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Poll: Your #1 favorite in Boston.

If you had to pick just one favorite restaurant in Boston (and just for purposes of this poll, let's confine it to Boston proper), what would it be? I'm curious to see what CHs favorites are because, unfortunately, I am unable to choose just one (trust me, I've asked myself this question often)...so I'm turning it over to you...

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    1. re: marchperson

      I don't like to use the term "hand's down" but L'Espalier absolutely, for me.

    2. No 9 Park or the Harvard Faculty Club.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Dr.Jimbob

        Harvard Faculty Club? Please elaborate.

        1. re: tomaneng

          Sadly not available to the general public -- you have to be faculty or an alum to be eligible for a membership, but IMO it's one of the finer French restaurants in the Boston area. Details are available on a public web site: http://www.hfc.harvard.edu/

          1. re: Dr.Jimbob

            Ate there a few months ago, found it fine and the prices reasonable, but in terms of technique and refinement, I wouldn't place it at the level of places like No. 9 Park.

            1. re: limster

              Staff are also eligible to enjoy the club. I've eaten there a number of times and find it completely unremarkable. It does have a nice atmosphere though and service has been consistently good over many years.

            2. re: Dr.Jimbob

              I would be pleased to dine as your guest there anytime! LOL

        2. If you mean anywhere within the Boston city limits, I might have to pick Cafe Polonia in Southie.

          If you're talking downtown Boston and areas within walking distance, I guess I'd choose my old standby--Regina's in the North End.

            1. Well, my dining tastes tend towards the "hole in the wall" ethnic places. In that vein, I'd say my favorite place in Boston by far is Peach Farm. I always try to convince my friends to go with me there, whenever we are at the movies or the theater. They have started to joke about it.

              1. So, is the question, "What place would you choose for your last meal", or "Where would you choose if you could never eat anywhere else ever again?"

                The reason I ask is that while I think top-tier places like L'Espalier deserve recognition for extraordinary technique, ingredients, atmosphere, service, etc., I 'm not sure I'd want to eat there every single time I dined out. You know, do you really want to find yourself saying, "Oh man, not foie gras torchon with Muscat gelée, sour cherries and pistachio nuts AGAIN! And please, let me crumb my own table, just this once!"

                So I guess I might choose the Franklin Cafe, which serves everyday food with flair, has good drinks, plays great music on the stereo, keeps the lights low, and has a cool crowd. I would find that much harder to get tired of.

                19 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  The Franklin Cafe is one place I've been dying to get to. I know that it can get packed there, though; what is it typically like on a weeknight around 5:30-6:00? Usually easy to get a table at that time?

                  1. re: hiddenboston

                    I can't reveal all my hard-won secrets of finessing the Franklin's wait times, but the closer to 5pm you arrive, the likelier you'll have no wait. Summertime is always better for avoiding waits througout the South End.

                    But I think for probably the first time since it opened, the Franklin's overall business has declined, no doubt due to the many new competitors within a few blocks. In the past year, I have found myself getting a table with a 45-minute wait at times that formerly always involved a 90-to-120-minute wait.

                    1. re: hiddenboston

                      Arrived there last night at 5:30 and the place was basically empty, but by 6:00 almost all the seats were taken at the bar and all but one table was taken. Had some appetizers all of which were excellent -- corn and fish soup, calamari and scallops wrapped in bacon.

                      1. re: hiddenboston

                        If you go to Franklin around 5:30 - 6, even on a Friday or Saturday, you'll get a table in less than 20 minutes. The wait at Franklin is only bad at peak-times, such as a Thursday/Friday/Saturday from 7 - 9. Other than that it's managable, plus it has a great bar.

                        Another good time is to go nice and late. They're open until 1am every night, might as well take advantage and get some great late-night eats without the wait

                        1. re: hiddenboston

                          I've gone to the Frankline about 6:30 on a weeknight the last couple times and there was no problem.

                          1. re: hiddenboston

                            what. the man behind hiddenboston dot com has never been to the franklin? shows you what a sham the internets can be.

                            PS thank you bowmore for your opinion. I laffed.

                            1. re: Alcachofa

                              Criticize me all you want, but please don't say bad things about all those innocent little Internets... ;-b

                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                              FRANKLIN CAFE?????? this clearly demonstrates the sofistication of the boston diner. franklin's food is below mediocre, the service is an abhorance, and the music is completely unfocused and has it's own volume control. Dennis (bartender) is the only member of the staff who makes you feel like he is happy to have you there. they serve late, which would normally be a plus for someone who likes to dine late, but they make you feel as though they don't even want you there!!!
                              This has to be a joke

                              1. re: bowmore36

                                Actually, I was serious. My experience of the food, service, and ambience at the Franklin appears to be different from yours.

                                Please do not mistake my views as being representative of the Boston dining scene, or its "sofistication"; I am just one opinion.

                                Hope you got my point about everyday dining vs. "high" food.

                                Vive la difference!

                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  MC im just saying that it seems like you had such a good wrap on the boston dining scene.....

                                  1. re: bowmore36

                                    Our difference of opinion on this place demonstrates the value of Chowhound: many voices are better than one. You can now read my opinions with a grain of salt that says, "Hmm, MC loves at least one place that I think is totally overrated."

                                    Part of my esteem for the Franklin centers on its consistency. I've had literally hundreds of good meals there since it opened. I've found the biggest variable not to be music (generally to my liking, though once in a great while it's awful), nor the table service (it's not hard for the staff to do a good job in a place that small), but the bartending. There's been a lot of turnover, especially over the past couple of years, and the consistency has suffered.

                                    Wines aren't especially a strong suit, either: for a better example of good wines that are sensibly matched to a modest, comfort-food-heavy menu, check out what Deborah de Haro put together for Coda.

                                    But overall, I've found the Franklin a welcome, high-value constant in a neighborhood that has gotten steadily pricier and tolerant of style over substance. While the food isn't extraordinary (I could probably do a decent job of many of those dishes at home), the whole package is very appealing to me, and the late-night food service has been very handy over the years.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      MC not to get too far off topic, but what's your take on the Gloucester vs. Boston location?

                                      1. re: Harp00n

                                        I haven't been to the Franklin Cape Ann since a couple of months after it opened. I recall the menus having a lot in common, but the vibe of each place feeling really different to me, as I suppose makes sense given the respective locations.

                                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                                        of course... just find it strange that someone would have a place that makes you feel they don't want your business #1. it would be a shame when so many others actually like when you dine with them. (at any levl)
                                        but, if you have been hundreds of times, i'm sure they have taken a liking to you.
                                        as well, i myself could do a decent job with most of the food they put out. and i also could make myself feel pretty un"comfort"able in my own setting and not have to pay for it.

                                        give some praise to the people that really do it right...

                                        any #9 restaurant... those people know to make an entire experience.

                                        best hospitality in the city @ #9 Park. food isn't the BEST IN BOSTON but they know how to make a dining experience ( a la gramercy park).

                                        the food at b&g is always good... the service and atmosphere are very good. the hospitality and excellent staff training has clearly made it's way to the south end both at b&g and butcher shop. across the board, the most knowledgeable staff(s)in all of the boston restaurants. as well, the three restaurants are the most consistent.

                                        worlds apart

                                        1. re: bowmore36

                                          I don't think I get special "regular" treatment at the Franklin, despite my frequent custom, but I don't recall ever getting the sort of frosty reception you cite. Indeed, an early experience was special to me: I brought my young nephew (12ish) with me late one night; we'd gone to a show, and had few convenient options to dine. The staff made a special effort to make him feel welcome and at ease, which isn't easy for a kid in that place. A very strong early impression of hospitality.

                                          By contrast, I don't quite share your love of the Lynch empire. I love the bar at No. 9 Park (extraordinary bartending, really tops), but don't feel the dining room experience lives up to the cost. B&G I rather like. The Butcher Shop I give some business, but mostly I think it has become terribly overpriced. They're all good, but none are great values, which is important to my assessment of any place, high or low. B&G probably comes out best on that front.

                                  2. re: bowmore36

                                    MC's got one of the most "sofisticated" tastes on this board - and I'll second his rec for Franklin as one of the best overall restaurants in the area. I've had excellent food and service there. Guess I'm just not "sofisticated" enough.

                                    1. re: Sgt Snackers

                                      a "sofist" i am not, but i do find this thread particularly "sofomoric"

                                      l'espalier and franklin cafe are completely different beasts...to each his/her own

                                      1. re: jackal

                                        Apologies in advance to anyone who finds the following patently obvious (as I do), but:

                                        I get this question a lot: "What's your favorite restaurant?" My typical response is, "What do you mean: high, medium, or low? That's just one question of many I need an answer to before I make a recommendation, but it baffles a lot of folks, like it has never occured to them to make such a distinction

                                        My original point begged this question: by favorite, do you mean "fancy", "low", something in between? I think most Chowhounds intuitively understand that there is no answer to the "best" question that doesn't entail a host of other quallfying questions: "Do you have a specific cuisine in mind?" "How adventurous is your party?" "How much do you want to spend?" "What are your dietary restrictions?" "How important are good wines, cocktails, beers to you?" "What's your tolerance for formality?" And so on.

                                        When I say one place is my favorite, it's in a very specific context, in the case of this thread, "favorite everyday place, the kind of joint that speaks to me across a broad spectrum of issues that would be important to me if I had to choose one place to eat for the rest of my born days." As I said in my original post, L'Espalier might be a place I'd choose for a last meal, but for everyday eating, I might find it a bit much, and prefer a bar with good food, like the Franklin.

                                2. My favorite restaurant in Boston Proper right now is definitely not the best. Eastern Pier II over on the waterfront. The food is good Chinese food - americanized for the most part, but fresh. What I love about the place is that it's one of the best places in town to relax, have a drink and feel like you're away from the hustle. You can sit out on the deck over the water and watch boats pull up for take out orders. I dont know, it's just something about the place that has me coming back to it again and again.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: chowciao

                                    My favorite clams in black bean sauce ever!!! And decent lomein!

                                  2. Fav upscale, once-in-awhile places:

                                    Uni and Salts.

                                    Fav eat-there-a-lot places:

                                    Regina's and Terramia and Duk Bua and Neptune Oyster.

                                    (Yeah, that really narrowed it down to one, didn't it?)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Bostonbob3

                                      Like others it is hard to pick just one but my favs, nots in any order of preference, would be: Petit Robert on Comm Ave; East Ocean and/or the Peach Farm for Chinese; Eastern Standard; and Prezza for upscale Italian.

                                    2. I told you all it was an impossible question! Ha ha... MCSlim, I asked myself that question as soon as I posted...and I'm not sure what the answer is, so I'm glad you gave me answers to both! And I think I might have to agree wholeheartedly with your selections. Although it would be a tough call to choose between Franklin or Silvertone for the latter category...

                                      1. Neptune Oyster, that's what came to mind when I saw this thread.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: steinpilz

                                          Today, at this moment, I am with you. Had an amazing meal at Neptune last weekend and plan to go back tomorrow night for more. Please baby jesus tell me I'll finally make it there early enough for the lobster roll!!!! (they were out when I was there last.)

                                          1. re: kittychow

                                            I live in /los Angeles and ate at Neptune in May....my finest meal in Boston in the 35 years I have been going there....love to sit at the bar and let Jeff take care of us....get there early the lobster roll is to die for...the best...love the brioche roll

                                        2. East Coast Grill and for comfort food, Sweet Basil.

                                          1. I'm gonna have to piggy back on the No. 9 Park selection- Solid over the years, others have come and gone, or gone downhill IMHO, but it's my measuring stick for all others (in that price range, I should say).

                                            1. I find that broad 'favorite' questions, like this one, are really tough to answer because there are so many things of which I'm passionately fond, and each is delightful in its own way. If pressed, though, I'd say it's a toss-up between Locke-Ober and Eastern Standard: L-O for an intimate, subdued mood, ESK for something more social and lively.

                                              1. I'm a Vinny's at Night guy.

                                                1. All things being equal, have to say Locke Ober. I love the Old School feel and the food is as divine as any in town.

                                                  1. I'll say Peach Farm, with the caveat that I have avoided many upscale Western restaurants in Boston proper. As a rule of thumb, I think Eastern cuisines have superior flavors while Western cuisines have superior ingredients. But in the case of Peach Farm, the ingredients are top quality. Not to mention it's ridiculously cheap.

                                                      1. re: rufustfi

                                                        O Ya

                                                        (I hope that's "sofisticated" enough, though I must confess that Franklin may be my standby as a daily restaurant, too. Or Metropolis Cafe.)

                                                        1. re: rufustfi

                                                          I think I agree.... at the moment Craigie serves the best food in the city. Suffers when it comes to the wine list. That honor goes to Troquet. Then there's Clio which is great, wine list needs some help there. Hmmmn... its a tie for favorite btw those 3.

                                                          1. re: rufustfi

                                                            Love Craigie Street. Maws is an incredibly gifted and creative chef. But Harvard Square is not Boston 'proper.'

                                                            1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                                              I don't know: I tend to define "Boston proper" as anywhere within five miles of the State House, so Craigie Street makes the cut.

                                                              Most of Brighton, Allston, Cambridge, Somerville, Charlestown, Chelsea, Eastie, Southie, Roxbury, Dorchester, JP, and the urban parts of Brookline are included in my definition of Boston proper.

                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                You certainly have a point, but I know more than a few folks in Cambridge circles who would dispute that point to the end of time.

                                                                Anyhow, Craigie Street is a gem on the Boston scene no matter how you define the boundaries.

                                                              2. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                                                I include Cambridge in the "Boston" scene. I think of the Boston "area" when thinking about anything dealing with the region (food, schools, businesses, etc)... as Boston proper is not really that big.

                                                            2. No 9 Park, with Prezza and Neptune a close second and third.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                Neptune & Taranta are my second & third choices, and in that order. I really need to get over to No. 9 though, I do enjoy it and ages since last there.

                                                                1. re: Harp00n

                                                                  Neptune.( as weird as it may seem the best fried clams in the world IMHO )

                                                                  1. re: phatchris

                                                                    Lol, we're fightin' on this one! IMNSHO, it's the Clam Box, in Ipswich, period. Everyone else is just jockeying for second place :-))

                                                                    1. re: Harp00n

                                                                      I've actually, as sad as it is ,never had The Clam Box so i can't compare. I really need to get to Ipswich though.

                                                                      1. re: phatchris

                                                                        Well not to swerve this thread too far-off topic, go. But for godsakes don't try to do it this weekend or most, Go during the week and make an excursion out of it.