Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
dweller

Boston Restaurant Recommendations

Recommended Posts

We're (self and wife) going to be in Boston next April for a couple of days (coming in on the Chicago Amtrak, so probably late into South Street, all day the next day, leaving the next afternoon). So that's 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, one dinner.

I want to go to Durgin-Park for sentimental reasons, but don't have any other fixed ideas, although Movenpick Marche sounds fun.  Not a lot of money to spend, I like road food, home cooking, cheap Italian, buffets, cafeterias.  Staying not far from Faneuil Hall.

Any suggestions?

Thanks.

Doug

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I only know the high-end places (Radius, etc.) through some work I've done for Boston Magazine, and on account of several business trips in my lawyer persona. I'd be happy to post some notes on another thread if someone develops a need for that information. I'll also reach out to someone I know who really knows this scene well. Let's see if I can get her in here -- probably not until Tuesday, though.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CONGRADULATIONS, you're going to visit one of the most historically interesting cities in the world.

Anyway, I think so and not just because Ben Franklin and I were born there.

First off, your coming into South Station. If the stop is announced as South Street you've missed Boston altogether.

Secondly, give me a better idea what you want to spend. One man's cheap is another man's very cheap.

All the good cafeterias closed down years ago (there used to be a place on Brattle St. in Cambridge called Buddy's Charcoal Pit (or something-Pit), a steak cafeteria my friends and I used to frequent about 20 years ago). The only decent buffets are going to be expensive hotel brunches. These may in fact be the only buffets in Boston.

Remember you asked for cheap eats:

In the North End go to the ORIGINAL Pizzeria Regina (don't bother with the one in Quincy Market). And don't ask for Chicago style deep dish pizza. In Boston that's a tomato and cheese quiche.

When in Boston one must eat seafood, the cheapest seafood place that will not kill you is the No Name Restaurant on the Fish Pier.

If you can give me an idea how cheap were talking, I'll be able to help you further. Also bear in mind that most of the good cheap places require a car as Boston is a very expensive place to live (it ain't New York or London, but it's right up there).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know the one about the guy who gets into a taxi in Boston and says, "Hey, driver, do you know where I can get scrod?" And the driver says, "Buddy, I've heard a lot of things but that's the first time anybody has asked me that in the past pluperfect subjunctive."

Speaking of which, in taxi jokes, it seems a universal joke-telling convention that the passenger calls the driver "driver" and the driver calls the passenger "buddy." Yet I can't remember ever referring to a taxi driver as "driver" in all the hundreds (maybe thousands) of taxi rides I've taken in my life. Nor has any driver ever referred to me as "buddy" although there was one guy who referred to me as "mac," an incident of which I made a mental note.

Last time I was in Boston I took an expensive cab ride (nothing like a trip to Boston to convince you that New York cabs are cheap) to some old-style restaurant in the middle of nowhere (i.e. Cambridge but not the part with Harvard in it), only to arrive and find the restaurant closed. But I wandered down the street and found a very nice Asian place that I think was nominally Korean. I can't remember the name of either place. Hope this helps.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, here I am -- the Pal of Fat Guy who's been lured into speaking her mind on said subject.

Unfortunately, the number of inexpensive restaurants in Boston is not as high as I would like it to be. It seems that the high-end places are just as expensive as New York City's finest, and the lower-end places are often reduced to take-out-only operations. In other words, there ain't a lot of satisfying middle ground. That said, here's what I like that won't break your bank:

For Barbeque, there is Red Bones in Somerville. This is a funky and fun restaurant with good bbq ribs, chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, an excellent beer selection, and a pretty friendly crowd. It's very popular, as you might imagine, so be prepared to wait. But the food is good, and you'll have fun there.

If you want to splurge, I am a fan of Chez Henri, which is a bistro with some occasional Cuban dishes on the menu. Now, entrees can run more than ฤ, but they have a three-course prix fixe for ิ that is well worth the dough. Like most Boston restaurants, this isn't particularly dressy, and it has a very fun bar area that is actually preferable to the dining room. Plus, good mojitos.

East Coast Grill has a great brunch, with loads of food for around บ a person (including this tasty duck tamale thing) -- plus a make-your-own bloody Mary bar and fresh oysters from around the world.

Jumbo Seafood in Boston's Chinatown is great spot -- it's where the chefs and local foodies go to eat Chinese. Chau Chow City is also very good, and serves dim sum.

Ultimately, to me, the best inexpensive restaurant in Boston is the Franklin Cafe. Now, this does get back to what the word "inexpensive" means to you -- but the entrees run about บ for good things like perfectly rare grilled tuna with mashed potatoes and other New American staples. I love the Franklin; the only problem is, so does everyone else, and there are only about 8 tables in the place. But it's in a prime South End locale, good for barhopping before or after, and it's the best deal for the best food in that town, to my mind.

Oh, and one more thing: I love Emma's Pizza, in Cambridge. Right near Kendall Square. Delicious stuff, great husband and wife team who own the place. And you can sit down and eat and everything. Don't miss it.

Good luck, and please post a full report of your findings upon your return.

Love, Pal of Fat Guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Franklin Cafe? Is that the one with the bar in front and the tiny dining room in back on Columbus Ave near Dartmouth St? Had the best ŭ steak I ever tasted.

I forgot about Redbones. A very funky place, easily accessible on the T (take the Red Line to Davis Sq. in Somerville). Also, if it still exists, is Village Smokehouse on Washington St. in Brookline Village (take the Green Line - "D" Riverside Line streetcar to Brookline Village).

(Edited by abbeynormal at 2:14 pm on Sep. 4, 2001)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks folks. Franklin Cafe sounds interesting.

How about the Blue Diner? We'll be close to that.

Going to try Durgin-Park also. Maybe elsewhere in Faneuil Hall?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WARNING: the place I'm remembering is not Franklin Cafe.

The name of the place I was recalling is Tim's Tavern (329 Columbus Ave. @ Dartmouth St.), it's just down the block from Copley Place so it's easy to find.  This place is worth the trip. Supposedly this is one of the South End's best kept secrets, so don't tell anyone. Okay?

The Blue Diner ain't what it used to be, if it ever was. We'll it might be again, I don't know. Long, long ago it was a hip place. I actually took a girlfriend there for New Year's Eve. That had to have been before 1988. In the mid-eighties it had a very novel mixture of diner food with fancier fare. I have no idea what it's like now.  It wasn't that cheap either. If you'd like to see what The Blue Diner looked like right before it was renovated into yuppie heaven, check out the 1987 Jon Cryer epic "Hiding Out" the diner at the beginning of the film is the Blue Diner.

Let's get our nomenclature straight: I'm going to assume that when you say Faneuil Hall, you mean Faneuil Hall Marketplace. This is also popularly referred to as Quincy Market.  Quincy Market is actually the limestone building with the dome in the center with the grasshopper weathervane. The buildings on either side are the North and South Markets. Durgin-Park, as a point of reference is in the North Market building. Faneuil Hall is the Georgian Style red brick with the white steeple across from the west front of Quincy Market.

For the rest of you the redelopment of Quincy Market was the prototype for all those downtown urban redevelopment areas so popular today, like South Street Squidport and that thing in Baltimore.

That being said: most of the food in Quincy Market is just above food court level.  Some stalls are better than others, but none stands out. What do you want, a cookie? Go over to the North End (go behind the North Market building, walk through the Haymarket there is (or was) an underpass to get to the North End.

Do you drink? Go to the Hong Kong in (just outside of) Harvard Sq. Go directly upstairs, order a scorpian bowl or two, when you wake you'll have participated in a great Cambridge tradition. Oh, do not eat in this restaurant, it's gross.

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lived in Cambridge for 5ish years and I like to eat both well and cheap.

Blue Room, 1 Kendal Square: My fav. Best value for $, on the low side of high end.  Just incredeble meals.   Look it up in Zagat, ranks up with the top flight restaurants,  but reasonable.

Just a few doors up the street is Daddy-O's Bohemian Cafe, 57 Crescent St. an american bistro.  Good eats, interesting but not wacky, chef-owners working a line visible from dining room, good garden/patio.  If you are feeling freyed and need some comforting their mac&cheese is great.

Ice cream place in Innman Square, next to a comedy place.  Absolutely INTENSE flavors, and some very interesting ones as well: Mexican Hot Chocolate, Kolfuti, Whiskey and Wheat Bread.  Rum Raisen where the rum in the raisen will make you say 'ooo'  Can't remember the name, but it's been around for ever.

Atasca, 279 Broadway (bet. Columbia & Prospect Sts.) Portugese, Great authentic food, good service, inexpensive.

Dali, 415 Washington St., and her sister resaturant on Newbery in Boston.  Tapas, again great, but a wee bit pricey

Stay away from all restaurants on Mass. Ave.  Most are downright bad, some realy expensive and not great.  

Except for Common Ground (ne. Rosies) Just above Harvard Sq.  Nice, large bar/restaurant, the standard stuff done will, and some interesting stuff.  Great beer selection.

I concur with Pal of Fat Guy on Redbones (some of the best BBQ anywhere, and it's in Boston?!) and respectfully dis-agree re. Chez Henri; most meals were somehow wrong, and I found the atmosphere annoying.

-Nef

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I came late to this thread, Dweller, but I see that you are not scheduled into Boston until April.  Had you not already decided on a restaurant for your one dinner in town, I would have put in a strong recommendation for Olives, Todd English's stylish wood-oven kitchen just across the river in Charlestown. (We have frequently walked both ways from our hotel near Esplanade Park.)  We have never had anything but rave meals there.

For lunches that fall into your price and casual categories,

you might look into Figs (42 Charles St.  742-3447) specializing in designer pizzas that are excellent.  This is another restaurant belonging to Todd English.  No, we're not related, but we just like his food. :)  You could keep costs down by sharing a pizza here.  As I remember, they also do "half and half"s.

We have also enjoyed both Daily Catch (23 Hanover St. 523.8567) for obscenely large plates of seafood pasta, and Pomodoro, the same but with more garlic (319 Hanover St.  367.4348).  You could split an order at either of these tiny places, unless you can handle more than one enormous meal a day.  Pomodoro used to do an antepasto plate that was fabulous, and a full meal in itself.  Sadly, it comes and goes from the menu.  

And last, my husband has been known to drive into Boston en route to the airport and double park near Faniel Hall while I run in for a last ditch order of fried clams, some of the best, crisp, non-greasy that we've found anywhere.


eGullet member #80.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Figs sounds very good. Deinitely one for our list.

Where do you get the fried clams?

We've got time for a Sunday brunch. Would prefer an American style brunch, maybe up to ฤ each but not one of the ุ ones!

Thanks.

Doug

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doug, I haven't the foggiest idea of the name of the place where we get the fried clams.  It is inside Faniel, as I remember just off the central door, probably on the south side, and is the major seafood stall.  Hope this helps.


eGullet member #80.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. That's enough for me to find it.

I last had fried clams a few months ago at a Howard Johnson's restaurant.  I'm sure these will be better!

Doug

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've just been asked for recommendations for good food at any price. In fact the request was for the best restaurants in Boston. I will refer my friend to this thread, so fire away.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In response to Bux's request for good food in Boston at any price:

--Yes, Radius is a must--do the tasting menu (Radius is in the Financial District, near South Station)

--If you want the clam shack experience, go to Jasper White's Summer Shack in Cambridge--try one of the the lobster dishes

--I second Clio in the Eliot Hotel--excellent food, often tops the lists of best places in the city

--If you're able to venture out from the city (venturing out from Boston means a few miles) try Lumiere in Newton

--Back in Boston, Pigalle in the Theater District has lovely French food

--Also near Pigalle go for dessert at Finale--an interesting concept of a restaurant that focuses on dessert--absolutely amazing desserts paired with wine suggestions

--Lastly, since I feel like most of the above suggestions lean toward the French side of things, I'd recommend trying Bricco for Italian in the North End--I have not eaten there yet, but have heard wonderful things about it

Oh, and one other suggestion re:  Chez Henri mentioned above by a few--go to the bar and try some of their fabulous Cuban cocktails along with their bar menu, their version of a Cuban sandwich is outstanding! (it comes with delicious plantain chips, too)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clio and Radius are the types of high-end serious foodie places that you just want to put yourself in the hands of the chefs and say go--they'd be on a short list of restaurants here in the US that I would do that with because I have so much trust in the chefs.  Ken's cooking at Clio tends toward the more modern/progressive/inventive--(I first heard of him when he started doing a bleu cheese foam with roasted pear a few years ago)--and I suspect he tries a little harder than Michael to surprise you with creative plating--but then Radius has the best pastry chef in Boston by far, Paul Connors who could work anywhere in NYC and be included on a short list of the finest.  I have been very impressed with Paul's work--but visit quickly, I hear rumors Paul is moving to Minneapolis!

Clio is much smaller, more intimate and more--formal is not quite the right word--more "fashionable" perhaps--you feel like you should be better dressed--or better looking when you're there.  (This is not to imply that Clio is at all like any of the pretty people places in NY where the food sucks and fashionistas are there to be seen.)  It's just that you wish you could afford to eat there more often than however often you can presently afford to.  (How's that for a terribly constructed sentence.)

Both places are expensive, though not over the top by NY standards and both are worth giving yourself over to, in my opinion. Savvy New Yorkers would feel very at home in either restaurant--and right now I wish Washington, DC had just one restaurant as interesting as Radius or Clio--where the level of commitment, the food and desserts were at such an accomplished, synergistic level.  There may be other more famous names in the Boston scene--and certainly older presences--but none doing the , modern, sophisticated and appropriately eclectic fine dining thing as well.

And unfortunately, Finale is terrible.  Quite good sandwiches though, a stylish place, incredible concept but completely underwhelming and at times inedible pastries and desserts.  Only went there once--maybe hit it on a bad day--but wouldn't go back unless I wanted a quick bite or they got bought out and installed a new pastry chef.

New on the scene to me--Metro--near Porter Square, 1815 Mass Ave. in Cambridge.  Anyone been yet--researchgal? I cooked with their chef and pastry chef (Lee Napoli) at a benefit dinner last night and was impressed with their courses.  I expect the food to be interesting French bistro stuff and last night Lee did a cute little poached apricot--hollowed out, filled with a spiced compote and creme brulee, served with a sage linzer/shortbread type cookie.   Haven't been to the restaurant, but might be one to watch.

(Edited by Steve Klc at 5:16 pm on Jan. 31, 2002)


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Particularly to Alonso N--but not exclusively--who noted that he didn't find too many Mass Ave restaurants worthy--what about Elephant Walk?  I've eaten there twice for lunch--it's 2000-something Mass Ave--and I enjoyed myself tremendously--kind of fusiony Vietnamese filtered for American foodies--and at least at lunch was very reasonably priced.   And I'm kind of a picky Vietnamese eater, since in DC I'm surrounded by a ton of Vietnamese restaurants.  Elephant Walk stood out.  (The desserts were terrible--all old French stuff--that had no correlation to the cuisine and seem to have been outsourced from a French pastry shop stuck in the 60's or 70's.)  Were you talking about restaurants not this far out?


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, Elephant Walk is great.  It's actually Cambodian-French.  There are two locations, one in Porter Square (on Mass Ave) in Cambridge, and one on Beacon Street in Brookline.  I have to say I'm completely biased in my view of it tho' b/c my husband and I went there on our first date there and then (after many return meals) were engaged there.  It's great!  They also have a very good wine list.

Yes, I've tried Metro.  Only once, and we went right after they opened (I know, big mistake to go so soon).  We didn't have a great experience--the food was good, not outstanding, but it was the atmosphere that got me--it's really cold and too open feeling in the room.  They're trying for the brasserie feel, but don't quite get it.  Brasserie Jo in Back Bay is much more successful at it.  But, that said, I've seen many excellent reviews of it since my visit and will give it one more try.  Didn't have dessert, so can't answer that question.

Re:  Finale--sorry you had such a bad experience.  I've only been once, but was really impressed.  

Mantra is another place in Boston that everyone is talking about these days. I haven't been yet, have anyone else in this area tried it?  I hear it's worth it just to check out the funky men's room--something about "going" into an ice-fountain or something??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't been yet either, researchgal--but Corby's review in Boston Magazine seemed to imply their concept had already been done before at Tabla--sophisticated modern cooking with hints of Indian spice and technique--and, not that Corby mentioned it, but by several other NYC French/Indian fusion experiments that were more "Indian" than Tabla as well, by among others, Raji Jallepalli.

Creme brulees in passionfruit and mango hardly chart new ground in France let alone here--so I guess when Corby says the rest of the country will take notice of Mantra, he means the rest of the country that hasn't already tired of this trend in NYC and tired of reading about it in the glossies for the past 2 years.

Seems like the Mantra folks paid close attention to the seminal article on the subject by Michael Batterberry in the January 1999 issue of Food Arts.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're getting organised. We've booked a North End Market tour with Michelle Topor, so we'll be nibbling 10 to about 1:15 on the Saturday, then maybe Artu's or Pizzeria Regina (or Fig's or Pomdoro, we've got a short list but will be meeting someone there (via another mailing list, we don't know her) and will choose at the time.

Dinner at Durgin-Park.  I really want that prime rib. Michelle Topor says it's still great.

Friday night, if we don't eat on the train, probably King Fung Garden.

That still leaves decisions about breakfasts, where we really want a good variety of pancakes, and Sunday lunch.

I haven't figured out if Sorella's is too far to get to for breakfast (we're at the Doubletree opposite the NE Medical Center T stop). If it seems reasonable it sounds good.

Doug

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That North End tour is supposed to be great, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.  

As far as breakfast w/pancakes--I've heard Sorella's is good, but it's kind of a bit of a treck (i.e., cab or buses, not subway) from where you're staying to Jamaica Plain (you're in the Theatre District).  For a very casual, diner type of place, good breakfast with a great local character you could try Charlie's on Colombus Ave., in the South End.  Also Johnny D's in Somerville (Take the red line subway from Park st. Station to Davis Square, Somerville) gets rave reviews for their Sat and Sun brunch and pancakes.  Lunch might be fun at Brasserie Jo which is located on Huntington Ave adjacent to the Colonade Hotel.  Another brunch/lunch option is the Claremont Cafe, also on Columbus Ave., in the South End--lots of delicious baked items as well as yummy eggs, etc.--they have a great raisin-brioche french toast ('tho it's not pancakes!).  In fact, if you're up for browsing around, their are a bunch of breakfast and lunch places along Tremont Street in the South End that you could walk to from your hotel.  Hope this helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are a few Breakfast/Brunch places straight out of my personal notebook. I did not do editing to well on this, so pardon the appearance

Sasha Cafe & Bistro 55 Bromfield St., downtown Sunday brunch.

The Blue Room, "international grill" located in Cambridge’s Kendall Square. (617-494-9034).

Museum of Fine Arts Restaurant, located on the second floor of MFA, offers an a la carte menu from 11:30 AM to 3 PM on Sundays. 11:30 seating only.

Aujourd Hui at the Four Seasons Hotel (617-338-4400)

Café Fleuri at the Hotel Meridien (617-451-1900).

Turner Fisheries in the Westin Hotel (617-424-7425).

Biba, Boylston Street in Boston’s Back Bay. (617-426-5684)

Stephanie’s on Newbury (617-236-0990)

The Hungry I (617-227-3524) on Charles Street

Espresso:    “Curious Liquids Café”,  on Beacon St by the State House


Peter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to researchgall and Peter for those helpful tips. I am coming to the conclusion that Sorella's is too far, shame. And certainly Saturday's breakfast is governmend by the time between when Helen gets up (I'm always up early) and getting to the tour by 10. Everyone seems to recommend Charlie's on Columbus, so if we can get to it I think we'll try. Or just walk along Tremond Street, which is just one block over.

Peter, I'm not sure what the MFA hours mean -- 11:30 to 3 but 11:30 seating only? What's that mean?  I think that sounds a good idea as it takes us to a place we should probably see anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...