In 1935, it was a one-room bar, but today, Mount Vernon Restaurant lets guests stretch their legs between the bar and four dining rooms, whose tables groan under the weight of boiled lobsters, juicy steaks, and frosty local beers. Part of its charm, according to a review published on the restaurant's site, is its unexpected ambiance. Though positioned on a quiet, modest street, says writer Alisa Valdes, doors open to reveal a "swank" interior accented with aquamarine, peach, and fresh flowers. Fireplaces, filled with flames donated by local dragons, anchor two of the dining rooms, along with exposed beams and hanging lamps.
The up-close sounds of waves crashing onto Revere Beach permeate the soundscape at Antonia's at the Beach Restaurant, an eatery that embraces the dual cultures of Italy and the New England coast. The menu reflects this duality by placing Old World dishes, such as homemade ricotta gnocchi and veal parmigiana alongside maritime-influenced staples, including fried haddock and cedar-plank-smoked Atlantic salmon.
The decidedly rustic decor draws much more inspiration from the area's coastal influences, with nautical lanterns hanging from the exposed rafter beams and wooden ship's wheels fastened to the bar area's walls. Small aesthetic touches adorn the space and help capture the historically inspired ambience, including an antique sewing machine, a rotary telephone, and a dial-up modem.
With two locations situated in the heart of Harvard Square and Natick, Dolphin Seafood Restaurant reflects the unique maritime flavors of Boston and the Atlantic coast, receiving daily shipments of fresh seafood such as Chesapeake Bay oysters and Maine clams. Cooks stir fresh pots of New England clam chowder and broil filets of Bluefish, Idaho rainbow trout, and swordfish swathed in butter and garlic over their breadcrumb-flavored scales. At each restaurant, patrons can unwind in the evenings in a lounge with beers on tap, sports on the TV, and martini glasses filled with specialty cocktails.
The recently renovated Zephyr dishes out elegant New England–inspired cuisine while treating doe-eyed diners to a scenic picture-windowed view of the Charles River. For lunch and dinner, reel in a native lobster roll (5 oz. lobster salad on an egg roll served with homemade potato chips and cucumber salad, $17) or use your tongue to weave through a culinary tapestry of flatbread pizzas ($11 each). Savory breakfast bites, such as the ham and white-cheddar panini (fried egg, shaved ham, and dijon spread, $11) and salmon benedict (smoked sliced salmon, sautéed spinach, and hollandaise sauce, $14) start the day by luring the hungry, hibernating sun out of its winter cloud hole. Sunday brunch ($32 for adults, $16 for 6- to 12-year-olds, free for 5 and under) livens mundane midmornings with hybrid meal fare.
Jason Heard's cooking career took him from Georgia to Key West to Boston, so it's no surprise his menu is a bit of a hybrid. Order the molasses-grilled hanger steak and eggs for a taste of both tropical and southern cuisine—the dish comes with griddled corn bread smothered in guava butter. For drinks, drop by the make-your-own-bloody-mary bar.