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Our Man in Boston

Canadian author and linguist Steven Pinker takes us to his favourite spots.

Steven Pinker

A cognitive scientist and linguist who popularized his research in bestsellers such as How the Mind Works, Pinker released his latest book – The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined – last fall. When it comes to his Beantown hangouts, he says, “Boston’s kind of puritanical so the restaurants close early, but South Street Diner stays open all night and has, I think, the world’s best chicken quesadilla.”

Institute of Contemporary Art

1 Institute of Contemporary Art

I’m a big walker, and my favourite is the HarborWalk, beginning in the North End and ending at the ICA. The way the building cantilevers out over the water is amazing, and the view of the harbour from inside that space alone is worth the price of admission.
100 Northern Ave., 617-478-3100

2 Boston Beer Works

This microbrewery near the TD Garden is where I go before a Bruins–Canadiens hockey game. Being from Montreal I’m still a Habs fan, and I’m also more of a beer guy than a wine guy, which I suppose is very Canadian. Beer Works does great lagers, and you can also get a sampler flight. 
112 Canal St., 617-896-2337

3 Boston Harbor Cruises

On the day I defended my PhD 30 years ago, I celebrated by going on a booze cruise and still remember hearing the greatest jazz set on board by the Heath Brothers, bassist Percy Heath’s band. I love being out on the water looking across at the Custom House clock tower.
One Long Wharf, 617-227-4321

O Ya

4 O Ya

This hyper-gourmet sushi place is a wonderful splurge. The physical space – a converted century-old firehouse – is low-key and the sushi is very inventive: tea-brined dishes, squid ink bubbles, salmon seared with a crème brûlée torch. Each order comes on a unique plate, so successive dishes give you a visual feast of cool tableware.
9 East St., 617-654-9900

Photos: Max Gerber (Steven Pinker); Iwan Baan (1); Juan Carlos Santoro (2); Scott Dexter (4)

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