Chicago Chowhound visiting Boston this weekend
My husband and I will be in Boston for our 2nd visit, and I'm looking for good places to eat/hang out. We're staying at the Boston Park Plaza, near the Commons. We're fairly low-key people who simply love to eat (and generally plan our trips around food), so I'm not looking for anything too "scene-y," just great food. Low or mid-price range would be best, and really, any type of food is great, so long as it's the best of its kind. We're not afraid to walk a bit or take transportation within reason.
Last time we were here, we enjoyed Upper Crust pizza (I think we ate 3 large Harvard Squares that weekend--we missed East Coast-style pizza, stuck out here in the deep-dish hinterlands like we are), Rabia's, Mike's Pastries, and a trip up to Bartley's Burgers in Cambridge, if that gives you any conception of what we like.
We'll be at Fenway on Sunday, and possibly up in Cambridge on Monday.
Thanks! And don't hesitate to contact me if you're looking for Chicago recommendations!
A couple of favorite places we visit whenever we get the chance to visit Cambridge- Best Ice Cream hands down is Toscannini's- There is now one at Harvard Square and the classic location north of Central Square at 899 Main Street; my favorite flavors- their pistachio, burnt caramel and ginger snap molasses.
Seafood is a speciality of the area:
Roka is a really good Japanese restaurant between Harvard and Central Sqares on Mass Ave. IMHO the best Sushi in the area. It's in the lower level of a split level shopping center.
A couple of great Chinatown places- Ocean Wealth 8 Tyler St and across the way the best dim sum is at China Pearl.
Jasper's Summer shack is not the cheapest Lobster in town, nor the most expensive. They prepare it several ways beyond the traditional steamed. For the traditional steamed lobster you can't go wrong with Legal Seafood. I also love Legal's lobster salad.
If you're out touring the revolutionary sites and are near Concord and are in the mood for ice cream, I suggest Kimball's Farm way off the beaten path in Carisle, MA. You can get directions here: http://www.kimballfarm.com/
We also plan our trips around great food at great value prices (and with that in mind, probably won't return to Hawaii any time soon, but that's another story for another board...)
Audobon Grill on Beacon is a must before or after Fenway (counterpart Miracle of Science in Central Sq Cambridge is also great -- especially the Ronnie burger and the breakfast burrito!)
Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square near Fenway for cocktails is always fun and satisfying (but mobbed after games...).
King Fung Garden on Kneeland St in Chinatown is a 10-15 minute walk from your hotel worth much more than the low, low prices reflect (call a day in advance and get blown away by their Peking Duck or just show up and be sure to have Shanghai Chow Mein and homemade dumplings)! Great northern-style Chinese in a pretty divey but friendly spot.
Maria's in the North End outshines Modern and Mike's
Your lunch or dinner splurge should be Neptune Oyster in the North End -- it is amazing -- or Central Kitchen in Central Square, Cambridge -- consistently outstanding.
I second the recs for both the Helmand in East Cambridge and Pizzeria Regina at the corner of Prince & Thatcher Sts. in the North End. If you haven't had their pizza, don't miss it. True, authentic Italian with thin crust, bubbles and perfect flavor. If you go at a popular time, you'll have to wait a while for a table. You could put in an order to go, then get in line at one of the pastry shops, then go back to pick up your pizza and eat it in at the basketball court a half a block away. Maria's closes at 7, so if you miss it, I'd either get a lobster tail from Mike's (oh, so good) or sit at Napoli Pastry or Cafe Vittoria, where you can get good coffee and pastry.
You might also try the bar at Chez Henri, a couple of blocks from the Harvard Sq. T stop. Almost everyone loves their Cubanos--including the vegetarian one--and tropical cocktails.
If you are at the Red Sox game on Sunday afternoon, try going over to the Franklin Cafe afterward. The wait should not be bad early after the game. Great food and prices. Lots of comments about them on this Board.
Elephant Walk (Cambodian and French food) in Boston or Cambridge has 2 fix price meals (~$30 for 3 course, $40 for 4 course).
Try the bar menu at Chez Henri in Cambridge. The Cuban sandwich is legendary and much better than the ones at Fenway, with all apologies to Louis Tiant aka El Tiante.
I would highly recommend hopping in a cab (or taking the red-line subway and a mapquest printout) and going to the Helmand, an Afghani restaurant run, incidentally, by relatives of Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan. The food is excellent, unlike any I've eaten (outside their branches in SF, Baltimore, and elsewhere). Must-tries are Aushak and Lamb Dwopiaza. Lambchops and tenderloin are also exceptional. Prices are low. Service is good, though not excellent. Wine list fair to good. This is a place to go for the food, though the room is lovely. Here's a link to their website: http://www.helmandrestaurantcambridge... IMHO the best bang for the buck in the area.
Very close to the green line, I'll reemphasize. As for you, kcp118, I'll second Helmand--nothing like it in Chicago, and I say that as a recent transplant to Bostonland from that fair city. We were at Helmand the night of the 3rd for a great meal at a price I pretty much didn't believe: two aps, four entrees, a soup, two desserts, and two teas--we all had to be rolled out--for $87 before tip.
Some quick recs from a former resident of that neighborhood.
Rachel's Kitchen in Bay Village is a 2 minute walk from your hotel. Seating is limited and orders are made to order and take a while. You might want to call ahead your order and take back to the hotel or the Garden. I heartily recommend the breakfast sandwiches but make sure you request the one you want on brioche. I like the bacon egg and cheese.
Skip upper crust this trip and head to Regina's. It's the best pizza in town by far. I typically order a sausage and pepperoni well done (to char the crust) and a few beers. They only serve pizza. Hope on the inbound Green Line at Arlington and get off at North Station (or Haymarket) and walk over to Regina's on Thacher St. Skip Mike's and head to Modern or Maria's for better canolis for desert.
For Fenway, grab a sausage pepper and onions sandwich from the Sausage guy on Landsdown or a Cubano from El Tiante on Yawkey way, or maybe try and get a reservation as Eastern Standard.
FYI, the McCormick and Schmick at Park Plaza has a late night happy hour menu from 10-sometime with oysters, cheap but average burgers, and other snacks for $2 to $5. A chain, but a close one with fresh, inexpensive oysters right in your building. Not sure about Friday and Saturday night offerings or even the happy hour at that time.
Enjoy your visit.