I am sick and tired of being disapointed with Boston's food
I have been living in Boston for nearly three years now, and have yet find a rest. that is consistant and pleasing. I eat at some local places, but to tell you the truth I am getting really bored with them. Any suggestions for good old food whether it be American, new, old ethnic etc....
I am new to this site. I like fresh simple and healthy meals. I appreciate new tastes, and am willing to try just about anything. I am also on a low buget so when that comes into account, it makes it hard to try new things. What dissapoints me so much is when I do venture out to try new places, the food never seems to be worth the money. Maybe it's my additude that makes it harder to enjoy. I have traveled a bit in the Middle East and Italy and never had a bad meal there. Even when I am in NYC I always feel content after I eat. There's something about the restaurants that I have tried in Boston that just don't please me. Some places that I frequent are Border cafe in Cambridge, the Town Diner in Watertown, Oleana for special occasions, and varius Thai, and Korean places. Other places that I have gone to and was frustrated with are Sonsie, Ten Tables (loved the atmospher), the Red Fez...etc
Border Cafe and Sonsie? No wonder you're frustrated.
There are countless threads on this group for good cheap places to eat. Some of my personal faves:
Panificio in Beacon Hill and Back Bay (Italian-inspired cafe food)
Tapeo in Back Bay/Dali in Somerville (real-deal Spanish)
Brown Sugar in Fenway/Similans in East Cambridge (Thai)
Sugar & Spice in Porter Square (Thai)
Wing's Kitchen in Chinatown (Shanghai style Chinese, though not as good as in NYC)
Sichuan Garden and Zoe's in Brookline Village (spicier Sichuan and Hunan style cookery)
Qingdao Garden in North Cambridge (northern style Chinese and lovely dumplings)
Pierrot Bistrot Francais in Beacon Hill (French)
Daily Catch in the North End (Italian with just a little garlic)
For special occasions:
No. 9 Park
of all places, Harvard Faculty Club (but you need an in there)
There are definitely a lot of places in the Boston area that are inexpensive, yet good, and have healthy options. Here are some that I like that fit in this category:
Reef Cafe, Allston (Syrian/Lebanese)
Greek Corner, Cambridge (Greek)
Antico Forno, Boston (Italian/pizza)
Dok Bua, Brookline (Thai)
King Fung Garden, Chinatown (Chinese)
Pho 2000, Dorchester (Vietnamese)
Classic India, Quincy (Indian)
Shanghai Gate, Allston (Chinese)
Paramount, Beacon Hill (American)
I'm still not sure exactly what the issue is with your experiences. You say tha the food "never seems to be worth the money". Can you give us an example of a dining experience where you felt that way, and why? Also, an example perhaps, of a place in NYC where you feel "content", and what the difference was? To be honest, given some of the places you mentioned, I'm not surprised you aren't happy.
Having said that, I'll go out on a limb and offer up some suggestions I hope you might enjoy:
Peach Farm, Taiwan Cafe, King Fung Garden...all in Chinatown, all excellent renditions of various Chinese regional cuisines.
Kaze Shabu-Shabu restaurant in Chinatown. Fresh ingredients with tasty broth choices. It's healthy, delicious and fun.
Brown Sugar Cafe and Trattoria Toscana, both on Jersey St. in the Fenway. Very good Thai and Tuscan-style Italian food.
Rangtzen Tibetan in Central Sq, Cambridge
Addis Red Sea Ethiopian in the South End (definitely different, and tasty and not expensive)
The Helmand Afgani restaurant in East Cambridge
Brookline Family Restaurant, a very nice Turkish place in Brookline Village (inexpensive and very tasty). The Sichuan Garden Chinese place next door is also excellent.
For Indian food, the India Quality House on Comm Ave. is quite good, and cheap too.
I'm sure others will have suggestions, too. So let us know if we hit the mark for you.
I've lived in New York before (twice, actually). Name a few of the places you frequented and enjoyed there, and perhaps I can recommend the Boston versions.
In the meantime, here are a few places I enjoy on the relative cheap (warning: I live in the North End, so my list leans heavily that way):
-For GREAT sandwiches/subs, the Fresh Cheese Shop on Endicott is really good. They're mainly a cheese and salami/cured meats shop, but they'll make a sammy out of anything in the place you choose.
-For a healthy, authentic Neopolitan pizza, I like Antico Forno on Salem Street. REALLY simple, fresh pies. Just a little sauce, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and a few basil leaves, all cooked in their huge brick oven.
-If you happen to have a little money in your pocket, Mare is pretty wonderful. All-organic seafood.
-For Thai, I like Bangkok City on Mass. Ave. Be sure to ask for the Thai Menu, and I almost guarantee you'll love the food.
-For cheap, authentic Mexican, jump on the train and head for Providence. Mexico (on Atwells Ave. past all the Itaian places) has the best peasant Mexican around. For healthy vegetarian tacos and burritos, try Taqueria la Mexicana in Somerville.
I'll stop now and let you list a few NY spots you like.
I had similar frustrations when I first moved to Boston - many of the touted places are overrated and overpriced in my opinion. You must also remember the history of this town - until recently, it really was not a good eating town.
Personally, I have been able to come to a fragile peace with dining in Boston largely by staying out of Boston proper and heading to the satellites such as Cambridge, Somerville, East Boston, where food tends to be served simpler but somehow better, at least to me.
To wit, I'd recommend that you try the following places to see if they suit you:
Tacos Lupita - Near Porter Sq., Somerville - Fresh and simple Mexican / Salvadoran food - I eat here once a week - try the taco combo (3 tacos + rice and beans) for value.
Neighborhood Restaurant - Union Sq., Somerville - Portuguese-influenced weekend brunch outside in the courtyard under a fully-laden arbor - Great food, generous portions, try the cream of wheat instead of fresh fruit.
R.F. O'Sullivan's, Beacon Street, Somerville - Well-liked burgers, get rings instead of fries. Also recommend Tir Na Nog in Union Square - very decent burgers and fries in a very congenial atmosphere, although much more subterranean than O'Sully.
Vinny's at Night, Broadway, East Somerville - Sicilian/So. Italian cooking in a casual environment - try the double-thick pork chop in vinegar/pepper sauce or beef bresciola. I don't go to the North End for Italian - I go here. Also try Carlo's Cucina on Brighton Ave. in Brighton for similar vibe and value.
Santarpio's in East Boston for pizza, grilled lamb and homemade grilled sausage.
Rincon Limeno in East Boston for very decent Peruvian, including one piquant! ceviche!
Maybe these are the kinds of places that you seek, perhaps not. But when I think of Italian cooking, these places are the closest American equivalents, in that the places seem to showcase a very basic love of food, without all the foodie-ist trappings. There are of course times for fancy, but this is about my everyday chow.
As much as I feel that Boston could do with some more inspired choices when it comes to restaurants, I would be hard-pressed to say that there is not a good meal to be found in the city. My advice is to set your sights off the beaten path.
A cross section of your list would suggest that some of your choices are driven more by popular buzz (a la The Improper Bostonian) than by other, more adventurous palates. If you are as well-traveled as your suggest, I think that Boston has more than enough to offer by way of ethnic food and direct queries on Chowhound should turn up an array of choices.
As an aside, what is it about your attitude that you see as holding you back?
re: Ernie Diamond
Yes, *never* rely on a good review in things like Boston Magazine, the Improper Bostonian, and the like. A bad review might be a reason for caution if the critiques seem well-founded. But a good review is nearly worthless, because those publications are all about happy-clappy boosterism in one form or another. Anything targeted at students is similarly likely to be biased the needs of that special demographic, not towards really good eats as such; any place with a scene is usually more about the scene than about the food (hint: Boston leaves hipness and glamor to other cities, one thing many of us are grateful for here).
re: Karl S
I agree. A good strategy might be to just "get lost" in the city--find some interesting neighborhoods you know little about, check out menus of restaurants that you come across along the way that you have never heard of, and see if the places seem to be packed with locals from the neighborhood. That, plus getting some good tips from this site, should get you on your way to finding some great spots.
A good example is last night; I had heard about a place called Zaleks in Wakefield from someone on Chowhound. The place is behind the CVS on a quiet side street, and there is little info on the place (and I don't know Wakefield very well, so of course, I got lost). Well, it turned out to be a terrific little spot for Greek cuisine and sandwiches. But you won't hear about a place like that in Boston Magazine or the like.
Same goes with Pho Yuen Dong in Quincy, where I went last weekend. There isn't much info about the restaurant in the big magazines and newspapers, but when you walk in to the place and realize that EVERYONE dining there is Vietnamese, you know the place is probably pretty good (and it was).
Believe me, there are some great places out there in the Boston area. Let us know if you find any over the next few weeks!
I absolutely agree with hiddenboston regarding reviews. Most of my favorite restaurant "finds" have been from recommendations on this board, or other similar places, or friends whose taste I respect, or have been places I've driven by and was curious enough to finally try out for myself.
My only other comment would be that I do read restaurant reviews in CERTAIN places, where I feel that my tastes agree with the reviewer. For example, a review in Boston magazine or Improper or Stuff at Night or even the Boston Globe would generally mean nothing to me, because I don't have a lot of respect for the reviewers' taste.
However, reviews in the Weekly Dig, the Phoenix, the Patriot Ledger, and the Herald even, I have found to be more in line with what I would enjoy.
altho you did not suggest a good and solid meal can be had at the porter square food stalls[ really casual sitdown restaurants] the fish is fresh as well the vegetables and the meals are made right after you order. never a disappointing meal easy on your budget really . the happy hour at mccormick and schmidts has great deals too..hamburgs and oysters[in season and FRESH] for very wallet friendly prices..good luck with all of the great choices
Cafe Appolonia in Roslindale is good fresh food. Not the cheapest but not the priciest either. It is Albanian food.
Lordy, lordy, I have a list of restaurants, places that I have yet to visit for chow!
Funny, I agree the Herald's food recommendations are much better than the Globe's! Didn't know about the Weekly Dig had a food section! Thanks!
"I like fresh simple and healthy meals." - There are many threads on this board about this topic - use the search function.
"I appreciate new tastes, and am willing to try just about anything. I am also on a low budget so when that comes into account, it makes it hard to try new things. What disappoints me so much is when I do venture out to try new places, the food never seems to be worth the money." - Hounds are consistently offering opinions on a variety of cuisines with a range of price tags attached to them - read up on the board. Use the search function to search by cuisine or location or price.
"Maybe it's my attitude that makes it harder to enjoy." - Seems like you set yourself up to not like food in the city - what about your attitude is holding you back?
"I have traveled a bit in the Middle East and Italy and never had a bad meal there." - Really? I've had bad meals everywhere I've lived and traveled, I can't seem to get lucky 100% of the time - you sure do seem lucky. Italy, the Middle East & NYC are all vastly larger places than the great Boston area; try to keep that in mind.
"Even when I am in NYC I always feel content after I eat." - I'm from NYC - where do you like to eat there? I'll give you comparable places here.
"There's something about the restaurants that I have tried in Boston that just don't please me." Can you put a finger on it?
"Some places that I frequent are Border cafe in Cambridge, the Town Diner in Watertown, Oleana for special occasions, and various Thai, and Korean places. Other places that I have gone to and was frustrated with are Sonsie, Ten Tables (loved the atmosphere), the Red Fez...etc" - Boarder Cafe? For something other than margaritas? Hey, if you like cockroaches in your food, that's none of my business. If you've lived here for 3 years and are still eating at the same restaurants, try something new. There are enough recommendations on this thread, not to mention the entire board, to get you started.
Agree with all the above. Some further restaurant suggestions on the cheap/tasty side:
Cafe Jaffa, solid, tasty, cheap middle eastern food. Limster recently posted about the fava falafel.
Sophia's Grotto in Roslindale has inexpensive wines by the glass, and affordable salads, appetizers, pizzas, and sandwiches. Entrees are a bit more expensive, but the gnocchi (usu. avail. in winter) is wonderful and worth the price.
Bukhara in Jamaica Plain: not the cheapest indian food, but one of the tastiest, despite the typical horrible service in all indian restaurants.
La Paloma in Quincy has very affordable, very tasty Mexican food.
Fuji on North Hancock Street in Quincy (not the one in Quincy Center) has tasty sushi and cooked japanese lunch specials. Not the best ever, but very affordable and generous.
Quincy has lots of great chinese, vietnamese, indian, and other ethnic places. Do a search, and you'll get tons of hits.
JP Seafood (in JP)/Village Sushi (in Roslindale) both have affordable, very good japanese food. JP Seafood has some nice korean dishes.
Cheap Brazilian food can be had in Somerville, Cambridge, and Everett. And there are tons of cheap good places in the North End. My current favorite is Massimino's.
The Weekly Dig reviews and (occasionally) the Cheap Eats section of the Globe are reliable for good reccomendations. Keep digging.
I've returned to Boston in the last year after living in some chow oasis and deserts, and from my perspective it's a great place for restaurants. Boston is also a great place for food shopping if you like to cook (as a grad student I got really interested in cooking as it was cheaper than going out, and sometimes even better than the available restaurants).
I'm not sure where you live but I've come to associate restaurants with T stops (I ride the T), so as I read Chowhound I file away which restaurants are where and then I'll take an excursion and walk by to check the menu and maybe have an appetizer or meal. Chowhound is a great way to get real insight into all the choices available in Boston, there are a huge number of discussions that can be searched or you can start one as you've done here.
Some more suggestions, they vary by price but are all comfortable and good: the several restaurants in the Porter Exchange building at Porter Square, Casablanca in Harvard Square, East Coast Grill at Inman Square, Miracle of Science by MIT, Neptune Oyster Bar in the North End, many restaurants in Chinatown (I'm not expert on these however), Shino Sushi at Copley Square, Eastern Standard at Kenmore Square, Boca Grande at Coolidge Corner, Washington Square Tavern at Washington Square.
Bosotn and the outer areas have great places to eat.. you have to just look and do your research. BOrders is liek a chain so why go? You get what you pay for...
Somerville and Cambridge have great places to eat... Out of the Blue in SOmertville is great for fish.. fresh, made to order and Steve adn Brad are great people. The porter Sq foodmarket has great cheap food... Little Vinnie's and Vinneys are great. Pini's makes a great ot go slice.. much better than their take out pie's.
Pho Lemongrass in Brookline has great pho.. I am sure some people on this board can give even better recommendations for pho in the dorchester area.
Thai Moon in Arlington is one of the best Thai places I have eaten at. I miss the fact I am in not in Somerville anymore b/c Thai Moon was so close:)
Rosi Sq has Sophia's Grotto, Gusto which is now Nuvo is supposed to be great - I have not yet eaten there. The Pleasant Cafe for their pizza and old time attitude. Village Sushi was yummy.
West Rox has a bunch of places.. a new one called Himalayian Bistro is great.. Samia's is also great for cheap fresh lebanese food.
JP has a few good places.. WOnder spice is ok, Bukhara was good, Dogwood pizza is good. Hyde Sq has a few cuban places.
Cafe Italia in East Boston (the original one) has great food. Uncle Pete's in Revere has some damn good bbq....
Definitely agree about Cafe Italia in Central Square, East Boston. Very few people know about this place; it has a cappuccino bar in the front, and an attractive dining room in the back. It's very old-school, as many places in East Boston are (Jeveli's and Rino's, to name a couple).
Please tell me more about Cafe Italia in East Boston. Last year we went to Zafferano's in East Boston and loved it! Heard about it on these boards and got directions. Where exactly is Central Square in East Boston? How would I get to Cafe Italia? Website or too small a place? Please also tell more about Jeveli's and Rino's. I'm sure there are more diamonds in the rough out there!
I am terrible w/ directions so all I can say is make sure you go to the original not the one in the heights. The bar area in back was built a while back but they did a great job w/it. The chef i loved is long gone so I haven't been in a while but I was never disappointed w/ a meal there. It is freah and great italian food. The appetizer of stuffed red peppers makes my mouth water.. i haven't had them in so long! And it is (or was) fun to watch the old timers that went in for cappucino.
The original Caffe Italia (which is indeed the one to go to) is at 150 Meridian Street; you just walk up Meridian Street about 7 minutes from Maverick Square (Maverick T stop on the Blue Line). It might have the single best cup of espresso in Greater Boston, and a lot more genuine atmosphere than many North End caffes. It feels like what it is, a three-generation family-owned and operated place. You probably don't want to play cards with the old Italian-American *nonni* there: they'll clean you out.
FYI, if you want to try Jeveli's its one of a few restaurants that regularly has a $25 gift certificate for $10 on restaurant.com (Sunset Cafe/Grill in Cambridge also does and Bomboa used to), plus apparently they have a 60% off coupon 78022 through 8/31, so you would get it for $4 I think. Needs to be a party of four, though. http://tinyurl.com/h6kn9
That said its quite different than Zafferano's -- its a veal parm, lobster pie, clams casino, shrimp scampi kind of place. Its in Day Square (Bennington and Chelsea) and pretty easy to find. I have never been to Rino's and its a bit harder to find (on saratoga), but its supposed to be excellent old school perhaps with more of an emphasis on pasta.
Caffe Italia is near the entrance to the Sumner tunnel and pretty accessable driving too. And don't for get Santarpio's too :-)
If you want something that is a bit between Zafferano's and the old school places, you could try Abbondanza in Everett.
bostonbob, i'll assume you're joking re: pizza.
bbhound, since when was this a fans-only lounge?
i think the problem with the boston scene is that it is still in a tranistion period from infamous culinary backwater specializing in chowder and not much else to a truly passable restaurant town. i'm sure its made some decent strides, but its got a looooong way to go.
there's also the fun factor, the intangible elements of glamour, sophistication, youth and sexiness that nyc has in spades and boston is lacking. oh, and the fact that much of the city turns into a ghostown come midnight is no help...
No, I'm not joking about gthe pizza. I mean, of COURSE NY has some great places (I particularly like John's, Lombardi's, and Grimaldi's), but most of the street corner places are just horrible. Maybe it's a matter of regional tastes, but I don't consider a pizza "great" simply because it has a limp, doughy crust that can easily be folded over.
And BTW, I realize NYC has the best restaurants in the country. My favorite is Daniel, which I absoluetly love. But to completely put down Boston just reeks of the superiority complex that seeps out of most New Yorkers' pores. For God's sake, NYC has over 10 million people. Boston has a little more than half a million. If NYC didn't have more great restaurants, it'd be an embarrassment.
We see a number of City X is better, more chowy etc... than City Y posts every once in a while. For the most part, they never lead good chow and often lead to flame wars.
Thus, such rants are counterproductive and usually off-topic. In our experience, making sweeping statements about an area's chow does not make one eat better. It's also beside the point, as the best chowhounds chow without borders; comparing one area with another is often meaningless in the big chow world out there.
Please focus on seeking out the best chow in you can with your available resources -- it's a much more delicious experience.
We'll be removing further posts comparing Boston to New York, so please keep further responses focused on Boston chow.