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JP Scene: My 2 cents so far....

Moved to JP about 2 months ago. Here's my JP roundup so far. I'd love to hear about anything I've missed...

JP Seafood: Haven't strayed from the sushi items, but I'd have to say it's a pretty solid deal. I'm kind of a sushi snob and this stuff has been consistently fresh and good quality. Some of the weirder roll combinations involving lemon and cilantro don't float my boat, but everything else is quite good. Service has always been excellent.

Cafe D: The burger and fries are out of this world. My girlfriend and I were so blown away, we just keep going back and getting the same thing. There's something about the fries that makes them exceptionally good..Bibb salad is excellent too. They give you bread when you sit down and there's a bottle of deliciously flavored olive oil at the table. Service is excellent. Can't speak to the rest of the menu bcos I'm addicted to the burger and fries...

Wonder spice: I "wonder" how this place stays in business. 3 out of the 4 times we went there, the service was atrocious. Twice, we sat at our table for over 20 minutes without so much as a menu or water and eventually had to get up and leave because we were so hungry. The menu is not your typical thai restaurant- they don't have traditional green curry, massaman curry, etc. They do have various combinations of vegetables and chicken/beef/shrimp/tofu and some noodle and fried rice dishes. On the whole, I think the weakness is in their sauces- they're just kind of bland and too sweet in general. Along with the food being consistently mediochre, the prices are a little too high to justify it, so you wind up leaving the place feeling truly crappy. Also, the dining room is incredibly loud and has nothing to absorb the sound, so if there's a big loud party you might have trouble having a quiet conversation.

Centre street cafe: Breakfast here is superb. Nuff said (other posters have expounded on this). Try to get there early. As for the dinner menu, it's kind of split into an expensive menu with things that sound good but I've never tried bcos I can't afford it and a cheaper menu with 4-5 different types of stir-frys. The stir-frys are ok but nothing to write home about. They're decidedly not good enough to inspire me to go back there for dinner any time soon. I do like the ambience here though. Perhaps I'll try the higher quality menu sometime.

Bukhara: Only had the lunch buffet so far, but it was tasty and affordable.

Ten Tables: I was frankly disappointed here. Granted, the fact that the airconditioning was not working that night tested my patience, but I found the menu surprisingly limited with no specials available. Also, portions were on the skimpy side. They did not offer any non-alcoholic beverages other than water (no soda, juice) and only offered one brand of beer. Lastly, we waited a long time for our food and the waiter wasn't all that friendly. Bummer, because I had heard such good things about it. I suppose I'd give it one more chance allowing for an off night on their part.

Doyles: Fun place to hang but the food is like what you'd expect at a cheap wedding cruise: Very edible but not very memorable.

JP licks: This place can neutralize the bad effects of even the worst meal....

Canto 6 is a bakery on Washington street. Whoa! the brioche, muffins and other baked goods are out of this world. Blows the sweet finnish or that italian place next to harvest way out of the water. Excellent coffee too.

On my list to try: La papusa, el oriental, alchemy (although my girlfriend said it was not good)

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  1. Nice roundup. I'm curious about 10 Tables - never been there, but I've been wanting to try. So other than a short menu, how did you like the food? Hope it was off night.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nfo

      i went on my anniversary to 10 Tables. Very dissappointing mostly because there was no air conditioning. It was brutal. Go on a cool night.

    2. wonder spice: the one solid thing i've found there is their crispy ginger fish. that i like quite a bit. the other thai place on centre street i was not impressed by.

      i agree that canto 6 is far and away the best bakery in jp. i'm not that into their coffee though; and one thing fiori's is good for is cannolis.

      have you had the burgers at zon's and/or costello's? i'm wondering how the cafe d's burger compares.

      1. Absolute - if you promise not to tell anyone, I'll let you in on a secret: if you order takeout from Wonder Spice, you get much more food for the same money. At least that's my experiece, I usually get Pad Thai or the veg. and tofu curry whch comes in a huge container. Two meals easily. And no dealing with bad service.

        We went to the Alchemist last night. It's quite a scene and the food is better than decent. (How bad can a place be that plays 50s' favorites like Be Bop A Lula?) I admit it's very loud, but the side room is a bit quieter. Give it a try.

        1. You say Wonderspice is not your typical Thai restaurant, but isn't it Cambodian or some other combination of southeast Asian? I've thought it was okay.

          Don't forget to try Miami and as someone said, Zon's and Costellos's. And the Galway House, okay food for pretty cheap. As I mentionedinthe JP Crawl, I'm very curious about the Amory Cafe (I think that's the name, on Amory by Boylston St.). Blue Frog has some good baked stuff. I think Acapulco is kind of okay but haven't been in a while and am definitely not an expert on Mexican. You also didn't mention standbys James Gate and Dogwood. Forest Hills Diner has cheap greasy spoon breakfast. And what about Yely's across from the Stop & Shop?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Joanie

            I thought Wonder Spice was respectable the one time I tried them, though their service was kind of slow.

          2. Def hit Zon's

            Is Tacos El Charro still open? I heard it was closing.

            The service at Bukhara sucks plus you need a flashlight and a magnifying glass for the menu, but the food is OK.

            Give 10 Tables another chance.

            1 Reply
            1. re: C. Hamster

              So right on target, your assessment of Bukhara. I thought the Dosa was wonderful and I enjoyed the Murg Makhni but it had raisins in it and I'm not used to that. The goat curry was advertised as a house special but it was tough/chewy and chock full of tiny pieces of bone.

            2. As someone else mentioned, Zon's is always solid, as is James Gate (service a little slow sometimes). I go to Wonder Spice in winter for soup. For "community", I go to the Bella Luna/Milky Way complex (and they deliver!).

              We need a deli, a real Chinese restaurant (though Mandarin Gourmet is close enough) and a prepared foods mecca for when you just don't feel like cooking and the Sox are on ...

              1. great recap - I'll definitely have to check out the Cafe D burger and fries, I'm always on the lookout for another good burger. I'm wondering what your girlfriend had at the Alchemist - I went there twice, had a creatively presented and delicious grilled chicken caesar salad on the first visit. at brunch the other time, I really enjoyed the breakfast flatbreads - eggs, bacon and maple syrup on a flatbread of the perfect consistency. my DC's both times were impressed as well; not only would I return, but I have recommended it to others. I'm wondering what was wrong for your GF so I know what to avoid next time.

                1. Cafe Ula is a great new contender for best bakery/cafe. It's over in the Brewery off Amory Street so well away from the Centre St. drag but handy to Stonybrook T and the Southwest Corridor. Very nice sandwiches and some lovely pastry, including homemade stroopwafels and delightful gigantic popovers that they offer with a side of jam or Nutella. I managed to snag a warm one this past weekend, and I can't remember the last time I had anything so simple and so good. I love Canto 6 too--they converted me to canneles and it's hard to beat their hazelnut chocolate shortbread.

                  Agreed on the charmlessness of Wonderspice and that Cafe D rocks! I'm always torn between the burger and the fish taco...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: greengage

                    i lived in JP for awhile, and truly miss some of the food.. I'll second the recc for Miami. But my hands-down favorite spot for food in JP is Yeli's Coffee Shop. Those hacked ribs with lime and yucca, maybe some sausage... aw man, it's the best. And you get something like 3 meals worth of food for $5. No menu, you just point at things or (if you know Spanish) ask for some of whatever you see behind the counter. No frills, no ambience, no coffee... it smells like heaven and could send you quickly to the afterlife if you overdo it.

                  2. I've been a JP resident for three years how, and I've always loved Zon's. I see the recent questions about a possible management change, but I was there this weekend, and the food and service were both the high level I'm accustomed to.

                    For breakfast, I cannot stand the line at Centre St Cafe, so I go to Sorella's in Hyde Square (across from Bella Luna/Milky Way). Also a line, but they're quick about getting people in and out. Massive menu, spotty service, but solid breakfast.

                    El Oriental: An absolute must, you get a ton of food for your money and it's always a pleasant experience.

                    Bella Luna: Good place for casual, affordable comfort food. Nothing fancy.

                    Alchemist: I went there for dinner a few times last year and was disappointed, and I haven't been back because of it. The menu was half sold out, service poor, and it was expensive for what they offered. I'd love to hear if they've worked those kinks out and hit their stride.

                    Purple Cactus: Great for grab and go lunch or dinner--salads and burritos are top notch.

                    Wonderspice: I avoid it, bad service and bland food annoys me.

                    Bukhara: Love it--and ask for the frequent diners card. You accumulate points (double points early in the week). 150 points = $15 off. Great food.

                    Cafe D: I am neutral about this place; service is good but their food isn't that imaginative, and the menu hasn't changed much since it opened. Pricey.

                    10 Tables: I've always been pleased with the food/service here.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: hazel240

                      I noticed this Sunday that Bon Saveur was quite packed - hear very little chatter about this place - wonder if it is benefitting from the Centre St. Cafe lines.

                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                        i occasionally fantasize about opening a brunch place of my own in jp, seeing as how centre st has waaay more demand than it can handle, at least based on the lines. (i loved centre st. cafe, but haven't been back in years b/c of the lines.)

                        i've never been to bon savor; i'm put off by the combo of high prices and what looks to me like a very boring and bland menu. but i could be convinced.

                        anyway, i would certainly go to bon savor before sorella's; we can and do make much better at home without that much effort. i know it's an established neighborhoody type place, but sorella's falls into my category of jp places that i don't understand the appeal of--a category that includes bukhara (possibly the worst indian food i've ever had), bon savor, emack and bolio's, sweet finnish, junebug and probably some others. maybe i just am not sufficiently familiar with other neighborhoods, but it does seem like jp has more than its share of nonsensical-lazy-exceptionally uninspired eating establishments. wonder how long that will last, given the rapid gentrification of the neighborhood.

                        1. re: autopi

                          My one recent experience at Bukhara was quite favorable, especially the combo dinner, which is a deal. I seem to recall complaints about the lunch buffet, but I had a delicious meal. It certainly was not the worst Indian I've ever had...

                          If I could convince you to go back, if you haven't been in a while, I would love to get your opinion. Maybe things have improved or maybe my tolerance for bad food is really high. :)

                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                            i had their lunch buffet awhile back and it was really so-so at best. but i've also had bad experiences there at dinner. the buffet was actually better, i think. i'd be delighted if there was a shake up in the kitchen and it's improved; i haven't been in a long time so it's certainly possible.

                            1. re: autopi

                              We've just moved to JP and are sampling the neighborhood frequently. We went to Buhkara the other night and were very unimpressed. The saag paneer was tasteless. The dosa was OK but not as good as Rangoli. A cold dumpling in tamarind sauce as interesting at first but grew tiresome after a few bites. Is tehre a better Indian in JP?

                        2. re: Bob Dobalina

                          I have always had a great experience at Bon Savor-- great eggs, crepes, and lovely proprietors. Service is a little slow, but there's no rush to get out either. I prefer it to the lines at Centre Street, which I've never thought was worth the wait. Though I admit I've been going to Alchemist a lot lately, esp. for their breakfast flatbreads and the corned beef hash. NB. on Bon Savor, on the Eggs Benedict you have to ask for a runny yolk, otherwise they err on the side of the public health police.

                        3. re: hazel240

                          Liked the pizza at Bella Luna when I tried them, but wasn't all that taken with either Purple Cactus, Bukhara, or Sorella's. Center Street Cafe can and often does seem to have a line, but from my experience that's because their food's very good and folks in the area know it. Definitely agree on the excellence of El Oriental de Cuba and 10 Tables, though service can be poky at the former.

                          1. re: bachslunch

                            do you have particular recs at el oriental? i've had a seafood stew (pretty decent, though not overwhelming), and their cubano (ok), and some various small sides and whatnot. but i think i haven't quite hit on the secret of eodc's greatness yet.

                            1. re: autopi

                              heh heh - we may just be on different chow planets, autopi. I thought the cubano I had recently was great! So when was the last time you've been to this place? ;)

                              1. re: autopi

                                Well, I liked the cubano and seafood stew when I went. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

                                1. re: bachslunch

                                  i should clarify--i thought the seafood stew was pretty good--in fact, i really liked the broth--and i thought the cubano was pretty good. but chez henri is still my gold standard for that.(i know, i know, apples, oranges, etc.)

                          2. Have to agree with bachslunch regarding Sorella's. I ordered their vegetable hash to go. It was basically sauted garbage. Took a tiny bite and it tasted literally like garbage. The broccoli in the hash was very old. It went directly to the trash.

                            I will never step foot in that place again.

                            1. While it seems to be a little out of your way, The Dogwood Cafe is still in JP (across from the Forest Hills T station).

                              I like their pizza a fair bit, especially when kept simple and ordered well-done.

                              Some of their specials can be pretty good, too.

                              Overall, a real comfortable, pleasant experience, IMO.

                              16 Replies
                              1. re: Bostonbob3

                                I agree; Dogwood is good, their pizza is very good; plus they usually have some interesting beers on tap which is always a bonus.
                                I think Sorella's is ok if you take it for what it is --a very basic breakfast place. Order simple basic stuff like eggs and bacon and french toast and you'll be fine. Don't go expecting some sort of earth shattering taste sensation, you won't get that. Looking for something a bit more eclectic then yes, Centre St Cafe is the spot, though you will wait in line unless you show up right when they open. Another brunch spot that I enjoy once ina while is Doyles..yes I I bet I am somewhat in the minority here but sometimes I enjoy heading there for a beer at the bar or Sunday brunch. I became a pancake convert after trying their version a few years ago, with chunks of mixed fruit like strawberries and blueberries...really good, crispy on the outside and nice and soft yet light on the inside. We almost always have good service there and I just like the overall atmosphere and ambiance....I certainly wouldn't go for a nice meal and it's best to stick to the basics here --maybe a pizza or some bar food --but again, I think it's good if you stay simple.

                                We had takeout from Wonder Spice last week and out of a group of 5 somewhat particular women, everyone gave it a thumbs up. We didn't stray too far from the ordinary w. Mango chicken curry, drunken noodles, pad thai, a peanuty/veggie dish but everything was tasty and fresh.
                                I think Purple Cactus is excellent for quick fresh takeout. The chicken and veggies are always fresh and flavorful and one of those burritos can easily turn into 2 meals.
                                Also for takeout, the roasted chicken at Alex's Chimis is DELICIOUS..and definitely uniquely flavored. Love the plantains too.

                                Zon's is excellent --love the atmosphere, service is generally good, food is consistently good....burgers are good BUT...
                                You'll find the best burger in JP at Costellos --I've said it before and I'll say it again. Excellent place to grab a burger and a beer and watch the game.

                                Those are some of my favs after a few yrs of living in JP. I also really LOVE Canto 6 --an excellent bakery w/the best pain aux raisins I've had outside of Paris :)

                                1. re: twentyoystahs

                                  just had the pain aux raisins. Very good. Try their monkey bread if you haven't already. makes one thankful for our simian roots. Alex's chimis chicken is excellent but Yely's may be better. Went to Zon's the other night and the food is good but over salted. The strength was side dishes and a healthy respect for vegetables. I also liked Wonder spice and didn't have problems with service on a busy night. It's not dok bua but it'll do. Dogwood cafe was fine but not a destination. Where is there good Italian in JP? Also, has anyone tried BBQ town on Washington in nearby Roslindale?

                                  1. re: gourmaniac

                                    There isn't good italian in JP. Not that I've found anyway. Although I suppose Bella Luna has some Italian-ish dishes.
                                    I head to Comella's in W Rox for Italian when I'm having a red sauce or chicken parm craving. I do takeout only though.

                                    1. re: twentyoystahs

                                      Yeah , there is no good Italian food in JP but just down the street is some of the best old school red sauce type Italian classics at The Pleasant Cafe in Rozzi. They also have some of the best pizza in Boston. There's a reason that they've been around for so long.

                                    2. re: gourmaniac

                                      what do you recommend from yely's?

                                      i second bella luna. i guess feeling is mixed on the board about them, but i like them. ten tables usually has a pasta on their menu, if that counts for "italian." otherwise, you're just a hop skip and 7 (or so) t stops away from the north end.

                                      1. re: autopi

                                        The chicharrones are excellent. Prices are a little better than Alex's also, but both are very good value. Thanks for the Bella Luna rec. I know Comella's in West Newton an assume it's similar. I was hoping for a Carlo's Cucina equivalent close by.

                                      2. re: gourmaniac

                                        BBQ Town is the only BBQ place I've eaten at where the sides were better than the meat. The chicken and the pork ribs were underseasoned and meh.

                                        1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                          Thanks for the heads up. walked in the other day and walked out. I can recommend PoppaBs in Mattapan for ribs and fried chicken with excellent sides (and the meat is better than the sides).

                                      3. re: twentyoystahs

                                        As for Centre St., the line actually starts forming before opening on weekends. I hear some people are even beginning to pitch tents overnight.

                                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                          Yep, true..the line does start forming before the opening. But chances are, if you're in that line before they are open, when they DO finally open, you'll get a table :)

                                          1. re: twentyoystahs

                                            Or you can get a tasty scone, croissant or cranberry oat bar (yum!) at Canto 6, then at around 2 when you get hungry again, head to Centre Street Cafe when the line is dying down... works every time.

                                        2. re: twentyoystahs

                                          I've also enjoyed meals from Wonder Spice- nothing earth-shattering, but very tasty, and a nice little outdoor patio. I've read some not-so-good reviews here, though.

                                          1. re: fbf242

                                            I want to like bon savor, but the food is indeed pretty bland. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing, but I had the Eggs Benedict with asparagus, and "roasted vegetables" on the side. The hollandaise sauce had no tang, and the roasted vegetables were pan sauteed squash that were still crunchy in spots. I've never added so much salt and pepper to a restaurant meal. I'm not too eager to go back. My dd, however, loves the nutella-strawberry crepe...I just can't eat nutella before 4pm.

                                            1. re: powella

                                              hm...what i suspected. sounds like a place my s.o. would like.

                                              i can eat nutella any time of day.

                                              1. re: powella

                                                isn't nutella sort of a breakfast spread in europe? i remember it being served along with butter w/toasted bread in the mornings...

                                                1. re: twentyoystahs

                                                  I don't doubt that hounds round the globe eat nutella for breakfast, it's just too rich for my morning tongue. A personal shortcoming, to be sure, especially when the savory breakfast items at a place don't measure up.

                                        3. It's not fancy or anything, but give the Galway House a try.

                                          1. Used to live in JP--Bella Luna, Galway House and James Gate all good places to eat. Don't be scared off by the exterior of Costello's either--food is tasty and cheap.