a few of my favorite holes in the wall
Here's a message I've been meaning to share with the Hub Chowhound community for a while now -- not a question, just a bunch of good answers.
My favorite Indian food: Little India, Moody Street, Waltham. This place is a treasure. Go especially for the Saag Paneer (spinach w/ homemade cheese), and there's a chickpea and tomato dish I really enjoy also.
runners-up: India House, Harvard Ave., Brookline (Coolidge Corner) (run by my once-upon-a-time landlord's kids); Bombay Bistro, Beacon Street, Brookline (also Coolidge Corner)
Favorite Greek: Niko's, Harvard Ave., Brookline. I mentioned this in reply to somebody else's question. Family restaurant was once magnficent, but they ruined their ambience when they opened their new place cafeteria style. And the food's just not the same anymore.
Favorite Chinese: I'm still mourning the loss of Ho Yuen Ting in Chinatown, but Chau Chau's is OK and Shanghai is OK.
Favorite Japanese: Fugakyu, on Beacon St. Not cheap, but sushi is not where you want to compromise. The ambience is very interesting. Actually, we usually get takeout to keep costs low.
Favorite Pizza: Bluestone Bistro, Com. Ave. and Chiswick Street (aka Bluestone Square). Wonderful gourmet 'za with incredible crust and interesting toppings.
for ordinary 'za: Pino's Pizza, on Cleveland Circle. Generous portions, nice crust, good toppings. Runner-up: Imperial Pizza, Washington St., Brighton Center. Better cheese pizza than Pino's, but the toppings aren't as good.
Favorite falafel and middle eastern: Rami's, on Harvard St. (Glatt Kosher) They make felafel with a real imported Israeli falafel machine, and I enjoy the sound of Hebrew conversation swirling in the air around me as much as the wonderful smell. Be sure to say "Ma Nishma" to Rami (the big guy w/ Kippah). Man, I miss Cafe Aviv, but that's water under the bridge.
Runner-up: Schwarma King, Beacon St. Also wonderful falafel - a little to much of one spice for me, but if you got turned out by the falafel in Lebanon as opposed to Israel, you'll probably like this more. They also have several varieties of shwarma, as opposed to just one, and a lot more intriguing desserts than Rami's. I also like the raisin juice.
Mexican: Anna's Taqueria, Beacon St. and Harvard St. Wonderful, enormous softshell burritos. Go for the tamarind soda, too.
for sit-down Mexican, Sol Azteca on Beacon St. at Park Drive is amazing. It's one of the only Mexican restaurants I know that doesn't shamelessly cheat and serve up tex-mex food, and it isn't annoyingly decorated like a carnival fun house, either. Go for the mole poblano - I've hardly ever encountered this dish outside of Mexico. Warning: I hear the Newton restaurant by the same name is not as good, but I've never been to it.
Fajitas and Ritas on Route 9 at Harvard St. merits a mention also.
Barbecue: I like Village Smokehouse (do any of you sense a Brookline prejudice? It's just b/c I've lived in Brighton and Brookline for the past 6 years); get the beef ribs, the brisket, or the chicken. or, hell, get the baby back ribs if you want -- I don't eat swine or shellfish any more. I hear it's not the best in the city though -- Blue Ribbon in Newton is supposed to be awesome, and Jake 'n Earl's somewhere is supposed to be incredible. I hear good things about Redbones in Somerville, but I understand they do "dry" BBQ, as opposed to the Smokehouse's "wet" approach, which is what I do when I do my own BBQ.
You already know my stands on Brazilian (Cafe Brazil, Cambridge St., Brighton) and Vietnamese (Sai Gon, Cambridge St., Brighton) from my earlier post.
New England seafood: My wife's family swears by the Barnacle in Marblehead, and Bob's Clam Hut in (I think) Kittery, Maine. Like I said, I quit eating shellfish a few years back, but I find both of these places have wonderful fish and chips.
I'm probably foregetting quite a few gems, but that's enough for now. B'tay Avon (Hebrew for "Bon Apetit")
Re Jake and Earl's -- it was in fact pretty great, but, sadly, it's gone. It was in Inman Square, next to -- and under the same ownership as -- the East Coast Grill. There's actually a plaque there commemorating its passing, so when you're passing by you can shed a tear, as I did when I showed up a few months ago and found it gone.
Redbones, on the other hand, is still there, and it's really really good.
re: Chris E.
So many. Korean Deli in Porter Square is just that: An old deli, case and all, now filled with half a dozen types of kimchi, pickled, excellent beef, and run by a husband-wife couple that cook some of the most authentic "Seoul" food in town. Try the rice sticks, fiery/tangy layered sauce. The squid. Vegetarian chapchae.
Chinatown: King fung Garden defines hole in the wall. Doris and Irwin Mei's place looks like an abandoned shack. Peking Duck is tops in town, got to order it 24 hours ahead. hot and sour soup is cliched but stellar. Pork belly is a gorgeously fatty indulgence. Three tables, three booths. Can BYOB if stealthy.
Jake's Boss BBQ; Esssentially the old Jake&Earl's. Schlesinger helped set Jake up in JP. If they have the rib tips, get them. Chicken wings unlike any I've tasted -- absurdly moist, tangy, lip-stinging spice. The brisket is still legendary. Sammy's rock -- sandwiches. Beans that weave smoke, spice, and brisket bits...
Banh Mi: Like a greatest-hits collection of the street food you'd find in Hanoi. Signature banh mi sandwich, summer rolls (chicken, shrimp, veggie), vermicelli dishes, bana leaves around sticky ric, savory and sweet, and the highest price : $2.
Chinatown Eatery: The original hole-in-thewall, like a food court in Hong Kong or Singapore or Bangkok. Lots of Thai and Chinese, plus a juice bar unlike any other. Drinks garnished with flavor-absorbing black tapioca pearls, flabvors like red bean, taro, mi;lk tea, pineapple, honeydew, cantaloup, you name it. Most people I know that have been to SE Asia (me included) miss the fruit drinks A LOT. This is the fix.
Montrose Spa: Deli dropped, litter-like, on outskirts of Porter/Harvard. Cuban ownership. Pressed sandwiches have a cult following.
Hungry Herbs: In Medord. Worth the trip. 300+ sandwiches, almost all steak and chicken tips. Herb is a cowboy steak of a man, large and robust, all opinions. Let him choose for you. Nothing like abundance.
Baraka Cafe: imaginative reconciliations of North African and French flavors. Lemonade to knock your socks off. Real understanding of the tastes of sweet and salty, plus that seductive Moroccan spice palette. About 6 or 7 tables.
Campo de Fiori: Harvard Square. In the Holyoke Arcade alleyway. Looks food court-y. Isn't. Serve a Roman street specialty called pane romano, a bread about 8 feet-long, rolled and patted out by hand. Gnarled look. Treated pizza like or used for sandwiches. Great ciambelle as well.
La Sultana and the host of Eastie taquerias: The heart of latino culture in Boston. La Sultana makes spot-on empanadas, crust touched up with plaintains, real ddeply flavored fillings, chicken and beef separate. The Taquerias (sorry, no names) are hit or miss, but I've had some excellent pupusas (yes, Salvadoran) and carnitas tacos.
Cafe Belo: Haven't been in a while. In A/B area, odd lcoation near a gas station. Some by-the pound pricing where it's under $5 per pound. Brazilian stews, meats, yadda yadda. Fun, lots of food.
Thanks for the list (and to Jim for forwarding it to me...)
Since I wound up in Newton, I went to the Blue-Ribbon Bar-B-Q... 1375 Washington Street, West Newton...
The Memphis ribs (dry) were more than adquate to get me over my rib-deprivation (at least for now...).. I got a combo plate, with some North Carolina Pulled Pork. Lots of Smoke in everything... well done!! Came with corn-bread (boring), pickles (quite good and spicy!!), and I took the server's recommendation of Mashed Potatoes and the Cheese Grits (the latter not on the menu - but a house specialty)... Both were outstanding... Worth going back!!