Solo Diner Recommendations
Will be heading into town for a short weekend getaway in a few weeks and looking for authentic spots that are within a decent walking distance or a short subway ride away. I'll be staying at the Royal Sonesta. Since I'm from LA and have a number of fantastic chinese and sushi destinations to choose from, I'd really love to check out some places that are one of a kind in Boston. Price range is flexible. Ohhh, also a recommendation for an early Sunday breakfast spot that will be kind to a solo diner on Easter would be fabulous. Thanks!
There's one excellent place near where you're staying that might fill the bill well -- Helmand, an Afghan restaurant. Otherwise, there's very little worth going to within walking distance from where you're staying. Bambara is more or less across the street, and it's OK for a hotel place. And there's a local outpost of the Mexican taqueria Boca Grande, which is ultra-cheap but will probably be a major letdown after Mexican food in LA. Otherwise, there's stuff like Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, or Papa Razzi (Italian) in the nearby Cambridgeside Galleria Mall if you're desperate; the last of these is the best, if you must.
The best Boston "one of a kind" place I can think of is Durgin Park in Faneuil Hall (near Haymarket, Green Line). It serves up old-fashioned Yankee style cooking and is much better than the nearby Union Oyster House, if not exactly haute cuisine. Definitely get their Indian pudding with vanilla ice cream, which is to my mind the best version in the city.
Seafood is something Boston is known for, too, though there's plenty of controversy about where best to go. Neptune Oyster (in the North End, near the Haymarket stop) is a consensus go-to place for this, and I'll concur. B&G Oysters (in the South End, not far from the Back Bay stop, Orange Line), Legal Seafoods (several locations, including Copley, Arlington [Green Line], Aquarium [Blue Line], Kendall [Red Line] in Cambridge), and Summer Shack (Hynes [Green Line], Alewife [Red Line] in Cambridge) have plenty of champions and detractors here (I like the first two and strongly dislike the last). A few like Barking Crab (near Courthouse, Silver Line), but many, including me, decidedly do not. Several do not like the No Name (near World Trade Center, Silver Line), but I do. I also like Dolphin Seafood (in Cambridge, near Harvard [Red Line]).
If you can get to other sections of Cambridge, there are excellent Portuguese restaurants, a cuisine which seems tough to find in much of the US. O Cantinho in Inman Square and Atasca near Kendall Square are especially good, with Casa Portugal or the Sunset Cafe near Inman Square good secondary options. Atasca is probably the one closest to a subway stop (Kendall, Red Line). Note that the area between where you are and Inman Square can be a little dicey after dark.
locke-ober is very convenient to the red and green lines, and is definitely an old brahmin sort of place, recently spruced up.
union oyster house is fun IF you sit at the oyster bar and have a few on the half-shell with a beer.
personally, i hate durgin park, especially if you're solo. it's family style seating, it's loud, full of tourists and the food is just eh.
dante is in your hotel and has quite a few fans on this board.
the north end is just a few stops away on the green line and has many good spots. neptune oyster, pizzeria regina, taranta, carmen, maurizio's and prezza.
For breakfast, you might try Brookline Lunch in Central Sq. on the red line. They definitely won't be doing any fancy Easter thing. The club the Middle East also in Central Sq. serves an okay brunch. The Blue Room in Kendall Sq., a short walk away, has a great brunch but not sure if they'll change it for Easter. They have a good bar you could sit at.
Appreciate all the recommendations, I know that I'll be staying literally right across the street from that mall but since I avoid CPK and Cheesecake factory out here, I'd consider those if I get really hungry, lazy and desperate after a shopping spree at H & M ;)
Now whats the deal with Pizzeria Regina? Can one get a slice on their own or do they only sell pies?
I have a feeling I'd get annoyed with Durgin Park, as much as I like the idea of communal seating, I'd really like to just be left alone and read my book, taking pictures or listen to my IPOD, LOL. I really love sitting next to enthusiastic hounds, but eh, no annoying tourists and kids (hah, I'm mean!).
I'm really interested in Legal Seafoods, what would be the best recommendation for a solo dinner and anything with outdoor or bar seating?
OK and I've read a bit about Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage and since I love burgers, is it worth giving it a shot?
Last thing, gelato, please tell me where!?
Paparazzi in the mall is pretty good. Some cute jackets at H&M these days. Dante in your hotel is a possibility too.
No slices at P. Regina.
Varying opinions on Legal and word seems to be that the one closest to you is fairly bad. Black Sheep across the street is decent.
Yes, Bartley's is worth it. Go at an off time if possible.
Napoli on Salem St. in the north end has gelato as does a place on Hanover whose name escapes me.
it's a little early for outdoor seating. :) but all the legals have bars, there is one near your hotel in kendall square, with a very large bar. they do a butterfish (app or entree) which is actually very good.
bartleys' is fun and old-timey, worth checking out.
if you get to the north end (neptune! neptune!) there is the gelateria on hanover. also lots of little italian bakeries, like the modern and maria's. skip mike's.
Re North End bakeries: I'll heartily second Modern Pastries and Maria's, though I also like Mike's. Lulu's isn't bad either, though it's about 4th on the depth chart -- probably best for cupcakes. Bova is serviceable but less good than these, and I'd personally avoid Trani and Boschetto.