Boston, USA: The US capital of oysters, chowder and 'the best thing you'll ever eat'

When Pretty Little Liars actress Shay Mitchell mixed up her monikers and started referring to Chicago as Beantown, she was thoroughly called out on social media. While it could be argued the nickname might indeed suit the Windy City, Beantown is, and always has been, slang for none other than Boston. 

Intrepid 17th-century English pilgrims were said to have prepared their Boston baked beans with molasses, a variation on the Native American Indian dish of beans sweetened with local maple syrup. Maple trees are still tapped in these parts for their sap, and in recent years trendy artisanal syrup has found a popular following. Sample it in pure form, straight from a Massachusetts farm shop, and you'll never be satisfied with the cheap supermarket brands again.

Today, you can still find beans on some Boston menus, though you're much more likely to find seafood done 101 different ways. The largest city in New England, coastal Boston is proud of its abundance of fresh and delicious briny delights. Clams, lobsters and cod are turned into creamy chowder, fresh stuffed rolls and crunchy fish and chips at white-tablecloth restaurants and simple seafood shacks all over the city.

Laying claim to the distinction of the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the US, Union Oyster House has been shucking up the goods since 1826, when Americans on the east coast were in the midst of an oyster craze. The political royal Kennedy clan has been going there for years; there's even a Kennedy Booth dedicated to JFK's memory. Prices at Union Oyster House are reasonable enough – $US6.50 for fish chowder, $US15.95 for grilled fish tacos – to warrant ordering a few dishes to linger over at the bar.

For seafood takeaway with a touch of history, look no further than Faneuil Hall Marketplace. As a market and meeting hall, it's been part of the Boston cityscape since 1743. Encompassing three historic granite buildings, it's now a central part of the city, with shops, live entertainment and a popular food hall. At Quincy Market, Legal Fish Bowl is the latest offshoot of the Legal Sea Foods empire. It's a favourite of locals and tourists, serving up healthy dishes such as salmon poke bowls with sesame ginger salmon, brown rice and avocado.

Over on Salem Street, queues are guaranteed to start forming at the doors of Neptune Oyster before it opens at 11.30am. Be prepared for the sweet agony of indecision as the menu tempts the tastebuds with promises of Wellfleet oysters, spicy seafood stew and Nantucket swordfish laced with rose harissa.

The Neptune johnnycake – a strong contender for the title of the best thing you'll ever eat – has to be tasted to be believed. Similar in texture to a savoury pancake, the cornmeal flatbread is drizzled with honey butter and bears the delicious weight of a scoop of Boston smoked bluefish. Topped with sturgeon caviar, it is quite simply perfection on a plate.

TRIP NOTES

Kristie Kellahan travelled as a guest of Collette.

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traveller.com.au/boston

bostonusa.com

discovernewengland.org

FLY

From April 4, Hawaiian Airlines will fly direct between Honolulu and Boston Logan International Airport, five times a week. Non-stop services from Sydney and Brisbane to Honolulu connect with the Boston service, offering a convenient one-stop journey to the US east coast. See hawaiianairlines.com

STAY

The Boston Park Plaza Hotel has been serving up elegant hospitality in the heart of Boston for more than 90 years. A recent $US100 million renovation modernised the rooms and added pizzazz to the public areas. See bostonparkplaza.com

TOUR

Collette's eight-day Colours of New England tour includes two nights in Boston. See gocollette.com

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