The vibe: You’ll know when you’re close to Giacomo’s because you’ll be able to see the line outside stretching down the block. This no-reservations, cash-only spot is the quintessential North End experience. The chalkboard menus hanging in the tiny brick dining room offer every kind of meat/sauce/pasta combination you could dream of.
What to get: The Fra Diavolo sauce is worth whatever line you just braved.
Anything to avoid?: Don’t expect to be able to sit and linger after your meal without being glared at by both the waitstaff and the line stretching in front of the windows.
The vibe: This cash-only, lunch-only cult classic is quick, cheap, and casual.
What to get: Locals and tourists alike swear by the (nationally acclaimed!) slices of Sicilian pizza for under $2; also try the Arancini and Panzarotti.
Anything to avoid?: Showing up late -- Umberto closes their doors as soon as they are sold out.
La Famiglia Giorgios
The vibe: Specializing in enormous family-style plates, La Famiglia Giorgios won't let you leave hungry.
What to get: Chicken Marsala, Chicken Parmigiana, Chicken anything. Seriously, it’s hard to go wrong here. Plus, it's one of the few spots in the area that has decent gluten-free options, and you know someone in your group will have just started that noise.
Anything to avoid?: Over ordering -- portions really are huge here.
Trattoria di Monica
The vibe: This is your standard North End spot; just small enough to make you feel like you’ve just discovered a great secret as you bump elbows with your fellow diners in the tight quarters.
What to get: Keep your eyes peeled for rotating specials like squid ink fettuccine.
Anything to avoid?: Irritating the waitstaff… they can make your wait for a table excruciating. If possible, avoid coming at prime times during the weekends to evade those famous lines.