Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Telegraph Hill

289 Dorchester Street, South Boston, MA, 02127
(617) 269-5200 Find location!

Photo of Telegraph Hill, South Boston, MA It seems like so many restaurants and bars that have opened in South Boston over the past decade have been upscale places, trendy hotspots, or massive eating and drinking establishments (with the latter especially being found in the Seaport District, which, yes, is considered South Boston). But among the long lines and ultra-loud rooms are a few quiet, lower-key spots that feel like throwbacks to the old Southie, including one called Telegraph Hill, a humble little tavern located in a slightly out-of-the-way area that hasn't quite been discovered yet. And while this spot has the look and feel of an old-school Southie saloon, it actually fuses together some of the best aspects of dive bars, neighborhood hangouts, and, yes, upscale places, and turns it into a place that appeals to a wide audience.

Telegraph Hill is located in, well, Telegraph Hill, but that actually isn't completely true, as it resides on the lower end of Dorchester Street a few blocks east of Andrew Square in an area that could really be considered the Columbus Park/Andrew Square section of South Boston. The place looks inviting from the outside, though since this part of Southie was once home to many dive bars, it is easy to mistake Telegraph Hill for a sketchy little taproom, which it is definitely not. The inside is modern-looking and inviting, with an abundance of blonde wood giving it a bright and cheery vibe, while sconces and attractive hanging lights add to the homey feel of the place. Seating options include mostly high-tops and bar seating, though there are a couple of low-top tables as well, and the back area can be set up for larger groups, with a big TV screen situated in that section as well as smaller televisions along the bar and in the rest of the dining area.

The food offerings at Telegraph Hill go well beyond that of your typical old-fashioned Southie bar, as it strays into New American here and there while also remaining firmly planted in the categories of comfort food, pub grub, and classic American fare. A lot of the food here is scratch-made, including excellent takes on clam chowder, tomato soup, Caesar and Vermont goat cheese salads, fried pickles, and macaroni and cheese, along with fried buffalo mozzarella with panko breading, an outstanding pan-seared black pastrami sandwich, a marvelous potato skin pizza (which is only on special), fish tacos, a tender meatloaf sandwich, chicken parm with a heaping helping of spaghetti on the side, shepherd's pie with focaccia herb bread, and for dessert, a decadent brownie sundae and a similarly diet-busting plate of fried dough. The star of the show here, however, is a very interesting one, as Telegraph Hill claims to have the recipe for The Quiet Man's steak tips. For those who don't know, The Quiet Man was a legendary dive bar by the Broadway T station that served up what some considered to be the best tips in the entire Boston area, and even though that place is long gone, its tips live on at 16C in Quincy, and apparently at this spot as well. And the verdict? Well, this writer has tried the steak tips at the old Quiet Man and these are a lot like the tips there, which is to say that they do approach the greatness of the best steak tips in the region, including the nearby Seapoint in Southie along with the Newbridge Cafe and Floramo's in Chelsea, mainly for the quality of the meat, the char imparted on them from the grill, and the marinade, which doesn't overwhelm the meat but which still has a terrific flavor. Telegraph Hill has a decent selection of beer and wine, and it also has a full bar for those who like shots, cocktails, and the like.

Telegraph Hill is a good option for those who are looking to have food and drink in Southie but don't really want hip or trendy--and don't really want to be in a dive bar, either. Indeed, the place is a classic "middle ground" spot that caters to everyone from townies to newcomers to workers, couples, retirees, and perhaps families as well, though the relative lack of low-top tables may keep it from being truly family-friendly. In a neighborhood that has both packed-to-the-gills media darlings and stare-at-your-drink gin mills, it is nice to have a restaurant and bar that simply is what it is--a friendly place to get a bite to eat and a drink or two while soaking up a bit of both the old and the new feel of Southie.