Review by: Michael Stern


Like the Old North Church or the swan boats in the Public Garden, Durgin-Park is a Boston landmark. It is a tourist attraction and can be maddeningly crowded, but if you want true, dowdy New England food, there is no more authentic place to taste it.

Dinner begins with a square of grainy yellow cornbread. Then you can move on to such old favorites as lobster stew or Boston Schrod, or pot roast or pork loin. The house specialty is prime rib, a gargantuan cut that overhangs its plate. Side that with a mountain of mashed potatoes (into which the kitchen indelicately slides pats of butter, still in paper wrappers) and a scoop of fresh apple sauce, and you’ve got a mighty meal.

What could be more all-American than roast turkey with sage dressing … or New England boiled dinner of corned beef and cabbage? The beans Durgin-Park serves are real Boston baked beans, firm and silky, not too sweet, with a whiplash of molasses. The dessert list is tradition itself, featuring hot mince pie in the autumn, apple pan dowdy, deep dish apple pie, strawberry shortcake on a biscuit, and the quintessential Yankee dessert – Indian pudding, served warm, of course. Perhaps the weirdest thing on the dessert menu is coffee Jell-O … invented long ago because the management just hated to throw away pots of undrunk coffee at the end of the day. So they jelled it! And they jelled it without sugar! It’s actually kind of wonderful if you like coffee: cool, quivery, refreshing … and served under a mound of sweetened whipped cream.

The Fanueil Hall Market long ago became a modern urban grazing emporium, and Boston is a city rich with up-to-date, polite places to eat. Durgin-Park is not one of them. Its wide-open dining rooms, with brusque waitstaff and elbow-to-elbow communal tables, are neither modern nor polite. The food is old-fashioned, and nobody gets celebrity treatment. You like it or lump it. We like it!

What To Eat

Prime Rib

Boston Schrod

Baked Beans

Indian Pudding

Coffee Jello

Yankee Pot Roast

Apple Pan Dowdy

Corn Bread


Durgin-Park Recipes

Coffee Jell-O


What do you think of Durgin-Park?

4 Responses to “Durgin-Park”

Jennifer Larson

December 27th, 2012

Cold and hungry, our family of six found refuge here after walking the Freedom Trail the day after Christmas.

Hot chocolate was served with a generous dollop of homemade whipped cream, and cider with a cinnamon stick warmed us up nicely. Twice-cooked potato skins followed, topped with bacon, melted cheddar, and diced tomato and onion, with sour cream on the side. The hearts of baby iceberg salad layered diced bacon, tomatoes, and blue cheese crumbles with blue cheese dressing on the side. The garden salad was crisp and fresh, yet not noteworthy.

My husband had the Boston schrod, topped with breadcrumbs and baked; talk about tender and flaky. It was served with butternut squash (which I thought was heavenly), and wonderful mashed potatoes. I had the fish cakes, which reminded me of ones my grandma used to make with salt cod, onions, and potatoes, fried up in the skillet. Maybe I was feeling sentimental, but I could find fault with nothing.

Two of the kids had the chicken pot pie that was really a bowl of chicken stew with a piece of puff pastry floating on top, not the traditional pie crust baked over the top. They liked it, though they thought the broth was a little bland. My ten year old son had the cheeseburger from the children’s menu, served with fries. This was a very large burger, and he could only eat half of it. My youngest got the macaroni and cheese from the children’s menu, and it was made from scratch, and baked.

I had the coffee Jello, hoping for more of that whipped cream on top, and wasn’t disappointed. The Jello itself wasn’t sweetened, but I loved that contrast between the coffee and the sweet cream. One son had the Boston cream pie: fresh, soft yellow cake, vanilla pudding layer, with a semi-sweet ganache on top. The Indian pudding was an experience all by itself, made from corn meal baked with milk, molasses and brown sugar, topped with vanilla ice cream. I love the flavor of molasses, and will be returning just for the Indian pudding.


Ben Weiner

September 11th, 2012

I understand that Durgin-Park is truly one of the most historic restaurants in the country. Located in Boston’s famous Faneuil Hall, Durgin-Park has served Yankee cooking since 1827. However, upon my recent visit to Boston, I was not very impressed with the food at Durgin.

I started with a cup of Boston clam chowder, which was decent by most standards; subpar by Boston’s. I also split the famous 48-ounce prime rib, which was a very good cut of meat, even a little on the leaner side for prime rib, but nothing extraordinary. Sides of Boston baked beans and mashed potatoes were also nothing to brag about.

For dessert, it’s hard to leave Durgin without trying two of their most peculiar items, coffee Jell-O and Indian pudding. The coffee Jell-O is definitely something I don’t see myself trying again in the future, and I still have a hard time, to this day, figuring out if the pudding’s unique taste was something that I enjoy or strongly dislike. It’s a cool eating experience, not extraordinary food. Check this one off your Roadfood bucket list and move on.


Bret Bicoy

October 1st, 2009

A dinner for four with appetizers cost me $90 on a recent trip to Boston. Not an unreasonable amount of money for a nice dinner, but this was anything but nice.

I had their “famous” prime rib, which maybe is famous for its absolute lack of flavor. It was so horrible that I left 75% of it on the plate. My wife had fish and chips, which she said tasted like batter and chips. And the worst part, the batter was completely without flavor. The baked beans were bland at best.

My mom joined us and had shrimp, which was mediocre, but at least wasn’t horrible like my prime rib. And my daughter opted for spaghetti, which tasted like little more that tomato sauce.

Durgin-Park is bland at best, and downright awful at its worst. And given the cost, you’d be better off saving a few bucks and eating at one of the vendors in nearby Quincy Market. Literally, the meal was so bad, and we ate so little, that we all grabbed some dessert in Quincy Market because we were still hungry. Seriously, we had them wrap up our generous leftovers and we gave them to a homeless person on the walk back to our waterfront hotel.

Durgin-Park survives on its quaint reputation for rude waitresses (which was funny, because the only thing pleasant about our meal was our nice waitress) and lots of food. Their portions are huge, but unfortunately, largely inedible. We travel extensively, and eat out all the time. We love quaint restaurants with their own oddities, and also enjoy fine dining at high-end restaurants. We’re not that picky! But this restaurant was, by far, the worst place we have eaten in our ten years of marriage.


Frederick Nachman

December 17th, 2007

I ate at Durgin-Park as a kid visiting Boston in the early ’60s and it was a real treat. In the late ’60s and ‘early ’70s, I ate here as a college student. I’d get a plate of fried oysters for 99 cents and walk over to the Garden for a Celtics game. We next returned on a family vacation in the early ’90s and the food was so-so, to say the least. My brother and his family, visiting later from Denver, had the same experience.

I was last there in March, when I had some time to kill before taking in a Bruins game. Just wanting to see the place, I walked upstairs and the dining rooms that were open were half-empty. A plate of franks and beans went by that looked as if you could have boiled the dogs and opened a can of beans yourself; my home offering of that dish looked more appetizing. With that, I headed back to the Garden, forever disappointed that an icon from my past had seen its better days… much better days.


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