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Looking for OFFAL in Boston?

Just had a craving for good tripe. Any recommendations? Or good sweetbreads =)

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  1. Green Street has offal on its menu. Pete, the chef, changes it frequently so I can't tell you what it is right now but it is a very popular item on the menu. Give them a call to find out what it is right now.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lennyb

      wow ultra fast reply =)

      I'll check it out thanks.

    2. Offal is everywhere now.

      Tripe is usually on the menu at Petit Robert in a stew, but I haven't been lately.

      I've been quite happy with the offal at Green St as well. Had a very nice lambs belly at Eastern Standard last night.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sailormouth

        i know ES had a good offal plate back when chef Bissonette was there, haven't been back since. Maybe it's time for a revisit.

      2. Hmm, where do I get my fix for variety meats?

        KO Prime, where Bisonnette, who put offal on the Eastern Standard menu, now chefs: many different bits, like crispy pig ear (which I also saw on Green Street's menu recently). Sweetbread done like chicken nuggets.

        Tripe at Trattoria Toscana (not always on the menu), many other North End Italians.

        Beef tongue in sauce at El Oriental de Cuba (which I haven't tried); beef tongue tacos at many taquerias, notably Tacos Lupita.

        Pupusas with chicharrones at Pupusa La Guanaca.

        Pork skin (bi) banh mi at Pho Viet in the Allston Super 88 food court. Pate and head cheese banh mi at many places.

        Beef cheek tacos at Taqueria El Amigo in Waltham, my favorite dish there.

        Various animal bits on the charcuterie and salumi plates at The Butcher Shop, Toro, Taberna de Haro, Bin 26.

        Mondongo (Puerto Rican tripe soup) and stewed oxtail at Izzy's near Kendall Square, Cambridge.

        Pan-sauteed chicken livers at the Franklin Cafe.

        Chopped chicken liver at Rubin's Kosher Deli in Brookline.

        Tripe and sweetbreads and occasionally brains at many of the traditional French places: Petit Robert, Pierrot, Troquet, Gaslight, etc.

        Paya (cow or calves' foot) on the weekend Pakistani specials menu at Grain and Salt in Allston. Haven't tried that one myself yet.

        Chicken hearts done rodizio style at the Midwest Grill in East Cambridge (Brazilian charrascaria).

        Oxtail stew at Cafe Miami in the South End.

        There have to be some Mexican places that do menudo, but I can't think of any.

        Chitlins at Bob's Southern Bistro in the South End; intestine dishes in many Taiwanese and Korean restaurants. Can't say I've tried many of these.

        The amazing frankfurters at Speed's Famous Hot Dog Wagon in Newmarket Square.

        Chinatown -- too many to mention; I imagine more literate Hounds can comment here.

        I saw some offal (oxtail?) as sides or accompaniments on the menu at Boston Public, but I have yet to try them.

        8 Replies
          1. re: MC Slim JB


            So do you have a list somewhere or do you just remember everything?

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Interesting that you didn't mention the "Offal Queen," Lydia Shire. She pioneered the acceptance of Offal in modern Boston eateries, and I'm sure she's got some on the menu at Locke Ober....

              1. re: ChefJune

                Leaving out Lydia is a terrible oversight on my part: the first time I tried sweetbreads was at Biba, also Maine lobster tomalley as a condiment (smeared on crostini, as I recall). She does deserve credit for smacking Bostonians on the head with "parts", even labeled a section of Biba's menu "Offal". That place was a favorite of mine in its heyday, in no small part because of that. I fondly remember a simple dish of linguine there with almost no sauce except melted fatback.

                I also didn't mention foie gras once, the ultimate innard. Shire has that and calves' liver (another organ meat I like) on the current Locke-Ober menu. Foie is so commonplace now, it's almost hard to remember a time when it was a big ooh-aah dish.

                Do cod cheeks count? I think I had those for the first time at Providence Restaurant in Brookline, lightly batter-fried.

                I'm pretty sure I've had prairie oysters somewhere in town, too, can't recall where. The Cajun House (currently Magnolia's), maybe? A steak and kidney pie long ago at Matt Murphy's, and black pudding on their Sunday Irish breakfast. Brains in a cream sauce as a tapa at Dali. Don't think I've ever had haggis in Boston.

                Thanks to Bis, it seems like head cheese is on a lot of menus now: ESK, KO Prime, The Butcher Shop, Petit Robert.

                I think roasted marrow absolutely counts: I do like ESK's version. They weren't the first, though: can't recall on whose menu I first saw that in Boston.

                I suppose you could go on and on with sausages: I believe one of the big Portuguese sausages (liguica, maybe?) and andouille are both very heavy on tripe. Lots of parts by definition, I suppose.

                Most of these I just recall from memory; it helps that I've written a bunch of them up in various Weekly Dig neighborhood restaurant roundups. I had to look up a couple of dishes, though: "mondongo" and "paya" didn't want to pop back to mind.

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  I just had my first taste of lamb head cheese at ESK a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty good. I'd probably like it more if it had a better name. :-)

              2. re: MC Slim JB

                Sweetbreads at No.9 Park are also delicious. And if marrow counts (and in my book it does) then try dem bones at Eastern Standard Kitchen. Similar prep to St. John in London with the sea salt and parsley salad. I haven't gotten marrow bones at KOPrime yet, but that's on the list.

                1. re: yumyum

                  KO Prime does a great version of bone marrow...worth a visit.

                  1. re: yumyum

                    I also had a great sweetbread app at Olive's during Restaurant Week. Better than the KO Prime version.

                2. Adding to the great list on this thread, some of the ones I like:

                  Mondongo at El Jardin, a really good Colombian restaurant/bakery in East Boston. Wash down with some lulo juice (a Colombian tropical fruit). Tripe is pretty common at the Colombian places in East Boston, often served from steam table formats, the ones at Sultana looked really good a couple of weeks ago, but I already had a date with the chicken mole at Angela's.

                  The trippa a la fiorentina at Trattoria Toscana is very good; but be sure to also try the chicken liver crostini. I remember a pretty good bowl of tripe at Piccolo Venezia in the North End.

                  I'd recommend doing a search for menudo; I know Tacqueria Jaslico serves it on weekends, but haven't had a chance to try it yet.

                  One of the better versions of lengua/tongue taco can be found at Taqueria Mexico; the Coolidge Corner branch is good. Lengua is very common, virtually all tacquerias should have it. If you consider beef cheeks offal, try the cabeza taco at El Rancho Grande in East Boston; good salsas too.

                  Yet to find a good version of duck's tongue, but if you want to try, HK Eatery has it in black bean sauce; it's decent. We had some kidney with jellyfish at Potluck Cafe in Chinatown a one of the dinners there; it was pretty good, but in ideal versions, both would be equally crunchy in their own way for the perfect textural resonance. Unfortunately, the last time I had good tripe in a Chinese place was at Rice Garden. Stomach and beef (fu1 ci1 fei4 pian4) is a in a spicy sauce is a classic Sichuan appetizer. I'd check out the version at Sichuan Gourmet in Framingham.

                  The paya at Salt and Grain is very good, mostly tendon and made me miss some of the Cantonese style braised beef tendon. For more knuckle action, try the feijoada at Cafe Brazil on weekends. For fatty pig's foot (zou3 you2 yuan2 ti2), braised and flavoured with some star anise, try Shanghai Gate. Bun Bo Hue, a Hue style spicy soup noodle, includes nice chunks of pig's foot; pretty decent at Xinh Xinh. I haven't seen the French version, pied de cochon, very often at local French restaurants (nor rognon de veau/veal kidneys for that matter).

                  I remember liking the coracon de galinha (grilled chicken hearts) at Oliveiria's in East Boston, as well as Gaucho in East Somerville, but it's been a while.

                  Morcilla/blood sausage at the Neighbourhood restaurant.

                  Would love to hear about the anticuchos/beef hearts at some of the local Peruvian places. I know Victor's has it, can't remember if Betos does too.

                  1. Thanks especially to Slim and Limster for your comprehensive suggestions. I grew up eating in Chinatown so I'm no stranger to the 5th quarter =)

                    I ended up heading to Petit Robert tonight, not sure that the review belongs in this thread so I'm starting a new topic?

                    Thanks to everyone for your replies and happy dining!

                    1. Just to add to the Offal thread... Do chicken livers count? Because if so, the folks at Bella Luna are doing chicken livers two ways (a pate and a sauteed prep) which are getting very positive reviews. (** disclaimer, I don't care for the food at BL very much but a friend works at Milky Way and tells me about specials etc., this topic came up over dinner the other evening)

                      Also this reminds me that the crostini at Trattoria Toscana is chicken-livery and very yummy.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: yumyum

                        Hi y'all. This is my first post so be gentle. Kind of surprised that no one mentioned Cragie Street Bistrot. Tony, along with Jamie B., probably has one of the deftest hands with offal especially on his tasting menus. You can expect lovely spring lamb brains, lamb tongue, fromage de tete (headcheese), crispy pig ears, probably the best house-made pork jowel's around, and lovely boudin noir--though I think that the boudin that Jamie B. has on his menu right now is probably the best in town.

                        Also, when it is offered the tripe at Taberno de Haro is awesome.

                        1. re: lovinlinecook

                          I was also as surprised of the lack of CSB mentions - it is my favorite for less traditional cuts. In addition to most of the stuff mentioned by lovinlinecook above, I have had sweetbreads and cod cheeks there. All were to die for....In fact, if I go to CSB I look for the most "variety" with my meal :)

                      2. Great topic!

                        Chicken hearts at Brazilian churrascarias can be a bit variable, both in tenderness and seasoning. MC mentioned Midwest and one tip is that if you sit in their bar, you can get a plate of fried yucca and chicken hearts w/o doing the full rodezio (they also have a similar sliced meat plate and a pretty forgettable sausage plate). Only downside is you have to eat them hot, so dig into the hearts first, then go for the yucca. Probably the best seasoning I have had recently was at Picanhas in Everett, but its a restaurant that tends to be inconsistent and I know the current churrasqueiro -- it was before he started. Gauchao which limster mentioned and Churrasco Buffet and Grill are pretty consistent, but make sure the hearts are still plump and not dried out.

                        Iscas de figado (thinly sliced beef liver) is common Portuguese bar food, but not on the menu of most restaurants. O Cantinho has taken it off their menu before, but I believe its on the current one. You might be able to get it at the bar at Portugalia and Sunset, but not in the restaurant. Brazilian bars similarly do this, although seasoned differently, but the only one I can think of as remarkable would be Samba Bar in Somerville (Cafe Brazil and oasis have it as a main plate, not an appetizer). I think Cape Verdean restaurants tend to have Portuguese-style liver too.

                        Moelas (gizzards) is also common in Brazilian and Portuguese cooking, but only rarely shows up in restaurants. O Cantinho has a moela appetizer and you might catch a farofa (stuffing) with moelas if you look often enough at Gauchao or Churrasco.

                        When I want Portuguese dobradinha (often just written as dobrada) tripe with white beans, I usually go to the Snack Bar or J+J's. Brazilian versions abound and have a certain "day" on most menus, I recall liking the version from brasil on ferry in Malden and Sabor do Brasil across from market basket in somerville, but its been a while for both.

                        Everybody knows about Feijoada, but there also is Feijoada a transmontana, the Portuguese version which is made with white beans is served in some of the social clubs but unfortunately overlooked by the restaurants (Portugalia among others does a fish-based version). There are other Portuguese dishes with offal (more so than Brazilian), but not aware of any here.

                        Caldo de Mocoto is the Brazilian soup made with cow hooves, which is available at Petiscos on Medford st and sometimes Samba bar. One of these days I plan to make sarapatel a dish from the northeast of brazil which includes pork hearts and liver, traditionally along with the blood in the sauce (need to buy fresh and add vinegar). I also have had frango ao molho pardo (stewed hard fowl, with blood too) here, but only at personal houses for obvious reasons. Cow's tongue is also enjoyed, but not served in restaurants.

                        Its not offal, but torresmos and chicharrones made from pork skin/rind are worth pursuing at some Brazilian and Latino restaurants.

                        Tango in Arlington has pretty good sweetbreads (available as an appetizer), as well as kidneys and blood sausage (only on the parrillada).

                        From time to time I get a craving for good old Italian American Tripe. Vinny's is always a good bet, abbondanzza, or just a random place in Everett/Revere/....

                        Others can cover Chinatown well, but I do have fond memories of one cold day that I warmed myself up with dry fried tripe (and the space heater) at King Fung Garden :-)

                        One question for the group -- is there anywhere currently serving Cod tongues? (Cod cheeks have gotten pretty common...)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: itaunas

                          Might try some of the Chinatown live fish tank places for cod tongue...know you can get duck tongue at a few places..Taiwan Cafe, Hong Kong Eatery..to name 2.

                        2. Don't forget a nice bowl of pho with tripe and tendon, yummm.

                          There are also the various Chinese seafood soups containing fish maw which must be considered a form of offal.

                          Sichuan restaurants often have tripe and/or tendon on the menu, especially tripe in roasted chili vinaigrette, same thing for tendon. I also like the pig's ears and tendon done Taiwanese style (Taiwan Cafe, Wisteria House -- now in the food court at Super 88 and somewhere in Cambridge).

                          Russian shops like Bazaar always have head cheese available, though my favorite commercial variety by Schaller & Weber seems hard to find these days. They also carry blood sausage, tongue, blood and tongue sausage.....

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Zatan

                            Wisteria house will be on Cambridge St, right around 5th street, not too far from the Courthouse and Cambridgeside Galeria. They swapped out the range about a month ago and I have seen them coming in and out with (refrigerated) supplies, but no other signs they are any closer to opening. Mulan nearby has several pig tripe/intestine dishes, but I haven't seen pigs ears there.

                          2. I had sweetbreads in morel sauce with a bone marrow appetizer at Voile on Newbury street on Friday night. Yum. The sweetbreads were fantastic.

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