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I'm coming down to Boston next weekend with my Wife and am looking to check out some great Boston food places. Here is what I'm looking for:

- Cafes - dean & deluca-esque, but with better tasting food.

- Fine Food Stores - the types of places with 15 types of honey and 20 different types of olive oil.

- Restaurants - solid places, nothing trendy or too new, something that everybody loves and will be around for years. nothing with the word fusion or asian-inspired.

- Anyplace great to eat near Cambridge or Northshore. Anything from a great burger to a nice brunch.

I want to hear about the places that make Bostonians proud.

Thanks for all your help.

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  1. I'm tempted to ignore any post whose title and/or body is typed in ALL-CAPS, since I don't like the feeling of being shouted at. The word "foodie" gets up some people's noses here, too (especially if you're Jim Leff). But you sound like you need some help.

    I gave you my ideas on "cool" places to dine last week, so here are some shopping ideas:

    Produce, groceries: Russo's in Watertown. A temple. Worship there.

    High-end meat, groceries: Savenor's in Beacon Hill.

    Asian groceries: Super 88 in South Bay. Big, roomy, modern, clean, well laid out, good signs in English. An aisle full of kitchenware and dinnerware, too. Better yet, hit the one in Packard's Corner, Allston, which has the same virtues, plus an excellent food court. Banh mi at Pho Viet, or maybe a bowl of Ken's Ramen for a cheap, awesome lunch.

    Cheese, salumi, charcuterie, various gourmet groceries: South End Formaggio. Leave lots of time if you're going on a weekend; lines are long for the cheese/meats counter in back. A tiny, jam-packed little place. Parking nearby is tough. Its elder sibling in Huron Village offers about the same mix of stuff, with the same parking/lines issues on weekends.

    Italian groceries, cheese, salumi -- Salumeria Italiana in the North End. Good selection of oils and vinegars. If you get to the neighborhood, also consider a trip to J Pace (more groceries) and Fresh Cheese (um, cheese).

    3 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      If you go to Formaggio on Huron in Cambridge on Saturday you can also have their BBQ for lunch - search this board and you'll see recent reviews.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        The mother ship, the original Formaggio in Cambridge is MUCH better then the SE branch. Selection is 5 X as good. And as Heather said below the BBQ lunch is worth the trek alone. Nearby you also have Iggy's and Hi-Rise.

        Also, on the etiquette front, assuming that the original post is actually of interest to ALL BOSTON FOODIES is also a bit of a stretch. How about: "Help finding some gourmet food sources a la Dean and Deluca?"

        1. re: StriperGuy

          Yeah, original Formaggio has MUCH more selection than SE Formaggio; only go to the latter if the former is simply out of the question logistically.

      2. On the fine food front - Formaggio Kitchen is a must, of course, but I would suggest Pemberton Farms on Mass Ave in Cambridge (about ten minutes from there by car). It's smaller, the cheese, etc. options aren't amazing, but the shelf-stable stuff is really good, and they put a lot of effort into finding local/regional stuff. So if you want raw honey from JP or smoked mussels from Maine or locally made jams or pickles you won't find anywhere else, it's a great stop. And just down the block is Capone's, which has an amazing selection of excellent olive oils and other Italian specialties.

        1. For cafe-esque rec - I'd say Garden of Eden in the South End or Franklin Street Cafe. Both very charming and in the lovely South End of Boston. Enjoy!

          5 Replies
          1. re: bostonfoodie111

            Note that that's the Franklin Cafe; it's on Shawmut Ave.

              1. re: bostonfoodie111

                Sure: it would be no fun to be endlessly circling the Financial District looking for a place that isn't there!

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Seriously - NOT The best place to get lost in Boston. :) Cheers. :)

                  1. re: bostonfoodie111

                    i second the above and would add Wilson Farms as a pleasant destination and very New England - i'd have breakfast at Town Diner and maybe shop right there at our wonderful armenian groceries such as Severn and Arax

          2. As a vegetarian who gets up late, I can't be of much help with brunch or burgers, but I can steer you toward the Helmand for a great place to eat in Cambridge. Excellent Afgan food in a nice atmosphere at even nicer prices.

            I don't think OM is what you're looking for since it's trendy, new and Asian-inspired. For the more solid eateries that make this and other Bostonians proud, I'd try Icarus or Hamersley's in the South End or Mamma Maria in the North End.

            1. Thanks for all the feedback. Although I think you guys might have gone too niche on me. I'm only in Boston for 3 days, and 1 of those I'm at the Northshore. So I'm not looking for anything new, trendy, or asian-inspired. I own restaurant group in Toronto, so I need to be trying out slightly more mainstream places or cafe. I mean I'm not looking for Tavern on the green type places, but more Craft, Cafe Gray, Balducci's. Like the farm stuff is great, but I have a farm where I grow things, so I'm used to that sort of thing. Basically, I need to check out the "yuppie" type places. All help would be great.

              7 Replies
              1. re: curiousbaker

                TRIED-AND-TRUE (w/ the Occasional Yuppie):
                Hamersley's Bistro
                No. 9 Park
                B&G Oyster

                FOOD STORES
                Formaggio Kitchen or South End Formaggio (both good)
                Butcher Shop
                Plum Produce

                NORTH SHORE
                Clam Box in Ipswich

                1. re: City_West

                  What restaurants do you own in Toronto? Maybe that would help us figure out what you want here. You've gotten some great recommendations, so more info from you would help.

                  1. re: Chris VR

                    I'd prefer to keep that private, I'm sure you can understand.

                    Is there a good place to grab a quick lunch in back bay, something to tide us over from breakfast to dinner, nothing big.

                    1. re: City_West

                      Good place for lunch in Back Bay:

                      Parish Cafe

                      1. re: City_West

                        My favorite place to eat a quick lunch is on Columbus St on the boarder of Back Bay and South End; Nashoba Brook Bakery. I always get half the #10 (fresh mozzorella w/ sweet pea guocomole) on multigrain and a soup.

                        1. re: JNice

                          JNice, I've never been to the South End NB, but the orignal one in Concord is definitely charming and perhaps would be a little detour to make on OP's way up to the North Shore. NB is in West Concord but there is a GREAT cheese shop in Concord Center. :)

                    2. re: City_West

                      I would also add:
                      Flour (South End)
                      Grill 23 - Yuppie!

                    3. as for lunch ...if you are at the Boston Savenors at lunchtime; its on Charles street right near Artu which has terrific food. Try the roast lamb sandwich /antipasto. Not trendy at all

                      1. If you are going to be in the North Shore then you must go to the town of Beverly! They have a mecca of fabulous restaurants; everything from Organic Vegan food at Organic Garden Cafe, to brown rice maki rolls at the sushi restaurant on Cabot St. Also if you want an AMAZING wrap then Wrapture is a must.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JNice

                          Don't forget The Atomic Cafe in Beverly for great espresso & coffee.

                        2. My favorite bakery/cafe in the Boston area (maybe anywhere?!) because their food and drinks are so shockingly delicious, yet also casual and affordable, not trendy/hipster, but also very chic: Flour, in the South End.


                          9 Replies
                          1. re: foxy fairy

                            Unfortunately, this summer my brother and his partner - very fine bakers - were very unimpressed with some of their baked goods (they tried about a half dozen items, IIRC), to which I had directed them based on the enthusiastic reviews on this board. Not that they were bad, but that they were simply OK and way overpriced for the quality.

                            1. re: Karl S

                              I second that. Some of my pastry school classmates and I spent a morning sampling baked goods, and came up with the same verdict, except for the things labeled croissants that had no layers at all. The new space by the children's museum was very comfortable, the tea and coffee were great. We really wanted to like the food, but the pastries were so mediocre.

                              1. re: pastrytroll

                                Thanks for that, I'm actually a pastry chef first, so I'm actually used to being disappointed at bakeries, so thanks for the heads up. why do so many pastry places not know what tastes good, it's like so many of them have unique taste palette and don't know it.

                                1. re: City_West

                                  I will put a shout out for Clear Flour in Brookline. They have a website and their baked goods and breads are consistently wonderful. Esp their morning buns... yum!

                            2. re: foxy fairy

                              Well. Flour does pizzas and sandwiches, too -- and in fact I nearly always order those as I don't have much of a sweet tooth. I have never been disappointed at Flour, ever. I like Canto 6 okay but there's something about Flour that is just delightful. Perhaps pastry chefs and aspiring pastry chefs may feel otherwise (although my partner, who did four years of culinary, also raves about Flour)-- but it sounded like you were looking for a cool neighborhood cafe where Bostonians go to eat unpretentious yet delicious food.

                              1. re: foxy fairy

                                Sorry, no pastry chef here. I just like good baked stuff.

                                I think Flour is lame and lacking in deliciousness. There are endless threads and posts by me and others about bakeries that are Chow worthy.

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  Agree re: flour...not horrible but certainly nothing exceptional in my experience.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    "Chow worthy?" Who gets to hand out that title? LOL ;) I don't care how many threads there are out there -- I still drool over Flour.

                                    1. re: foxy fairy

                                      That is just "Chow Worthy" in my honest opionion. And the collective opinion of the Boston Hounds...

                                      If you don't quite have the get up and go to actually search chowhound, for baked goods I would hit any of the below mentioned places before Flour:
                                      - Rosies
                                      - Athan's (for a "Jamaica")
                                      - Modern
                                      - Clear Flour
                                      - Danish Pastry House (select items)
                                      - Maria's
                                      - Iggy's
                                      - Hi Rise
                                      - Lyndell's (cakes only)
                                      - Luberto's (some items)
                                      - Kupels for some of the pastries, bagels are only so so
                                      - How could I forget... Yi Soon
                                      - Jim's Bagels in Gloucester, killer bagels and pastries, killer
                                      - The nearby (Gloucester) italian bakery that makes 2 or three insanely good baked things that I am too lazy to find the name of

                                      I'm sure I'm leaving some off... I would ask others to chime in but this is like the 700th iteration of this thread (not that I have any knowledge in this realm ;-) ) so...

                                2. If you're looking for good eats in Cambridge, and a place that will (hopefully) be around for years to come go to the Central Kitchen on Mass Ave in Central Square. Tried and true great food with no attitude. They pretty much do everything right!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: heWho

                                    Thanks, I checked it out, it looks great, I asked some friends about it and they loved it.

                                  2. So where did you end up eating?

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: gini

                                      Hi gini, welcome back!

                                      I've been following another thread where CityWest lists the places he ended up going to; unfortunately, not chosen from any of the helpful suggestions listed here. CW also mentioned that "I don't really care about being a "real chowhound" or anything of that ilk." It's actually a very interesting and spirited thread which I think shows the difference between a Foodie and a Chowhound .


                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        "Aquitane, Sibling Rivalry, Petit Robert Bistro, Giacomo's, Upper Crust, Grafton Street"

                                        Thanks for the link, Rubee - fascinating discussion.

                                        1. re: gini

                                          Actually we also went to Hammersly Bistro, Central Kitchen, Savenors, and Garden of Eden, which were all places recommended. It's true I don't care about the silly title of a foodie or chowhound, I think it's just a way of making people feel they are better because of the food they eat, similar to serious wine people. Also, I think that not only did I enjoy all of the restaurants that were recommended, I didn't mind any of the others either.

                                          1. re: City_West

                                            Leaving aside your conflation of "foodie" and "Chowhound", which I think is kind of obtuse, I'd be curious to hear more details of your reactions to the places you visited: favorite dishes, quality of service, ambience, where they succeeded and fell down.

                                            1. re: City_West

                                              Thank you for taking the time to respond. As this a food board, please tell us a bit more about the food you ate, rather than the moral implications therein.