Entertaining out-of-towners. Help me skip the duck tour...
I’m entertaining friends this weekend and I was wondering if you had any must recommendations of must do’s while in Boston. This is my first time doing it (since I've only been here a while) so I could use any pointers, before jumping on the duck tour ;)
They’re young, hip and dig all kinds of food.
We’ll be checking out:
- Probably will walk around the ever popular yuppish Harvard square :| - Any must do’s there?
- We’ll venture into the North End to check out the shops and for dinner. Any recommendations for your favorite Italian restaurant, pastry shop, gelato joint or random whole in the wall?
- We’ll check out the South End area on Saturday. Do you know a good brunch/lunch place and must see’s in that section of town? Perhaps a wine tasting later in the day…
This is kind of what I have for now. Perhaps we should check out Central, Porter or Somerville, but I don’t really know those areas well – unless you know of some hidden jewels.
Your recommendations would rock the Kasbah!
Harvard Square is tough these days as it's character has really diminished with the addition of many chains. But it's still kind of a must-see place. I'd wak through Harvard Yard and maybe stop in The Fogg art museum.
If it's nice out I'd walk through Harvard Square and consider picnicing in JFK park along the Charles. You could get sandwiches at Darwin's, Hi-Rise, or Cardullo's (my pick would be Darwin's.) If it's chilly be sure to stop in Burdick's for an amazing cup of hot chocolate.
You could also consider walking along Brattle (away from the square) to check out some of the huge gorgeous homes.
If you want to consider some Harvard Square "institutions" to check out I'd suggest Charlie's Kitchen and Bartley's Burger Cottage and Shay's (especially if it's nice out). They all still have some character.
I might consider a Cambridge beer/pub crawl if everyone like's that sort of thing. I would be sure to hit the following places, all easy to walk to:
Cambridge Brewing Company
B-Side (good apps, beer, and v. good cocktails)
Plough & Star (amazing brunch on Saturday and Sunday and solid dinner)
River Gods (not open until 5 p.m.)
I've got a similar scenario coming up. I'd love to see some posts about more than eating - there's lots of good restaurants, and I know this is CHOWhound, but you can only eat so much in a day.
One thing we might do is take a drive up the North Shore - go see Salem (guest likes witches) and hit a few cute antique shops, see the ocean at Plum Island, and get some clams at the Clam Box in Ipswich.
If you are picking guests up at Logan, a stop at Santarpio's in Eastie for lamb tips and pizza is a real "Welcome to Boston" in all of its cruel glory.
In the North End, Carmen is nice and off the beaten (read: touristy) path a little bit. Neptune Seafood is amazingly good. Depending on your guests, taking them to the Haymarket might be fun. Afterwards, you can haul your bargain produce over to the Vittoria for a cappucino and suck down a few oysters at Neptune.
Icarus is really nice in the South End - dont know if they do brunch.
Inman Square in Cambridge is, I think, a better place to check out that Porter or Central. Cute shops, get a massage or soak in a tub at Urban Oasis, Jazz brunch at Ryle's, East Coast Grill, All Star Sandwich Bar, beer at Bukowski's, Indian / Brazilian / Portugese and more, and of course, ice cream at Christina's.
From what I hear, duck tours aren't all that bad either. And, of course there is always walking the freedom trail. I like to take guests to the public gardens to see the Ether Fountain - its simply too cool. Anyhow, do keep us posted on what you do.
I'd suggest checking out Chinatown - lots of interesting food options there. Good options include Peach Farm for great Chinese, Xinh Xinh for Vietnamese, Montien (ask for the 'authentic' Thai menu), Taiwan Cafe (definitely get the "steam buns" which are really soup filled dumplings), Jumbo Seafood.
Here are a few of my North End faves:
For dinner I would highly recommend Antico Forno or Taranta. Antico Forno (Salem St.)is truly a traditional italian restaurant No frills, but the food is awesome and the people that work there are super nice. It's a small-ish place so I would recommend making a reservation (they are pretty easy to get). Taranta (Hanover St.) is a little bit more upscale, but not dressy by any means. It is Italian food with a Peruvian influence (the chef/owner is from Peru). The food is exceptional. I don't think it gets enough praise! A friend and I walked in ther ewith no reservation on a Sat night and had no problem getting a table, but I would recommend making the reservation just incase! For pastries/dessert in the North End Modern Pastry (hanover street) is by far the best I think. Mike's is extremely commercial and is more of a tourist trap than anything else.
As for brunch in the South End:
Aquitaine is always a good choice as well as Tremont 647.
I will add my kudos to Antico Forno too. I am not a fan of their pizzas but their pasta dishes are terrific. I especially like their eggplant rollatini for an appetiser and their spaghetti with seaffod cooked in a bag in their wood burning oven. Delicious!! The wait staff are also really great too. A visit to North End is not complete with a stop at either Modern Pasrty or Mikes for a cannoli and espresso. I favor Modern over Mikes but each have their list of supporters.
there's not much there that's unique anymore. the yard is pretty, and you could visit some of the museums (sackler, fogg, etc.) but the square itself is pretty much like any shopping mall now and full of chains.
the north end:
cafe vittoria for a good espresso to start. then, sulmona meat market (his son is chef/owner of sage), purity cheese (they make their own ricotta and mozzarella), dairy fresh candies, polcari's, for bakeries i prefer modern pastry. salumeria italiana has a lot of imported goods as does j. pace and sons. for late lunch/early dinner antico forno is big fave on here, and i'd heartily suggest checking out neptune oyster.
aquitaine is pretty good for brunch, but gets very busy. some very pricey designer shops over there.
you could cross from there and take a trip up to the observation deck at the prudential tower. beautiful view. then walk down newbury street for people watching.
i'd recommend a stroll through the public gardens and the commons, then wander over to beacon hill. very scenic, very historic, and you could do a wine tasting at bin 26 enoteca, or on the other side of the park at troquet.
For the price of admission (11 bucks) to the Pru skywalk you could have a drink at the Top of the Hu and have a great view plus there was a Peregrine Falcon nest up there at one point.
For a free and spectacular view and mini hike, try the Washington Tower in Mt. Auburn Cemetery - it's beautiful there in the spring and not all that far from Brattle St in Cambridge.
Brunch at Aquitaine on Sat., make a reservation. Wander over to South End Formaggio on Shawmut Ave., ice cream at Picco later.
Cambridge 1 for fancy pizza or Bartley's Burgers for casual in Harvard Sq. Altho both will be crowded, try to hit Bartley's at an off time. Drinks at the lounge of Om or the Rialto Bar. Mixed reviews on Noir's drinks but it's a cool space. Prezza for fancy North End and drinks, Antico Forno for less fancy.
If they don't have lots of ethnic food in their hometown, you could wander around Allston and see what looks good out of Malaysian, Middle Eastern, Korean, Colombian, etc.