During a period of exile at the turn of the 19th century, France’s last ruling king, Louis Philippe I, lived in the upstairs apartment and tutored young ladies in French. Once a restaurant, it became a local favorite for its fresh shellfish. Daniel Webster never missed a meal of brandy and oysters at the bar; later, John F. Kennedy patronized the spot and still has a booth reserved in the upstairs dining room. A stone’s throw from Faneuil Hall; try the oysters, of course! 41 Union St., 617.227.2750