The Perfect 24 Hours In Boston

Restaurateur and chef Barbara Lynch shares her must-visit spots in the city

Longtime chef and restaurateur Barbara Lynch is largely responsible for putting Boston's food scene on the map. With roots in South Boston, Lynch started out working under chefs like Todd English for many years. In 1998, she opened her first restaurant, No. 9 Park, followed by six more establishments, including casual and fine dining restaurants and even a butcher shop. Her undeniably impressive career received recognition when she was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurateur in 2014.

Dreaming about our next trip to Boston, we knew we had to talk to someone who knows the city inside and out. If there's anyone who knows how to spend 24 hours in Boston, it's Lynch. Here's how she recommends you spend your day.

9 a.m. Darwin's Ltd., Cambridge

For an early morning caffeine fix, head to this local coffee shop. It's where Lynch frequents when she isn't making breakfast at home (cooking up what she calls "doggie eggs": three poached eggs served with thick-torn bacon and rustic toast that's been rubbed in garlic, a dish she learned from Ihsan Gurdal at Formaggio). If you happen to find yourself at Darwin's for lunch, Lynch suggests The Irving, a hot pastrami sandwich with Russian dressing, on toasted seven-grain bread.

Photo: Darwin's Ltd. via Facebook

10:15 a.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Fenway

Jump in a cab and ride along the Charles River, past Boston University to the Fenway-Kenmore area. Lynch loves this neighborhood. "I never spent time there as a young girl," she says. "I'm used to Downtown, so this is always refreshing to me." You'll soon find yourself on the steps of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), another one of Lynch's favorites—she's close friends with one of the curators. The MFA houses more than 450,000 works of art, celebrating artists from prehistoric times to the present. Go ahead and get lost in them.

Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

11:15 a.m. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Fenway

Just a quick two-minute walk around the corner from MFA is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, home to some of the world's most extraordinary art collections and where Lynch says she brushes up on her history of Boston's upper-class elite, known as the Boston Brahmins.

Photo: Sean Dungan

12:30 p.m. Babbo Pizzeria, Seaport

You've certainly built up an appetite from all that walking and exploring, so it's time for a break, and according to Lynch, "A great afternoon in Boston would be lunch at Babbo." There's a few ways to get to the pizzeria; you can hop on the Green Line E train and head downtown toward the Seaport area. The travel will be worth it for the wine list alone. Lynch recommends ordering an assortment of small plates, including the roasted beets and pistachios, and bucatini all'amatriciana. And according to Lynch, lunch should always be "capped with a double espresso!"

Photo: Kelly Campbell

3 p.m. The Institute of Contemporary Art and Store, Seaport

It's time to stretch your legs with a stroll around the Seaport. This area has been rapidly expanding over the past few years with new restaurants, bars, hotels and condos. Explore the art exhibitions at the ICA and pick up a few souvenirs in the well-curated gift shop. "With such a diverse group of friends and a large family, I usually head to the ICA Store for gifts or books," Lynch says.

Photo: Danita Jo

5:30 p.m. Drink, Fort Point/Seaport

Time for a cocktail yet? Luckily, right around the corner from the ICA is Drink, Lynch's favorite place for a predinner cocktail. You just tell the bartender what you like, and he'll whip up something unique for you. Another option with an upscale atmosphere is the bar at the Four Seasons in Back Bay.

Photo: Brian Samuels

7 p.m. haley.henry, Downtown Crossing

For dinner, it's back downtown to this new wine bar, opened by Haley Fortier, who worked with Lynch at Sportello. There are seven types of tinned fish on the menu, from smoked Washington oysters to Lisbon sardines. "Although everything comes out of a tin and I used to be a pouch kind of girl, I'm still dying to try it," Lynch says. "It sounds cool and original."

Photo: Brian Samuels

Now that you know how a Boston chef does Boston, what are you waiting for?