Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Scup's in the Harbour [CLOSED]

256 Marginal Street (Building 16), East Boston, MA 02128
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--- Winner, Best American Restaurant in Boston Area, 2010 ---

Photo of Scup's in the Harbour, East Boston, MA Over the years, we have featured a number of dining spots in rather interesting locations, including a restaurant hidden underneath another restaurant (Pizza in Piazza in Winchester), a place near the end of what seems like a main road but simply peters out at the water (Louis' Crossing in Quincy), and an eatery inside a gas station (Villa Mexico on the edge of Beacon Hill in Boston). But a restaurant inside a security fence that requires drivers to tell a uniformed guard where they are going? It is strange but true, perhaps having Scup's in East Boston take the prize as the restaurant with the most unusual location in the Greater Boston area.

Scup's in the Harbour is located within the Boston Harbor Shipyard in the Jeffries Point section of East Boston, within walking distance of the beautiful Piers Park (which has a spectacular skyline view of Boston). But even though Piers Park and Scup's are pretty much within sight of each other, if you don't know the area, it is easy to assume that the guard booth at the end of Marginal Street means "Keep Out." But this is simply not true, as strollers, scuba diving students, and (in the case of Scup's) diners are all welcome in this compact area of warehouses, docks and boats. (You can also access the area by foot from the other side, coming from the tip of Jeffries Point by Porzio Park.) Scup's is pretty easy to find once you're in the shipyard, as it is located in a big brick building in the middle of the area, complete with a prominent vertical sign and picnic tables out front for outdoor dining when the weather is favorable. The inside of the restaurant is tiny, with a few stools and a long communal table downstairs, and a bathroom upstairs.

Scup's used to have very limited hours, but it is now open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Friday, brunch and lunch on Saturdays, and brunch on Sundays (it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays at the time of this writing). The menu varies from day to day, and depending on when you arrive, they may be out of items that they had earlier in the day, but there are indeed enough options at Scup's to keep most folks happy. Included on the lunch and dinner menus are such items as empanadas that are crunchy on the outside and have lots of interesting fillings (the beef, bacon, mushroom, and cheese empanada is tremendous); hot dogs with a very light "snap" and a rich flavor from being steamed with juniper berries and apple juice (the sweet-tasting red relish is a great option for the hot dogs, by the way); an outstanding BLT with creamy basil pesto, sharp Vermont cheddar cheese, thick pieces of cherry wood smoked bacon, roasted grape tomatoes, and red leaf lettuce, all stuffed into grilled whole wheat bread; tuna and turkey sandwich options that include some of the same ingredients (grape tomatoes, bacon) that the BLT has; a grilled cheese sandwich with an unusual sweet-and spicy bacon along with hot mustard, and entrees that may or may not be available (depending on the day) such as macaroni and cheese, a Moroccan sandwich, vegetable lasagna, baked cod, meat loaf, and baked ham. Desserts are freshly made and include an apple crumb cake with loads of apple slices and a crunchy, sugary crust, and one of the tastiest carrot cakes this writer has had, with the cream cheese frosting on the side putting it over the top. Beer and wine are offered at Scup's, with a handful of local microbrews available.

Scup's is one of those restaurants that is easy to fall in love with. The folks who work there are friendly and personable, the prices won't break anyone's bank, the views of the harbor and the surrounding buildings are memorable, and its unusual location makes you feel like you're the only one who knows about it. If our site had a "Hidden Restaurant Hall of Fame" (and perhaps it will someday!), Scup's would certainly be in the running to be in it.