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One-day visit to Boston

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My friends and I will be visiting your city this weekend (July 7th),. After spending a few hours surfing this board, I have a general idea of what to avoid and what is recommended. Perhaps you could give me more specific recommendations, adapted to our itinerary? It would be much appreciated, because we have never been to Boston.

For lunch, we want to have a picnic at the Boston Common, and we would like to buy tasty sandwiches beforehand. We initially thought that we could buy something at Faneuil Hall but I've understood that we should avoid this place at all costs. Pressed Sandwiches, Al's State Street Cafe, Bean & Leaf Cafe and Delicato Cafe & Catering all seem to be interesting places. Any other suggestions (or warnings on the places I mentioned)?

We will be spending our evening around Harvard Square and we would love to have dinner in a relatively unexpensive sit-down restaurant. I've heard mixed reviews about Cafe Pamplona, so I am not sure we should go there. We are pretty open-minded, so any type of cuisine is fine. Any hidden gems or places that we shouldn't miss?

Thank you very much in advance, and I look forward to hear your recommendations!

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  1. You could try Casablanca. It's been around for a long time and the food there is good. Not sure if they have a website, but give it a shot. I believe it's on Brattle Street.

    1. For sandwiches, you could go to Parish Cafe on Boylston - good sandwiches, some of which are signature from chefs around the city.

      Super duper inexpensive sit down restaurant in Harvard - Bartley's Burger Cottage. An institution in Cambridge, good lime rickey's and burgers (they don't serve alcohol, if that's a consideration. Other ideas - cubano at the bar at Chez Henri (Cuban-French), Mexican at Forest Cafe, Baraka Cafe (Tunisian), bar snacks at East Coast Grill (bbq-seafood). There are also a number of Indian restaurants in Harvard, though none particularly stand out to me. There's a couple of Thai places, again, none distinguished.

      Right now I really love River Gods in Central Square for casual, well executed bar fare. Their kimchee topped veggie burger, fries, and korean handroll are all particularly great. Their cheese plate is an abomination though.

      1. I'd go with Al's or try the Peruvian sandwich at Chacarerro next to Filene's Basement (or on Providence St.) for your picnic. I don't think of Cafe Pamplona as serving such great real meals. If you don't have the best pizza where you're from, go to Cambridge 1 on Church St. in Harvard Sq. and get one with interesting combos. If you're here on a weekday, try the 1-2-3-4-5 happy hour at Noir inthe Charles Hotel for great cheap eats with a fancy (expensive) drink. Bartley's is a good idea too but gets very crowded and not open on Sun.

        1. I would guess that your choices for picnic sandwiches would be closed on the week-end, they are primarily M-F lunchtime places( not familiar with Delicato). The north-end isn't too far - maybe something from J.Pace, and Maria's bakery is right next door. Chinatown also has lots of picnic possibilities and is close to the Common.

          1. The Parish Cafe, a CH fav, is a stone's throw from the Public Garden(next to Boston Common) where you could order their ample sandwiches for take-out. http://www.parishcafe.com/. Cafe Pamplona is a tiny, very casual, coffee shop type place. You might be better off with something like Casablanca in Harvard Sq. or Rendezvous http://www.rendezvouscentralsquare.com/, Central Kitchen or the Enormous Room in Central Sq.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Taralli

              I'm not sure I'd call Casablanca or any of those Central Square places inexpensive, but it depends. Cambridge One is a good suggestion for inexpensive right in Harvard Square as are gini's choices. Dolphin seafood might also fit the bill as would many of the Indian places in Central.

              1. re: DavisSquare

                I'll probably get mercilessly flogged for this, but inexpensive food, quick service and a fun atmosphere can be had at the Border Cafe on Church St. in Harvard Sq. You may have to wait a while for a table, depending on when you go, but I've been going back for the chicken burros for close to twenty years. It may not be haute cuisine, but the margaritas are good, and the selection of tex/mex beers are cold. It's a little less hectic if you can get them to seat you downstairs. Welcome, and have fun!

                1. re: DavisSquare

                  An assortment of apps at these places are pretty reasonable - the Central Sq. places I recommended.

              2. It sounds like you'll be downtown. How about takeout from Sultan's Kitchen, http://www.sultans-kitchen.com/index.htm They have sandwiches (wraps) but I recommend the special mezze platter (vegetarian).

                Pamploma isn't really a dinner place but it's a very, very Cantabrigian coffee/snack stop. In addition to other recs, Rendang has decent Malaysian; Tamarind Bay for pan-Indian. Baraka is wonderful but maybe a bit out of your way, tends to be crowded and slow, no alcohol. Bartley's is fun and a local institution, ultracasual and can be mobbed.