June is Pride Month, an event-packed celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. Amid the parties, parades, and benefits, one still needs to eat. Allow this selection of standout restaurants to show you to your table. They serve everything from ceviche to steak tips to Viet Cajun seafood. And, with queer ownership and/or queer chefs, they offer a delicious way to enjoy, support, and show pride in the community.
A spirited gastropub and center of queer social life in Fields Corner, with drag and disco brunches, RuPaul viewing parties, and weekend dance nights. James Clements converted his family’s longtime pub, Peggy O’Neil’s, into Blend about five years ago and runs it with his partner, Luis Arzuaga. “It’s a small, family-owned business,” he says. “I grew up DJing and doing nightlife stuff, so I do the entertainment side. [Arzuaga] does the bar side” — including cocktails like the Burn Book (spicy tequila, elderflower liqueur, passionfruit, and lime), blood orange sangria, and, at brunch, an assortment of espresso martinis made with cold brew from nearby Reign Drink Lab. Chef Cesar Lopez takes care of the comfort food, with boozy French toast, eggs benedict, and breakfast burritos for brunch; messy tots, fried chicken sandwiches, and steak tips for dinner. In addition to the usual events, June brings special celebrations including a Heels for Hope fund-raiser for BAGLY (Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth) on June 1 and a Dot Pride High Noon Tea on June 5.
1310 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester. 617-265-8846, www.blenddorchester.com
A trip to Provincetown for Pride (June 3-5) wouldn’t be complete without a visit to The Canteen, the beachside institution Rob Anderson and husband Loic Rossignon opened nine years ago. You never know whom you’ll run into drinking frose, eating crispy Brussels sprouts and lobster rolls, and enjoying the festive al fresco scene. Stand in line, place your order, then find a spot to wedge in with all the other revelers. Also on the menu: tofu banh mi, crab Rangoon grilled cheese, fish tacos, and a perfect selection of summer cocktails. And don’t miss the rainbow layer cake, the Pride-iest dessert in all the land. When you need a break between beverages, stroll over and dip your toes in the water.
225 Commercial St., Provincetown. 508-487-3800, www.thecanteenptown.com
Dorchester standby dbar is the best of both worlds: a restaurant with a well-executed, crowd-pleasing menu, and a queer-friendly nightlife destination. It’s part of entrepreneur Brian Piccini and chef Chris Coombs’s Boston Urban Hospitality group, which also includes Boston Chops and Deuxave. But dbar came first, opening in 2005, a trailblazer on this stretch of Dot Ave. Come for the glazed grilled chicken wings, ricotta cavatelli, and honey-soy-ginger salmon with pea pod stems and jasmine rice; stay for the karaoke, Slay Saturday, and Sunday tea dances on the covered patio, a perfect COVID-era spot for brunch and cocktails.
1236 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester. 617-265-4490, www.dbarboston.com
This Downtown Crossing wine bar/snack-stravaganza/home of positive vibes and good music is the perfect place to nestle in for a stretch. There’s tinned fish galore. There are great little bites and specials — maybe tater tots with caviar and garlic sour cream, or a bright and elegant snap pea salad, or tautog crudo with rhubarb curd and tomatillo salsa, or Wiener Wednesdays where the hot dogs feature deeply unpredictable toppings. And, always, there is wine, with an ever-changing list from small producers. On June 17, there is also the second annual Pink Party, celebrating Pride, LGBTQ+ winemakers, and rose season all at the same time, with a raffle to benefit BAGLY. Owner Haley Fortier also operates nathálie, a swank sister wine bar in the Fenway.
haley.henry, 45 Province St., Downtown Crossing. 617-208-6000, www.haleyhenry.com; nathálie, 186 Brookline Ave., Fenway. 857-317-3884, www.nathaliebar.com
Nightshade Noodle Bar
Opened in 2019, this Vietnamese-inspired restaurant in Lynn is fighting its way through COVID to emerge stronger than ever. Chef-owner Rachel Miller runs the business with partner Alex Caruso, the GM and beverage director; although dishes are available a la carte, Nightshade’s true specialty is blind tasting menus, starting at seven courses and running up to 14. The meal might include grilled coconut sticky rice pops with brown butter tamarind pork floss, foie gras pate with amaro aspic and yuzu, Viet Cajun-style seafood, or kabocha rice cakes with green chile sauce and duck tongues. Or it might not! The surprise is part of the joy of the meal. Now open from the same team: Sin City Superette, with breakfast sandwiches and other prepared foods, groceries, and more. And starting up again this month is Nightshade Clam Shack, serving lunch on the restaurant patio.
73 Exchange St., Lynn. 781-780-9470, www.nightshadenoodlebar.com
As executive chef of the Envoy Hotel, Tatiana Rosana oversees the property’s Outlook Kitchen and Lookout Rooftop. Para Maria, launched a year ago, is her latest concept — a tribute to her grandmother Maria, who helped introduce her to cooking. Rosana, who grew up in a Cuban family in Miami, features ceviche, mojo pork tamales, whole fried fish with tomatillo sauce, and arroz con pollo on this menu; alongside tipples like the Patron Anejo Old Fashioned and Seaport Sangria, there is a thoughtful list of alcohol-free creations. Rosana is also the author of a new children’s story/cookbook, “Arlo and the Secret Ingredient,” inspired by the real-life Arlo, Tatiana and wife Alexis’s 2-year-old son.
Envoy Hotel, 70 Sleeper St., Seaport. 617-530-1538, www.paramaria.com
Growing up in the restaurant industry, Ritcey East chef-owner Max Ritcey understood better than most that the business can eat you alive — or it can give you a place and a purpose. Their parents owned Ritcey’s Seafood Kitchen in Waltham, which was open for 95 years before shuttering in 2005. “I think in the restaurant industry we’ve forgotten where we’ve come from,” Ritcey says. “It’s become so chef-driven, we forgot about hospitality. The whole reason people go to places like this is for community and to feel a belonging.” They witnessed this as a kid, seeing people come in alone, take a seat at the counter, and talk to their mom behind the counter. “It’s so powerful creating a safe space for people to come and be themselves.” That’s exactly what they’ve done with Ritcey East, opened in Watertown in 2017. It’s a restaurant for everyone, serving childhood favorites refashioned for adults: the Mini Mac burger, with secret sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame seed bun; the Hawt Diggity Dog 2.0, a wagyu hot dog with beer cheese, bacon, and French’s crispy onions; mac ‘n’ cheese topped with chicken nuggets and crumbled Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos. (But you’ll also find falafel, fish tacos, and salad with fennel-poached chilled salmon, along with wine, beer, and cocktails.) And it’s particularly welcoming to the queer community. Ritcey, who is trans, offers pronoun pins at the front door, so guests don’t have to specify which pronouns they use. “When I started transitioning, it was hard to say the words sometimes — ‘Oh, I’m using “they/them.”’ If I felt this way, other people feel this way too.” Ritcey’s favorite thing is when parents come in and take a pin to bring home for a child: “It gives me goosebumps.” On June 4, when Watertown and Waltham host Pride celebrations, Ritcey East will have an after-party with snacks, drinks, and a queer-focused DJ. The proceeds will go to Watertown High’s Gender Sexuality Alliance. The restaurant hosts a similar “TuesGay” event the first Tuesday of each month to benefit a charity, often the Trevor Project, which supports LGBTQ+ youth in crisis. “Helping younger people get situated is so important,” Ritcey says. “I struggled a long time, longer than I had to. We need mental health resources — for everyone, not only queer kids.”
208 Waverley Ave., Watertown. 617-744-0122, www.ritceyeast.com
Devra First can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.