Is there an easy way to do the North End?
Wow, is all I can say about the chaos in the NE last night (every saturday night?). Reminded me of a B movie scene depicting the evacuation of a third world city.
Obviously I won't bring a car next time, any tips on effective ways to enjoy a pleasant evening there?
I think a great spot to avoid the chaos is Prezza. They take reservations, have a bar and serve dessert. I believe they have valet parking too which avoids any driving hassles (or you can just take a cab). On top of all that, the food is very good and the portions I have found to be pretty big.
North Street Grill is a bit off the beaten path. I would definitely check out the newer places on Salem street that are not on the tourist radar such as Eclano and La Brace, both of which are very good.
Many of these places also do lunch, it would be a more low key affair, with somewhat similar menus.
Some things I do to make the North End less painful: 1) avoid it on Friday and Saturday nights; 2) avoid places that don't take reservations; 3) take the T in; 4) discourage friends I'm meeting from driving in; 5) avoid feasts and processions, which generally take place between June and September.
I've heard of one proposal to turn Hanover St into a pedestrian mall a la Downtown Crossing, eliminating the insane car traffic altogether. This is the kind of idea that's easy to support if you don't live there.
I was in the NE too on Sat. evening, and it was a mad house. Even though the weather was not that great I attributed the larger than normal crowds to people thinking that this might be one of the last good weekends before the New England weather drops the hammer. There was a line at LaBrace which I hadn't seen before.
Generally speaking, bringing a car to the NE is a losing proposition. I usually do one lap just in case a miracle occurs and a spot is available, but after that I just head to a lot, no sense in starting the evening being frustrated.
As mentioned, many restaurants offer valet, but I find that I typically need a nice walk to the car after an night out in the North End.
Weekdays/evenings are my favorite - no crowds. For years I avoided the NE but there are so many great restaurants there. I like to arrive with no plans and then have a snack and a drink at a couple of different places. That's not everyone's cup of tea, though.
It's not bad parking in the lots down by the water - is that Commercial Street?