Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Oct 19, 2007 06:31 AM

South End Recos

Hi all -

I am new to the area (just moved up from NYC) and am desperately trying to find great places to eat in my neighborhood. I tend to shy away from "popular" spots (often disappointing and overpriced) and opt instead for places that offer great food, a decent beer/wine selection and a low-key atmosphere. So far, Franklin Cafe has been my favorite spot...any other recommendations in the South End?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You could try delux on the corner of Chandler and Clarendon. Kitschy atmosphere, very reasonable prices and good food. Petit Robert Bistro on Columbus is pretty good, low key and also reasonably priced with typical French Bistro fare. I haven't been a huge fan of the service at this outpost, but it's still a fine place for the neighborhood. Also, Coda on Columbus near Dartmouth is another low key spot. I've only been once so far but the burger was good as was the service at the bar. Welcome to the neighborhood.

    1. A few thoughts:

      Don Ricardo's -- storefont Peruvian/Brazilian/Mexican on W. Dedham Street. No entrees over $15. Short beer and wine list. Very friendly service, excellent food, a real value, mostly overlooked by newcomers to the neighborhood because of its location in the Villa Victoria housing development.

      The Dish -- across the street from the Franklin, with similar prices. Excellent thin-crust pizza, a handful of casual New American-ish apps and entrees. Lovely sidewalk patio in better weather. Short beer and wine list.

      Orinoco -- tiny Venezuelan storefront with another good patio. Very good arepas. Short, nice-priced wine list. Feels like a real neighborhood place. Can entail a wait on weekends.

      Delux Cafe -- another very small, tight space, a bar with a few tables. Very modestly priced, casual American, some Cal-Mex type dishes. Can be hit or miss, but worth a look. Surprisingly good bartending for a place where most patrons are sipping canned PBR.

      Columbus Cafe -- same owners as Delux, but a roomier, less hipster-dive-looking kind of place, with a separate bar side. Chef is currently going in more Central and South American direction on top of the casual comfort-food menu. Good drinks, decent wines, patio.

      Coda -- we're still stinging from the loss of its predecessor (Tim's Tavern, one of the last cheap dives in the South End, and purveyor of an extraordinary burger), but this place at least is modestly priced (nothing over $20), does decent casual comfort food, has good bartending, and a terrific wine list (most everything under $30, thoughtful and not price-gouging).

      Pops -- surprisingly affordable for its fancy, fine-dining look: nothing over $20. Eclectic American menu, delicious and rather nicely plated. Some values on the wine list. They have counter seating if you want to walk in, and despite lacking a proper bar, they serve a few cocktails. Decent patio, and a worthwhile lunch.

      J.J. Foley's -- a hundred-year-old tavern that just started serving food. It's solid townie-bar fare with some Irish flair. Good burgers, sandwiches, shepherd's pie, fish and chips. The standard pub grub (wings, nachos, etc.) is pretty middling; entrees and specials are generally very good (like a pot roast I had not too long ago, lovely). Good draft and bottle beers, a proper Guinness pour, a few forgettable jug wines. No one seems to order cocktails here.

      Miami Cafe -- Dominican counter-service place with decent sandwiches (don't let them put mayo, lettuce, and tomato on your Cubano) and some good steam-table entrees (like oxtail stew). Mostly a takeout place, cheap and quick. No alcohol.

      Morse Fish -- a good fish market that also does counter-service fried fish and seafood, served in styro boxes with plastic cutlery. Excellent value, very fresh seafood: if only the fries and pilaf were better. For an extra $1, you can get your fish broiled, which I often do. No alcohol.

      El Triunfo -- a Salvadoran burrito joint with a few counter seats, mostly takeout. Not great, but improved since a change of ownership a few months back. No alcohol.

      Picco -- excellent thin-crust pizza, good homemade, slightly soft-textured ice cream, some worthy other dishes (like fish tacos). Beer, wine, nothing special there.

      Toro -- too packed for its own good most nights, and the tapas can add up to big bill, but careful timing of visits and menu selection can make this an affordable, worthy stop. Some decent Spanish wines, very good bartending. I find bar seating more comfortable than the often-rushed table service.

      The bars at fancy places like Union and Sage offer more value-priced bar menus with sandwiches and small plates. You can sneak by for $25-30 with a drink here, but it's also easy to drop bigger bucks.

      3 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Just wanted to correct something posted here, and I cannot believe that I am about to correct MC Slim, but here goes.

        The Delux and The Colombus are not owned by the same people. Kevin Sheehan owns the Delux and has for quite some time. The Colombus is owned by a former Delux Chef Jim....can't remember his last name and the husband of a former Delux waitress. There is a connection there but there are not owned by the same people.

        Another Delux offshoot, owned by a former bartender, is The Red Fez in Providence built in the same mold. Cheap, good food, indie crowd, good beer and cocktails. The Fez may be a bit darker than the Delux.

        1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

          I am often a font of misinformation here: thanks for the correction!

          The chef/owner (I guess) at Columbus Cafe is Jim Contreras. Don't know where I got the idea of common ownership, but I'll bet I've repeated it here several times.

        2. re: MC Slim JB

          I would also throw Anchioves into the mix. Good bar scene, good music and decent, though very basic Italian food.

        3. I like Bob's Southern Bistro in the South End for Jazz and southern soul food. Great jazz brunch on Sunday (gets busy though).

          1. Welcome to boston gramercy03!! We just moved (from gramercy) in June and are still hunting for what you are describing. We've found that you have to sometimes leave your neighborhood to get what you're looking for. I second the Toro and Pops rec's from MC Slim - we haven't tried the other ones yet. I've commented on another post that the prices for "casual" meals here are more expensive than a casual meal in NY, so just be prepared for that. Neptune Oyster in the North End is well worth the trek, we love it. In any event, everyone on chow has made up feel so welcome, I know they will for you to...keep us posted on what you're liking, and we'll do the same.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gramercyfoodie

              Thank you for the suggestions! Delux is bar none my favorite pub so far...the Tremont Ale will make make me a frequent guet for sure.

              Sounds like there are a ton of places around...can't wait to check them all out. Pops had a tremendous wait this past Saturday so I'll have to hit it up this weekend (maybe venture out a bit before prime brunch hour).

            2. No one has touched on South End breakfasts yet, so I'll suggest Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe for this and diner fare lunches. Some folks here also like Mike's City Diner, though I'm less a fan.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bachslunch

                Good idea: I also like Billy's Coffee Shop on E. Berkeley, a counter-service Greek sub shop that does a good bare-bones breakfast on styro plates with plastic cutlery. Cheap, fresh, run by a nice family. They will look at you funny, but will honor a request to get gyros instead of bacon with your scrambled eggs.

                Two worthy cafes: the Berkeley Perk (next door to Billy's), a homey place with excellent coffee, and Uptown Espresso, a very pretty cafe with a solarium and rear deck, fine coffee and pastries, and open late on weekends.