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May 12, 2007 04:31 PM

An exclusively Boston experience?

Never been to Boston but I've got a few days to wander the city. I know it may sound vague but hopefully my intention is clear, I'd like to find something to eat that I just won't really find anywhere else (I mean, I'm sure there are excellent chowder/crab cake places, and I love it, but I can get that at least passably good here too). For example, if I had a guest that had never come to San Diego before, we'd probably immediately go get carne asada fries, since that is a pretty unique to my area.

I've browsed the board and found things like Central Kitchen and Legal Seafood, but I'm looking for that specific dish that you get a hankering for when you're starving at 1 a.m. kinda thing.

Does somebody in Boston slide something on a bun that is delicious and I won't ever find in California? Let me know!

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  1. I don't know how unique to Boston they are, but I do get that kind of craving for Chacarero sandwiches!

    15 Replies
    1. re: Chris VR

      Nice, that's only a couple blocks from my hotel so I'll look into it, thanks. That's definitely the kinda thing I'm looking for. Some other things I've come across that I was wondering about: is fried dough essential a funnel cake? And I see some pretty mixed reviews on Kelly's roast there something in that realm in the downtown area that everyone sorta agrees is good?

      1. re: dabizomb

        fried clams are very new england - you can try them upscale at B & G Oysters in the south end or go down to the Yankee Lobster House on the waterfront past the World Trade Center. North End for cannolis at Mikes or the Modern to end an evening. Durgin Park for roast beef and Indian pudding (not Kellys!)

        1. re: teezeetoo

          i would avoid Mike's in the North end. The pastries aren't really worth the tourist hype that place gets. its worth visiting for the hubub though.

        2. re: dabizomb

          Found this regarding the difference between fried dough and a funnel cake:

          1. re: bachslunch

            These aren't really Boston specific but definitely different than the West Coast.
            Lobster with a claw is definitely Boston vs Cali.
            Pizzeria Regina in the North End.
            Irish Breakfast at a place like Gerard's in Adam's Corner, Dorchester.
            A shepard's pie or other pub food at an Irish bar.
            Vietnamese subs in Chinatown or Dorchester.
            True late night Boston experience?
            Go to either of JJ Foley's bars in downtown or the South End. After closing time go to Chinatown for "cold tea" (beer) and some East Coast-stlye Chinese food.

            1. re: highnoon

              Look up the thread on Speeds. He slides a hot dog on a bun that you will never get anyplace else.....out of this world. Also, you should try the Union Oyster House and sit at the Oyster Bar where Daniel Webster used to be a regular customer. It is the oldest (1826) restaurant in the United States in continuous operation. Their website is

              Enjoy Boston!!!!

              1. re: edgewater

                My undergraduate major was History/Government, so I am also an afficianado of going to places that reek of history, as does the Union Oyster House. Unfortunately, the food at the Union Oyster House is mediocre at best, so I would hesitate to recommend it to a Chowhound.

                1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                  The way to enjoy Union Oyster House is to sit only at the main bar..never a table..order oysters or clams on the 1/2 or beverage of choice

                  no other food...even 1/2 shell items at the tables will be preshucked..

              2. re: highnoon

                Oh yeah I've heard about the cold tea from my Northeastern buddy, we'll be doing that I imagine. Thanks for all the recommendations everyone, I'm looking forward to this weekend!

                1. re: highnoon

                  Gerard's is in Adam's Village and I personally would not recommend it to anyone. Sorry. I can practically see it from my front porch but I don't think it's that much better than Bickford's.

                  Fried Clams
                  Clam or fish chowder
                  Boiled dinner
                  Indian pudding

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    Adam's Corner was Adam's Village's name for about 200 years until Menino changed it.
                    I haven't been there in a few months but they used to do a great Irish breakfast and it was quite popular with all the Irish immigrants in the area.
                    It's a small mom and pop outfit and nothing like a Bickfords.

                    1. re: highnoon

                      I concur with C. Hamster that Gerard's is no longer worth a detour, or even a stop. Neptune Oyster is excellent for fried clams and most everything else. Durgin Park is old-fashioned Boston and still maintains authenticity and decent food quality.

                      1. re: highnoon

                        It's been called Adams Village for a long time now, like it or not. Someone who has never been to Boston, like the original poster, would be best off finding it by using nabe's current name.

                        I am very familiar with all the Village amenities, including the haunts of my Irish neighbors. Yes, it's a Gerard's is a small place (with a weird entrance) but the food is no better than Bickfords down the street. It still seems popular with the OFDers who perhaps remember "how it used to be" but I don't see that many people in there at any time of day, save post St. Brendan's mass. I honestly don't recall seeing the "irish immigrant crowd" that hangs at The Eire, ODP, Sonny's or Greenhills in Gerards. Except a few older guys hanging out on the bench outside of it.

                        Just MO, though. It would be quite a detour off the beaten path for a breakfast.

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          As I said, I haven't been to Gerard's in months. I'm sorry to hear it's gone downhill.
                          I was really recommending the Irish breakfast, not specifically Gerard's, especially after a night out, which the OP seems to be planning.
                          There are, I'm sure plenty of other places to get one, perhaps on the beaten path.
                          As for the Irish frequenting the place, i had neighbors off the boat who went religiously.
                          As for directions, if the person giving them doesn't know AC they're probably not going to give you great directions.

                      2. re: C. Hamster

                        True enough, boiled dinner is a classic New England dish, but I've never had one at a restaurant I liked. The one at the Farragut House in Southie, which is supposed to be such a big deal around St. Patrick's Day, was as blah as tepid dishwater. Any suggestions for a good plate of this stuff?

              3. Indian pudding (a warm cornmeal based pudding flavored with molasses and cinnamon) topped with vanilla ice cream is peculiar to New England, and the best place for it is Durgin Park.

                1. I would say a lobster roll......(kind of more from Maine, but if you're not going there..). I like the lobster rolls at Jasper White's Summer Shack (there are two locations, one downtown waterfront and one in Sommerville - but on the red T stop.)
                  The only other thing I would add is walking into the north end and eating some Italian. I love the northern italian places best. Also going to Mike's Pastry in the northend (SO amazing!) and also buying gelato from one of the two tiny counters in the northend.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: shellie

                    Lobster roll on the brioche roll the Neptune Restaurant uses....

                    1. re: shellie

                      Skip Mike's pre-filled cannolis and head to Modern Pastry or Maria's

                      1. re: Dax

                        I agree with Maria's - my favorite. A couple of weekends ago E went to pick some up (along with rum cake which he likes at Mike's). The line to Mike's was out the door. The line to Modern Pastry was out the door. No line at Maria's. As always, excellent cannolis. Also, the wonderful ladies at Maria's suggested he try the parigina - a new one to me - layers of pastry, sponge cake with rum, and pastry cream. A bit heavy for me, but very good nonetheless and it satisfied E's craving for rum cake.

                        Dax, if you come visit, I'll buy you a cannoli or two at Maria's!

                        1. re: Rubee

                          I've been loving Modern's Parigina for eons! It's my all-time favorite Italian pastry. Also the torrone at Modern is so fabulous that Italians order it shipped over there!

                      2. re: shellie

                        Mike's Pastry $ucks! get the pastry at Modern or Maria's!

                        Pizza at Regina's
                        Indian Pudding at Durgin Park

                        Lobster Fra Diavolo at The Daily Catch in the North End (Hanover Street) tiny place, fabulous food!

                        Clam Rolls or Lobster Rolls are real New England, and if you haven't had Legal's or Turner's Clam Chowder, then you haven't had great chowder. I lived in SD, and the chowder there is NOT like Boston's!

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          Not to knock the chowder at Legal's or Turner's (both of which I like very much), but my favorite clam chowder is the one at B&G Oysters.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            The clam chowder at B&G and Neptune both blow the doors off of anything in the city. They both make individual orders to order and both are exceptional.

                        2. Two very "Boston" things to try

                          Turkey Hash with poached eggs at
                          Charlie's Sandwich Shop
                          429 Columbus Ave
                          Boston, MA

                          You will never have anything like it in California. If you are starving at 1a.m., you're even more starving by 6 a.m. when they open, and it is the perfect annedote to a potential hangover.

                          AND real ice cream. California is an ice cream wasteland. Too many people worried about staying thin. Boston is ice cream Mecca. My recommendation - hit 2 in Cambridge, Toscanini's and Christina's. You may have to move here after that.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: sflory

                            I'll enthusiastically second Toscanini's for ice cream, but for my money I'd prefer Herrell's and Emack & Bolio's over Christina's (all are based in Cambridge). And in Boston, I'd heartily suggest Picco in the South End.

                            Some folks do prefer Christina's, but I'm not one of them.

                            1. re: bachslunch

                              I like both a lot. I generally prefer Christina's for fruit, vegetable, and spice flavors and Toscanini's for all others, especially chocolate. You can't really go wrong with either, except once with saffron ice cream...

                          2. Rent or get a zipcar and take the 45 minute drive to Cape Ann. Have fried clams for lunch and lobster in the rough. steamers and chowderfor dinner. Drive back to town and have Indian Pudding for dessert. Burn off your dessert by walking to one of our excellent ice cream shops and getting more dessert. BTW jimmies are sprinkles and frappes are milkshakes.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: tomaneng

                              Oh, and on your way back from Cape Ann, stop by Dunkin' Donuts and order a "lahge regulah" to reenergize you.

                              1. re: tomaneng

                                If you go that route, places to consider for fried clams and other clam shack fare would be Woodman's or J.T. Farnham's in Essex or the Clam Shack in Ipswich.

                                Given how pervasive Dunkin' Donuts is these days, I'd be reluctant to suggest them as an "exclusively Boston experience." Besides which, their donuts and sandwiches are lousy, though their coffee and cookies at least aren't too bad.

                                1. re: bachslunch

                                  If the weather's nice you could go to Sullivan's at Castle Island in South Boston. Great city and harbor views. True Boston experience.
                                  Just a burger and fries takeout kind of place but you can't beat the ambience of what we call the Irish Riviera.
                                  I'd also recommend the Top of the Hub restaurant in the Prudential building for drinks, not dinner.
                                  Great views.
                                  Sorry these rec's aren't food specific but they are Boston authentic.

                                  1. re: bachslunch

                                    Just a slight correction, it's the Clam Box not Shack.

                                    And Essex Seafood is usually the least crowded and can be as good as the Clam Box.

                                    I also noticed a seafood place on Rt. 1 in the Agawam Diner area that I thought might be good. Can't think of the name, anyone know where I'm thinking of?