I'm Coming to Boston and want to check out some cool food places
I'm headed out to Boston in less than two weeks and wanted to check out some of the coolest food places in Boston. I want to check out not just the Great standards of good food in Boston, but the cool, concept places too and everything in between. From restaurants to bakeries to cafes to fine food stores. Please send me a bunch of great places to check out. Any help would be incredible.
City_West, could you please define what you think "cool" is? You start hinting at it with your mention of "concept places", but I still have little idea of what you're looking for. Here are some options: are you looking for "trendy" places? Cutting edge cuisine? Hipster hangouts? Celebrity chefs? Or are you looking for an awesome Peruvian roasted chicken? Cause I think that's pretty damn cool. Please enlighten us so we may better assist you.
Sorry for being vague, I'm looking for anything from the pricey fine food stores, to the small cafe that bakes everything themselves to the really good pizza place. We're staying in back bay, but will be headed all around the city. Does Boston have anything like a Balducci's from NYC? I've never been, so I don't even have a clue. Pretty much everything I know about Boston is the sox, good will hunting and legal sea foods. I own a bakery in Toronto that makes desserts for restaurants so I don't want to just see the little neighborhood place with the so-so food. I want to see the best "food places" of Boston. and sure maybe some peruvian roasted chicken.
Some random places I think are cool. I'm not sure what I mean by "cool", either, but these are all high-value on the food side and not much to look at:
Don Ricardo's -- a small, unimpressive-looking restaurant in a neighborhood (the South End) that is loaded with nicer-looking spots that get a lot more attention. Peruvian, Brazilian, and Mexican food. Cheap, authentic, friendly.
Speed's Famous Hot Dog Wagon -- a lunch cart situated in the middle of a major wholesale food distribution hub, serving the best hot dog in the area by a wide margin, a fine frank with homemade condiments. Worth standing around in dust and big-rig exhaust to enjoy. Sporadic hours: best shot is fair-weather weekdays around noon.
Dok Bua -- very modest looking storefront near Coolidge Corner with very authentic Thai food. Very cheap, frequented by Thai ex-pats, picture menu for folks with limited English reading skills.
Santarpio's -- East Boston tavern dating to the 30s with essentially two items on their menu: 1) thin-crust pizza, much beloved and considered the best in town by many Bostonians -- I think it's pretty good, but you should limit yourself to one topping at a time; and 2) "BBQ", actually grilled kebabs of lamb and homemade Italian sausage, excellent. The wise-assed service and old-timey atmopshere is what pushes this one into "cool" territory for me.
Reef Cafe -- plain Syrian storefront in Allston with son working the counter and mom cooking in back. Excellent Arab-style felafel (from fava beans), a lot of love and care detectable in the cooking.
Rincon Limeno -- East Boston Peruvian, fresh and cheap and authentic, with terrific rotisserie chicken, jalea (fried seafood platter), ceviche, lomo saltado (greasy mix of steak tips, onions, and fried potatoes), and alfajores (imported anise-scented dulce de leche sandwich cookies).
O Cantinho -- East Cambridge Portuguese restaurant with Azorean leanings: great seafood and fine baked goods, cheap and casual and friendly. A good starting point from which to sample New England seafood.
Pho Viet at the Super 88 Food Court in Allston -- home of my favorite banh mi in town.
Ditto about not knowing what you or I mean by "cool," but the two places that immediately popped into my head are the Helmand and the B-side Lounge, both in East Cambridge. The Helmand has excellent authentic Afgan food with an attractive, authentic atmosphere, and is a great value. The B-side is a Gastro Bar, kind of dark and hipster-ish with booths. The food is good, but the cocktails are great. I think the coolest, most impressive pastry place is Mike's in the North End.