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Back Bay/Copley Square

We'll be in Boston next week to look at colleges with our son. We've rented an aparatment close to Copley Square and would like restaurant recommendations for a family of 4 that won't break the bank yet give us a flavor of Boston cuisine. Coming from Texas, the cold will be shock enough...some comfort food would be great. Thanks so much for any ideas!


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  1. It's a fairly bleak neighborhood for good AND inexpensive, as the Back Bay is probably the worst neighborhood in town for quality to price ratio. However, Boston is a small city, so it won't be hard to get around. You will likely find the prices at most places around copley unreasonable, especially if you are not a city person.

    I like Tapeo on Newbury St. for spanish tapas.

    What colleges will you be visiting...I have great recs for almost all of the university areas.

    1. Lucky for you, the weather is supposed to be near 60 degrees by next Wednesday so it shouldn't be too terrible for you. As was already mentioned, Boston is small and easy to get around. Some recommendations are:

      Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square is walkable from Copley (about 20 minutes) or you can hop on the green line and get off at the Kenmore stop and you are literally right there. They have a pretty good, reliable menu. I especially like their burgers but the menu is pretty diverse.

      Pops on Tremont St. in the South End. This place is new but has a nice atmosphere and very reasonable prices. I went last week and had a good version of a Cobb salad and their cod/lobster fritters which were yummy (though there wasn't a ton of lobster in them).

      Parrish Cafe on Boylston St. in the Back Bay has local chef sandwich creations. Some of my favorites are the Regal Regis, the Burke and the Zuni Roll.

      Chinatown is a great place for reasonable prices. If you search the board there are lots of recommendations. One of my favorites is King Fung Garden for peking duck (order 24 hours in advance), scallion pancakes and their homemade noodles.

      1. For a family you'll find the prices and portions acceptable and filling at Abe & Louis on Boylston Street- it's corporate but reliable and nice. The steak salad is great!


        Not that you have to eat there....but Mortons steak house on Boylston street serves free steak sandwiches 5-7 mon-fri...you can have a cocktail at the bar while the kids explore...


        Otherwise I agree with temerlanenj, Boston is small and while I appreciate that it's cold, you can go almost anywhere in Boston for a $6 cab ride. That said, you may want to try Silvertone on Bromfield Street- great comfort food and better prices

        12 Replies
        1. re: foodforthought.m

          Abe & Louie's and Morton's start bordering on "break the bank" that the OP is trying to stay away from. And you can get a steak anywhere. Maybe try Azure (pricey), Bhindi Bazaar, Chili Duck, Petit Robert Bistro on Columbus Ave., Charlie's for breakfast, Parish Cafe for sandwiches. You'll see many requests for that area.

          1. re: Joanie

            I agree they are expensive. Also, if they are coming from Texas, I assume they can get pretty good steak any time back home.

          2. re: foodforthought.m

            Prices acceptable at Abe and Louie's? It's an overpriced, luxury steakhouse. And not even a good one. If you're going to spend that kind of dough, go to the Oak Room.

            1. re: tamerlanenj

              I suppose it's all relative to experience

            2. re: foodforthought.m

              A&L and Mortons do NOT overlap with priced reasonably. Let's not discuss the quality of these lousy steak houses, but if this family of 4 goes to either they are looking at $200-350 for dinner for 4. Ouch!!! for a college tour swing.

              1. re: jfood

                Yes, I can see how a free steak sandwich or an $8 steak salad can push one over the edge.
                Losing sight of the fact that abe & louis' name dared to be spoken...I suggested the 'happy hour' style bar for the parents and Silvertone for family dinner.

                1. re: foodforthought.m

                  FYI, the free steak sandwich at Morton's is no longer.

                  1. re: foodforthought.m

                    Okeedokee, all sarcasm and kidding aside. I am always willing to be corrected. Joanie corrected the "free" issue and let me address the steak salad. Neither serves this for dinner. And I believe the OP was looking for dinner recos since if they are anything like my college swings, the day is chuck full of tours and presentations.

                    With respect to A&L. There is no steak salad on the dinner menu and the entrees range from $26 up. A garden salad is $7. Giving the benefit of the doubt I looked at the lunch menu. There is a "Wood Grilled Steak Caesar" but that checks in at $17, and it is only offered during lunch.

                    So I will stand by my statements above and say that for price, these do not hit the mark, and for quality there are tons better choices.

                    1. re: jfood

                      My thank you re: the Morton's steak sandwich was not meant sarcastically. Hard to tell intonation w/ text

                      and as far as "A&L", it is clear what you think of it. I'm sure that this advice would be much more constructive to the "OP" if you focused less on your distaste for "A&L" and more on recommending something a bit less vague than "tons better choices."

                      1. re: foodforthought.m

                        no biggie, agree hard to figure out the tones.

                        I did post below my reco on Bar10.

              2. I agree that Back Bay is a not great for reasonable-priced food. A trip south to the South End and Tremoint St. would yield much better results.

                I do like Laurel on Berkeley St. near Columbus Ave. Good food at reasonable prices by Back Bay standards.

                Some otherwise expensive places do reasonable lunches. For example, Abe & Louie's does a great burger that can come with sweet potato fries (ask). Most of the better restaurants are not open for lunch, however.

                There are a lot of restaurants on Newbury St. and almost all are forgettable. Try places that are away from the center of activity.

                1. I think there are some decent places around that area, you could try Fire and Ice which is on Berkeley, good for families because you choose your items and the cooks put them together for you with whatever sauce you indicate, it's an interesting experience. Also, there is Stephanie's on Newbury, which has a broad enough menu to suit children's tastes. On Dartmouth you could try Brownstone, we've been there twice and had good experiences, only once with children but they went out of their way and offered to make Mac and Cheese even though it wasn't on the menu for my niece. I had the Lamb and it was really really good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: trotliner

                    Personally I'd avoid Fire and Ice. It's not exactly a chowhound destination. Sure you pick your meats and/or vegetables and sauces, but since they're all cooked on the same grill with everyone else's food everything tastes basically the same - like a college kid's "stir fry."

                  2. For a reasonable meal and a neat place go to Bar10 in the Westin. The Arugula Pizza for $10 is great and the burgers are also pretty good.

                    1. I think Parrish fits the bill for the OP - it's certainly reasonable, and it has a "taste" of the chefs around town - if only from the sandwich perspective. I know Paparazzi is not as houndish as can be - but I always have a good meal there.

                      1. Skipjack's is right in Copley Square and good for families. It's mostly seafood but not totally and it won't break the bank. We went to the jazz brunch there last Sunday and had good standard eggs benedict and bloodies. The service was prompt, staff very pleasant, - a laid back experience. I've never had a bad meal there and it is "Boston Cuisine".

                        1. I'd try Giacomo's on Columbus (617 536 5723) for Italian in walking distance. I really like the pasta dishes and the chicken/veal parm is decent. The fried calamari is delicious. The menu is reasonable and the portions are big. You can make a reservations and you should as it is always packed. Also, it is cash only.

                          I second the reccommendation for the Parish Cafe (Boylston St) and for King Fung Garden (Kneeland St in Chinatown).

                          I'd also make a trip over to the North End and eat at the original Pizzeria Regina. It is worth it. After you get pizza, head back to Hanover Street and hit up Modern Pastry for some cannolis and other Italian pastries. yum.

                          Coming from Texas, you should also get some good ole New England Clam Chowder while you are in town. I like Legal's for chowder- there are two in Copley Square- one in the Copley Mall and one in the Prudential Mall. There is also one near the Park Plaza which is a short walk away.

                          If you like Thai, I like both Chili Duck (Boylston) and Thai Basil (Newbury). I like the pad thai better at Thai Basil but the drunken noodles better at Chili Duck.

                          I'd recommend 75 Chestnut and the Paramount for decent American food that won't break the bank. The both do good burgers, steak tips, salads, some fish etc.

                          If you are looking for grocery stores to pick up some snacks etc for the apartment, there is a Trader Joe's on Bolyston, a Shaw's near the Prudential Center and a Whole Foods off of Cambridge Street (closer to government center- more of an organic and healthy grocery store).

                          Have fun visiting and good luck with the college tours!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bostondiner

                            Wow--eating out with a family in the city. Great advice about the cab. Take one to the Mass Ave. end of Newbury St. for Charlie's--burgers, chicken, steak, salad, good bar, reasonable comfort food--good mashed potatoes and chicken with stuffing and gravy. Also, take a cab to Durgin Park (more than 200 yrs.old) http://www.durgin-park.com/ in the Quincy Market for real old (and VERY informal) Boston comfort food that won't break the bank--HUGE prime rib, lobster, baked beans, New England Boiled Dinner, strawberry shortcake and Indian pudding! Any Legal Seafoods is reliable for good fish and lobster, etc. and, the sine qua non for Boston seafood is the oldest restaurant in the city (250 yrs.)--the Union Oyster House on Union St.near Faneuil Hall That's where to have your oysters, quahogs, schrod, chowder... Stay away from any Mexican food in Boston, you won't believe how bad it is. Enjoy yourselves, it's a great city.