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Boston: in general

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  • Boston: in general

    Post #1 - January 23rd, 2011, 10:40 am
    Post #1 - January 23rd, 2011, 10:40 am Post #1 - January 23rd, 2011, 10:40 am
    So having just pawed through the various Boston-related threads here, I'm astonished to find no "general" Boston thread. There are several fairly specific threads and widespread agreement on Neptune Oyster House and perhaps on O Ya, but I was surprised that there seems to be no thread devoted to dining in Boston "in general." (Yes, I did glean the names of some places from several of the threads but those recommendations are relatively few and far between and also at least a year old or more.)

    I used to get to Boston more frequently and once upon a time, I had a reasonably accurate, reasonably current sense of what to get and where to get it. But I haven't been in a decade and have no intention on relying on my memory.

    We'll have two lunches and two dinners over the course of a long weekend and my initial thoughts are seafood (duh) and Italian/Sicilian (duh again). We probably will not hit Neptune simply because we're just not huge fans of raw bars, etc. Fancy is fine. So is "downmarket." No: we won't be visiting Durgin Park because I don't think that the Lovely Dining Companion would really enjoy it. And based on my reading of scattered posts here, we won't be going to O Ya either (a multiplicity of reasons). Oh, and quality notwithstanding, I'm not sure I'm ready to go to Legal Seafood. Anyone been to Locke-Ober in the past decade? (I fear the answer.)

    That said, what can you recommend?
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #2 - January 23rd, 2011, 1:16 pm
    Post #2 - January 23rd, 2011, 1:16 pm Post #2 - January 23rd, 2011, 1:16 pm
    A list of favorites from our brief stint there last fall:

    Craigie on Main
    Casualish fine dining. We had a fantastic meal there. Tony Maws is a hell of a chef. This is the first place I'd send somebody for a nice dinner.

    Kelly's Roast Beef
    For lobster rolls. This may be my favorite thing I ate in the six months we were there. I understand the original location in Revere is the best, and that's the only one I've been to. I don't believe you said when you'd be going, so be warned that there's no indoor seating. Just picnic tables outside, and on the beach across the street.

    The Clam Box
    A fun drive up to Ipswich for huge, juicy fried clams and other fried seafood. Plenty of indoor seating, but they're closed for a stretch during the winter, so check before you go.

    Embarrassingly, we had to skip town before we had a chance to get into the North End. Shameful, I know.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #3 - January 25th, 2011, 7:29 am
    Post #3 - January 25th, 2011, 7:29 am Post #3 - January 25th, 2011, 7:29 am
    Still my favorite spot in Boston:
    No Name Restaurant
    15 Fish Pier
    Boston, MA 02210
    (617) 423-2705
    http://www.nonamerestaurant.com/
    Simple, fresh, affordable seafood in a casual atmosphere.
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #4 - January 25th, 2011, 8:16 am
    Post #4 - January 25th, 2011, 8:16 am Post #4 - January 25th, 2011, 8:16 am
    The Daily Catch is a great spot for seafood. I don't think they take reservations and they get very crowded so plan ahead. I've only been to the North End location, not sure about the others.

    http://www.dailycatch.com/

    And I second the recommendation for Craigie on Main. I haven't been, but all my friends in Boston rave about it. It's at the top of my to-visit list next time I'm there.

    http://www.craigieonmain.com/
  • Post #5 - January 25th, 2011, 10:48 am
    Post #5 - January 25th, 2011, 10:48 am Post #5 - January 25th, 2011, 10:48 am
    Ahhhh, my fair city. Here are some ideas to put in your hopper:

    - skip red sauce Italian joints (and pretty much the whole North End, save for Neptune Oyster and maybe the Daily Catch) and head for Erbaluce, a small and cozy Piedmontese place with a focus on fresh seafood, abundant herbs, and recently lots and lots of truffles. The chef is also a wine savant and will share his deep and profound knowledge of the wines of his region if you only ask.

    - everyone comes to Boston looking for seafood, and ironically it's not a great "seafood restaurant" town, but there is plenty of good stuff to be found. In addition to Neptune, one of my new favorites is Island Creek Oyster Bar, located near Fenway. In addition to the eponymous local oysters, they do amazing things with seafood of all sorts, including some killer razor clams I had last time, and an oyster stew that will cure what ails you. Please skip Legal's.

    - friends of mine enjoy Locke-Ober for a once a year old skool lunch, but it wouldn't be on my short list for a trip to Boston. The chef Lydia Shire has opened a delightful restaurant Scampo in the Liberty Hotel which was a former jail near Charles Street. The menu is an interesting mix of wood grilled pizzas, amazing breads, housemade pasta and a great mozzarella bar. If you want an old Boston experience, Marliave is worth popping into for a drink.

    I'll think of more ideas for you, but that's a start.

    Erbaluce
    69 Church Street
    (617) 426-6969

    Island Creek Oyster Bar
    500 Commonwealth Avenue
    (617) 532-5300

    Scampo
    215 Charles Street
    (617) 536-2100

    Marliave
    10 Bosworth Street
    (617) 422-0004
  • Post #6 - January 25th, 2011, 11:12 am
    Post #6 - January 25th, 2011, 11:12 am Post #6 - January 25th, 2011, 11:12 am
    You didn't mention when you'd be visiting, but fried clams are our thing. (Our other "thing" is ice cream, with the highest per capita ice cream consumption in the nation. Go figure.) The best fried clams are found at clam shacks on the North Shore, which happens to be a beautiful drive from Boston, but most are closed until the spring. However, Neptune does really legit fried oysters, and is one of my favorite places for a long late lingering lunch. There is much on the menu beyond raw bar, so do keep it in mind.
  • Post #7 - January 25th, 2011, 12:28 pm
    Post #7 - January 25th, 2011, 12:28 pm Post #7 - January 25th, 2011, 12:28 pm
    porklet wrote:You didn't mention when you'd be visiting....


    A very good point. We'll be there April 1 through April 4. Sadly, that means we're in town and looking for (lunch and) dinner on a Friday and a Saturday.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #8 - January 25th, 2011, 1:58 pm
    Post #8 - January 25th, 2011, 1:58 pm Post #8 - January 25th, 2011, 1:58 pm
    Neptune is a must visit. We always make it to East Ocean City Rest. 27 Beach St. Great Chinese seafood. And Boston has great chinese.
  • Post #9 - January 27th, 2011, 6:56 pm
    Post #9 - January 27th, 2011, 6:56 pm Post #9 - January 27th, 2011, 6:56 pm
    I would strongly recommend Erbaluce as well. I went last April and was very impressed by how fresh, well-balanced, creative, and delicious all the food was. The pastas, particularly those with seafood, were especially great.
  • Post #10 - February 27th, 2011, 4:05 pm
    Post #10 - February 27th, 2011, 4:05 pm Post #10 - February 27th, 2011, 4:05 pm
    I hope you can have one of your lunches at Yoma - a Burmese restaurant in the neighbourhood known as Allston/Brighton. There are few Burmese restaurants in the country. Yoma is run by a husband and wife team who hail from the Shan and Yangon regions, respectively. Burmese cuisine, in general, does not go the extremes of heat or sourness etc of its neighbouring country's cuisines, and I think such comparisons result in a lack of appreciation for what the cuisine really is. The cooking at Yoma is also not as aggressively flavoured, even by Burmese standards, but that is not to say it's dumbed down or even tame, by any means. This is a cuisine of customization, so be sure to ask for limes, balachung, chilis, and all the fixins for mixin'. It's very homey and you will no doubt find the cooking to be full of real soul. I didn't grow up on this cuisine, but it feels like home to me. For several months, I was having my Sunday suppers from Yoma, every week, religiously.

    ImageImageImageImage

    Yoma
    5 North Beacon Street.
    Allston, MA 02134
    617.783.1372

    ---

    2146 north wrote:Neptune is a must visit.


    This tends to be the general consensus, no doubt. However, I feel as though the requisite recommendation should come with a requisite disclaimer. Neptune is located in the North End, which is basically a Disneyland of mostly middling red-sauce shops. Expect it to be crawling with tourists on any given weekend. Expect most of these tourists to have read about Neptune. Expect a long line of tourists at Neptune. Expect Neptune to be cranking out dozens of oysters for every table of tourists, and do not expect all your oysters to have been shucked to perfection. I've got nothing against tourists. :wink: I realize you are not that interested in raw bars, but I'll echo porklet's suggestion above for Island Creek Oyster Bar. They're still relatively new, so no bad behaviour has been adopted yet - they are procuring the finest oysters around and handling them flawlessly.

    ---

    (more suggestions forthcoming.....)
  • Post #11 - February 28th, 2011, 8:48 am
    Post #11 - February 28th, 2011, 8:48 am Post #11 - February 28th, 2011, 8:48 am
    I lived and went to school in Boston, and know it well.

    An above poster recommended The Daily Catch, and I'll 2nd it. Fantastic fresh seafood in the North End in a small cozy setting. No reservations so lines can get long, but it's worth it. It is a bit touristy...but The Union Oyster House has the best seafood newburg and boston cream pie anywhere.

    Across the street (literally) from The Daily Catch is Giacomo's, which is a very good and inexpensive Italian spot in the North End which also doesn't take reservations but is worth the effort. If you don't mind spending a little more on your Italian food, Mamma Maria is great.

    For Mexican, Casa Romero in the Back Bay is great and really "hidden" under the best French restaurant in Boston: L'Espalier.

    For steaks you're best bet is Grill23. Very good but pricey.

    The Public House in Brookline is the best beer bar in the city.

    Everyone loves The Upper Crust's pizza in Beacon Hill because Jack Welch called it his favorite pizza once...it's not that good.

    A tip for the first time traveler: Don't even think about going to the "Cheers" bar. It's not the same bar and is a tourist trap.

    I'm sure I'll think of more later...
  • Post #12 - February 28th, 2011, 3:36 pm
    Post #12 - February 28th, 2011, 3:36 pm Post #12 - February 28th, 2011, 3:36 pm
    The one thing I'm missing in all these recommendations--I didn't think to ask so now I'm remedying that oversight--is Portuguese. Since we don't have it in Chicago since the late lamented Lisboa Antiga, this is a chance to grab it. Recommendations? (I've got a short list lying around somewhere; if I need to, I'll post that list and ask more specifically.)
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #13 - February 28th, 2011, 8:45 pm
    Post #13 - February 28th, 2011, 8:45 pm Post #13 - February 28th, 2011, 8:45 pm
    I liked Casa Portugal in Inman Square for Portuguese. Nothing stands out to me but it's consistently very good. I know there are a few other Portuguese places in Cambridge around that area. Muqueca, a block or two down, is good for Brazilian

    Casa Portugal
    1200 Cambridge St.
    Cambridge, MA
  • Post #14 - March 1st, 2011, 8:10 am
    Post #14 - March 1st, 2011, 8:10 am Post #14 - March 1st, 2011, 8:10 am
    You can find some reasonable options for Portuguese food in the greater Boston area, though if this is of real interest to you, I would much rather steer you towards the south coast, where most of the Portuguese, and particularly Azorean, culture resides.

    In Cambridge, however, and in no particular order -

    Portugalia Restaurante
    723 Cambridge Street
    Cambridge, MA 02141
    (617) 491-5373

    O Senhor Ramos
    691 Cambridge Street
    Cambridge, MA 02141
    Phone: (617) 491-8292
    (looks like a hoagie/grinder shop, but there's a good dozen or so home-style Azorean dishes)

    Atasca
    50 Hampshire St,
    Cambridge, MA 02139
    Phone: (617) 621-6991
    (probably the easiest to get to via public transit/foot)

    Casa Portugal
    1200 Cambridge Street
    Cambridge, MA 02139
    617.491.8880

    Probably a good idea to take a look at this thread, which also includes some Brazilian, like Muqueca in Cambridge as well.

    ---

    I would respectfully disagree with just about all of P.Channon's suggestions. Perhaps they are simply outdated, but even I don't really eat Mexican food here, and I'm not from Chicago.
  • Post #15 - March 1st, 2011, 8:20 am
    Post #15 - March 1st, 2011, 8:20 am Post #15 - March 1st, 2011, 8:20 am
    Gypsy Boy wrote:The one thing I'm missing in all these recommendations....


    More than one .... :wink:

    The largest population of Cambodians outside of Long Beach, CA reside around here.

    The easiest Cambodian restaurant for you to get to via public transit is:

    Thmor Da
    144 Shirley Ave
    (between Nahant Ave & Walden St)
    Revere, MA 02151
    (781) 286-2554
  • Post #16 - March 1st, 2011, 9:06 am
    Post #16 - March 1st, 2011, 9:06 am Post #16 - March 1st, 2011, 9:06 am
    A actually really enjoy Atasca, in Cambridge for Portuguese food. Pretty room, nice wine, and pork and clams that will leave you smelling of garlic for the rest of the day.

    However I'd prioritize tatterdemalion's Yoma recommendation over this place. Much much more interesting.
  • Post #17 - March 1st, 2011, 9:10 am
    Post #17 - March 1st, 2011, 9:10 am Post #17 - March 1st, 2011, 9:10 am
    tatterdemalion wrote:Atasca
    50 Hampshire St,
    Cambridge, MA 02139
    Phone: (617) 621-6991
    (probably the easiest to get to via public transit/foot)

    I would respectfully disagree with just about all of P.Channon's suggestions. Perhaps they are simply outdated, but even I don't really eat Mexican food here, and I'm not from Chicago.



    Agreed on both. Mexican is the last thing I'd recommend to anyone visiting Boston. My Boston coworkers always seek out Mexican here the way I look for clam bellies and Portuguese in Boston...
  • Post #18 - March 1st, 2011, 9:43 am
    Post #18 - March 1st, 2011, 9:43 am Post #18 - March 1st, 2011, 9:43 am
    P. Channon wrote:...but The Union Oyster House has the best seafood newburg and boston cream pie anywhere.

    It's a sleazy thing to comment on a place one hasn't visited, but FWIW, the local food nerds have pretty much sworn off UOH due to the fact that they pre-shuck their oysters in bulk.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #19 - March 1st, 2011, 9:59 am
    Post #19 - March 1st, 2011, 9:59 am Post #19 - March 1st, 2011, 9:59 am
    I've been to UOH and have been happy sitting at the downstairs horseshoe bar, drinking some wine and eating some oysters. They usually shuck them in front of you there, and to order. They *do* however tend to shuck platters for the upstairs dining room in bulk and hold them for service. This results in a terrible dried out product and a sad time.

    Me, I'd skip UOH if I only had 2 lunches and 2 dinners in Boston.
  • Post #20 - March 2nd, 2011, 9:06 am
    Post #20 - March 2nd, 2011, 9:06 am Post #20 - March 2nd, 2011, 9:06 am
    tatterdemalion wrote:
    Gypsy Boy wrote:The one thing I'm missing in all these recommendations....


    More than one .... :wink:

    The largest population of Cambodians outside of Long Beach, CA reside around here.

    The easiest Cambodian restaurant for you to get to via public transit is:

    Thmor Da
    144 Shirley Ave
    (between Nahant Ave & Walden St)
    Revere, MA 02151
    (781) 286-2554


    Which reminds me - one of the Boston area's most celebrated Cambodian restaurants, formerly in the space where Thmor Da now resides, is soon to open in Cambridge, and likely will have opened by the time you visit:

    Floating Rock
    485 Mass Ave
    Cambridge, MA 02139
    (617) 455-4009
  • Post #21 - March 2nd, 2011, 9:40 am
    Post #21 - March 2nd, 2011, 9:40 am Post #21 - March 2nd, 2011, 9:40 am
    Dmnkly wrote:
    P. Channon wrote:...but The Union Oyster House has the best seafood newburg and boston cream pie anywhere.

    It's a sleazy thing to comment on a place one hasn't visited, but FWIW, the local food nerds have pretty much sworn off UOH due to the fact that they pre-shuck their oysters in bulk.


    I never said they have great oysters. There are much better places to go in Boston and the general area for those. But I actually enjoy the atmosphere of the place and like I said, I LOVE their seafood newburg.
  • Post #22 - March 2nd, 2011, 9:43 am
    Post #22 - March 2nd, 2011, 9:43 am Post #22 - March 2nd, 2011, 9:43 am
    I knew I forgot something...one of my all time favorites!:

    Mike's Pastry!
    300 Hanover Street (In the North End near the Haymarket T stop).
    Boston, MA 02113
    (617) 742-3050
    http://www.mikespastry.com


    Best. Cannolis. Ever.

    Plus it's very inexpensive in an expensive city. No trip to Boston (heck, even the North End if you live in Boston) is complete without visiting Mike's.
  • Post #23 - March 2nd, 2011, 10:52 am
    Post #23 - March 2nd, 2011, 10:52 am Post #23 - March 2nd, 2011, 10:52 am
    I like Mike's Pastry...but I prefer their main competition down the block, which had the best cannolis ever until I tasted one in Taormina, Sicily last fall:

    Modern Pastry
    257 Hanover Street
    Boston, MA 02113
    (617)523-3783


    http://www.modernpastry.com
  • Post #24 - March 2nd, 2011, 10:55 am
    Post #24 - March 2nd, 2011, 10:55 am Post #24 - March 2nd, 2011, 10:55 am
    jnm123 wrote:I like Mike's Pastry...but I prefer their main competition down the block, which had the best cannolis ever until I tasted one in Taormina, Sicily last fall:

    Modern Pastry
    257 Hanover Street
    Boston, MA 02113
    (617)523-3783


    http://www.modernpastry.com


    We can't be friends now jnm123... ;)
  • Post #25 - March 2nd, 2011, 11:10 am
    Post #25 - March 2nd, 2011, 11:10 am Post #25 - March 2nd, 2011, 11:10 am
    P. Channon wrote:
    jnm123 wrote:I like Mike's Pastry...but I prefer their main competition down the block, which had the best cannolis ever until I tasted one in Taormina, Sicily last fall:

    Modern Pastry
    257 Hanover Street
    Boston, MA 02113
    (617)523-3783


    http://www.modernpastry.com


    We can't be friends now jnm123... ;)


    Few, if any, enthusiasts around here would endorse Mike's. Walking around town with a Mike's box is a telltale sign of somebody heading to .... Union Oyster House for dinner. :wink:

    In addition to Modern, there's:

    Maria's Pastry
    46 Cross Street
    Boston, MA
    (617)523-1196
  • Post #26 - March 2nd, 2011, 12:48 pm
    Post #26 - March 2nd, 2011, 12:48 pm Post #26 - March 2nd, 2011, 12:48 pm
    tatterdemalion wrote:
    P. Channon wrote:
    jnm123 wrote:I like Mike's Pastry...but I prefer their main competition down the block, which had the best cannolis ever until I tasted one in Taormina, Sicily last fall:

    Modern Pastry
    257 Hanover Street
    Boston, MA 02113
    (617)523-3783


    http://www.modernpastry.com


    We can't be friends now jnm123... ;)


    Few, if any, enthusiasts around here would endorse Mike's. Walking around town with a Mike's box is a telltale sign of somebody heading to .... Union Oyster House for dinner. :wink:

    In addition to Modern, there's:

    Maria's Pastry
    46 Cross Street
    Boston, MA
    (617)523-1196


    haha...fair enough! :lol:

    But I do love Mike's...and in the 5+ years I lived in Boston I probably went 100 times. (That number increased as my best friend moved to Fleet St. nearby).

    I miss Boston! Great Seafood & Italian... 8)
  • Post #27 - March 2nd, 2011, 1:15 pm
    Post #27 - March 2nd, 2011, 1:15 pm Post #27 - March 2nd, 2011, 1:15 pm
    My folks, grandparents, extended family are from Boston. My grandfather was born on Fleet St. The history is incredible. My brother took a lower-paying job back there so he could live in the North End, and played cribbage every day at a cafe across from the Old North Church.

    But...other than The Daily Catch on Hanover St.,(reviewed numerous times in this forum) and a now-shuttered joint in Chelsea called Rita's Place, I can't say that the Italian dishes from a quality or preparation standpoint are any better than what we have right here in Chicago, if one picks the right place. And there are plenty of 'meh' restaurants in both cities as well.

    And...yes, PChannon...I'm a 'Modern' kinda guy. I don't go for all that snazzy, glitzy smoke-and-mirrors at Mike's. :) I will say, however, that BOTH cannolis are pret-ty fine!
  • Post #28 - March 2nd, 2011, 8:07 pm
    Post #28 - March 2nd, 2011, 8:07 pm Post #28 - March 2nd, 2011, 8:07 pm
    jnm123, I agree with your assessment of the Italian fare here. The vast majority of restaurants are typical to what you might find in any other city in the US. Standard menu template with some marsalas, parmagianas, clam linguine, lobster ravioli, a gnocchi and a wild boar barbaric bolognese to round it out. Giacomo's here is the same as the Giacomo's in Bismarck, North Dakota (though I guess the Giacomo's in Chicago is potentially a GNR :wink: ). But that is why you should pay particular attention to the above suggestions for Erbaluce which is truly a special restaurant anywhere in the country. The chef-owner is there every single night, though he could have cashed out with a celebra-chef life years ago, had he wanted that. He's been cooking around Boston for a long time, doing it quietly, doing it every night, and doing it at an extremely high level. He's a bit unusual in that he relies very little on butter or animal fats at all, something that is highly bizarre for the vasty majority of restaurants of any cuisine, let alone Italian. The wine selection is equally special. Almost without any doubt, he will come visit your table bearing treats from the kitchen, and will be thrilled to talk food and drink with you.

    ---

    I'm reminded of another interesting option for Italian food, as the chef was just today awarded the People's Best New Chef in the country in Food & Wine. In contrast to the cozy quiet atmosphere at Erbaluce, Coppa is a wildly popular, bustling and trendy trattoria. It's the kind of place I'd usually avoid, and if I could I would, but them dang vittles just be that good. Uni carbonara and calf brain ravioli tend to get the most attention, but I'd argue the pizza is top-tier, in just about any conversation. PIGMON, at the time having come off a recent pizza tour of NJ/NYC/NewHaven, will attest to this. I would suggest this as a lunch option. Weekend dinner service will be a spectacle.

    ImageImage
    ImageImage
    photos swiped from porklet without permission - and pictured pizza was anomalously overtopped


    Coppa
    253 Shawmut Avenue
    Boston, MA 02118-2178
    (617) 391-0902
  • Post #29 - March 2nd, 2011, 8:27 pm
    Post #29 - March 2nd, 2011, 8:27 pm Post #29 - March 2nd, 2011, 8:27 pm
    "photos swiped from porklet without permission" Heeeeeyyyy!!!

    Well, if you gonna swipe em you might as well say what they are... We see a duo of crostinis, one with beef heart and one of tuna belly. Next up is the justifiably famous uni carbonara. Then we see some meatballs lovingly gilded with lardo. And finally the pizza pie, which was over-topped with one half white clam and bacon and the other half buratta bianco with parmesan olives and chili oil.

    Coppa is lovely but I agree it's a better lunch destination unless you like eating at 5:30 or 10, when you might get a seat on a weekend.
  • Post #30 - March 8th, 2011, 1:46 pm
    Post #30 - March 8th, 2011, 1:46 pm Post #30 - March 8th, 2011, 1:46 pm
    Heh-heh, Daily Catch is a *black*- sauce Italian place! Loved it for lunch.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)

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