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Home-coming suggestions?

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I'm headed to Boston for my annual summer visit & I'm looking for great rec's. I will be visiting family in Dorchester/Southie, Jamaica Plain, Lynnfield & Saugus though recommendation should not be limited to these areas. I would appreciated suggestions for the following......
1)Best fried clams (woodmans?)?
2)Best pizza (real deal, ultra-thin crust...nowhere
to be found in LA, my home of the last 10+years)?!!
3)Best upscale urban (anystyle)?
4)Best chinese (china town....Carls Pagoda has been a
favorite for years)?
5)Best dessert (cafe vittoria/Mikes Pastry)?

Any other suggestions are appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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  1. See the clam thread for suggestions on #1. For #2, I'd say the Dish in the South End or Emma's in Kendall Sq., both awesome thin crust style. #3, I'd choose Bristol Lounge, Mantra, Troquet or Ambrosia (all downtown/BackBay). #5, the choc. bread pudding at Sonsie is pretty amazing as are their fruit tarts (entrees are good too and their white pizza is tasty). For takeout, I like Zathmary's in Coolidge Corner, Flour in the South End, well I can almost always find something. For JP eating, you might try Perdix on Centre St. which I haven't been to yet but it looks great and has gotten excellent reviews.

    1. 1. Fried Clams

      - The two best sources I've found in the area: Clam Box, Ipswich and Summer Shack, Cambridge. Although I am surprised to find that it occasionally gets negative reviews on this board, Summer Shack has the best fried clams I've ever had. Additionally, several fried clam fiends who I've taken there have declared Summer Shack's to be the best they have ever had. Clam Box in Ipswich does a nice job, too. At both places, whole bellies, of course.

      2. Pizza

      By far the best pizza I have had in the area is at Cafe Louis. However, it is grilled pizza and is fairly non-traditional in style. As for classic NY thin crust, I don't think you'll find it in Boston. I have tried all the recommendations (Emma's, Regina, Ernesto's, Dish, Haymarket, Santarpio's, etc.), and, while all good, none are worth a detour on your limited trip. Cafe Louis' pizza, on the other hand, is memorable. Go! Really.

      3. UPSCALE URBAN

      Depends how upscale you want to go. For upscale food in a chic but downscale SoHo sort of atmosphere, Franklin Cafe is very tough to beat. Consistently excellent and exciting food. Further upscale, Clio's tasting menu is the best meal I have had in Boston. Easily. Perdix (JP) is also a good recommendation. Not quite upscale in atmosphere, it is more like eating at the nice home of a good freinds who happens to be an amazing chef. An open kitchen with only a handful of tables in a small room. Great vibrant flavors.

      4. Chinese

      I think Taiwan Cafe is a notch above the rest of the Chinatown greats I've been to (Peach Farm, Shanghai, Chau Chau. etc.). Taiwan Cafe is great (and unique) for two reasons: One, you can pretty much point blindly at their huge menu and expect to get something great (although, the Eggplant with Basil, pork with mustard greens, and dumplings have been stand-outs). Two, it doesn't seem to attempt to be a clone of every other place in Chinatown. It just does what it does well, and (I suppose) hopes you might like it.

      5. DESSERT

      Oleana does some wonderful things with ice cream as an accompaniment. (Incidentally, Oleana's North African cuisine is also worth seeking out, but doesn't really fit into any of yoru categories.) Finale is a fun dessert-only place. Clio and Cafe Louis also have spectacular desserts. If you like tarts with world class pastry, Cafe Louis does a remarkable job. Truly special desserts at Cafe Louis. Blu, too!!

      6. OTHER

      I think that some of the most exciting flavors at any Boston restaurant come from Atasca, a Portuguese place in Cambridge. If any of the following intrigue you, I highly recommend it: octopus salad, bachalau, grilled squid in garlic tomato sauce, linguica pate on grilled cornbread, and an amazing custard tart, as good as any I ever had in Portugal!

      For a downscale, original meal, head to Newmarket Square at noon on Tuesday-Friday for a Speed's hot dog. Sometimes, folks I've been in line with have come from as far as 40 miles away, just for the dog! A shack hot dog stand serving the most delicious and unique dog ever. Make sure to get it with the works. The kind-hearted octogenerian will throw on the signature barbecue sauce and all the fixings, and you'll be glad he did!

      Enjoy!!!

      1. For a great Italian dinner try Nico's in Saugus. I think it is Jackson Street right next to the cable company. You will have the absolute best dinner ever. I would advise you making reservations (especially on weekends) they only have about 12 tables. It is a tiny tiny store front that is so immaculate you could actually eat off the floor!

        North End for desserts (or entrees & appetizers) try Prezza on Fleet Street. Absoulutely the very very best. Their food is excellent and the desserts are to die for.

        Enjoy your summer!

        1. First, I'll second (?!?) C. Simon's recommendation for Speed's Hot Dogs. Like no other dog in the world (bigger, and better). Plus Speed is a great guy.

          Second, on the pizza and dessert questions: For pizza, The Upper Crust on Beacon Hill serves some fabulous thin-crust pizza. It's basically a stylish pizza joint, not a sit-down restaurant. I'm not sure if the pizza falls into a particular style: I'd say it's actually a little thinner than New York pizza, and the dough rim is less puffy. Whatever the style, it's damn good.

          Just down the street (Charles St. -- nice for a stroll) is Cafe Vanille, which has nice french pastry.

          Re Italian pastry, I've noticed that most chowhounds recommend the Modern Pastry Shop on Hanover St. in the North End over Mike's. I've certainly never been all that impressed with Mike's. If you scroll down a bit, I think there's a discussion on that very subject. One note: the Modern doesn't have much seating.

          Oh, and back to pizza ... I know it's slightly heretical to send people to Todd English's ever-expanding empire, but I think that Figs has pretty great pizza, and good non-pizza offerings too. There's one on Beacon Hill (I seem to be fixated on that area), and locations in CHarlestown, Chestnut Hill, and a bunch of other places.

          1. The best ultra thin crusted pizza in this area was from La Hacienda on Gore St. in E. Cambridge.