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Feb 2, 2008 03:17 PM

First Time in Boston MUST EATs Local Favs

Hey All
My Brother and I are planning a few days in Boston in late March. Neither of us have ever been to Boston so I am coming to you for help. The only plans we have made thus are travel related. We have not settled on a hotel yet and will determine that based on location of activities and restaurants. If you could provide some chow worthy suggestions, it would help with our "Taste of Boston" trip. We would love to check out some Pubs and we are both HUGE seafood fans. As far as ethnic fare, we may do some type of Asian but are mainly trying to get a feel for this area of America and are mainly interested in local fare. All suggestions are greatly appreciated!!

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  1. If you end up having some type of Asian food then you must try Xinh Xinh on Beach St. in Chinatown. That is the most delicious Vietnamese place I have been to and I have been to quite a few.

    Xinh Xinh
    7 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

    1 Reply
    1. re: Johnresa

      I'll second Xinh Xinh for Vietnamese, and recommend Chinatown as a good place for Asian food in general. Good Chinese places there include King Fung Garden, Peach Farm, East Ocean City, Pearl Villa, and Hong Kong Eatery. Good dim sum can be had at Hei La Moon, Emperor's (aka Empire) Garden, China Pearl, and Chau Chow City. Penang is excellent for Malay, Pho Pasteur and Pho Hoa are decent Vietnamese alternatives to Xinh Xinh, Shabu Zen does good hot-pot, and Ginza is probably the best Japanese place there.

    2. For Pubs: the Publik House in Bookline!
      For Seafood: Atlatnic Fish Co.

      4 Replies
      1. re: saltyair

        Atlantic Fish isn't bad, but I'd much sooner recommend Neptune Oyster or B&G Oysters for seafood.

        1. re: saltyair

          My food experience at Publik House was underwhelming, though it's very popular on this board.

          Pubs with good food can be found, and I'd recommend River Gods (Cambridge), R.F. O'Sullivan's (Somerville, close to Porter Square in Cambridge, and well regarded by many here for burgers), and Matt Murphy's (Brookline). Miracle of Science (Cambridge) and Audubon Circle (Boston) aren't bad either.

          1. re: bachslunch

            I like your pubs list, but prefer Publik House to O'Sullivan's.

          2. re: saltyair

            I agree that the Publick House and Atlantic Fish, while fine for what they are, do not belong on a "must have" list.

          3. I just had a friend in from England and two things we did, food-wise, were big hits:
            The Union Oyster House (in Government Center) for clam chowder (only because we couldn't get to their wet bar - too popular, but looked amazing!). This is the oldest operating restaurant in Boston, and was one of JFK's favorite lunch spots when he worked at the MA state House
            and Anna's Taqueria for burritos. Boston has major burrito wars, and you'll hear a lot of different answers about which grab-and-go burrito is the down-and-dirty best. Anna's was the first I ever tried, and is still my favorite after 5 years. I always bring out of town guests here, and they rave about it.

            7 Replies
            1. re: polias

              is the oldest operating restaurant in Boston,- Polias
              Don't sell it short it is the OLDEST OPERATING RESTAURANT IN AMERICA.
              Skip Atlantic Fish Company and the Publik House, both second rate.
              Great Irish Pub= F.J. Doyle's in JP or J.J. Foley's in South Boston, not on Kingston St.
              Mama Maria or Prezza in North End for Italian.
              Helmond in Cambridge for Afgan
              Hammersley's for general fine dining in an elegant atmosphere
              No. 9 Park for overall excellence
              Silvertone is a cool later night hang out on Bromfield and the food is great and simple.
              Strangley Boston has a real shortage of decent seafood restaraunts outside of chains
              Good Luck

              1. re: polias

                I would advise in the strongest possible terms to avoid the Union Oyster House, which I can only recommend for raw oysters and a beer at the bar, not for anything else.

                If what I've read is accurate, JFK was actually a big fan of Locke Ober -- in fact, they named their lobster stew after him.

                For burritos, Anna's is excellent, as are El Pelon near Fenway Park and Taqueria la Mexicana in Somerville's Union Square. And if the Taqueria Mexico near Brookline's Coolidge Corner is as good as the one in Waltham, it's well in the running for best Mexican food in Boston.

                1. re: bachslunch

                  I think sometimes as chowhounders we forget to look at things from a tourist's perspective. Folks visiting Boston for the first time might actually want to go home and tell their friends that they ate at the oldest restaurant in america. I think the UOH is a great experience if you stick to oysters, chowder, and beer at the oyster bar. When showing out of towners around I usually like to stop there for oysters as a starter and then head over to the north end.

                  1. re: joth68

                    On the other hand, some of us go to new cities and want to eat where the locals eat, not where the tourists eat. I always like to assume that a chowhounder is in that camp.

                    1. re: Blumie

                      I agree with the assumption that most chowhounders would prefer to eat at places frequented by locals, however, I still think it is worthy to give advice on how to turn a tourist trap into an enjoyable experience.

                  2. re: bachslunch

                    Coming from the west, mexican food in this town just does not compare, anna's is really not all that great... El Pelon is much better, the best mexican food place i have found is near Davis Square (actually powderhouse circle near tufts) called Tu Y Yo, some excellent family recipes, very different than standard chain food mexican.

                  3. re: polias

                    yeah, skip the burritos. i mean, i like the options in boston just fine, but there's nothing particularly special about them--as in i think you can much the same in many other parts of the country.

                  4. Boston is more about neighborhoods than a type of food. Olde New England was not a hotbed for cuisine. Other than certain seafood dishes, there is no real "local" cuisine. The famous clam shacks are not in town and are mostly only open in the summer.

                    Probably the most famous, most Boston neighborhood is the North End - which is next to downtown and is Italian (as in the old Prince spaghetti commercial "Wednesday in the North End of Boston is Prince Spaghetti day"). Search the board. There are scores and scores of places, from Pizzeria Regina with its antique oven to upscale modern Italian.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: lergnom

                      Yes - definitely Pizzeria Regina in the North End. Don't miss it!


                      1. re: Jill Brazil

                        For North End possibilities, please check out the research I've done here:


                        You'll find the North End is overwhelmingly populated with Italian restaurants.

                      2. re: lergnom

                        The closest we have to a "local" cuisine other than seafood is old fashioned Yankee cooking, a classic version of which is done decently at Durgin Park, a slightly updated version of which is done nicely at Green Street Grill in Cambridge, and an upscale version of which is done well at Locke Ober.

                      3. This is so helpful.

                        A related question ... We are going to be in Boston in two weeks. We will mostly be doing "chowhoundly" things, but friends have suggested that, for a "big deal" experience we try Locke Ober. It's only 3 blocks from our hotel and gets top reviews. Is it worth the $$$? Thanks. GregJ/Wash DC

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: GregJ

                          I think you definitely check Locke's out, if only for a drink.