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best "food hood" in beantown

Like to spark up a discussion:

Allston tough to beat for sheer variety. With Super88, Yi Soon, Carlos, Russian Markets, and many others in the mix.

Chinatown, for all around wonderfullness.

North End, with the bakeries to boot, nuf said.

Even my own local local Coolidge Square in Watertown.

Confession: I don't make it to Dorchester often enough for Vietnamese, Jamaican, 'cue, etc.

Various neighborhoods in Somerville, Brookline, Jamaica Plain also deserve props.

Curious to hear what other hounds plug as their favorite geographic region for all around deliciousity.

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  1. I have got to go with you on Allston/No. Brookline, great restaurants, a lot of good delis and wine shops, Wulf's fish and Super 88. The only complaints are that there is no good butcher shop (we go to Newton Center to Dewar's when we want meat) and no good year-round veg market (have to make a trip by car to Russo's or Allandale Farm, though summers there is the farmers market on Thursdays). Of course if any one knows something I do not know about meat and vegetables, I'll be grateful.

    We also have a big soft spot for JP, because who could not.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Gordito

      When Roth's Meat and Fish Market in the Village closed, Brookine took a big hit, but there is still a small gem called Kurkman's Market on Cypress St in the Point. They grind their own burger, and the fish is fresh and they use local products. They were the first place to carry Clear Flour Bread way back when for example. The quality isn't Dewars but neither are the prices and they will do special orders. We always go there for the big holidays- my one experience waiting in line for the Christmas Beast at Dewars in Newton was truly horrible - never again. If you're going to drive to Russo's, another gem is DePasquale's Sausage factory in Nonamtem (I can't spell it but it's a village of Newton a few blocks from Russo's). The sausages and the ground meat are top quality and very reasonable and they have lots of Italian goodies as well.
      I'm surprised you didn't mention Whole Foods.

      1. re: ginnyhw

        I run hot and cold on Whole Foods. They are decent for fish and cheese, but the produce is no better than the chain groceries and they are shamelessly overpriced. And they're non-union.

        1. re: Gordito

          They're non-union, but they provide healthcare for their employees and pay way above the market rate. I'm pro-union, but I can live with a company that treats its employees well (Costco is another example).

          Whole Foods has great meat, but because of their prices, I tend to buy what's on sale. This weekend, I made a roast pork from there that was to die for. Their produce is better than Shaw's or Stop and Shop. Plus it's organic, if that's important to you.

    2. I think this was asked not too long ago with south end and north end being faves. I think it's easier to figure out the worst food hood. For best, I'd probably go with Allston altho upscale choices are few and far between.

      1. I previously lived in the Back Bay / SE for 11 years. I still work in the Back Bay and would rate this as one of the worst areas overall. Though it is fine for blowing big $$ on my company's expense account. You can't beat the high end indulgences over here (L'Espalier, Sorrelina, Mistral, Via Matta, Clio, etc.).

        I live in Mid-Cambridge now and can't imagine being much happier food wise. With the warm weather coming we have the options in Inman, Harvard, Central and even Somerville within walking distance. If only we could get a great sushi place on this side of the river, life would be complete.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Gabatta

          I cast my vote for mid-Cambridge/Inman/Central also. Where else can you get food from all over the world delivered to your doorstep?

          1. re: Gabatta

            I agree. Cambridge definitely has a lot of variety, some upscale restaurants that repeatedly get good reviews, and a myriad of ethnic restaurants to choose from.

            1. re: AnjLM

              Not to mention food markets:

              New Deal Fish, corner of Cambridge & Fulkerson
              Courthouse Seafood
              The Indian Market next to Harvest Coop
              The little gourmet market attached to Christina's ice cream
              Proximity to two Whole Foods and Trader Joe's
              Proximity to two Korean/Japanese markets
              The variety of bodegas (Columbia Market, for example) where you can get ingredients from the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

          2. I'm casting a vote for Eastie. Ceviche at Rincon Limeno, wonderful pupsas all over the place, great Italian at Rino's, fantastic subs at Meridien Market, Santarpios.....just to name a few.

            1 Reply
            1. re: eLizard

              I'm with you for RL and Eastie.

            2. i would say cambridge; seems like 50% of all the places i like/want to go try out are in cambridge, with the other half sort of evenly spread out over greater boston. wish i could afford cambridge...sigh...

              1 Reply
              1. re: autopi

                Cambridge isn't a neighborhood tho.

              2. i think allston wins easily, given the wealth of good choices there.

                1. Leather district/chinatown/ladder district area: these '8' blocks give us the benefits of chinatwon and korean places, sushi (Ginza), dim sum (Chow Chow City), chinese (china Pearl), etc. Leather district: Les Zygomates, Sorrisso Ladder District: Silvertones, Jarne, etc. And radius on the fringe and some of the better offerings of the financial district. This is the heart of Boston's cuisine. Everything is a 5 minute walk in each direction. it's easy to get to from the orange/green/red line. Plus you have the theater district and common on the fringe

                  That's my vote

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ElizabethHenton

                    I was thinking sort of along the same lines as I don't think of just my hood but the proximity to other great eating neighborhoods, which is why I liked Bay Village with the South End, Back Bay, Chinatown, Downtown Xing, Kenmore, and North End a short 10 min walk or T-ride away. But that's digressing from the actual question.

                  2. my top five would be your top four + coolidge corner

                    1. Union Square in Somerville definitely has a lot going for it -

                      A decent "fancy" restaurant in the Independent, Macchu Picchu for Peruvian, The Neighborhood for brunch, Hometown / Byuk Kung? for Korean, Capone's for Italian food stuffs, Sherman Cafe for coffee and baked goods, a half dozen decent bars and pizza joints - Long live the Nog, now closing 3.30.07 but hopefully will rise again - Brazilian bakeries, a well-stocked Market Basket, that Portugeuse fish market - Roma Seafood, close proximity to a couple of ultra-casual churrascos, decent take-out Chinese (New Asia and Red House), Great Thai Chef, El Tacqueria Mexicana (?), Indian place (can't remember the name), Weekend farmer's market, Walking distance to La Ronga and Tacos Lupita, Walking distance to Inman.

                      (Did I miss anything? :)

                      And that's why I love U.N.ion Square...

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                        Bob - agreed that Union Square is a fabulous chow neighborhood, and often overlooked. I think that applies for other Somervillle neaighborhoods, especially Davis (Rosebud, Diva, Sessa's, Redbones, Anna's, Johnny D, Gargoyles, Out of the Blue and many, many more.)

                        1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                          Man I'd love to stand up for Davis, but I don't think we're there. Of the places you cite, only Sessa's and Gargoyles do much for me. I'd add Namaskar (usually) and Dave's Fresh to the list, and maybe Mr. Crêpe (far better last week than last month, by the way), and call it a day, oh, and Downtown Liquors too. That's a lot of variety to be sure, but we have have so many mediocre and bad places that the density of good eats is pretty low. Plus, other than the already mentioned, there's no food shopping in the Square.

                            1. re: CambridgeKathy

                              Yea, I guess. We don't eat much meat so we don't go there much, and the smell puts me off.

                              I did give rather short shrift to Farmer's Bounty (or is it Farmers'?) which is a fantastic convenience store plus a good produce selection plus lots of hard to find British candies plus lots of good Indian groceries plus very nice owners who are there like 22 hours a day plus, well, you get the idea.

                            2. re: DavisSquare

                              Is the Tibetan restaurant, Martsa on Elm, still there? I had a great dinner there with a bunch of friends, back last April, but haven't gotten back over there since.

                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                            there's a new little cake place in union that sells meat patties of some sort of west indian origin. good and cheap.

                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                              2 Korean restaurants (Wu Chon), J&J for Portuguese, El Potro at least for pupusas, 2 Indian markets (last I looked), Korean and more at Reliable Market, La Internacional for Latin American shopping. Walking distance to Kirkland & Beacon (Wine & Cheese Cask, Savenor's, etc.).

                            2. I'll put in a plug for Newton Centre, though I also very much like the other places mentioned previously. Within around a two block area from the T Newton Centre has:

                              2 chinese restaurants - Junbo and No.1 Noodle House
                              2 thai restaurants - Coconut Cafe (my favorite) and Thai Thai Kitchen
                              2 italian restaurants - Tartufo and Appetito
                              2 mexican restaurants - Acapulco and a new one on Center
                              2 ice cream shops - Coldstone Creamery and JP Licks
                              2 liquor stores - Centre and Murray's
                              3 sandwich shops - Johnny's and Cafe Nicholas and another one
                              3 pizzarias - Sweet Tomatoes and Bill's and Cafe Nicholas
                              3 coffee shops - 2 Starbucks and one Pete's
                              1 lebanese restaurant - Sabra
                              1 japanese/korean restaurant - Sapporo
                              1 indian restaurant - India Paradise
                              1 russian restaurant - Cafe St. Petersburg
                              1 great mediterranean restaurant - Pava
                              1 great bagel shop - Rosenfeld's
                              1 great butcher - John Dewar
                              1 good bar - Union Street
                              and a Whole Foods about 1 mile away on Beacon

                              That's a pretty good collection for a small town center.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: steinpilz

                                I think you meant Sol Azteca for the Mexican.

                                1. re: Joanie

                                  Yes! I'm bad with names so I did a too quick Google search. Thanks.

                                  1. re: steinpilz

                                    Allston/Brookline tops my list - though i'd have to add Russos in Watertown and Formaggios in Cambridge, plus Arak's and Severn's in Watertown to cover all bases. In addition to the ton of reasonable and excellent ethnic restaurants, many named above, there's Clear Flour, Party Favors for cucakes, La Morra for when I want to spend money, Washington Square Tavern for my neighborhood bistro, and Whole Food, Super 88, andif I throw the net a little wider, Johnny D's on market street for fruit and veggies and a surprisingly good Stop and Shop off North Beacon where there is usually a butcher who will cut meat for me.