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From cheap eats to not so cheap--Where best to dine in Boston?(near Pru tower, back bay, or Faneuil area)

Hi All,
I'll be staying near the Prudential tower, and would love your suggestions on places to dine (includes Back Bay, Beacon Hill etc)that aren't too far from that area . Probably the furthest I would like to go is the Faneuil Hall area, unless there is an absolute 'must dine' place that you love...

I used to love Marche (gone), Cappuccino's (gone), great cafe in Beacon Hill (name escapes me but it's gone)(oh and I hate hate hate Finale so fyi if someone is thinking of going there)...
I'd love to gain a new repertoire of place to go to that you food experts could recommend to me.

I would appreciate your recommendations on good places for a quick/nice breakfast (definately has to be near the Pru for that one), nice lunch or quick lunch, inexpensive to moderate dinners, cafes, afternoon tea places, and general fun lively places maybe with some music as well.

The cuisine I would appreciate at these places would be 'new American'/eclectic, American, continental, Italian, English, Irish, French, Brazilian, Cuban, Seafood. Not interested in steakhouses, chinese, mexican or Indian.

I greatly look forward to your wonderful insight on where is best to dine in the Boston area. Thanks for your help!!!!

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  1. For breakfast, I think you have to go to Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe on Columbus ave. You can't go wrong, and you'll eat enough to keep you going all day.

    Trattoria Toscana on Jersey St in the Fenway area is only about a 30 minute walk from the Pru and a quick search on this board will give you plenty of positive reviews.

    1. Back Bay is difficult because there are so many bad chain restaurants here. Everything is gear to tourists and conventioneers. You don't have to be good, just near the Pru.

      You could try Steve's on Newbury (at Hereford) for breakfast. Or, Trident Bookseller's cafe on Newbury near Mass Ave. Niether is great but they are okay.

      Panificio is about to open at Mass Ave and Commonwealth and if it is half as good as the one on Beacon Hill, it will be a great addition to the neighborhood. We asked on Sunday and they were hoping to be open by this weekend.

      For lunch there are a few tiny places with simple food and good value. There is Cafe Jaffa at 48 Gloucester St and a noodle shop across the street. (Correction: It is not across the street. It is on Hereford Street across the alley from Steve's)

      Island Hopper on Mass between Newbury and Commonwealth is good. And, our last take-out from Indian Samraat on Mass between Commonwealth and Marlborough was very good.

      If you want great food, you have to leave Back Bay. Aside from L'Espalier, the food here is just so-so. (Edit: I forgot Cleo- Excelelnt but pricy and UNI at the Eliot Hotel.)

      1. Chili Duck on Boylston if you like Thai. Parish Cafe further down Boylston by Arlington. Paramount on Charles St. Laurel on Berkeley St. The Pourhouse for very basic barfood. Also on Boylston Lir and Solea for Irish pubs. City Bar in the Lenox is fairly reasonable for fancy bar food. Bukowski's on Dalton St.

        1. Casa Romero, tucked away in an alley between Newbury & Comm Ave, is about as good an upscale Mexican place as you'll find in Boston.

          1. I'll second Charlie's. I'll suggest a few South End spots that are a close walk. For lunch-- Appleton Bakery is close, Flour is a little further but worth the walk. Miami cafe is less than a 10 minute walk as well for a cuban sandwich. For dinner, try Orinoco or Delux.

            1. Lala Rokh for Persion food on Beacon Hill.

              Helmund for Afghan across the river near Cambridgeside Galleria.

              Dali for tapas in Cambridge.

              Trattoria Toscana for pasta that will make you smile.

              These are great, fun ethnic places in moderate price ranges. It's worth it to get away from Back Bay.

              1. Domani for very good, creative "Italian."

                1. Second Steve's or Charlie's for breakfast, but Steve's is closer. Whiskeys right across from the Pru is having a lobster special and Legal's in the Pru is reliable if predictable. Summer Shack across from Sheraton is good for fried clams and the oyster bar. Bukowski's next to it is good for hamburgers and pub grub. Petit Robert Bistro in kenmore square is charming for dinner. Siblings in the south end is worth the walk as is B & G Oysters (maybe a 6 block walk?) If you want to pig out at breakfast, the Marriot serves one of those buffet monstrosities for about 16.00.

                  1. Hi,

                    First I agree that Boston's best dining is not in the Back Bay. Having said that, however...

                    Cafe Jaffa is a good Israeli/Middle Eastern place on Gloucester St, that's moderately priced and tasty. Good for lunch or dinner.

                    The "Other Side Cosmic Cafe", on Newbury St., (it's on the "other side" of Mass. Ave., across from Tower Records, next to the ramp on to the Mass Pike) is a nice vegan/veggie/healthy, bohemian place with good lunch fare for sandwiches, soups and salads. They also have live music sometimes, which is usually folkie and jazz.

                    There's also Charlie's Eating and Drinking Establishment, which is on Newbury St. (not to be confused with Charlie's Sandwich Shop). They serve decent burgers, steaks, and sandwiches, and it's reasonably-priced.

                    For Seafood, the Legal Seafoods in the Prudential Center is your best bet in the area for consistently good seafood. Skipjack's restaurant on Clarendon St. isn't bad either, but I prefer Legal. The other chains in the Pru are California Pizza Kitchen and Cheesecake Factory. Either one would be OK for a lunch or a moderate dinner, if you really don't want to leave the immediate area.

                    Since Back Bay is chain heaven, there's also a branch of the Hard Rock Cafe on Clarendon St., a few blocks from the Pru.

                    If you are willing to go to Quincy Market, try dinner at Durgin Park. That's a unique-to-Boston experience, and the food is excellent. Lots of New England specialities and great Prime Rib, clam chowder, baked schrod and Indian Pudding.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: mwk

                      I agree about Cafe Jaffa...very good shwarma, though I wasn't so fond of the hummus (tasted a bit like dirt to me, no idea why).

                      I also like Tapeo (tapas, Newbury St.), though it can get overwhelmed with drunken groups. The pork with blue cheese sauce is fabulous (also good: baked tomato/goat cheese, garlic shrimp).

                      Last summer I had a good cocktail and fancy pizza at Croma (also Newbury), though reviews on this board have been pretty poor.

                      1. re: mwk

                        Just so no one gets lost: The big record store on the corner of Mass Ave and Newbury St is a Virgin Megastore (no longer Tower Records). The Other Side Cafe is kitty-corner from the Virgin.

                        1. re: Alcachofa


                          My bad. That is indeed a Virgin Megastore (although not for much longer, I hear). I guess old habits die hard.

                      2. Bukowski's isn't a bad option for lunch.

                        1. agree with bukowski's and parish for lunch, as well as b and g for dindin/oysters... also, franklin cafe in south end, and cambridge one in harvard square are both nice low key options for dinner.

                          1. Thanks again for the helpful info. I'll try to put it to good use!
                            I'd love to find a place like D.C.'s Ebbit's Grill, or Clyde's....Is there such a thing in Boston?

                            Any more votes for where you love to go for sunday brunch?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: SmeagolDobby

                              The Old Ebbitt Grill in DC is kind of in its own universe. For a tepid Boston approximation, consider Scollay Square on Beacon Hill (mid-priced) or Locke-Ober in Downtown Crossing (high end). They both have a State House/City Hall crowd at lunch, old-timey, handsome settings, and pretty straightforward American menus. Parker's in the Omni Parker House near the State House also has some of that feel, but I think the food is pretty weak there, and it ain't cheap.

                              For a Clyde's-like combination of raw bar and old-school American in the Back Bay, you might try places like Abe and Louie's or Turner Fisheries, but they're both relatively pricey. Globe Bar and Cafe on Boylston has some of that saloon-y kind of feel to it, but the food is mediocre at best.

                              Other Back Bay places aiming for a Clyde's vibe are chains with stereotypical casual-dining menus, like Joe's American Bar and Grill and Charley's Eating and Drinking Saloon, both on Newbury Street. I really hate those kind of places.

                              1. re: SmeagolDobby

                                For brunch the I like the Four Seasons, but the South End has loads of places, almost all of which are on Tremont St, (don't forget this is Boston and you can rarely find brunch after 2pm).

                                For the salooney feel McCormick and Scmicks in the Park Plaza sounds about right, but I would concur with an earlier poster who recommended Locke-Ober in that it's your best bet.

                                1. re: SmeagolDobby

                                  The Oak Bar at the Fairmont Copley is a pretty good scene, classic old bar-restaurant with great martinis.

                                2. My suggestions would Petit Robert on Comm Ave Kenmore Sq and also Eastern Standard in the Commonwealth Hotel also on Comm Ave Kenmore Sq. Great bay is another restaurant in the hotel which is also pretty good for high-end seafood.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: RoyRon

                                    The Beef Bourginon at Petite Robert is heaven for soup/stew lovers, and the warm fresh baked free unlimited french bread that they serve makes the perfect utensil for sopping it up.

                                  2. While it's not the best Indian in town, the Gourmet India in the pru foodcourt offers above average, tasty Indian food at a great bargain. Seriously, two big samosas for $1.95?! sign me up.

                                    1. This post brings up a larger problem, especially for a Back Bay resident like myself: THERES NOWHERE TO GET BREAKFAST! :-(

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: tamerlanenj

                                        Yikes! Such vehemence! What's not to like about Rachel's Kitchen in Bay Village? It's a homey, charming, personable & personal little place w/lovely food. http://www.rachelskitchenboston.com/

                                        1. re: tamerlanenj

                                          For breakfast, consider Steve's and the Trident on Newbury, Park Square Cafe in the Park Square Building, the cafeteria in the YWCA, and Billy's Coffee Shop just over the Pike on Berkeley.

                                          1. re: tamerlanenj

                                            I just called the Panifico on Beacon Hill to find out when the Panifico Back Bay will open. They are saying they would love to know but hope it will be sometime this week.

                                            Then we will be able to add that to Steve's and Trident for breakfast.

                                          2. I disagree that there's nowhere to get breakfast in the Back Bay. Steve's on Hereford & Newbury serves a good breakfast and it's inexpensive. Trident Cafe serves breakfast all day long and they're pretty good. They also have a variety of coffees, teas, and health drinks. The Pour House does a good weekend brunch. The Four Seasons, Sonsie, The Back Bay Restaurant Group Restaurants (e.g. Charley's Eating & Drinking Saloon, Joe's American Bar & Grille, Abe & Louie's) all do brunch. I want to say the Other Side might do brunch or breakfast on the weekends, but I'm not positive on that.

                                            1. I also understand Casa Romero does a brunch on the weekends.