Two Nights in Boston - Where to Go?
My husband and I are staying in Boston for two nights in July. Any suggestions of where to go for dinner? One night: romantic. Second night: laid back. We were planning on going to Blue Ginger, but the postings seem a bit negative. Any better ideas? This is our first getaway without the kids for years, so the sky is the limit!
Don't let the Blue Ginger bashing discourage you from going. What might discourage you, however, is that it's not in Boston, but rather half an hour west of Boston in the suburb of Wellesley, and there are many great altrnatives right in the city. For romantic, consider Pigalle. For laid back, maybe B&G Oysters or Neptune Oysters.
I've been to Blue Ginger a couple of times and I didn't think the food was particularly special. If the sky's really the limit in terms of price, the place in Boston I absolutely love for special occasion dinners is No. 9 Park. I enjoyed the one time I went to Clio (which is in a similar price range) but it's not for everyone (although if you're looking for French/Asian fusion a la Blue Ginger Clio imho is far superior). L'espalier's also considered really romantic, but I haven't been in a long time (since I was 15 and having my braces adjusted on Newbury St).
In terms of places that are a bit more affordable but still nice food in a nice setting, I've really enjoyed Rendezvous in Cambridge lately. The one problem is that the service can be a bit slow at peak hours. In terms of more casual places, I absolutely love Toro, which is a Spanish tapas place in the South End. The one problem there is that they don't take reservations and is quite popular so you can't go at like 7 on a Saturday night unless you don't mind waiting two hours.
Wow - so many restaurants, so little time. You'll get a zillion suggestions but let me throw in a couple that I'd recommend for out of towners as top picks.
Romantic: No 9 Park (almost perfect food and location-wise), Clio ($$$$), Sage (excellent Italian, recently moved to the South End so check whatever results come up in a Google search).
Laid back: East Coast Grill (quite popular, excellent food and fun atmosphere, though as with most popular places will have its detractors as well); Toro (very bustling but great authentic tapas); Eastern Standard (fantastic bartending); Franklin Cafe (always a favorite, no reservations though); Addis Red Sea (good Ethiopian, South End location a bit more interesting than Cambridge location - nice atmosphere); lots of spots in Chinatown (especially for lunch).
For Romantic No 9 Park is a sure fire hit, although a very wise choice would be to go for lunch, have John the bartender take care of you, and walk out with a great meal and a little more cocktail knowledge than you had when you walked in (along with a smaller dent in the wallet). Lunch is more laid back, but still very good service and food. Dinner is as expected more formal and well worth it IMHO (apps 12-18ish entrees mid to upper 30s) .
I second Rendevous in Central Square, slightly less expensive, simple and delicious food. You will leave much more full than at No 9 (unless you eat like me, with no regard to fullness or the small amount of money in your bank account). Cool space looking out on Mass Ave.
A kind of classic Boston restaurant for romantic dinner would be Olives in Charlestown if they are re-opened. (I believe that they had a fire a few weeks ago?) Unlike No 9 Park this place is loud, dark, and I think more fun. Weekends will be packed and the place will be jumping. Portions are fairly large and somewhat expensive (apps 10-15 entrees low 30s). Cool feature is open kitchen pretty much smack in the middle of the dining room. Dinner only.
L'espalier is stuffy french, excellent food and attentive service, just not my kind of atmosphere.
Neptune Oyster in the North End...yes go there...eat oysters...split some apps, share an entree, eat a burger(topped with a fried oyster or two of course)...you wont regret it, also a excellent lunch spot, less crowds, laid back, finish up with some pastries on hanover street at the modern or mikes, or wherever else you decide to wander into.
Other good choices butcher shop for brunch if you in town sunday morning, B&G Oyster, Eastern Standard but not if the Sox are playing, Bin 26 for a glass of wine and an app, and if you want a very cool boston experience Formaggio Kitchen outside Harvard Square for some cheese, a sandwich, and some local fruit(best lunch in town i would say).
Good Luck and Eat Well
I think if I had one romantic evening in Boston I'd go to Mamma Maria in the North End. Pick up a box of cannoli at Mike's across the street before dinner for dessert. The North End shouldn't be missed anyway, and just strolling through its streets on a warm summer night is romantic. Highlights are the free-range Osso Bucco and the mushroom ravioli.