Want to explore South Boston, but not sure where to start? Taking inspiration from its alphabetical cross streets, we racked our brain for must-go establishments in Southie and the neighboring Fort Point district.
It was hard to narrow it down, but here’s how you can spend a month discovering some of the best the storied ’hood has to offer.
A is for Australia In case you weren’t aware, meat pies are a fast-food staple Down Under. Save the 24-hour flight and run to KO Pies, with varieties like beef and lamb shank under a flaky crust. 87 A St., www.kocateringandpies.com
B is for Burgers There’s a different quirky special every day at Tasty Burger, but even the regular menu items are creative, like the pineapple and teriyaki sauce-topped Kahuna Burger and fried egg with bacon laden Rise ‘N Shine. 69 L St., www.tastyburger.com
C is for Charcuterie At American Provisions you can assemble your own board with smoked and cured meats from New England farms, plus artisan cheeses and small batch pantry items (spreads, relishes, drizzles!) made by local purveyors. Add a six-pack of craft brew and you have a spread any food snob would drool over. 613 East Broadway, www.american provisions.com
D is for Doughnuts No trip to Southie is complete without a stop at Doughboy Donuts & Deli, a 24-hour option where ghosts of the graveyard shift perk up over awesome coffee and chocolate, glazed or strawberry-filled rings of heaven that put a certain ubiquitous chain to shame. 220 Dorchester Ave.
E is for Exfoliated, which is how you’ll leave Spa Christine. Body treatments and massages (hot stones, anyone?) await those in need of relaxation. Or just get glam with hair and eyelash extensions, an area of expertise. 699 East Broadway, www.spachristine.com
F is for Frank Sinatra, that is. The legend is no longer with us, but you might be fooled if you closed your eyes at Lucky’s Lounge on Sinatra Sundays, when his vocal doppelganger croons Rat Pack classics while diners munch on brunch fare like the Blue Eyes Eggs Benedict. 355 Congress St., www.luckyslounge.com
G is for Galleries Before Southie’s facelift began, there were artist spaces all over. Smaller ones do exist (LaMontagne Gallery, Grand Circle Gallery, Norman Crump Studio, etc.) but you’ll find the most artists per capita at The Distillery, a former rum-making facility that now contains two main art galleries with rotating exhibitions and 140 units that frequently open their doors for "Open Studios"-style events. 516 East Second St., www.distilleryboston.com
H is for Heavyweight You can work out like one at The Club by George Foreman III, the boxer’s newly opened urban-chic facility with a booth for live DJs and walls with street art-style murals. Signature Box-Fit workouts kick your caboose over 30 minutes of intense interval training, but at least you can retreat to luxury locker rooms for a rain shower rinse when it’s over.15 Channel Center St., www.everybodyfights.com
I is for Irish But we’d never try to pick the best Eire-American haunt in Southie, lest a St. Paddy’s Day-level bar fight ensue. So we’ll just note the list above, point to objective history and note that Amrheins boasts the oldest hand-carved bar in America and first beer pump in Boston — plus some really solid comfort food, like shepherd’s pie. 80 West Broadway, www.amrheinsboston.com
J is for Jab Something you’ll learn to do at Peter Welch’s Gym, thanks to sweat-inducing workouts based on its founder’s experience conditioning actual pro boxers. The gritty warehouse vibe adds to the charm, and there was even a Dropkick Murphys music video filmed here. How Southie can you get? 371 Dorchester Ave., www.peterwelchsgym.com
K is for Kids They’re the beneficiaries of Artists for Humanity, a nonprofit that offers empowering employment opportunities and real skill-based training for inner city kids who dream of creative careers as sculptors, graphic designers and more. Its environmentally friendly Epicenter is a popular events space where you’ll often find the young artists’ impressive work for sale. 100 West Second St., www.afhboston.org
L is for Lobster And you can’t beat the rolls of juicy claw meat at Sullivan’s on Castle Island, which reopens for the season at the end of February. The 63-year old, iconic fried seafood shack is also famous for its clam strips and hot dogs. 2080 William J. Day Boulevard, www.sullivanscastleisland.com
M is for Ming Foodies need only know one name: Ming Tsai, the star chef behind Wellesley’s lauded Blue Ginger and the 11 season-running PBS show “Simply Ming.” Last year he opened his comparatively casual Blue Dragon in Fort Point, bringing pan-Asian meets pub-style cookery with plates like Vietnamese chickens with spicy caramel glaze. 324 A St., www.ming.com
N is for Nourish Starting as a delivery service, Nourish Your Soul opened in South Boston in January. Check out the inspiring story of owner Susan Cabana here.
O is for Oysters You’ll find plenty at Row 34, Fort Point’s newly opened “workingman’s oyster bar” with casual-chic surroundings and always-unique beers on tap. The shellfish are the stars, though, particularly the eponymous variety (named for a numbered row of cages at Duxbury’s Island Creek Oyster Farm) that is matured in racks off the bay floor for a distinctly nutty and delicious flavor profile. 383 Congress St., www.row34.com
P is for Pig Roast Gather a party of 10 to 22 to hold your own at Franklin Southie, which offers classy carnivores a family-style spread of whole suckling pig carved into all its parts. Incidentally, it’s a solid choice for a surprise birthday or bachelor party. 152 Dorchester Ave., www.franklincafe.com
Q is for BBQ Speaking of pig, you’ll want to order up some pulled pork at Larry J’s BBQ Cafe, a hidden gem that many swear has some of the best barbecue in Boston. Sides of “cowboy beans,” Texas chili and mac and cheese, add to the gut-busting array. 600 D St., www.larryjsbbqcafe.com
R is for Rock Star You’ll look like one when you leave Shag, the fashion-forward salon from celebrity stylist Sandy Poirier and his team of tattooed punks that can cut, tease, shave and snip even the most boring hairdo into something trendsetting. 840 Summer St., www.shagboston.com
S is for Shuttles The travails of getting around Southie is a common complaint, but the Southie Shuttle makes it easy by offering free (to you) service to popular hangouts like hot neighborhood restaurants Local 149 and Lincoln Tavern. Just reserve your ride in advance. www.southieshuttle.com
T is for Taco It’s also for Tuesday! Put them together and you get Taco Tuesdays, a weekly favorite at Barlow’s, a boisterous spot with elevated pub fare, live music and a few other special occasions up its sleeve, like dollar oysters on Mondays. 241 A St., www.barlowsrestaurant.com
U is for UFO It’s one variety of suds you’ll find at Harpoon Brewery, which now boasts its own beer hall. Skip the tour and just hang at long wooden tables, downing pints of draft beers and salty baked pretzels. 306 Northern Ave., www.harpoonbrewery.com
V is for Van Sant “Good Will Hunting” director Gus Van Sant has made plenty of great flicks, from “Finding Forrester” to “Milk,” but locals love him best for the movie that introduced us to the Boston bromance of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Get to L Street Tavern, prominently featured in the film, and raise a toast to a now 17-year-old classic. 658 E. Eighth St.
W is for Wine Bar For something less dive-y (and more decadent) hit Stephi’s in Southie, the newly opened sibling to Stephanie’s on Newbury Street. Besides bottles, it offers a deep selection of wines on draft, allowing for sample pours. 130 Dorchester Ave., www.stephisinsouthie.com
X is for XX If your chromosomes are craving a girls' night out, you’ll want to check out Ku De Ta, a Southie women’s boutique that offers a unique private shopping spree package. Pull together a 10-person posse for a 20-percent off spree that includes two hours of complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres. 663 East Broadway, www.kudetaboston.com
Y is for Yoga While South Boston Yoga has plenty of classes for every preference, one big draw is its aerial yoga: Practitioners use silk swings and gravity for a core-challenging approach. 36 West Broadway, www.southbostonyoga.net
Z is for Zzz It’s not boredom that’s supposed to put you to sleep in the bedroom. Whether you’re working with a studio apartment or a master suite in a luxury condo, you’ll find revitalizing design inspiration browsing showrooms at the massive, eight-story Boston Design Center. It’s a go-to for those interested in cutting-edge, international home style. One Design Center Place, www.bostondesign.com