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Returning for a Visit: Good Chow List or a Bad Trip Down Memory Lane?

Greetings, local 'hounds! I'm planning a short visit to Boston, where I lived for more than a decade. I currently reside in Austin, a city with many charms but no good Italian food. I'm already planning on loading up on foodstuffs readily available there (Mulino Bianco products; prosciutto) but impossible to find here. I'm staying at the Nine Zero, which seems to be a popular choice among visitors who post to this board. I will not be renting a car. Here's my chow list so far:

late dinner at KO Prime on Friday: This is motivated by convenience, as that will be a long, tedious travel day. However, I've also read good things about items on the menu such as appetizers of fois gras and bone marrow; steaks like the Kobe-flat-iron; and sides like the fingerling potato puree and the pea tendrils. I don't remember reading anything about dessert. Should I already have made a reservation?

breakfast on Saturday: coffee and croissants at Cafe Vanille on Beacon Hill. Is this bakery still good?

snack or lunch in the downtown area: Mr. Falafel on Washington Street? Other ideas?

Saturday dinner: I already made a reservation at No. 9 Park. In fact, I can't be sure that I didn't subconsciously plan the entire trip around re-tasting their gnocchi.

light breakfast near hotel on Sunday: maybe Panifcio on Charles Street?

Sunday dinner in the North End: either Neptune Oyster or Prezza, unless there are other options that would be better. Cannoli from Modern Pastry?

lunch on Monday in the Harvard Square area: It's got to be a steak-and-cheese sub and/or Sicilian slice at Pinocchio's; or, I'll go for some of those skinny onion rings, a rickey, and a burger at Bartley's.

snack: many things chocolate at Burdick's

Monday dinner: Craigie Street, if I'm still in Harvard Square; if not, I was considering a late dinner at New Jumbo Seafood. Other ideas?

Some nostalgia choices will simply not be denied: I have to eat at either Pinocchio's or Bartley's when I'm in Harvard Square. The No. 9 Park reservation is a keeper, too. However, I wouldn't want my desire to revisit old favorites to blind me to delicious new chow opportunities. I'd very much appreciate your feedback on my choices, including where to load up on food items to bring back to Austin.

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  1. Those all sound good. I bet you can find more places like Craigie St. in Austin than Jumbo so depending on what you feel like eating I guess. I was thinking you might concentrate on Italian if that's a fave, maybe Grotto on Bowdoin St . which would be a short walk from the hotel. Or Via Matta is fun, by the Park Plaza.

    1. I love how obsessive you are in your planning, I hope you enjoy your return to Boston.

      Prezza vs. Neptune please seriously consider Prezza. Neptune Oyster *very* popular on this board but in my humble opinion the benefactor of a huge hype cycle. It's very good but Prezza is one of the finest restaurants in Boston of any cuisine at any price in any neighborhood. And a much more diverse and balanced menu that includes great seafood. Please, please go to Prezza you may hold me personally responsible for your experience.

      You'll need a reservation.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Carty

        or do a few rounds of oysters at Neptune..then Prezza

        1. re: Carty

          Well, if "hype" means lots of good notice because of excellent quality, then I guess you can call it "hype" - I would, however, by no means call Neptune Oyster's popularity any result of hype.

        2. You've got an excellent list, but I'd also suggest you try to squeeze in a trip to Toscanini's when you're in Harvard Square (the Harvard Sq. branch is closed, but the Central Sq. one is still open, though just barely). Or, if you can't do that, at least visit Herrell's in the Square. IMHO, ice cream is one of the few things that we do better than anywhere in the US.

          And I'd recommend the cannoli from Maria's over Modern, but I'm not sure they're open on Sundays, and definitely not after dinner.

          1. I'd suggest Chacarero for lunch on Saturday. Best sandwiches and something you are not apt to find in Austin.

            Enjoy your visit.

            1 Reply
            1. re: meg1641

              Unfortunately, they're not open on weekends.

            2. Thanks for the helpful feedback, everyone. As you can see, I'm trying to make every bite count. Hitting the oyster bar at Neptune and then having dinner at Prezza seems like a great idea. I can't wait to try the pasta at Prezza. Winedude, you've inspired me to try the cannoli at both Maria's and Modern Pastry, maybe as a pre-dinner snack so I don't have to worry about early closing times. (Someone brought me back cannoli from Mike's a while back; cannoli don't travel well, granted, but these really did not hit the spot.) And I don't know how I forgot about the ice cream options around Harvard Square. I've never been a fan of Amy's Ice Cream here in Austin. Lunch at Chacarero would have been great, but since it's closed on weekends, I'll just keep it in mind for Monday, on the chance that plans shift. There are lots of other good ideas here, too, about Jumbo Seafood over Craigie Street, Via Matta, etc.

              I loved living and eating in Boston, and I am looking forward to this trip. I really appreciate your input. Thanks again.

              Best,
              MPH

              2 Replies
              1. re: MPH

                MPH, gotta a coupla favours to ask of you:

                - slurp down a few dozen oysters
                - lobster roll
                - pay a visit to the Daily Catch
                - eat a cannoli
                - hit up Taiwan Cafe
                - eat at whatever is the best Portuguese place these days (I always liked Atasca, but I hear it's no longer)
                - pie at Regina's
                - soft-shell crab w/ curry sauce at Dok Bua (forgot the name of that dish)
                - pay respects to the Franklin Cafe
                - maybe an octopus sandwich, or a cuban, or oxtail stew at Cafe Miami (or is Miami Cafe ... the one in the S.End, not JP)
                - bring me back some salumi and anything else that travels !

                First round of tacos on me when you get back. =)

                1. re: Nab

                  Unless it closed very recently, Atasca is still around and is arguably the best Portuguese restaurant locally. Its sister place O Cantinho did close several months ago, though.