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so sick of Boston bashing...

tatamagouche Feb 5, 2007 02:37 PM

Just had a lot of recent conversations that really boil my blood re: how conservative we are, how we're so backwater we think Oishii's great sushi or Regina's great pizza or whatever. "Compared to NY" or "compared to SF" blah blah. I'm not saying it's not true; to a great extent it is (putting aside the fact that, as many like MC Slim have pointed out, the comparison is somewhat skewed by our smaller size). BUT. I'd like to think we've got something to offer that other cities simply don't. Am I wrong? If you moved somewhere else tomorrow, what dishes/places/chefs/experiences do you think you would suddenly start waxing poetic/bragging about to your new friends?
Sigh. Just depressed hence curious.

  1. t
    teezeetoo Feb 2, 2008 02:10 PM

    my ny friends really enjoy eating here when they visit: we take them to local reasonably priced small restaurants and they tell me quality such as La Morra's or Ten Tables would be twice the price in NY. Its a waste of time to compare: I live here, I eat here, I love visiting NY, and I'd rather live in Boston.

    1. s
      SSqwerty Feb 2, 2008 08:33 AM

      Just to pursue Jajjguy's point, there are whole food CULTURES here, a point of view informed by history and experience, that are totally lacking in other cities (though they have their points of view as well). If I had to move back to NYC tomorrow I would most certainly miss:
      --BOSTON'S SANDWICH CULTURE: It was one of the first things I noticed when I moved here. Bostonians aren't as demented about burgers as NYC; they love their sandwiches here in a unique and heartwarming way. Steak tips. Bulkie rolls (which exist nowhere else). Lobster rolls. Paninis and Wraps. Sure you can get a good burger here, but sandwiches are part and parcel of our local dining habits.
      --BOSTON'S BEER CULTURE: Amazing choices, here, both local and European, not so much in New York. The brewpub (and gastropub) are alive and thriving here as nowhere else.
      --OYSTER CULTURE: Everybody likes 'em, everybody eats 'em. Ask any young professional in Manhattan what their favorite oyster is and they won't be able to tell you--they're hiding the fact that they don't really like oysters. Here, the person sitting next to you in any good restaurant can give you shrewd advice about the differences between Pemiquid and Wellfleet and they'd be right. Just more evidence that folks who dine in Boston choose their food judiciously. They never haphazardly order "todays special" or leave their lunch choice to the waiter.
      ---BOSTON'S FOOD SHOPPING CULTURE: This would be what I miss most about Boston eats if I had to move away. Yes there's a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's in Manhattan but you'd have to take trains, buses and planes to get there. Surrounded as they are by brilliant restaurants all within walking distance, New Yorkers don't think enough of great food markets to devote very much real estate to them. I have THREE Whole Foods within striking distance of where I live, plus two Roche Brothers. I know ,I know about specialty markets like Dean and DeLuca in lower Manhattan, but even that pales in comparison to the new Roche in Wellesley. There are plenty of TJs here versus just one in New York City (I think) and the availability of fabulous ethnic shopping (I'm surrounded by Russian grocery stores here in Brookline and never saw any during my tenure in New York) makes this city all the sweeter for
      me.

      I could go on and on but won't. Boston's wine culture is deliberately designed to bring the hoi polloi like me into the world of good wines. The ethnic food culture here is not supposed to be an end of the month fallback when you can't afford anything better, but is a cherished feature of Boston all by itself. The Breakfast Culture here makes me smile --New York's the only place I've ever seen people cramming something into their mouths while they rush along the sidewalk to work. I've never seen that here --Bostonians love their diners and coffee shops too much.

      Would I change anything here? Sure. I wish there were a lunch culture in Boston --a demand outside of the financial district for modest white tablecloth restaurants where we could enjoy a decent plate of food and a glass of wine for a reasonable price instead of just pizzas, delis and (yes) sandwich shops. (The Laurel Grill on Berkley is close to what I'm talking about.)

      1 Reply
      1. re: SSqwerty
        yumyum Feb 3, 2008 08:18 AM

        Great post although I must respectfully disagree with this statement:

        "Bostonians aren't as demented about burgers as NYC"

        We really are. Just go back and look through a few "best burger" threads. From very strongly held opinions on just what a burger should be (thin, thick, rare, medium, plain meat, enhanced with flavorings .... ), to hurling insults at folks who like them prepared a different way ("anyone who likes it <fill in the blank> is just plain CRAZY"), to challenging others to try YOUR favorite and so on and so on. We really take our burgers quite seriously.

      2. s
        sophie fox Feb 2, 2008 07:23 AM

        I am still revising my opinion of food in Boston. Until I started spending a good deal of time here on weekends and vacations, I was becoming convinced that the food was uniformly mediocre. I now realize that that isn't true at all BUT...I haven't seen any city or town that was more risky for touristy eaters who haven't done their homework before visiting. Sure, buyer beware, and all that.
        Sushi? I had the best $100 lunch of my life recently at Oishii in the South End. Utterly amazing.
        Oysters? LOTS of places with very fine oysters. I wish some of the shuckers at B&G were a bit more cheerful and sometimes more careful about shells!, but the oysters are great.
        Seafood? Swell, other than Legal.
        Italian? often great, sometimes very mediocre (avoid anyplace frequented by Rachel Ray)
        Chinese? loads of fun
        steak? pretty hit or miss - I've now had fine, average, and poor meals at ALL the steakhouses in Boston - this makes my head hurt
        Blue Ginger - superb, always fun, friendly, delicious

        Truly awful - Newbury St, period, all-inclusive (OK, you can get a good pot of tea at Tealuxe and Trident Books can be fun)
        "French bistros" - one of the worst and most overpriced meals I've had in recent memory was at Aquitaine in the South End. The night before, I had dinner at Hamersley's for the first time, and it was wonderful. Aquitaine was the polar opposite. Terrible, indifferent, arrogant "service" - snails that were dry, not the least bit garlicky, served with two croutons (hello???), and the "special" halibut with "foie gras sauce" and "black truffles" - I think it was about $45. Someone might have dragged a teaspoon-full of chopped chicken liver through the sauce - it tasted nothing like foie - and the "black truffles" were, in fact, chopped black olives. The contempt for the customer that the last showed was infuriating - it's not like truffles are an indistinct flavor. The wine list was overpriced and very mediocre.
        Please don't even get me started about Bouchee - but that's covered under the blanket hatred for Newbury St "food"
        On the other hand, there are places (sometimes reviled on this board) that I find consistently pleasurable, like Brasserie Jo - warm, friendly service, delicious bread and plenty of it, that lovely carrot salad, excellent escargots, fabulous and huge frisee au lardons, croque monsieur, lots of nice wines by the glass. What's the difference? It seems that some seem to think that it's less hip or something - this is a GOOD thing.
        My conclusion - Boston is a good chow-y town, with some truly wonderful food,but it's a little to easy to get food that's not as good as it should be.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sophie fox
          MC Slim JB Feb 2, 2008 08:25 AM

          I was wondering why no one had resuscitated any year-old threads in a while.

          This is a very interesting perspective; it's always useful to get such a detailed response from someone who hasn't lived here forever. I agree with a lot of this, but would like to point out that Newbury Street now has La Voile, which is probably the best restaurant to open there in quite some time. Southern French, quite authentic, worth checking out.

        2. m
          mr mangia Feb 1, 2008 01:31 PM

          you just got to know how dig out the nuggets among a lot of mediocre or sometimes out & out bad food but i somehow manage to tip the scales anyway ! there is more to boston cuisine then steak tips & scallop wrapped in bacon (which are both tasty anyway).

          1. s
            shopgirl Feb 14, 2007 02:15 PM

            Well, tatamagouche, all I can say is: Just tell me who's badmouthing Boston and I'll pop 'em one!!! I fell in love with your City (I'm a Jersey gal) several years ago. There are plenty of good eats in NJ as well as nearby NYC (just a short ride), so I've had good food in both states. I've had wonderful food in Boston. Backwater? Conservative?? The people in Boston are the best and if I ever have to move...I already have my City picked out, along with tons of restaurants! Here's to your wonderful City!!!

            1. a_and_w Feb 14, 2007 11:44 AM

              Ooh, I almost forgot, Boston does spinach and feta anything (pizza, omelettes, etc.) better than any other place I've lived.

              1. z
                zenright Feb 14, 2007 07:13 AM

                While the wife and I love to eat out all over boston from Ethiopian to Eastern Standard. What I would truly miss is being able to crawl into a nice warm irish pub on a freezing February evening, sit by a roaring fire, choose from a decent selection of beer and soul comforting irish and pub food, and talk with friends. Long live the James's Gate.

                2 Replies
                1. re: zenright
                  tatamagouche Feb 14, 2007 07:51 AM

                  Well, Irish pubs certainly aren't unique to Boston--cause, you know, there's Ireland--but I agree w/ you that at their best, the Boston version of Irish pubs are a pretty special lot. Another good call.

                  1. re: tatamagouche
                    sailormouth Feb 14, 2007 09:55 AM

                    But most importantly, you can stumble from one to the other with a stop at someplace trendy, an Ethiopian place and a French place in the middle. Even in New York that would likely require a cab.

                2. y
                  ylt Feb 12, 2007 06:23 PM

                  LIME RICKEY! my favorite summertime drink.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ylt
                    Harp00n Feb 12, 2007 06:29 PM

                    Make it a raspberry lime rickey and I'm so there!

                    1. re: Harp00n
                      hiddenboston Feb 12, 2007 06:44 PM

                      One of my favorite drinks, too! Whenever I'm at a diner I always try to order one. Still looking for the "ultimate" raspberry lime rickey in the Boston area, though.

                      1. re: hiddenboston
                        s
                        SSqwerty Feb 2, 2008 07:54 AM

                        This sounds like a promising thread. Please start one! Pleeeeeease?

                        1. re: SSqwerty
                          maillard Feb 3, 2008 04:53 AM

                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/485652

                  2. MPH Feb 11, 2007 12:54 PM

                    I’m not from Boston but I lived there a long time (and then moved on to Italy, Providence, Brooklyn). There are a lot of things that I miss about Boston now that I’m in Austin, Texas. Some are:

                    1) the quality of the fresh seafood. There was a great Portuguese seafood store near the courthouse in Cambridge.
                    2) the quality and availability of Italian cured meats, and the know-how about slicing and storing them properly
                    3) the quality and availability of numerous other imported products from Italy (like biscotti, canned tomatoes, etc.)
                    4) the pizza—which, no matter what you think about it, is on the whole far better than Austin’s pizza
                    5) the subs from some neighborhood delis and pizza places, like the steak and cheese at Pinocchio's in Harvard Square. By the way, I don't want to know if this place no longer exists.
                    5) the pastries—from the Italian pastries like cannoli to the croissants from that place on Newbury Street (there is no decent patisserie in Austin)
                    5) the French and Italian bread
                    6) No. 9 Park
                    7) South End bistros like Hammersley's and Tremont 647
                    8) the Blue Room
                    9) the ice cream and frappes
                    10) L.A. Burdick
                    11) clam chowder and lobster rolls
                    12) Formaggio

                    I could go on.

                    The Indian, Chinese, Italian, French, and “New American” restaurants in Boston are much better than the ones here (though, granted, Austin is generally bad in these areas).

                    Overall, at the mid- to high-end of the price scale, Boston restaurants are more creative and generally better at execution and complex sauces than most places in Austin. At the low end of the price scale (like the $5 meal), there are more solid choices here, largely due to the local traditions of Tex-Mex and central-Texas-style barbecue.

                    Anyway, I’ll be happily chowing my way through the list above when I visit in a few months.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: MPH
                      Dax Feb 12, 2007 04:25 AM

                      Have no fear, Pinocchio's is still open (or was as of September 2006).

                      I really liked a pizza place on Congress (in Austin) that I tried last November, but cannot recall the name. It was about 1/2 way between downtown and Ben White. They served beer too (bottles). Maybe 10 tables tops.

                      1. re: Dax
                        tatamagouche Feb 12, 2007 06:42 AM

                        Dax, you moved, right? The fact that you still check in here itself suggests Boston has something compelling to offer...:)

                        1. re: tatamagouche
                          Dax Feb 13, 2007 12:56 PM

                          Yes, I did but Athens, GA has a very small population and dining scene. I miss Boston dining a lot so I still check the boston board a lot.

                          1. re: Dax
                            tatamagouche Feb 13, 2007 01:24 PM

                            See, that's nice. Maybe not for you (sorry), but for us...

                            1. re: Dax
                              steinpilz Feb 13, 2007 02:21 PM

                              I had a some great trout in Athens once, it's also a great university town but very different from a big city. Sorry that you miss Boston.

                      2. a
                        another_adam Feb 11, 2007 09:57 AM

                        This is a great question-- I have to admit, I'm someone that gets a sinking feeling every time I think of the Boston food scene (and I don't think it's purely the size--high rents and many other things play a role too, but that's a topic for a different thread). So, I took this question to heart, and have been thinking long and hard about it.

                        And here's what I've come up with: (as with some of the discussion above, they're not so Boston-specific but more generally eastern NE)

                        - Grape nut pudding
                        - Autocrat coffee syrup

                        I have to admit, I don't actually have either of these all that often. (In fact, I suspect *nobody* has these things all that often, they seem to be on the endangered list!) I think they're both just nice childhood memories, and things that that I realized I felt some forgotten nostalgia for when I moved back to the area.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: another_adam
                          sailormouth Feb 11, 2007 11:21 AM

                          Grape nut custard pudding is what I always ask for at grammy's and have finally learned how to make myself, but not as good as she does. I was happy to see a grape nut ice cream (at Toscannini's?) that helps. I never quite figured out what the coffee syrup was for and why we always had it in the fridge, but I have discovered the joys of claret sauce for my ice cream.

                          I've really enjoyed reading this thread, but I fear I don't quite understand tatamagouche's question. I mean, there are some things here that we do very well, but that aren't necessarily unique. Would grape nut inspired desserts fit that bill?

                          1. re: sailormouth
                            a
                            another_adam Feb 11, 2007 12:03 PM

                            I'm not entirely sure either, since really there's little that's absolutely *unique* to anywhere (unless we stick to the level of "dish X at place Y"-- but a lot of discussion here has been more general than that, like "boston does ice cream well")

                            Since I have yet to find a dish in Boston that I thought could top what I'd had elsewhere, I found it most productive/least depressing to reflect on to the last part of the question: if you moved somewhere else, what might you miss or be nostalgic for, that you couldn't get without sending away for it or trying to recreate it yourself? (Except that I thought about it in reverse order: what was I pleased to be reacquainted with, upon coming back from many years in LA and the bay area).

                            For me, this led to a small handful of things I realized I missed about the east: the two items mentioned, plus good freshly picked corn and fresh apple cider (but in my opinion eastern NE doesn't do those well, either, so they didn't make the cut)

                            1. re: sailormouth
                              tatamagouche Feb 11, 2007 01:14 PM

                              Totally. I grew up in the Southwest, have also lived in Cali, Iowa, and Colorado, and had never heard of such a thing til I moved here. Now, I realize it's more generally a New England thing than a Boston-proper thing--but that's the kind of answer I was looking for. And yes, I realize the word "unique" poses a problem--but what we're dicussing here is along the very lines of what I was looking for. (Not, again, that I mean to narrow the thread...)

                              1. re: tatamagouche
                                steinpilz Feb 13, 2007 02:32 PM

                                Those Nantucket bay scallops are unique, I'd add Maine shrimp too but they are from Maine so some might quibble. I'd include steamer clams, fried clams, and lobster rolls, but I'm sure various other towns have claimed these too. I get the feeling that cod, scrod, and haddock are the classic Boston fish choices but I haven't personally gotten into the habit of cooking with them yet (only been back a year). My first experience with butter and sugar corn was in Deerfield several years ago, don't know if this is truely a local speciality. Cranberrys are definitely something local IMO. I bet there's some good local cheese too, can't think of what offhand. Legal fish chowder is great and I remember that Noname's also had a good chowder (this was years ago). There's also some great beer, like Sam Adams' choices.

                                1. re: steinpilz
                                  Harp00n Feb 13, 2007 02:52 PM

                                  Nice post steinpilz, no b&s corn isn't unique to N.E. but the glory of late, late Summer, Silver Queen, all most certainly is. It's a sweet corn for adult tastes with great corn flavor. It doesn't taste like it been dunked into the sugar bowl, like some of the super-sweet b&s corns do. My biggest frustration is rooting for Summer's end to indulge..

                                  1. re: Harp00n
                                    Karl S Feb 13, 2007 03:33 PM

                                    I thought Silver Queen was pretty much common as a white sweet corn standard all over the northern states (it's actually not an heirloom variety, btw; though on the other hand there are many people who think that golden Bantam corn is very old and the norm for heirloom corn, whereas all-yellow sweet corn is pretty much a 20th century develpment, but I digress).

                                    1. re: Karl S
                                      Harp00n Feb 13, 2007 08:37 PM

                                      Karl, you are correct that SQ isn't an heirloom variety. It's a 30yo hybrid (su) and although that doesn't sound very old, it is in today's world of corn.The onslaught of sugar-enhanced (se) and super-sweet (sh2) varities have made huge inroads into the overall production of SQ.

                                      In fact, most of the roadside stand corn that is marketed as SQ these days are actually varieties such as Silverado (su) or worse something like SS 7801 (sh2). My point, and I am coming to it, is this; Silver Queen is rapidly turning into a new category all together; a "hybrid heirloom".

                                      There are growers still committed to producing it against the tidal wave of dumbed-down, long lasting, overly/overtly-sweet corns. New England is one,
                                      but not the only bastion, keeping it in production. (End of bloviation)

                              2. re: sailormouth
                                d
                                davisready Feb 1, 2008 01:22 PM

                                Claret sauce and Ice cream! I haven't had that in years! My grandmother always had that in the fridge growing up. Hopefully I will be able to find some in NY. Coffee syrup is used as you would chocolate syrup to make coffee milk.

                            2. j
                              jjbourgeois Feb 11, 2007 08:51 AM

                              The biggest problem I have with restaurants in Boston is service. Very few places are willing to spend the money to hire professional waitstaff. Instead in Boston we get 21 year old pimply college kids. The high end restaurants in Boston do have exceptional service, but the midrange restaurants ($15-$25 entrees) the service for the most part is abysmal. The last thing I need is a teenager with a nose ring advising on what Merlot would go best with my duck.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: jjbourgeois
                                MC Slim JB Feb 11, 2007 09:36 AM

                                Do you have some specific examples of mid-range places with amateurish service? That would be helpful.

                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                  j
                                  jajjguy Feb 11, 2007 04:15 PM

                                  Actually, some of my favorite places suffer from this. That's one reason I often prefer to eat at the bar.

                                  1. re: jajjguy
                                    Harp00n Feb 11, 2007 05:28 PM

                                    That's quite perceptive jajjguy, and only partially because it conforms with my own observations :-)

                                    1. re: jajjguy
                                      MC Slim JB Feb 11, 2007 05:48 PM

                                      So, what are your favorite places that have this crappy dining room service? Won't anyone name names here?

                                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                                        j
                                        jajjguy Feb 11, 2007 06:19 PM

                                        I am reluctant, simply because i think this is pervasive and not specific to any of my favorite places, which i'd rather not trash because i'd like to see them (continue to) do well. I will say that, among my current list of favorites, RendezVous and Blue Room have always had quite good service. Feel free to start a new thread if you'd lie to chase this further, I think we've sidetracked this one enough.

                                2. j
                                  jajjguy Feb 11, 2007 05:53 AM

                                  I spent three years living in and loving NYC for reasons you can all imagine but there were a few chow-related things I missed, that we just do better here as a matter of course:

                                  We really do have some excellent burritos here. Yes, Anna's, but don't forget Tacqueria la Mexicana in Union. And Boca. And Felipes. You cannot get these things in NYC (or couldn't when I was there).

                                  Beer (with quality food accompaniment). We have so many excellent beer bars, we are truly blessed. Publick House, Deep Ellum, Redbones, and Bukowski's are unbeatable, and there are literally 100s of others that would make NY's top 10 list.

                                  Seafood. I'm not talking about any one amazing place, I'm talking about the availability, just about anyplace, of a plate of perfectly fresh oysters and a slab of great fish. Sure, we quibble about whether this or that high-end seafood place is worth the cash, but our bar is pretty high, as we expect our fish to be fresh and perfect everywhere we go.

                                  Coffee. This one's a little different, since I think it all hangs on one man, but I have searched far and wide and have not found a better source for non-overroasted single origin coffee than Terroir. (George, please please please don't sell us out this time...) (I like Peet's a whole lot too, but that's a completely different drink.)

                                  Wine (and the whole bistro thing). Naturally, you can get the best of the best in NY, but it's far more accessible here to us plebes. Central Kitchen, Blue Room, RendezVous, Butcher Shop, Hammersley's... Yes, I've named some expensive places but trust me these are downright cheap compared to places with similar lists in that superior city to our south.

                                  All in all, it's taken some time but I'm very very pleased to be back in our fair city. We've much to be chow-proud of.

                                  1. tatamagouche Feb 10, 2007 02:02 PM

                                    So. Having started this thread, I'm so delighted by the passionate response, and I've tried to hold back from responding, and I don't mean to throw a wrench into it. That said, I want to hone/clarify my original statement/query...I didn't mean to suggest I was interested in hierarchical good-better-bests; I'm really curious about the unique, the idiosyncratic, at least within national boundaries. On that score, I'm hearing local seafood/clam shacks, ice cream parlors, expat Portuguese--which for me raises as a corollary Cape Verdean; one of the New Yorkers who was originally boiling said blood admitted he didn't know of any CV restos in the city (undoubtedly there are some, but perhaps they get lost in the shuffle, whereas here they don't). But--other thoughts on this matter? If, for instance, you name burgers at place X or pancakes at place Y, then it's got to be something quintessentially Bostonian about the experience itself, rather than the fact that those burgers or pancakes just happen to be your favorites, you know? I suspect that's why, when it comes to specific answers above, Durgin Park strikes a chord with me, and ECG's Hell Night, and Matt Murphy's homemade ketchup, and so on, while places I personally happen to like very much, like Forest Cafe and Addis Red Sea, don't really fit the bill.
                                    Anyway, I'm not trying to redirect or narrow the thread, just trying to explain myself more clearly.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: tatamagouche
                                      s
                                      sophie fox Feb 10, 2007 06:52 PM

                                      There's nothing "quintessentially Boston" about seafood/clam shacks, or ice cream parlors, or lobster rolls, or Cuban sandwiches, or clam chowder (Legal Seafoods? thick, gloppy, floury chowder with the occasional clam? nope).
                                      The North End is unique, and sometimes very good, but also sometimes very mediocre and insanely overpriced.
                                      Baked beans, Durgin Park - yes, quintessentially Boston, and very pleasant.
                                      Chinatown? Wonderful.
                                      I've had some very good meals in Boston, often surprisngly good, but there's also a whole lot of hype, and a lot of very high-priced, overwrought food in fancy places. To claim, for instance, that Bartley's is a stunning, uniquely fabulous burger is just silly. I can name any ten places in rural Maine that are better and cheaper.

                                      1. re: sophie fox
                                        j
                                        jjbourgeois Feb 10, 2007 09:08 PM

                                        Ughh Bartley's burgers! Why anyone finds this to be a good burger is beyond me. Bartley's, Sullivans in Somerville & Uburger all are pretty abysmal when it comes to burgers. But Bostonian tastes are rather simple. If they pay lots of money it must be good seems to be the rule in Boston.

                                        1. re: jjbourgeois
                                          MC Slim JB Feb 11, 2007 07:31 AM

                                          "If they pay lots of money it must be good seems to be the rule in Boston."

                                          I'm guessing you must be spending most of your time on Bizzaro Chowhound. Half the threads on this board are people talking about what they've found or are looking for that represent good value. "Where can I spend as much money as possible?" isn't a popular topic.

                                          I strongly believe that the opposite issue is a much bigger problem, not just in Boston but countrywide: that people are willing to settle for mediocre, unchallenging food as long as it's cheap and comes in huge portions. It might interest you to know that so-called fine dining, where average check size exceeds a whopping $30, accounts for less than 1% of restaurant industry traffic. By far the fastest-growing segment is casual dining, chains that cater to the huge-assed and undemanding, like The Cheesecake Factory.

                                          What I would welcome more than your analysis of what's wrong with the Boston dining scene is your insight into what you think is extraordinary and worth the money. I think that's what most posters and readers are here for.

                                          1. re: jjbourgeois
                                            f
                                            fenian Feb 11, 2007 07:56 AM

                                            I've actually rarely gone wrong in Boston at higher-priced places (e.g., Hamersley's, Rialto, Rendezvous, Oishii, Eastern Standard, No 9 Park, Casablanca). I've found it much easier to go wrong at this price range in other cities that are more atmosphere-conscious and food-indifferent (LA comes to mind).

                                            1. re: jjbourgeois
                                              heathermb Feb 13, 2007 08:47 AM

                                              When it comes to tastes (for food) I personally think simple is best, so if you meant that as some sort of negative, well, I don't know what to say...except that generalizing about the entire population of a metro-area (or of anywhere for that matter) can never lead to good things.

                                              As far as "if they pay lots of money it must be good" come on, that's ridiculous. Chowhound would not exist if all people wanted was a place to find the most expensive meals...for that you can just open a zagats guide.

                                            2. re: sophie fox
                                              tatamagouche Feb 10, 2007 10:07 PM

                                              Ohhhhhkkkkkaaaaaayyyyy, but again, this is precisely what I WASN'T asking for. Just one thread in which all that's WRONG with the Boston scene--which we're all VERY well aware of (as plenty of other posts on the North End and all the rest will show you)--didn't come up. I know it's hard, but come on! Let me pose the challenge to you in particular, since you seem to be keenly observing what's quintessentially Boston vs. what's quintessentially New England (and I admit we Bostonians may forget 3 seasons out of 4 that our fair city is not the whole of the region). You've named a couple of things you think qualify; what else?

                                            3. re: tatamagouche
                                              g
                                              guru Feb 11, 2007 05:50 PM

                                              Speaking of Matt Murphy's -- can I just put a word in for their bread pudding? I believe it is legendary.

                                              1. re: guru
                                                Harp00n Feb 11, 2007 06:21 PM

                                                Sure but only if I can interject that no one has mentioned Matt Murphy's lamb shepherd's pie. It's only the best I've ever tasted here or in Ireland & Great Britain.

                                            4. b
                                              billyboy Feb 9, 2007 02:31 AM

                                              I moved from Boston to NYC over 3 years ago and still miss it. I lived there for 6 yrs (Allston, Dorchester and Brookline) and loved it. There really is a lot of good eats in Boston if you know where to look. Of course, its all subjective, so my cravings may not be for everyone. One thing to note though is that no one area has all the food one is looking for. The great food in Boston is spread throughout the city and the suburbs. Here are some of the things that I miss:
                                              1. The carnitas super burrito at Anna's Taqueria (you had me at "hello", Anna)
                                              2. pressed sandwiches at Audubon Circle
                                              3. burgers at Sunset Grill
                                              4. Any lunch item at the A Street Deli
                                              5. chicken sandwiches from Chacarero
                                              6. fries w/homemade ketchup at Matt Murphy's
                                              7. the chowder at Legal Seafoods
                                              8. Carlo's Cucina for italian food
                                              9. the spicy pterodactyl wings at Wing It!
                                              10. anything from Bottega Fiorentina
                                              11. oatmeal cookie dough ice cream from J.P. Licks
                                              12. grapenut ice cream from Toscanini's (ohhhhhh, the best!!!!)
                                              13. malted vanilla ice cream from Herrell's
                                              14. a messy roast beef sandwich from Kelly's
                                              15.slices from the Upper Crust
                                              16. whole pies from Pizzeria Regina
                                              17. the corned beef hash from B&D Deli (crusty on the outside, creamy on the inside)
                                              18. the 18-wheeler breakfast from Johnny's Luncheonette (my favorite)
                                              19. the good pub grub in Allston/Brighton
                                              20. Living in Brookline. That part of town really had some charm to it for me. It didn't feel like I lived in a city, but I could get to the parts that did very quickly. I was steps from Stop-N-Shop, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Shaws, and Natural Frontier. Tons of culinary diversity: pub grub, Indian, Sushi, Mexican, Thai, bakeries, Jewish Delis, Italian, Barbecue, ice cream, bagels, etc...The list goes on. Everyone likes what "their" town does better, its just natural. A lot of food memories also have to do with who they ate with, what was going on in their lives when they ate that food. If you get a chance and Harborlights (or whatever corporate name they've slapped on it this week) is still open, go to the food tents during a concert and get the fries with parmesan and raw garlic. Not the best fries in the world, but crazy good! My buddy and I used to go on a Indain buffet bender about every two weeks, always on Saturdays. There were a lot of good places that had $9.95 all you can eat deals. There was Kashmir on Newbury, a place in Harvard Square next to L.A. Burdicks, and a really good place on Mass Ave near Newbury that had amazing butter chicken and a carrot dish that haunts my dreams. Who's got two thumbs and loves Boston chow? THIS GUY!! (Ok, yeah its a visual joke, but you get the point).

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: billyboy
                                                yumyum Feb 9, 2007 07:33 AM

                                                Very cool post. Thank you.

                                                1. re: billyboy
                                                  aquariumtown Feb 9, 2007 11:48 AM

                                                  "A lot of food memories also have to do with who they ate with, what was going on in their lives when they ate that food."--so true. A huge amount of my early "I hate Boston food I miss SF" was about missing SF. Surely that is true for lots of us SF exiles.

                                                  It's so sad that someone above said that the best SF-style burritos on the East Coast are here, since these places are rip-offs of Gordo's in SF which is not a very good place to start with (proprietors of BG and Anna's are related to the Gordo's guy, Felipe's is chef from Anna's). But I've realized that the point isn't to order burritos--at least at Felipes, just remember that the people who work there are actually _Mexican_ instead of San Franciscans of Mexican descent, and then you realize that it's all about the tacos, and the burritos are what they make for the white folks. Maybe that goes to Limster's point--you can't be a San Franciscan chowhound when you're in Boston, you have to figure out what they make well and enjoy that. And maybe that means stop griping about what they don't do as well.

                                                  The Portuguese food here is an entirely new thing for me--it's all about O Cantinho--and the Brazilian is also new for me. (There's some in SF but it's not such a big thing, or wasn't when I left anyway.) I think on average the Asian food is considerably better in SF, but there's some great stuff here. Just for charm alone the Super 88 food court would be a find in any city. Porter Square Japanese food court is good too. Taiwan Cafe has some good SF-worthy dishes.

                                                  Some other stuff--using as my criteria places I might show to friends from SF...

                                                  hot chocolate at Burdick's
                                                  Cuban sandwiches (at Oriental de Cuba and Chez Henri both)
                                                  lobster rolls--never had em before coming here
                                                  also, lobster rolls.
                                                  and in addition, by the way, lobster rolls.

                                                  Toscanini's is strong--I do miss Mitchell's since I used to live around the corner from there, but it's a good substitute.
                                                  I love Neighborhood Restaurant, for its vibe in the summer as much as for the food.
                                                  Irish pubs like Plough & Stars or Squealing Pig--nice hanging-out places.
                                                  There are some places that could fit in SF--Rendezvous, Central Kitchen, Ten Tables.
                                                  No. 9 Park is pretty solid for any city.
                                                  And to echo the above, Chacarero sandwiches won my heart the first day I arrived. When I was coming here for interviews, Chacarero was around the corner from my last interview of the day, and after having their sandwich, I wrote someone a long email about how maybe Boston might be OK.

                                                  1. re: aquariumtown
                                                    yumyum Feb 9, 2007 12:20 PM

                                                    Another great post. Thanks for the perspective. Have you tried a lobster roll? ;-)

                                                    1. re: aquariumtown
                                                      a_and_w Feb 9, 2007 01:30 PM

                                                      "It's so sad that someone above said that the best SF-style burritos on the East Coast are here, since these places are rip-offs of Gordo's in SF which is not a very good place to start with (proprietors of BG and Anna's are related to the Gordo's guy, Felipe's is chef from Anna's)."

                                                      Gordo's is a perfectly respectable taqueria -- not the best but by no means the worst. I find it even sadder that you seem to think burritos are for "white folks." Frankly, the east coast generally, and Boston specifically, could use more places that "rip off" places like Gordo's. Lord knows I've eaten enough awful burritos back east to know...

                                                      1. re: a_and_w
                                                        aquariumtown Feb 13, 2007 07:08 AM

                                                        Sorry, the "white folks" reference was unnecessary--the point is that SF burritos are really an SF invention, by Chicanos and Mexican-Americans living in SF; people who come straight from Mexico to a place like Boston might be more likely to make good tacos and to understand what makes a taco good then if they are replicating a formula from San Francisco that is many steps removed from the Mission. (i.e., from the Mission to the Sunset for Gordo's, then from the Sunset to Brookline, and Brookline to Cambridge... lots of steps that don't have anything to do with why Mission burritos are great.) I guess the bigger point, relevant to this thread, is that I couldn't enjoy Boston taquerias like Felipes until I just stopped wanting to be back in San Francisco and started wondering what was good on its own merits. Turns out a corn tortilla with meat, onions and cilantro is really good, and has nothing to do with burritos. Nowhere in Boston is going to be the Mission District, and even the best Boston burrito is not going to be an SF burrito.

                                                        Another Boston great thing: going apple-picking in the fall. The apples here when they are ready locally are fantastic, and made me like apples in a way I never did in California.

                                                        And another: bluefish. Never had it before I came here. That's a great fish.

                                                        To take the Boston influence on less local food, the portuguese-influenced sardines that Rendezvous was serving for a while were really great. A nice example of doing something cuisine-y with local chow, leading to what might be described as Chow Cuisine.

                                                        Speaking of cuisine, Oleana, especially in the summer, isn't like anywhere else I've been.

                                                      2. re: aquariumtown
                                                        tatamagouche Feb 10, 2007 02:36 PM

                                                        Bingo. What I was looking for.

                                                    2. g
                                                      gryphonskeeper Feb 8, 2007 05:24 PM

                                                      No one can TOUCH our "Lobsta and Chowda"

                                                      ;) Take THAT NYC!!!!

                                                      1. a
                                                        AnneM Feb 8, 2007 05:11 AM

                                                        I don't know...maybe it's just me but I think "Chinese" food is second to none here. I've travelled quite a bit and that's been my experience. Go figure...

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: AnneM
                                                          a_and_w Feb 8, 2007 11:10 AM

                                                          Wow...I found the Chinese in Boston to be average at best.

                                                          1. re: a_and_w
                                                            NiKoLe1625 Feb 8, 2007 02:29 PM

                                                            i agree. i'm from NJ and i cant seem to find GOOD chinese food here in boston. I love just like plain steamed tofu, vegetables, and chicken and its hard to find places that make food like that. everything is covered in sauce!

                                                            1. re: NiKoLe1625
                                                              Dax Feb 8, 2007 02:46 PM

                                                              Have you tried Taiwan Cafe, Mulan or Shangri-La?

                                                              1. re: NiKoLe1625
                                                                f
                                                                fenian Feb 8, 2007 05:34 PM

                                                                you can get steamed food like that on the health menus of lots of places (e.g., pu pu hot pot), but i'm surprised you find it good. if you want to try a chinese restaurant that uses sauces more sparingly, try shanghai gate.

                                                          2. p
                                                            Panini Guy Feb 7, 2007 09:45 PM

                                                            Lived in Quincy for a couple of years. Living in Pittsburgh now and would happily eat RM pizza, a bowl of Emack & Bolio's or some dim sum from anyplace in Boston compared to here.

                                                            Had some very good meals at Mesa, Forest Cafe, XO, Was disappointed in only trips to Clio and Olives (not bad, but neither WOWed for the price).

                                                            However, there is only one Boston meal that I think about often: the sirloin tips sandwich from The Fours. God I loved that sandwich.

                                                            Chased down with a Harpoon IPA of course. Or two.

                                                            1. limster Feb 7, 2007 09:29 PM

                                                              Here's a different way of thinking about it. Chowhounding does not come with limits -- we don't stop chowhounding when we reach state lines or country borders. Geographical description of a chowhound (e.g. a Timbuktu Chowhound) is an oxymoron; there are just chowhounds, period. Chowhounds willingly travel as far as their resources allow, just to score more delicious food. Implying that city X is better than city Y creates artificial limits, as if one could only eat delicious food from either X or Y. We don't have to limit our chowhounding to any particularly city, we just need to optimize our itinerary. No place on the planet is perfect chow-wise, but there's usually something good or great around the corner if one looks hard enough.

                                                              For example, I totally dig the horchata at Taqueria Mexico (both branches), it's some of the best I've had. I remember New Taste of Asia dishing up some of the best home-style Sichuan food I've had anywhere. There's the chicken parm sub at Mangia Mangia, cookies from Lakota, the sweet rice dumpling in rice wine at New Shanghai (was a special), mysore chilli chicken at Tamarind Bay, some of the very delicious homey Lebanese food at Reef Cafe, the chicken satay at Aneka Rasa (which compares very well with the versions from back home), the pao de queso at Magic Oven etc...

                                                              At the same time, it's important to keep one's perspective about what's good for the area and what's the best of it's class, anywhere. Local pride may be good for certain things, but it should not cloud a hound's objectivity and quest for more deliciousness.

                                                              1. a_and_w Feb 7, 2007 04:12 PM

                                                                For what it's worth, you have the best mission-style burritos on the east coast (Anna's and Boca Grande). Boston also does ice cream better than any city I've ever lived in.

                                                                1. b
                                                                  bethann Feb 7, 2007 01:57 PM

                                                                  Having just moved to Chicago after 9 years in Boston, I'm daily developing a list of food/restaurants that I miss and haven't found an equivalent for:

                                                                  - Portuguese from Atasca/O Cantinho in Cambridge
                                                                  - Ethiopian from Addis Red Sea in the South End
                                                                  - Bagel with cream cheese, tomato and fresh ground pepper from Rustica near Porter Sq.
                                                                  - Homemade ice cream on nearly every corner (especially Christina's)
                                                                  - The daily specials at Centre St. Cafe in JP

                                                                  But I've got to say that Chicago has Boston beat for taquerias and Korean food.

                                                                  1. jfood Feb 7, 2007 11:58 AM

                                                                    NJ/DC/Chi/CT background here. I have had some wonderful meals in Boston and some absolute dogs (some at the same resto). People equate cities and food with familiarity. Boston does NOT have great hot dogs, pizza, steak, bagels. It has great Italian, Nouvelle, sushi, fish. Others fall in between.

                                                                    Great meals I have eaten in Boston - Clio, Oishi (the sushi place on Washington), a couple of unnamed places in the north end that i just stumbled into because my nose told me to go there), Capital grille, a great bolognese pasta across from the hotel with the hertz counter, the resto at the high end hotel in Cambridge where Henrietta's Table is, Petit robert

                                                                    Lousy - everyother steak (capital grille once as well), legal, most other hotel dining rooms

                                                                    OK meals - Brasserie Jo, Summer Shack, Henrietta's table, davios, mistral.

                                                                    So there are great restos and lousy resto, but no different fromany other town. go to the places that are good and avoid the lousy ones.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: jfood
                                                                      b
                                                                      BBHound Feb 7, 2007 12:44 PM

                                                                      Can you give us some additional info to identify the place that's "across from the hotel with the hertz counter"? Thanks.

                                                                      1. re: BBHound
                                                                        jfood Feb 7, 2007 01:03 PM

                                                                        I love a challenge. checked my notes and the resto was Via Matta. Sat outside and enjoyed a beautiful Boston evening (obviously not this week) and a great meal.

                                                                        1. re: jfood
                                                                          sashimi73 Feb 16, 2007 10:36 AM

                                                                          Via Matta is fabulous!

                                                                    2. yumyum Feb 7, 2007 08:44 AM

                                                                      This is a thought-provoking thread. Here's my take: For every poster who bemoans not getting a good bagel or slice or deli or (fill in the blank) like in New York, there are an handful of hounds who are out there trying to find the best closest approximation. It's those posters I really enjoy hearing from and why I hang out here.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: yumyum
                                                                        y
                                                                        ypeopleeat Feb 8, 2007 03:13 AM

                                                                        well said

                                                                      2. a
                                                                        Ambrose328 Feb 7, 2007 06:59 AM

                                                                        having moved here from SF (albeit temporarily) ive been a major boston-basher, but one thing no ones mentioned here is the Indian food. in waltham and cambridge ive found several south-indian places that have far beaten my expectations. of course there have been a few bad apples but all in all i think its a very decent scene to say the least

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Ambrose328
                                                                          Aromatherapy Feb 7, 2007 08:17 AM

                                                                          Have you tried Royal India and Bengal Cafe (Bengali and Bangladeshi) in Cambridge?

                                                                          1. re: Aromatherapy
                                                                            a
                                                                            Ambrose328 Feb 7, 2007 07:45 PM

                                                                            havent tried royal india, tried Bengal Cafe for lunch buffet and was a bit disspointed... there were a fair amount of dishes and a couple were good (tasty tilapia curry), but nothing stood out... the vegetables were seemingly of the frozen variety, reheated and overly salted

                                                                            1. re: Ambrose328
                                                                              Aromatherapy Feb 8, 2007 04:35 AM

                                                                              Yes, their weekday lunch buffet these days (when they even have it) is not a strong point. Don't think it drew enough business. Check out the regular menu. Also check out the weekEND lunch buffet at Royal India.

                                                                          2. re: Ambrose328
                                                                            f
                                                                            fenian Feb 8, 2007 05:19 PM

                                                                            no doubt, Indian is a Boston strength.

                                                                          3. hotoynoodle Feb 7, 2007 06:46 AM

                                                                            one thing i like best is the ability to wander. boston being as compact as it is, you don't need to drive from place to place. it allows for a lot of impulse: "ooh, let's go in there!" that i don't think happens so much when in a car. it also makes for really nice progressive meals with a stroll between courses.

                                                                            ok, not when it's 10 degrees, like today, but still!

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                              steinpilz Feb 7, 2007 09:53 AM

                                                                              I agree, in nice weather I love long walks around Boston, Cambridge, Somerville Brookline, Alston, punctuated by stops for chow and beer.

                                                                              1. re: steinpilz
                                                                                hiddenboston Feb 7, 2007 11:50 AM

                                                                                Very true. Boston, like several east coast cities (especially NYC and Washington) are made for walking, with plenty of stops along the way for food and drink. And I also agree that you'd have to be nuts to do it tonight (which is why we're going bowling!).

                                                                              2. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                t
                                                                                tomato Feb 8, 2007 05:24 PM

                                                                                I agree about the walking, but even if you're driving, one thing I loved when I lived in Somerville (5 yrs) was that I could get to so many of my favorite places and satisfy a multitude of cravings in around 20 min. I live in New York now, which is home, and there's tons of great/bad food here, but I feel like my preferences tend to be more neighborhood-based here; a standard example that I've also seen on the boards is I never go out of my way for Indian or even Thai in Manhattan.

                                                                                Also, higher up in this thread, someone mentioned the hi-rise, which I love, esp. the way your clothes smell like butter when you leave. Even though there are lots of great bakeries in New York, the hi-rise is my first stop when I come to visit ;)

                                                                              3. Karl S Feb 6, 2007 01:45 PM

                                                                                Basically, Bostonians like to be able to bad-mouth our city better than NYers (who, btw, love to trash NY amongst themselves, to be sure). And I say that as someone raised by New England parents on Long Island who has lived here almost 25 years.

                                                                                One odd thing I notice about supermarkets here versus elsewhere in the US: the choice of flavored seltzers is almost unique for breadth and depth. I go to NY, Chicago, DC, AZ, CA, and the choices are far more limited. This is something I would have expected NY to be the champ of. Go figure.

                                                                                Which reminds me: Polar beverages. From Worcester.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Karl S
                                                                                  m
                                                                                  mwk Feb 7, 2007 06:30 AM

                                                                                  Funny you mention that, Karl. I have noticed that as well. I was in Nashville and went to a Kroeger's to get some seltzer for our hotel room. They only had raspberry, and I had to ask a clerk to find that. Around here, there's entire sections of the soda aisle devoted to it. I never realized it was a New England thing.

                                                                                  1. re: mwk
                                                                                    Karl S Feb 7, 2007 06:50 AM

                                                                                    Yes, it does appear to be a growing regionalism that so many folks around here drink seltzer like Southerners drink iced tea (and, one thing I am glad has changed is that one can now more reliably get iced tea here year-round -- it was almost unheard of 20 years ago outside of summer -- and it's (mostly) unsweeetened so we can sweeten to our own taste).

                                                                                2. k
                                                                                  kate used to be 50 Feb 6, 2007 11:44 AM

                                                                                  I am a transplant married to a New Englander and on days such as today (hell, this whole week), I would move to warmer climes in a nano-second. But having traveled many places and having been born in another, I would miss the availability of fresh seafood/fish. I know you can get fresh seafood in other locations such as SF or Seattle, but I truly enjoy buying my fish from a local source. Also, I love the North End and what it offers.

                                                                                  And of course, where else would one get a Frappe?

                                                                                  1. b
                                                                                    Bostonbob3 Feb 6, 2007 11:30 AM

                                                                                    I've lived in Los Angeles, Honolulu, Atlanta, New York (twice), Providence, and Tampa. But I'll always come back to Boston, and it'll always be my home, dining-wise or otherwise. And that's not just some lifelong Mass yahoo spouting off.

                                                                                    Despite my moniker, I wasn't born in Boston. But I was born to live here.

                                                                                    1. kparke30 Feb 6, 2007 11:00 AM

                                                                                      It may take leaving Boston for a while to truly appreciate it. I've traveled all around the world for work & play and have been amazed that more people aren't crazy for Boston, particularly when it comes to our dining options. We really do have everything we could want and then some available to us.....the grass isn't alway greener just because it's a bigger space!

                                                                                      1. hiddenboston Feb 6, 2007 08:09 AM

                                                                                        If I moved away from the Boston area, I'd probably miss Santarpio's and the entire North End the most. I'd also miss many of the restaurants in Providence (unless that's where I moved to!) including Apsara and Ristorante Romanza.

                                                                                        1. sailormouth Feb 6, 2007 07:14 AM

                                                                                          There are times when I hate Boston, (like today, it's bloody freezing), but I think we do pretty well food-wise. I think our highlights have been mentioned many times above, but to expound on one near and dear to my heart:

                                                                                          Cheese. In addition to Formaggio, which is the gold standard, we have a lot of variety both in supermarkets in the city and in the burbs, and gourmet shops. You can get a decent comte or blue at Shaws. I think we go beyond punching above our weight in this cateogory.

                                                                                          Plus, aren't we New Englanders better looking and healthier than the rest of the country, despite our superb ice cream, turkey dinners and cheese?

                                                                                          1. a
                                                                                            avial Feb 5, 2007 08:25 PM

                                                                                            Boston and its surronding 'burbs have a much better, if not the only non-Cantonese/Hong Kong Chinese culinary scene that I am aware of on the east coast. Please do correct me if I am wrong. Of course, there a few things omitted from that like pulled noodles which NYC Chinatown has in spades, but you just can't find northern style dimsum in NYC.

                                                                                            We also need to improve in the Korean department - the BCDs in Queens server 24 hour soon tofu chigae at $8/bowl including the cold appetizers and they give you special crusty rice service to finish off your meal. Here, it's $12/bowl for a bad selection of cold appetizers.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: avial
                                                                                              Bob Dobalina Feb 6, 2007 05:12 AM

                                                                                              Boston has a long and storied history of being a very bad eating city, but it's been getting better for years. I agree with Avial that In terms of ultra-casual Asian from new immigrants (i.e., not cookie-cutter Chinese take-out which is on par, poor), I think Boston and the surroundings is fantastic for the everyday corner Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian (and to a lesser extent, Korean). The fact that there are half a dozen places for cheap bowls of pho is amazing and I would guess very difficult to find in nearly every other city in the country.

                                                                                              The other sign of Boston shucking its culinary backwater bonds is the continued maturity of outstanding casual, mid-to-(low) high range restaurants, although these tend to be in the neighboring communities of Boston, i.e., Cambridge, Somerville, etc. We still have a way to go, but places like Blue Room, West Side Lounge, B-Side, Forrest Cafe, ECG, Gargoyles, etc. distinguish the area. It will be a sign of maturity of the area when old, bad places/chains and overly-hyped high end places give way to more accessible moderately-priced excellent food for the people.

                                                                                              1. re: avial
                                                                                                a
                                                                                                autopi Feb 6, 2007 07:09 AM

                                                                                                i'm a big fan of northern style dimsum, but have only had it in washington dc. what are your favorite places for it in boston?

                                                                                                1. re: autopi
                                                                                                  b
                                                                                                  brintope Feb 14, 2007 07:43 PM

                                                                                                  Years ago, a classmate, who came from Hong Kong, took me to Peking Garden in Lexington (yes, Lexington) for northern-style dim sum. For a while, we used to go every weekend (sometimes both Saturday and Sunday - it was addictive!) and there was a huge wait. Since then, it's been up and down in terms of quality but I just went there a few weeks ago and it was on a definite upswing. Favorites are Yangchow steamed dumplings (the kind with a burst of liquid inside), sweet rose filling pie, bean curd soup (not soy milk) with dried shrimp and preserved salty vegetable garnish, steamed chicken bun as well as roast pork bun, Peking sauce noodles and spring rolls, which can be great if done well, but sometimes are way too greasy.

                                                                                                  The original owner, who has since passed away, also started another restaurant in Bedford, MA, The Great Wall, which also has dim sum on Sat and Sun. They have a lot of the same things as Peking Garden, such as Yangchow steamed dumplings and Peking meat sauce noodles. They have some different things like salty soy milk with cruller and spicy wontons.

                                                                                              2. zvuv Feb 5, 2007 06:36 PM

                                                                                                excellent Vietnamese food for cheap. just about any hole in the wall in Chinatown has a much better pho than every one but a few in New York (and those only in Elmhurst, Queens, where no one ever goes).

                                                                                                1. steinpilz Feb 5, 2007 06:21 PM

                                                                                                  I've recently moved to Boston from a true Chow-desert (think of nowhere to go, they're all going out of business), which I will not reveal here - I was miserable. I can't say how great it is to be in Boston, Chow-wise, there are more restaurants than I could hope to go to in just a few years, the markets are great, and the Chowhound-Boston team is a fabulous resource for learning about everything that is available. I find nothing to complain about regarding Chow in Boston (I actually am not so happy with the fish market scene, but it is still way better than vacuous alternatives I have known). I've said positive things about NYC, it's like praising Picasso - it's great but I'm still very happy here.

                                                                                                  1. Harp00n Feb 5, 2007 06:13 PM

                                                                                                    This one that is so readily apparent to me but may not even occur to the Boston Hounds;. Kelly's Roast Beef. The horde known as the Cousins O'Brien first order of business, when invading from NYC, is to hit Kelly's on The Beach. They observe the usual familial rituals of sitting & visiting only after mainlining that initial fix. After catching-up we, eventually over the next few day, end up at the Clam Box and the other usual summer haunts.

                                                                                                    As the Old Man was so fond of saying; "Both fish & company start to smell after three days". So, in due course, they decide to leave but not before one final engorgement at Kelly's along with coolers to take a few sangs along for the ride. I kid you not. My long overdue point is this; I'd feel the same way if I was a Boston ex-pat and couldn't feed my own Kelly's jones.

                                                                                                    1. AtetotheBar Feb 5, 2007 06:04 PM

                                                                                                      And just outside of Boston, there's Lavazza coffee at the rest stops! Who else can boast THAT?

                                                                                                      1. c
                                                                                                        chuck s Feb 5, 2007 05:54 PM

                                                                                                        Fried clams (most anywhere on the North Shore) and ice cream.

                                                                                                        1. AtetotheBar Feb 5, 2007 05:49 PM

                                                                                                          The entire North End! Viva Italia!

                                                                                                          1. c
                                                                                                            chilehound Feb 5, 2007 05:39 PM

                                                                                                            I moved to New Mexico from Boston. What I wouldn't give to devour a plate of raw clams at the Union Oyster House!

                                                                                                            1. NiKoLe1625 Feb 5, 2007 03:39 PM

                                                                                                              I am originally from NJ, very close to Manhattan, and while i would definitely agree that there is NOTHING like NY, Boston isn't all that bad. I mean, yes its true the bagels in boston are terrible, and no one knows what a taylor ham egg and cheese sandwich is, but i could think of worse places food wise that you could be. The North End is WAY better than little italy in NY. everything in NY is SO commerical! Mistral is probably one of the best restaurants that i've ever eaten at, and i've eaten at some of NY's finest. You have to have an open mind! Oh, and as a portuguese american, I will say that Boston DEFINITELY has great portuguese food! Thats something thats a rarity in manhattan!

                                                                                                              1. f
                                                                                                                fenian Feb 5, 2007 03:31 PM

                                                                                                                Portuguese food is a great answer. I'd also mention Formaggio Kitchen, Tamarind Bay, Toscanini's, the North End pasticcerias, and Helmand. I think Oishii and Regina are great too, btw. Also, I haven't had better coffee than that at Simon's.

                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: fenian
                                                                                                                  a
                                                                                                                  autopi Feb 5, 2007 04:43 PM

                                                                                                                  i discovered simon's thanks to the board--they do a very nice cup indeed. even if they did grind the espresso beans i purchased too coarsely. but i still love intelligentsia coffee--you can get it at diesel, but the people who do it best are the intelligentsia folks themselves in chicago. black cat, i think it was, has an intense chocolatey flavor with hints of blueberry and is, i guess i would say, heavier than the george howell house blend they use at simon's.

                                                                                                                  1. re: autopi
                                                                                                                    f
                                                                                                                    fenian Feb 5, 2007 05:00 PM

                                                                                                                    i've had intelligentsia coffee in chicago (don't know what blends). it's very good and, for whatever reason, much better than the intelligentsia coffee at diesel. i think simon's coffees and espressos tend to be on the lighter and fruity side, as opposed to intelligentsia's which are darker.

                                                                                                                    1. re: fenian
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                                                                                                                      penny Feb 6, 2007 06:57 AM

                                                                                                                      Haven't had Intelligentsia in Chicago, but I think Diesel consistently makes good espresso and espresso drinks. Simon's has been less consistent for me. The best place to try George Howell's Terroir coffees is at their open houses. A few months ago they roasted their first single origin espresso (a Yirgacheffe) and Peter Lynagh pulled amazing espresso shots.

                                                                                                                      1. re: penny
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                                                                                                                        autopi Feb 6, 2007 07:08 AM

                                                                                                                        Penny--could you give more info about these "open houses"--do they have a storefront somewhere? Thanks!

                                                                                                                        1. re: autopi
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                                                                                                                          penny Feb 6, 2007 07:46 AM

                                                                                                                          Terroir is located on School Street in Acton and they hold the (bimonthly?) open houses there. You get to see the facility (the roaster, the new packaging techniques for green beans, etc). George gives a lecture on coffee, recent travels, etc. You get to cup different coffees, to see the differences by altitude, how jute bags make coffee taste like swill, etc. And Peter pulls espresso shots. The news section on the web site (http://www.terroircoffee.com/news/) is their monthly newsletter (you can also get it and other news via email) and will give details about that month's open house. I've been to two and really enjoyed it (I moved to Cambridge the same year George opened the first Coffee Connection and was really unhappy when Starbucks "assimilated" CC).

                                                                                                                        2. re: penny
                                                                                                                          limster Feb 6, 2007 08:08 AM

                                                                                                                          You can get Terroir Coffee at the Harvard Ave Cafe in Allston.

                                                                                                                          1. re: penny
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                                                                                                                            Panini Guy Feb 7, 2007 09:39 PM

                                                                                                                            Next time, tell the barista at Simon's what you think and they'll try to fix it or work with you. Unfortunately, their best bar guy, Jamie, left a couple months ago. He was the one doing most of the work tweaking the machinery to extract the best from the Terroir northern and the Ecco Daterra reserve they use. Jaime was keen on lighter espressos that extracted six to eight degrees cooler than a Black Cat or Hairbender. He worked hand in hand with Peter Lynagh on developing the profiles for Simon's. The idea was not to have his espresso taste like everyone else's - it's to temp surf to find the true expression of the bean - very third wave.

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                                                                                                                      bartleby Feb 5, 2007 03:28 PM

                                                                                                                      Not one of those other cities can pull off a proper Mooninite panic.

                                                                                                                      And the ice cream is better here, too.

                                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: bartleby
                                                                                                                        lilitake Feb 5, 2007 03:38 PM

                                                                                                                        i agree about the boston ice cream scene. i left boston to move to the SF bay area 5 years ago and while SF does have its mitchell's, boston, cambridge, and environs have a number of small-shop ice-cream places to brag about, each with their own style. don't know if they're all still there, but i loved toscanini's, christina's, rancatore's, jp licks, plus all those dairy farms places on country roads just outside the city. the rest of the country has haagen daaz, baskin-robbins, and now cold-stone creamery, all of which charge a lot more than the boston icecream shops do (in my memory).

                                                                                                                        and boston is the one city i know where the ice cream is good enough that people are willing to line up year round for it, even when it's 20 degrees out.

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                                                                                                                          sophie fox Feb 10, 2007 06:38 PM

                                                                                                                          Been to Vermont or to Cincinnati?
                                                                                                                          I'm not bashing Boston at all, and I've had some very good gelato in the North End, but I am saying that to claim Boston ice cream is somehow superior to anything available elsewhere is a fantasy.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sophie fox
                                                                                                                            limster Feb 10, 2007 07:03 PM

                                                                                                                            I don't think anyone is trying to make the claim that Boston ice cream is better than everything out there, but just stating that the ice cream here can be outstanding. I have an inordinate fondness for Out of a Flower ice cream from Texas as well as Annabelles in from Portsmouth NH, but that doesn't mean I will give up Toscannini's or Christina's.

                                                                                                                            1. re: limster
                                                                                                                              Harp00n Feb 11, 2007 09:09 AM

                                                                                                                              I don't limit the possibility that there are some excellent ice creams being produced elsewhere because, obviously, there are. But I would also submit that nowhere else, in The States, will you find both the breadth and depth of quality that is being produced in Boston, specifically, and New England in general. It's not coincidental that we also eat more of it, per capita, than anywhere else as well. Now where's my Chunky Monkey......

                                                                                                                              1. re: Harp00n
                                                                                                                                TonyO Feb 11, 2007 09:26 AM

                                                                                                                                Add to that the seasonal homemade dairy bars like Erickson's and you have rounded out your options pretty well.

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                                                                                                                                  sophie fox Feb 14, 2007 08:49 AM

                                                                                                                                  I don't really think that you can count the rest of New England as part of Boston, lol.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sophie fox
                                                                                                                                    Harp00n Feb 14, 2007 09:37 AM

                                                                                                                                    It's all mine, sophie, it's all mine! :-)

                                                                                                                              2. re: sophie fox
                                                                                                                                lilitake Feb 11, 2007 10:05 AM

                                                                                                                                ouch... i was actually not referring to gelato places in the north end (haven't been to any) but rather the small scale ice cream makers around town that each produce a unique product, and serve them in parlors with lots of local character.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sophie fox
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                                                                                                                                  bachslunch Feb 3, 2008 02:54 PM

                                                                                                                                  Yes, I've been to Cincinnati. They have Graeter's, which makes excellently wonderful ice cream, but that's it for that particular dessert out there last I knew. The Boston area has Toscanini's, Herrell's, and Emack & Bolio's, plus places in the suburbs like Ron's and Richardson's, which make ice cream every bit as good as Graeter's. Some would include Christina's and J.P. Lick's in that list. I'd say it's no contest in terms of depth and variety of options pro Boston vs. Cincy.

                                                                                                                            2. lissy Feb 5, 2007 03:28 PM

                                                                                                                              I'm with you tatamagouche. I love our city, including lots of the places I frequent. Are they as good as places in other cities, maybe not. But I made a choice to live here and this city is a small one so we're not going to have the variety that NY does. I've had many a mediocre meal here, but that goes for my many visits to NY as well. I will always crave the Greek salad from Jaffa, the crispy tuna springrolls from Pho (which I am way overdue for), the wonton noodle soup from Hong Kong Eatery, the oysters and lobster roll at B&G, pizza at Paddock, eggplant parm at Vinny's and the steak tartare at Butcher Shop. Are there better variations in other cities, perhaps. But I live here and I love the options I have.

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: lissy
                                                                                                                                foxy fairy Feb 6, 2007 11:19 AM

                                                                                                                                where is this Pho? now i have crispy tuna spring rolls dancing around my mind---

                                                                                                                                1. re: foxy fairy
                                                                                                                                  lissy Feb 6, 2007 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                                  Pho Republique on Washington in the South End. I usually stick with the apps (the spare ribs are pretty good too) and the fun cocktails.

                                                                                                                                2. re: lissy
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                                                                                                                                  kweesee Feb 2, 2008 08:15 AM

                                                                                                                                  i am soooo in love with the steak tartare at butcher shop.

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                                                                                                                                  autopi Feb 5, 2007 03:27 PM

                                                                                                                                  as someone who has on the occasion indulged in some "boston-bashing" of my own (my point of comparison being chicago), i agree that the portugese seems to be a boston strength. i need to try more of those places in cambridge...

                                                                                                                                  also--though apparently many on the board disagree--i think boston is very strong for bakeries, in terms of breads, quick breads/cookies, and pastries. hi-rise, clear flour, iggy's, petsi's pies--any of these would be an instant destination in chicago (perhaps not in NYC which seems to be saturated with them.)

                                                                                                                                  on the other hand, some things that i think boston doesn't fare so well at--coffee, pizza, taquerias--don't seem to require the presence of major #'s of expense-account types like you'd see in nyc or sf or wherever, so i don't know why they aren't generally better.

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                                                                                                                                    phoebek Feb 5, 2007 03:13 PM

                                                                                                                                    Portuguese food is a rarity in many, many places. Let's be thankful we have it here!

                                                                                                                                    1. Sgt Snackers Feb 5, 2007 03:11 PM

                                                                                                                                      I'd rave about Hell Night at ECG for sure.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Sgt Snackers
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                                                                                                                                        alsaman Feb 8, 2007 04:51 PM

                                                                                                                                        I'd second that!

                                                                                                                                      2. whs Feb 5, 2007 02:57 PM

                                                                                                                                        Durgin Park?

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