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A few days in downtown Boston

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12 replies to this topic

#1 Paul B

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 04:18 PM

I'll be attending a conference in Boston in a few weeks, staying downtown at the Westin Copley Hotel. I won't have a car. Can anyone recommend some good dinner and lunch places within walking distance? They don't all have to be 5 star -- a cheap 'n' cheerful place that serves local specialties would be fine too.

Many thanks in advance. Looking forward to my first visit to the city.
Paul B

#2 cigalechanta

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 04:54 PM

Legal Seafood at Copley Place, Voile on Newbury Street, Sonsie.. for people watching, Loads of outside sitting on Newbury st Espalier on Boylston Street.
Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly....MFK Fisher

#3 cigalechanta

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 04:56 PM

Let me know if you need information. I lived on Newbury Street for years til I moved across the Bridge near MIT.
Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly....MFK Fisher

#4 Scargo

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 08:12 AM

Nice to see a BC guy in my general area. I have been in Vancouver a lot lately. The food is so good there (and expensive). Mmmm, Blue Water Cafe... I digress.

I have not been in Boston in a while but I will still share my map. I'm sure most places are still relevant and there are many near your hotel.
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#5 rmillman

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 09:40 AM

lunch at Mike and Patty's for their pork torta or egg fancy is a MUST. Short walk from Westin

#6 patrickamory

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 09:14 PM

Super difficult city to eat in - always has been. The native cooking - always more focused on what was made in the home and less on eating out - has largely been driven out to the suburbs, or homogenized beyond belief, by the huge transient population of students, tech people and medical folks. You have to travel to find it. The new restaurants that have come in tend to be pretty bland to satisfy the massive undergrad community, or super high-end (Boston is one of the most expensive cities in the country). Moreover, there is a certain classic Boston snobbishness that looks down on superficialities like fine dining!

I would stay 100 miles away from any branch of Legal Seafoods.

L'Espalier has moved and I don't believe is what it used to be.

If you have a car and lots of time (which it sounds like you don't), I'd head up to the North Shore and hit the Ipswich Clam Box, Farnham's or Woodman's.

You can get decent New England seafood at Jasper White's Summershack. (Not North Shore or Maine quality, but "good enough," as my mother used to say.)

For a more upscale vibe, Radius in the financial district has been around forever but I think is still supposed to be good. I've heard good things a sushi restaurant in the same area called O Ya - expect to pay through the nose. Locke-Ober is the classic old Boston place, but it's been vanilla-ized since Lydia Shire took it over.

In Cambridge, Craigie on Main gets good reviews - I have not been.

There is good Vietnamese in Allston, Speed's Hot Dogs (a truck) in Newmarket Square (car needed) and Simco's Hot Dogs in Mattapan (car definitely needed) are both sui generis. Chang Sho for Chinese-American in Cambridge (you can get there on Red Line). Casey's Diner in Natick for classic railroad-car burgers and dogs (car needed).

The East Coast Grill in Inman Square in Cambridge used to be good, but I think it's gone downhill since it expanded.

Scargo's recommendations are not bad.... I don't think Helmand (the Afghan place in East Cambridge) is as good as it used to be. If Lala Rokh is still there on Beacon Hill, as it seems to be, it's a wonderfully romantic and absolutely delicious Persian place which would put any New York equivalent to shame (but not Los Angeles).

Bostonians, please jump in with your recommendations. I'm a native (though since relocated), and I still believe the best options are out of town or eating at someone's house. Which is the way it always was.

Edited by patrickamory, 12 March 2012 - 09:19 PM.

#7 LindaK

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 05:15 AM

Your hotel is surrounded by dozens of restaurants, most of them catering to conventioneers and business folks staying in all the hotels. But Boston’s a relatively small, compact city, so if you have a little time, don’t feel too bound by your immediate Back Bay location.

Patrick’s recommendations are good. Here are a few places a short distance from your hotel, if that’s where you need to stay. Nothing fancy, but you’re more likely to see the locals:

Parrish Café, Boylston Street. Creative sandwiches, good for lunch. Inexpensive.
CODA, Columbus Avenue. Simple but good American cuisine, reasonably priced.
Anchovies, Columbus Avenue. Old-school Italian-American. Open until late. Inexpensive.
L’Espalier, Boylston Street. Understated French. Okay, this one is fancy but the Monday night 4 course menu with wine @ $65 is a very good deal. http://www.lespalier...nts/index.shtml

A 10 minute walk down Dartmouth Street will put you in the heart of the South End neighborhood. Lots of good dining choices here. My favorites, again, nothing fancy, but if you want neighborhood places:

Franklin Café, Shawmut Avenue. Bar/restaurant, American cuisine. Open late.
Orinoco, Shawmut Avenue. Casual Latin, Good for lunch or dinner.
B&G Oyster and The Butcher Shop, both on Tremont Street. Popular, casual places, both launched by local chef Barbara Lynch.

Lots of high-end choices here too, including very expensive sushi at Oishii on Washington Street.


#8 emannths

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 07:37 AM

Legal Seafoods is good for their $1 oysters (M-Th, something like 3-6 at the bar), and the plain grilled fish can be acceptable, but it's definitely not a destination IMO. If you want seafood, I'd make a beeline towards Island Creek Oyster Bar, which is a 20 minute walk or two T stops from your hotel. You can get very good cocktails at the adjacent Hawthorne or Eastern Standard.

Not to cross the streams, but the Boston Chowhound board tends to be more active--a quick search should turn up a number of other suggestions.

#9 Paul B

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 10:30 AM

Brilliant! Many thanks to everyone.
Paul B

#10 LindaK

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 06:49 AM

A quick uodate for you, if you're still collecting ideas:

To my short list of South End favorites, you might want to add Coppa on Shawmut Street. Italian, with house made salumi, pastas, etc. I omitted it initially because it's generally impossible to get a table at dinner (though they've begun taking reservations). But the chef, Jamie Bissonnette, was just nominated for a James Beard award (Best Chef, Northeast) so you may think it's worth the effort. Open for lunch and serves a late bar menu too.

The sushi restaurant that Patrick recommended above, O Ya, also received a Beard Award nomination.

Since emannths is sending you beyond your immediate 'hood for seafood, let me add another recomendation, Neptune Oyster on Salem Street in the North End. 15 minutes from you after a short walk from the Haymarket station on the Green Line. Very small, so there's usually a wait, but worth it. You can walk around the corner for cannolli or gelato afterwards.


#11 coughy

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 10:29 AM

We are going to be in Boston in early September and staying at the Liberty Hotel. Any and all suggestions for restaurants in that area would b appreciated. Thank you.

#12 janeer

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 05:18 PM

You will be on one end of Charles St, not a great restaurant area, Haven't been yet, but Barbara Lynch's new restaurant, Menton, is supposed to be very good, as are all her restaurants. Eastern Standard in Kenmore Sq always good and enjoyable. Myers and Chang in South End. You will be near a red line station if you wanted to go over to Cambridge and poke around. I like the bar at the Rialto in the Charles Hotel for a drink and snack. Jody Adams, who owns Rialto, has a new restaurant, Trade, that I've heard good things about, but it's a schlep.

#13 LindaK

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 04:06 PM

The Liberty is a cool hotel but not a food epicenter. Cambridge St dining caters to the staff at nearby Mass General Hospital and Government Center, while Charles Street aims for the tourist trade. There are a few reliable neighborhood places that appeal to Beacon Hill residents, such as Pierrot Bistro, Lala Rohk (Persian), and bars like Cambridge Garden. The hotel itself is home to one of Lydia Shire's restaurants, Scampo. I've only nibbled at the bar (good lobster pizza) and hear mixed reviews of the restaurant.

If you're looking for something special not far from the hotel, I have two suggestions: # 1. take a stroll across Beacon Hill to No. 9 Park, one of Barbara Lynch's earliest restaurants and still one if the city's best. From the Liberty it's a pleasant 15 minute walk through one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. # 2. hop on the Red Line (just outside the hotel door) and go two stops to Central Square in Cambridge and head over to Craigie on Main, another of the area's finest. They're very different from each other, No. 9 has a comfortably refined atmosphere, Craigie seemingly more casual but the food is not. Both will cost you, but are worth a splurge. Reservations recommended, though you can try to snag a seat at the bar without one.

If you're not going for high end but still want to stay nearby, there are other good casual dining options in Central Square. My personal favorites include Rendezvous and Central Kitchen. If you'd rather explore other Boston neighborhoods, there are lots of suggestions earlier in this topic.