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Around Kenmore: Boca, Popeyes, UBurger

Kenmore has to be the fastest changing spot in Boston proper. I've recently lunched at three of the newer places, two for the first time. Here are some thoughts:

U Burger: I know I keep griping, but for some reason I keep going back. Had a burger which I BEGGED them to cook as close to medium as possible. Got lots of nods and assurances, but still a totally pink-less burger. What's the point? Anyway, had the u-cheeseburger with extra spread. While, of course, cooked too long, the burger was actually quite good: hot and drippier than I remembered, moist enough with the extra spread, a nice crisp veggies. Not as good as flat patties, but I guess it's not too bad. Since they won't cook burgers less than medium-well, it's definitely not a destination spot of any kind....though it COULD be. Fries are, as has been said, remarkably good.

Boca Grande: There are people that like Anna's better than this place? Why? THE place for a burrito in Boston. The meats are fresh, cooked slow, and oh so tender and juicy. Had a couple lunches there in the past two weeks: first an order of tacos al pastor which were wonderful, juicy and citrusy, and a super moist and filling small carnitas burrito, with NO rice (hence, not as belly busting as their larger, rice filled burritos). They have a green hot sauce with plenty of kick, and their tortillas are not nearly as rubbery as Anna's. Also, to my surprise, they now have refried beans...I did not remember this from my last trip to the coolidge corner location. Oh so velvety and good on the carnitas burrito with that hot hot green sauce. $4-$5 for Burritos. Good riddance, Burrito Max!

Popeye's: Tiny space. First time I tried to go, the lines were OUT THE DOOR. Service was frantic, to put it kindly. I asked for a kids meal, which was supposed to be one drumstick with a side (red beans and rice) and biscuit. Some kind soul dropped a second drumstick in the box for me. I was disappointed in the chicken. I had the spicy, which was not spicy in the least. I had remembered popeye's chicken having a crispy/crunchy outer skin, unlike greasy soggy KFC. These drumsticks, however, were almost as mushy outside as the crappy Colonel's. Big props, however, to gloriously greasy and flaky biscuit, which tasted like flaky butter, and the surprisingly delicious red beans and rice, which is basically rice worked into smooth cajuny-tasting refried beans. I probably won't return anytime soon.

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  1. U Burger - I know it goes against the name of the restaurant, but try their chicken. It's fantastic, and I find myself craving it. Either on a salad or in a sandwich (Sweet Chick is my fave), it's a winner. I'm a big fan of the Greek salad with chicken... so flavorful, you don't need the dressing.

    Boca Grande - I'm one of the Anna's people. I don't think Boca Grande has as much flavor, especiallly in their salsa. I will try their green sauce next time, though, it sounds tasty.

    Popeye's - Haven't been over there yet ( I tend to stay on the other side of the square), but I'm sure I'll find myself over there one non-game day. Do they have chicken fingers or something of the ilk?

    1 Reply
    1. re: pamalamb

      Yes, they have boneless tenders. Looked pretty good...but what doesn't look good battered and golden fried?

    2. I did notice that the Popeye's spicy wasn't as spicy as in New Orleans, but when I went the chicken itself was delicious, both inside and out, as were the red beans and rice and the biscuit. While the lines were out the door the staff moved through it quickly and professionally. After stuffing myself I headed over to ES for some cocktails, each of which cost more than my 1000 calories of Popeye's.

      They do have chicken fingers, but I would definately stick to the actual chicken pieces there.

      1. Benjamin Franklin: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." UBurger is what it is and you can't change it by sheer force of will.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Chris VR

          Profound. Personally, I like the fact that places like UBurger "are what they are." I'm a big fan of dining consistency. Life brings enough surprises.

          1. re: Chris VR

            Albert Einstein, not Ben Franklin. Uburger is what it is, i.e., a place I'm avoiding until I hear they'll cook a burger to order.

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Great minds think alike, I guess! http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quo...

              I'm with Bob here. A foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds but it's expected in a fast food operation, (In and Out being an expception) so you gotta roll with it and either like it for what it is or, as MC says, go somewhere else.

              1. re: Chris VR

                Other exceptions: fuddruckers, wild willy's, shake shack....

                1. re: tamerlanenj

                  You sort of have to compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges. That being said, I think the only true "exception" out of these three is Wild Willy's.
                  Fuddruckers is a sit down restaurant, yes, with waiter service? Not the same as fast food. Shake Shack is in NYC and although it's excellent, it's not like I could really choose to go there for lunch today instead of Uburger, right?

                  1. re: twentyoystahs

                    No, Fuddruckers is exactly the same type of restaurant as U-Burger. You walk up, place your order, say how you want it cooked, then wait for them to call your number. It is as Apples to Apples as you can get.

                    1. re: tamerlanenj

                      //You walk up, place your order, say how you want it cooked...//

                      My problem with U-Burger is that even though they say they cook to order, they don't. Everything is medium-well. Just tell me the truth for God's sake.

                      1. re: Bostonbob3

                        uh oh, you've just opened a can of worms!

                        but, yes, I agree with you. Idiotic, stupid policy that makes no sense whatsoever.

                      2. re: tamerlanenj

                        really? sorry, my bad. i thought for sure it was a restaurant, sort of along the lines of a "tgi fridays" --but with better burgers obviously.
                        where's the closest one to boston? is there still one on rt 1? now you have piqued my interest.

                        1. re: twentyoystahs

                          One on Rt. 1 in Saugus and another, which I just recently ate at, at the Jordan's furniture in Reading. Good if you're going to an imax movie, as they'll let you bring your burgers, fries, and shakes into the theater!

                          Fuddruckers is nothing exceptional, but I sure like it better than u-burger. One bite of a medium rare fuddruckers burger will have burger juices dripping down your chin! Plus that fixins bar!

                      3. re: twentyoystahs

                        and as for Shake Shack, I'm merely pointing out fast food burger joints that will deign to cook your burger medium rare.

              2. Not that I can comment about food, but that Popeye's location was boarded up back when *I* went to school in the area, some twentymumblemumble years ago....God knows what it must have looked like when they went in......I'm curious just to look!

                8 Replies
                1. re: galleygirl

                  No kidding, I don't remember that space *ever* being used in all my years of living in and frequenting Kenmore Sq. Who remembers Storyville?

                  Man, I can't believe we're back to U Burger cooking their burgers beyond medium again. Get over it. And didn't Brittany Spears start the whole "it is what it is"? Or Belichick?

                  1. re: Joanie

                    I refuse to get over it until they admit they don't cook to order. They're lying to us all. Burger-eaters of the world, unite!

                    1. re: Bostonbob3

                      But didn't we decide that cooked to order also means they cook your burger when you order as opposed to cooking a bunch at a time? Just X it off the list if it's that big a deal. And IMHO, it wasn't all that anyway. They sure didn't melt their cheese like the In n Out I had a couple weeks ago. Have you been to Flat Patties?

                      1. re: Joanie

                        Maybe it should be called U-Semantics. :)

                        A double-double animal style beats it everyday of the week and twice on Saturdays, in any case.

                        1. re: Bostonbob3

                          Oh man, I found out what animal style was when I was out there. I personally don't like lots of added stuff on my burgers and dogs, but it's tempting just to order it for the name.

                          To take it back to Boston, I still recommend Flat Patties.

                          1. re: Joanie

                            Yeah, I like Flat Patty's quite a bit, for what it is.

                            I still miss Tim's though. Of course, it never had the limitations of a "fast food" place.

                            1. re: Bostonbob3

                              Ok, so I wonder, with a pattie like Uburger serves, does it really matter that much? It was tasty and juicy and I'll reserve my cravings for rare or more for steaks rather than flat burgers. Maybe also for "restaurant" burgers, but not for places like this. I like it fine and wouldn't even make such a request. Still want to know what make In 'N Out so great, for me Uburger was so far beyond McD's and the like that I was very happy to have it appear.

                              1. re: Zatan

                                But the burger is not "flat," really...not like a flat patties or in 'n out burger. It's a good quarter pound patty at least.