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.

Absolute Best in Boston


dvs
 Share

Recommended Posts

i'm looking for a few special dinners and lots of good & toddler friendly places for lunch & dinner. the 7th is my husband's 40th & the 8th is our wedding anniversary...

thanks in advance for any & all suggestions!

p.s. i'm originally from boston but haven't been back for 3 years...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I second no 9 Park- just ate there a few weeks ago and it was simply divine. That is definitely in the special category, though. I also think Rialto can have strokes of brilliance, but sometimes the servers are a bit pompus. We have done L'Espalier for anniversaries a few times and it is lovely and will remind you that you are an adult. Ditto for Anjour 'd Hui. Of, course none of those are particularily new, just really wonderful.

For taking the kiddie along, Boston has some good choices. We take the boys (11, 8, and 4) into the North End frequently. We like to go early for dinner in order to avoid people who scored a sitter that night :rolleyes: Early in Boston means 5:30 - 6:30. Another good place to bring along kids is Chinatown, although it is not nearly as good as San Francisco. We really like Chau Chow on Essex.

I know it is a chain, but if you are over near the Aquarium, Legal Seafoods is good. If you have a car, Jasper White's Summer Shack is better.

I highly recommend using the opentable.com site for reservations. We have had really good luck with it. The have the full write ups and almost all of the restaurants I'm anxious to try are on it.

Have a great visit!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would recommend Clio and l'Espalier as special occasion dinners. I like Radius a lot too. I've been to No. 9 Park twice, and while it is good, I find it to be highly overpriced. Service was great, wine pairings were awesome, but the food just didn't hit the level I expected for $135/pp (food only). I honestly don't remember a single course of the tasting menu we had last time. On the other hand, I can list almost every dish I've eaten at Clio over the last 4 years (we've only tried the tasting menus).

I'd also agree with chau chow for dim sum; for non-dim sum my favorite is Taiwan Cafe on Oxford St. Sel de la Terre (sister restaurant of l'Espalier, near the Aquarium) is a much more casual French-style restaurant that seems toddler-friendly.

I'll add more later if I think of anything else...hope you guys have a great trip!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clio is awesome, and apparently Ken Oringer's newest place, the tapas bar Toro is also really good.

Any comments re toro?

I've been to Toro a few times. I think it's good, but not somewhere I like to go often because it's always packed and noisy. You sit elbow-to-elbow with your neighbors. However, it certainly seems like you can't find any other food like this in Boston. The grilled corn, snails in almond/garlic soup, pork ribs, and a number of other dishes were really delicious. I also found the value of the dishes to vary wildly--I expected to get more than two small pieces of grilled bread with tomato for $3, but for ~$25 we got a huge pan of paella which was shared amongst 4 people. If I remember correctly, we usually spend ~$40pp for food.

I also remembered the Federalist as a possible special occasion spot. We haven't been in a few years, but at the time the tasting menu was ~$80. The food was very good, if not particularly adventurous.

For something more casual, Eastern Standard or Petit Robert in Kenmore Sq might be good for lunch (or even dinner, now that the baseball season is over). If you like Indian food, I'd highly recommend Tamarind Bay in Harvard Sq. Finally, Parish Cafe is always a popular choice for sandwiches, but with a toddler I'd stick to earlier hours before it becomes too bar-like (and it's near the ColdStone Creamery at Park plaza!).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the "special dinners" category: I'm another great fan of No. 9 Park: pricey but worth it! I know many people recommend Clio, and I think it's certainly very good -- but can sometimes value innovation (cutting-edge techniques, surprising combinations, etc) at the expense of enjoyable eating. I've really enjoyed Hamersley's Bistro, but haven't been there recently, and would love to hear more recent experiences. Radius is quite good, though I found the ambience a little on the modern/chilly side. The same people (Radius) opened a very good seafood place on Kenmore Square, called Great Bay. If you're steak-lovers, I'd recommend Grill 23 (Back Bay), though it too is pricey (esp the wines).

In Cambridge, I've enjoyed the Rialto (in the Charles Hotel), as someone else here has recommended; I haven't found it so inconsistent, but then I haven't had occasion to try it often. Another Cambridge restaurant that I liked a few months ago was Upstairs on the Square; since then it's changed chefs, but the new chef has excellent credentials and the restaurant under his hand has gotten very good reviews. It's a very pretty place, if somewhat whimsical (over the top in some people's views, though not mine -- I find it fun).

Hope you enjoy your trip and eating!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought No. 9 Park looked pretty expensive, but I find dining in Boston expensive in general. One possible compromise: go there late and just eat in the lounge. About this time last year I ended up with some white truffle gnoccis that were stupendous, and probably the best steak tartare I ever ate.

One great thing about the North End is that the energy will really keep your kids in a good mood (busy cities always did it for mine, anyway). Plus, you can go to dinner then walk them around about the time they're getting antsy, and take them someplace different -- to one of the coffee shops -- for dessert. (I also think that ethnic restaurants are much more kid-friendly than yuppie places, too).

More info here.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ekaim, you bring up a good point. I would definitely recommend Clio for people with a more adventurous palate. No 9 Park's food is much safer (and in my opinion too safe, bordering on boring, therefore not worth paying a lot of money for). Everyone has a different idea of what "special occasion" dining should be, but that's probably a discussion for another thread :wink:

As for 10 Tables, I've heard very good things about it, and it's on my list of places to go. Don't have any specific reports though.

I also forgot to mention East Coast Grill in Cambridge, but that may be out of your way--I particularly enjoy their brunch.

Has anyone been to Excelsior for dinner? I've had some really good appetizers at the bar, but haven't heard much about the regular menu. Location right on the park is nice too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We just got back from a visit to Boston. I really enjoyed No. 9 Park; make sure to try the cocktails. One thing I'd do differently: 7 course tasting instead of the 9 course. The additional foie gras dish was disappointing and I love foie. Standout dish was the raw hamachi with aged soy (eye-opener, unlike any soy I've tasted, added a smoky quality to the dish), sesame oil, olive oil, and lime.

Didn't care for B&G Oysters that much. Lobster roll wasn't my style. I've determined I prefer some mayo and added flavor components, along with a toasted bun. I guess I just don't like the naked taste of lobster all that much.

Cannoli from Modern Pastry in the North End ~ preferred it over Mike's as it had more of a fresh ricotta flavor. Best cannoli I've had. I can't believe I didn't eat these more when I lived in Boston. Next time I'll have to try Maria's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks for all the replies! my dad really wants to take us to 10 Tables. any info on that place?

10 Tables is a wonderful small neighborhood place specializing in seasonal American cuisine. Their Tuesday night 4 course wine dinner for $35 is a hard to beat value.

Eating pizza with a fork and knife is like making love through an interpreter.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

again, thanks! we have reservations at no. 9 park for our anniversary & i will report back.

are there any other lunch type places w/ toddler that anyone can suggest? we'll be based in brookline, but will be all over the place cambridge, newbury street, aquarium, south end...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cannoli from Modern Pastry in the North End ~ preferred it over Mike's as it had more of a fresh ricotta flavor. Best cannoli I've had. I can't believe I didn't eat these more when I lived in Boston. Next time I'll have to try Maria's.

Maria's is better than Modern for cannoli. Also, Modern's line is usually long and filled with tourists who don't know what they want.

I will say that Modern's torrone is better than Maria's.

Whenever I'm back in Boston I typically stop at both.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mmmm.....modern pastry...I go for the cookies. I like the cannoli at both places (Maria's and Modern), Maria's are better but they're both good.

Here's an overly-long list of good casual places for dinners/lunches with kids or for when you just want something simple:

I want to second the East Coast Grill recommendation. We used to live quite nearby and ate there often. Good, fresh food, kinda crowded and noisy (in the good way). They've also opened up a sandwich shop next door for lunches. Don't know how it is but I'll bet it's a winner.

If you're out in Newton, Try Blue Ribbon Barbecue (if you can get a table), good stuff (by northern standards anyway). For good pub food, try The Cambridge Common, simple Italian go for Vinnie's in Winter Hill (best Italian served in the back of a convenience store even though it's gone a bit downhill).

Rene's for a random breakfast/lunch is always a nice stop (Holland Street in Somerville, just outside of Davis Square). Nothing fancy but kid friendly and home cooked food.

Seoul Kitchen on Mass Ave (outside of Porter Square) is pretty good but the owner's really nice and you feel like you've got your own Korean grandmother.

The Porter Exchange Building houses a couple of good noodle bars and a half-decent sushi place (Bluefin).

Christopher's in Porter Square is arguably the best general-purpose casual restaurant in Cambridge, mebee even greater Boston (good burgers, good vegetarian, nice mix, great place).

Emma's in Kendall Square has good pizza and salads (non-traditional). Stonehearth in Belmont has EXCELLENT pizza and is good for the kids (I make a trip whenever I'm home). I like Redbones in Davis but I'm the first to admit I'm not an impartial judge.

For Chinatown I always liked East Ocean City and Grand Chow Chow (although I tended to be eating at them in the wee hours after nights out). Pearl and Imperial used to have good Dim Sum. If you're in the North End, try Maurizio's on Hannover Street.

Chains: Legal is funny, the good ones are pretty good (very fresh if unimaginative, good service), the bad ones.....are the Bennigan's of the Sea. Good ones at Kendall, the new one in Copley Place (NOT the Prudential), Downtown and Newton.

A lot of folks like P.F. Changs for a chain, I always feel like I'm eating a big plate of sugar and salt and not much else, but what do I know?

The Blue Room (kendall) used to have a lovely brunch. Henrietta's Table has a great brunch but pretty pricey.

I'll second L'Espalier, Radius, Clio and Rialto (I've had good experiences there) for a special event and Sel De Terre for a more casual (but still nice) time. If you can get a sitter, don't rule out Silks in Tingsboro MA (haven't eaten there in a few years but they used to be excellent and they have a great wine cellar).

I'm forgetting a ton but this is more than anyone will read anyway so....

Enjoy Boston!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...