Roxbury

Neighborhood Guide

Sharing borders with South End, Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, and Dorchester, Roxbury is located in the geographic heart of Boston. Once a bucolic farming community on Boston’s outskirts, Roxbury has long since transformed into a commercial and residential neighborhood. Roxbury has been known for its cultural diversity throughout its history, attracting waves of immigrants beginning in the mid 19th century. The second great migration of African-Americans from the south in the 1940s and 50s made Roxbury a predominantly Black neighborhood.

 

Today, it continues to be the center of Boston’s African American community. Hispanic, Caribbean, and Asian families as well as young professionals also call the neighborhood home. Though experiencing a period of decline in the 60s and 70s, community groups and new construction have revitalized the area. However with these changes, gentrification and displacement have become a greater concern. Full of history, culture, and good eats, here are a few recommendations on what to do around Roxbury.

 

* Denotes Black-owned Business

Eat

Roxbury’s diverse population ensures a variety of cuisines from Trinidadian and Ethiopian, to Latin American and Southern. The eateries below are just a small sample of Roxbury favorites!

Credit: Dudley Cafe

Dudley Cafe

A popular local cafe since opening in 2015, Dudley serves up drinks, sandwiches, and other quick bites to support its art and youth empowerment focused mission. Be on the lookout for the cafe’s regularly hosted performances, trivia nights, and exhibitions.

15 Warren St

Credit: Suya Joint

Suya Joint*

Suya Joint specializes in West African cuisine, founded by Nigerian Chef Cecelia Lizotte. The menu features traditional Nigerian dishes such as stews featuring fish, goat, beef, or chicken and spicy suya kebabs.

185 Dudley St

 

Credit: Boston Magazine

Ali’s Roti Restaurant

💎⚡️IP’s Hidden Gem: Open Wednesday through Saturday, this casual restaurant serves West Indian–Trinidadian cuisine including its namesake roti flat bread. This place is small (really – 22 seats) and fills up quickly so there might be a short wait but trust us it’s worth it.

1035 Tremont St

Credit: Andria Lo

Fasika Cafe*

Owner Defar hails from Addis Ababa, finding his way to Boston after attending culinary school in Switzerland. He and his family are passionate about sharing Ethiopian dishes with the neighborhood, sourcing spices in bulk directly from Ethiopia. You can’t go wrong selecting a dish, but make sure you’re eating everything with the injera, a spongy, tangy flatbread that’s the ultimate companion to Defar’s savory stews.

51 Roxbury St

Visit

Full of green spaces, colonial history, and arts and culture, here are a few noteworthy sites in Roxbury. Also see the newly renovated Boston Public Library Roxbury Branch in Nubian Square and Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, New England’s largest mosque.

Franklin Park

Named the “crown jewel” of Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace Parks, this urban oasis connects Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan and Roxbury. The park features multiple trails, a golf course, sports fields, and large forested areas.

One Franklin Park Rd

Credit: NCAAA

National Center Afro-American Artists

Founded in 1968, the NCAAA celebrates the heritage of the African-American and African diasporan cultures in the visual and performing arts. The museum puts on a range of exhibitions and performances throughout the year.

300 Walnut Ave

 

Credit: Historic Boston Inc

Shirley-Eustis House

A piece of history from Boston’s colonial past, the Shirley-Eustis House was built in bucolic Roxbury in 1747 by William Shirley, the Royal Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The house offers tours of the estate and hosts events. See also: Dillaway-Thomas House built in 1750.

33 Shirley St

Credit: John Tlumacki/ Boston Globe

Frugal Bookstore*

The first black owned bookstore in Boston, Frugal Bookstore started off as a selection of books as a part of a furniture store. With their own brick and mortar space since 2006, this community fixture is dedicated to carrying diverse authors and hosts after hours programming.

57 Warren St

 

Do

From visiting the zoo to going on a distillery tour, here’s what to do in Roxbury. Also see Roxbury Int’l Film Festival, a 10-day summertime international fest highlighting work from breakout POC filmmakers and artists.

Credit: Freddy Eduardo

Franklin Park Zoo

The 72 acre zoo, founded in 1912, is located in Franklin Park. The zoo features more than 220 species of animals in a variety of habitats along with a Children’s Zoo, a seasonal Butterfly Landing, a carousel, train rides, and snack bars.

One Franklin Park Rd

Credit: Maya Rafie

Boston Art & Music Soul Festival

An annual summer music festival celebrating Black and Brown arts and music in Boston, started by Catherine T. Morris. BAMS Fest has become one of Boston’s biggest cultural celebrations.

 

Credit: Conde Nast

Tour @ Bully Boy Distillery

Bully Boy, Boston’s first distillery since Prohibition, was founded by brothers Will and Dave Willis in 2011. They offer scheduled tours of the facilities and invite guests to sip on custom cocktails in their Tasting Room Thursday through Sunday.

44 Cedric St

Credit: Hibernian Hall

Events @ Hibernian Hall

Formerly a meeting and dance hall for Irish immigrants in Roxbury, Hibernian Hall has found a new life as a venue for music, theater, and community programs.

15 Warren St

Organizations

A spotlight on a few of the organizations that make up the Roxbury community.

Isenberg Projects Make It Happen Residency

Every year, we provide pro bono agency hours, as well as support and mentorship, to small businesses and organizations looking to maximize their impact in the community! We have worked with two incredible Roxbury-based youth development organizations.

In 2022, Future Chefs was the first organization to participate in our Make it Happen Residency and in 2023 we teamed up with YouthBuild Boston to help them with an exercise on a branding and identity design.

Read more about our experience working with Future Chefs.

 

Credit: Future Chefs

Future Chefs

Located in Roxbury’s Blue Hill neighborhood, Future Chefs provides after school programming to Boston high schoolers in the culinary arts. In this paid program students learn professional and life skills through cooking, and receive continued support after program completion. Get involved by donating or visiting their new space on Blue Hill Ave.

305 Blue Hill Ave

Credit: Youth Build Boston

Youth Build Boston

YouthBuild Boston has been operating out of Roxbury’s Fort Hill since 1990 with the goal of empowering young people of color with the essential skills to build careers in the construction industry. Their recently opened Designery on Centre Street aims to expand programming to prepare students for the design and architecture industry. IP has partnered with YouthBuild during our 2023 Make it Happen resident as well as the kiosk design competition at 10 World Trade.

27 Centre St

Credit: Roxbury Youth Programs

Roxbury Youth Programs

Roxbury Youth Programs (RYP) is an out-of-school-time youth development center housed at the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry. They uplift and support young folks of Roxbury and Boston by creating pathways to social and economic success. IP collaborated with student interns in 2023 through a series of workshops resulting in the development of a fresh visual identity.

10 Putnam St

 

Credit: Bay State Banner

Haley House

Roxbury and South End based, Haley House serves the houseless, food insecure, and low income population through its soup kitchen, food pantry bakery cafe, affordable housing, programming, and urban farm. Support this org by volunteering time, monetary or in-kind donations, or stopping by Haley House Cafe for a drink or bite.

12 Dade St

Credit: SIDE Presents

SIDE Presents

SIDE Presents was founded in 2019 by two young creative women with a passion for developing, organizing, and producing meaningful events. SIDE events are innovative, dynamic, and engaging – always bringing a creative spark to the community. Recently awarded through the SPACE Grant program, SIDE will receive ARPA funding to open up a brick and mortar storefront in Boston, their first creative HQ!

Credit: DSNI

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI)

“DSNI’s mission is to empower Dudley residents to organize, plan for, create and control a vibrant, diverse and high-quality neighborhood in collaboration with community partners.” DSNI owns and operates a community land trust and invites residents to sit on its board.

550 Dudley St

Credit: TACC

The American City Coalition (TACC)

The American City Coalition works closely with the Roxbury neighborhood to improve quality of life for the community through projects that focus on economic development and workforce development. They also make sure that Roxbury residents have equitable access to Boston’s waterfront through advocacy and creative programs that encourage people to enjoy water-based activities like kayaking.

2136 Washington St