Back in the day restaurants seen in Boston movies tended to be either superposh or ultra-gritty. On one hand you had the old-school café gnarliness immortalized in the cult 1973 crime drama, “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” starring Robert Mitchum. On the other, there was suave millionaire heist-meister Steve McQueen wining and dining Faye Dunaway, no expense spared, at Anthony’s Pier 4 in “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968).
Movie lovers hoping to revisit those films—foodie style—are sadly out of luck: Dillon’s bar in the Mitchum flick was shot at the long-gone Kentucky Tavern, now buried under a TJ Maxx at Mass. Avenue and Newbury Street; and Seaport’s Pier 4, once deemed one of the fanciest eateries in the U.S., no less, closed in 2013.
All is not lost. For starters, there’s another Pier 4 location, seen framing J-Law in “American Hustle,” (2013) just north of the city in Swampscott. What’s more, the recent surge of in-bound Hollywood productions—from 2016's “Patriots Day” to the upcoming “X Men: The New Mutants”—means there are more movie bars and eateries to choose from than ever before. So check out our list and tell your food to get ready for its close-up.
Much of quintessential Boston rom-sports flick "Fever Pitch" (2005) was actually shot in Toronto—what!—but Fever-heads should still head for Sonsie, the restaurant where Drew Barrymore (as Lindsey) meets her friends: the menu is unfailingly excellent, and it’s a reliable magnet for visiting sports stars and celebrities. In the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot, Kaze Shabu Shabu in Chinatown gets transformed into Zhu’s Authentic Hong Kong Food, which doubles as the busters’ HQ, and should be sought out on its real-life merits as an outstanding hot pot and Asian-fusion specialist.
If any Boston eaterie deserves a movie of its own, it’s Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe in the South End. Established in 1927, the joint has played host to the likes of Duke Ellington and Barack Obama over the years and has survived several supposedly terminal shutterings—it even survived the crew of the 2012 comedy “Ted.” If it’s not enough that Tom Cruise royally freaks out Cameron Diaz at Gaslight Brasserie du Coin in 2010 action-comedy “Knight and Day,” film lovers get the added bonus of an appearance in—you guessed it—“Ted” as the setting for a Boston double-date that goes pear-shaped and includes a joke about Quincy.
The L Street Tavern has had an overhaul since its role in 1997's “Good Will Hunting”—the movie that launched two Afflecks and one Damon, but the cameo is celebrated with enough paraphernalia to satisfy the most ardent of GWH groupies. And that Southie vibe from the movie? Pickled to perfection. Step into The Thirsty Scholar for a pint and you might one day become a multibillionaire. At the least, sit at the very table where Jesse Eisenberg opens “The Social Network” (2010) as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Order up a seafood curry in the tavernous gloaming as you admire the assorted paraphernalia (clapper board, signed poster).
A few Southie blocks north of the L St. Tavern you’ll find Murphy’s Law, where Casey Affleck gets into something rather more intense than an insolent lobster roll in “Gone Baby Gone,” the superlative 2007 neo-noir directed by Casey’s brother, Ben. In real life, it’s a fine spot for a Guinness or two. If you end up at Doyle’s Cafe in the movies, something big has either gone down or is about to go down. Check out cameo appearances in 2003's “Mystic River,” “21” (2008) or—for true cinephiles—"The Brink’s Job,” William Friedkin’s excellent 1978 heist movie.
Ben Affleck directs himself in the 2010 hometown robbery drama "The Town" and you should direct yourself toward one of the North End’s best eateries, Neptune Oyster. Choose the same window seats where Doug (Ben Affleck) meets with Claire (Rebecca Hall), and order something local and salty from the raw bar. OK, the appearance of Upper Crust in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winner, “The Departed,” (2006) belongs to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it variety: if this first-rate pizzeria were an actor, it would be ‘man hailing taxi.’ However, all is forgiven because the pizzas are awesome, made with market-fresh ingredients in the super-thin Neapolitan style.