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Getting to Know Your Neighborhood: Brighton

A guide to eating, shopping, and sightseeing a short distance from BU

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Just beyond the bustling streets of Allston lies another, decidedly quieter and more residential neighborhood—Brighton. Home to many Boston University and Boston College students, young professionals, and families, Brighton offers numerous pubs and ethnic restaurants, with many affordable options for a leisurely afternoon or a night out on the town.

First settled by Europeans in 1630, the area was originally part of Watertown. In 1634, the Massachusetts Bay Colony transferred the land to Newtowne (Cambridge today). The first permanent English settlement in what is now Brighton drew people from Cambridge, and the area became known as “Little Cambridge.” The moniker lasted until residents voted to secede from Cambridge in 1807, when the area was renamed for the English coastal city of Brighton and Hove. In 1874, Brighton officially became a neighborhood of the city of Boston.

Throughout its nearly 400-year history, Brighton has seen many important developments. The Brighton Cattle Market was created in 1776 to feed George Washington’s Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, establishing the area as a major center for the cattle and slaughtering trades that lasted until the mid-20th century.

Today there are many restaurants, bakeries, pubs, and small businesses lining Washington Street, the tree-lined artery that runs through Brighton Center to Oak Square. BU Today has compiled a list of some of the best places to explore when you’re in the neighborhood.

The Green Briar
304 Washington St.

This is no ordinary Irish pub: it’s as close to the real thing as you’re likely to find on this side of the Atlantic. If you follow international sports—particularly any of the Irish teams—this is the place for you. The pub broadcasts live Irish sporting events, including rugby, soccer, and hurling. The Green Briar also features dancing to local bands and DJs, and offers theme nights during the week as well: traditional Irish Seisiún, where patrons can bring their musical instruments and join in an informal musical session on Mondays; Extreme Bingo on Tuesdays; Trivia Night on Wednesdays; Opinionation, a Family Feud–style trivia game on Thursdays; paint nights, plant nights, or acoustic music on Fridays; and DJs on Saturdays. Classic Irish fare is on the lunch and dinner menu—think corned beef and cabbage egg rolls, shepherd’s pie, Guinness Ale onion soup, and fish and chips—along with a selection of burgers, pizzas, soups, salads, and sandwiches.

Brighten Bodega

Brighten Bodega, 328 Washington St.

Brighton Bodega
328 Washington St.

Located in the heart of Brighton Center in the space formerly occupied by legendary diner Mandy and Joe’s, Brighton Bodega offers a new take on street food from around the globe.  Diners can feast on oysters from the raw bar, cheese and charcuterie plates, and pasta dishes, such as black truffle gnocchi mac and cheese, as well as Maine mussels, scallion pancakes, and Korean barbecue beef sliders. Be sure to check out the restaurant’s unique dessert lineup (eggnog panna cotta, anyone?). The eclectic, small plate–focused menu changes daily, driven largely by what’s in season. This newcomer is quickly winning over locals with its nontraditional menu and cozy, modern dining space. It also features a wide array of craft beers on tap and a deep selection of house cocktails, wine, and setups featuring a beer and a shot. Go for the “I’m Friends With The Owner.” The restaurant also offers a weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s open until 1 am daily, making it a perfect late-night dining destination.

Devlin’s Restaurant
332 Washington St.

Enjoy the chic ambiance here at one of several seating areas inside or on the outdoor patio. Come for a romantic dinner at an elegantly set table, a casual meal at a booth or high-rise table, a leisurely outdoor brunch, or a quick drink at the bar. The wood-themed décor complements the brightly colored walls, curtains, and artwork to create a positive and lively feel. The calendar of events has something special nearly every day of the week: there’s a live jazz brunch on Sundays, live acoustic music by local musicians on Mondays and Thursdays, a taco special on Tuesdays for just $5, live jazz on Wednesdays, and DJs on Saturdays. The menu is straightforward, with a mix of pizzas, bowls, sandwiches, and burgers, along with a few more esoteric dishes like lamb shank curry and bison bolognese. The extensive beer menu includes American IPAs, ciders, ales, and a number of draft beers.

Devlin’s Bistro and Bar, 332 Washington St.

Devlin’s Restaurant, 332 Washington St.

Porter Belly’s Pub
338 Washington St.

Another Irish pub, this one may be as well-known as a venue for up-and-coming local musicians and musicians touring New England as for its food, drinks, and dartboard competitions. The Drafters, Dennis McCarthy, and the Charlie River Band have performed here. Live music is offered every Friday and Saturday. More interested in sports? Watch games on one of the plasma TVs or play a friendly game of darts. The menu has a decidedly Gaelic influence: you’ll find corned beef hash and a traditional Irish breakfast (a “sunny egg,” Irish bacon, Irish sausage, black and white pudding, beans, mushrooms, and toast, available all day) on the weekend brunch menu, and dinner entrées include Irish chicken curry, Sam Adams–batter fish and chips, beef and Guinness pot pie, and more.

Cafénation
380 Washington St.

Cafénation has everything you could want in a café: numerous coffee and tea options, sweet dessert crepes (Nutella, strawberry and banana, and caramel apple crisp), inexpensive bagel and egg breakfast specialties, an array of lunch salads, and seasonal soups in the winter. Try an MEM loose-leaf tea served in a cast-iron teapot, paired with the hummer breakfast sandwich (hummus, alfalfa sprouts, tomato, lettuce, and red onion), a healthy and filling breakfast for under $10. Other popular menu items: the Otom breakfast sandwich (a BLT with eggs, cheddar cheese, and spicy aioli) and a hummus avocado sandwich. The walls show the work of local artists, available for purchase. Although great for a bite or cup of coffee (roasted by Square One Coffee in Lancaster, Pa.), it’s small and seating can be hard to come by. The free Wi-Fi attracts lingerers.

What to do in Brighton, Massachusetts, Boston University BU, entertainment, food drinks restaurants, arts, museums, attractions, near Boston Unviersity

Cafénation, 380 Washington St.

Little Pizza King
389 Washington St.

A menu brimming with appetizers, salads (more than two dozen), subs (nearly 50 at last count), gyros, calzones, wraps, Italian specialties, and more than 30 pizza combinations means Little Pizza King will definitely satisfy your appetite. Be sure to come hungry—the place has low prices, large portions, and endless options. Their website promises: “We enjoy feeding you just as much as you enjoy eating our food.” And it’s true. This is one pizzeria where they take pride in what they serve. Seating is limited; takeout and delivery ($2.50 on orders of $10 or more) are available.

Daniels Bakery
395 Washington St.

This family-owned bakery has been a Brighton institution for more than 50 years. Founded by Daniel Handalian in 1959, it remained in his family for more than 40 years before being sold to Wanda Silva, who runs it with her family. The cakes, pies, cookies, breads, pastries, and muffins are baked on the premises daily. It has a huge assortment of ethnic treats, ranging from Brazilian and Italian pastries to Jewish sweets, and also offers fresh fruit smoothies from the Amazon Fruit Company. Consider a custom or photograph cake for your next big party or special event. Three window stools accommodate those who need their sugar rush before hitting the sidewalk.

Athan’s Bakery
407 Washington St.

A mainstay of Brighton for more than a decade, Athan’s prides itself on having “brought a little bit of Europe to Boston.” The Mediterranean-inspired menu offers great breakfast, lunch, and dinner options: pastries, eggs, salads, cold sandwiches, hot paninis, and several meat entrées. For something sweet, stop by and treat yourself to one of their specialty cakes, tarts, mousse tortes, gelato, handcrafted chocolate, cookies, or baklava, a Mediterranean pastry with layers of filo, nuts, and honey. Have a seat inside and enjoy the contemporary décor. The walls serve as a revolving gallery for local artists.

Athan’s Bakery, 407 Washington St.

Athan’s Bakery, 407 Washington St.

Rogers Park
90 Rogers Park Ave.

Just steps from Washington Street, Rogers Park is a great place to gather with friends to play sports or just catch some fresh air and sun. There are baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, and a playground with a tot-lot. The area is dog-friendly as well, but beware: it’s not completely fenced in and runaway dogs are a frequent occurrence.

Fiorella’s Express
2 Tremont St.

Open daily from 11 am to 10 pm, Fiorella’s prides itself on delivering “fast, fresh, and delicious” Italian cuisine. This casual dining restaurant opened its first location in Newton in 2001, and has since expanded to include three “express” locations that offer a delicious array of quick-fix appetizers, salads, nearly a dozen pasta dishes (eggplant parmigiana, linguine with meatballs, fettuccine alfredo), seafood, pizza and calzones, and sandwiches and wraps. You can eat in (the restaurant has six tables) or order online for pickup or delivery. Be sure to sign up for Fiorella’s customer rewards program to take avantage of special offers.

Asahi Sushi
418 Market St.

Asahi Sushi has a long and reasonably priced sushi list, as well as an extensive menu of appetizers, sashimi, and maki. Most makis cost between $3.50 and $10, and the sushi dinners run from $18.95 to $55.95 for a deluxe meal for two. The website has printable coupons for special deals, such as a free spicy salmon or tuna maki with an order of $25 or more. This tiny, dinner-only establishment opens at 4:30 pm (5 pm on Sunday); if you have a big party, you may want to look elsewhere, but it does take reservations. Takeout and delivery are available.

Stockyard
135 Market St.

As its name implies, this 200-seat steakhouse (the attached parking lot can accommodate up to  150 cars) is a carnivore’s delight. A Brighton institution, Stockyard has been serving up hearty meals for hungry patrons for more than four decades. With six cuts of steak on the menu, along with pork chops, steak tips, beef tenderloins, and hickory-smoked back baby ribs, Stockyard is in some ways a throwback to the steakhouses of yore. But nonmeat eaters will also find plenty to choose from. The restaurant has an impressive raw bar, a wonderful selection of New England seafood classics, like lobster pie and pan sautéed Atlantic cod, and several salads. One of the city’s largest restaurants, Stockyard is anchored by an enormous horseshoe bar and is open daily (Sundays till midnight). Reservations are available, and the restaurant offers function rooms and special event menus for those looking for a place to host a special occasion. Weekend bruch is available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Stockyard,135 Market St.

Stockyard,135 Market St.

Flatbread Company  and Brighton Bowl
76 Guest St.

Fans of Flatbread Company and Sacco’s Bowl Haven in Somerville’s Davis Square already know what an irresistible combination pizza and candlepin bowling are. Now Flatbread is hoping to duplicate that success with a new flatbread pizzeria/bowling alley that’s just opened in Brighton’s Boston Landing, proving once again that combining all-natural, wood-fired clay oven pizzas with candlepin bowling is an irresistible combination. The new location features Flatbread’s signature domed ovens and salvaged barn–wood décor, but at 12,500 square feet, it’s significantly larger than the Davis Square location. There are bowling lanes and bars located on each of the location’s two levels. The top mezzanine level is perfect for private events, with two lanes, a large bar, and a dining room. Downstairs, you’ll find seven bowling lanes, and another bar and dining room. It’s the perfect after-work gathering spot, but also ideal for families looking for a place to host a child’s birthday party. Among the standout pizzas are the Brighton Community Flatbread, featuring tomato sauce, organic caramelized onions and mushrooms, whole milk mozzarella, and homemade garlic oil, and Mopsy’s Kalua Pork Pie, topped with free-range pork shoulder or chicken, mango barbecue sauce, organic red onions, pineapple, goat cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan. There’s also a dairy-free vegan option, organic salads, and a mouth-watering selection of desserts. The innovative cocktail menu features New England–only spirits.

Article 24
458 Western Ave.

Article 24 opened in June 2016 to a lot of hype. Restaurant bible Zagat had named it “one of Boston’s 11 most anticipated restaurants for spring,” and they were right. The restaurant has attracted a steady crowd, drawn to its food (the paella, short rib gnocchi, and steak tips are big hits); downstairs tequila bar, called Bandita Brighton; and live DJs and local bands. The restaurant’s popular brunch menu, now served seven days a week, includes such novelties as a cornflake-crusted French toast, packed with a kick of spiced honey butter, and lobster Macmuffin, three eggs scrambled with lobster, served on an English muffin with cheese and bacon. Be sure to make a reservation, as the eatery tends to get packed despite plenty of seating—a testament to its delicious offerings and rapid popularity.

Brighton-Allston Heritage Museum
20 Chestnut Hill Ave.

Established in 2007, the Brighton-Allston Heritage Museum provides a glimpse of the neighborhood’s history, heritage, and culture. The museum, in the Veronica Smith Senior Center, features old photographs and articles chronicling Brighton’s development, some dating as far back as the 1600s, in the main room. A separate gallery has rotating exhibitions, often showcasing the work of Brighton artists. The museum is open Thursdays and Fridays from 11 am to 3 pm and admission is free.

Moogy’s
154 Chestnut Hill Ave.

Located between Cleveland Circle and Brighton Center, this Philadelphia-inspired sandwich shop is known for its inventive hoagies (better known as subs here in New England), casual atmosphere, all-day breakfast, and daily specials. Some of the standout subs: the Full Monty (steak, bacon, provolone, and barbecue), the BU (chicken, provolone, and American cheese), and the Jolly Green Giant (chicken, broccoli, Swiss cheese, and honey mustard). Moogy’s also has great weeknight specials: $1 pancake stacks on Monday, $2 burgers on Tuesday, 50-cent wings on Wednesday, and $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts every day. If you’re looking for fast and friendly service with great and filling food, you won’t be disappointed.

Asahi Sushi, 418 Market St.

Asahi Sushi, 418 Market St.

Community Rowing, Inc.
20 Nonantum Rd.

If visiting Brighton’s restaurants and pubs leaves you anxious to burn off some calories, stop by Community Rowing, Inc., and take a spin on the water. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced rower, Community Rowing has a class and an instructor to fit your needs. You can sign up online or on location. The nonprofit, established in 1985, is based on the premise that access to rowing changes lives and communities. One-person shells and sweep rowing for groups of eight are available. All rowers are required to have a swim test on file before using the club’s boats. You can complete this test with any certified lifeguard or at the local YMCA. Class prices vary, so check the website for more information.

Boston Public Library Brighton Branch
40 Academy Hill Rd.

After an extensive renovation, the BPL’s Brighton branch reopened in December 2010, and today is one of the most tranquil places in Boston to relax and catch up on reading. Curl up on the lounge area’s beautiful red couch overlooking the library’s serenity garden, or enjoy one of the bean-shaped chairs in the story nook or a high-rise table in the teen café area. The branch offers a wide selection of readings, lectures, and concerts and has a good collection of books on Brighton-Allston history, as well as photographs from the Brighton-Allston Historical Society’s archives. Oral histories of Brighton residents will soon be available online, and the library also offers a wide selection of reading materials in Spanish and Russian. Find a calendar of events here. The library is one of the first renovated buildings in Boston to incorporate US Green Building Council LEED standards.

Boston College

Although most of the Boston College campus is in nearby Chestnut Hill, in 2004 the school extended its reach into Brighton with the purchase of 43 acres of land from the Archdiocese of Boston, including what was formerly the archbishop’s residence. Subsequent purchases from the archdiocese increased the size of BC’s Brighton Campus to 65 acres.

Founded in 1863, this Jesuit institution began life in Boston’s South End and moved to Chestnut Hill in 1909. With its superb Gothic architecture, the park-like campus is a wonderful place to stroll. The college has a small but excellent museum as well, the McMullen Museum of Art. Recently relocated to the former archbishop’s residence on the Brighton Campus, it includes works by American artists John La Farge, William Trost Richards, Frank Stella, and Jackson Pollock, in addition to classical and Christian Flemish tapestries, ca. 1500–1600, Italian paintings depicting sacred scenes, and American landscapes and portraits dating from 1840 to 1940. The museum has had special exhibitions of work by artists such as Edvard Munch and the surrealist Roberto Matta. Museum admission is free and open to the public, but the museum closes between exhibitions and is typically closed summers, reopening in September. Hours during exhibitions are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10 am to 5 pm; Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 pm. Find more about dates and hours of operation here.

Getting there: Take the MBTA #57 bus along Commonwealth Avenue and get off at Washington Street in Brighton or an MBTA Green Line trolley to the Boston College stop. 

Explore other area neighborhoods here.

This story was originally published on July 12, 2012; it has been updated to include new locations and current information.

Have a suggestion for a neighborhood you would like to see featured on BU Today? Leave it in the Comment section below.

3 Comments

3 Comments on Getting to Know Your Neighborhood: Brighton

  • James Jenner on 10.14.2014 at 2:14 am

    so while I think it’s great your trying to highlight brighton I think you missed the mark a bit. You’ve highlighted mostly pubs and restaurants but that’s not our history. There are numerous historical sites in Allston brighton. There are cemeteries which are loaded with history, there are numerous informational signs throughout the area on the history of brighton, there are historical events such as the annual parade, there are loads of historical buildings which played a huge role in our history, etc.
    also your depiction of Brighton as a family neighborhood isn’t so true anymore. We residents want that to be true but the reality is most of Brighton is now apts and converted homes for students and single working people due to out of control rents and college encroachments(I’m a fan of bu however as I see your expansion as a model of how universities should work with the community). There is so much more to Brighton than pubs please edit your story or repost another after you do more research on the actual historical significance of Brighton just like the Stockyard piece in regards to general Washington.

  • wendy on 01.26.2018 at 12:32 pm

    Can you please provide the exact location of the statues pictured at the top of this article on Brighton? It’s identified as Brighton Common, but I cannot identify any such place on a map and I live in the area. “Statues at Brighton Common. Photos by BU Photography”

    • Dennis J Casey on 07.17.2018 at 11:04 am

      They are directly next to the Senior Center at 20 Chestnut Hill Ave, Boston, MA 02135

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