Epic journey finds me here until 4/23
- tenacity Apr 19, 2008 10:15 AM
So after my first red-eye and lots of shuttles and subways and 11 hours, I'm here in Boston through Tuesday night (which I think I've already designated "oyster binge night").
What can I ABSOLUTELY NOT MISS, the true Boston experience, the food I simply cannot get in the Southwest (ABQ to be specific). So let's skip the Mexican, the Thai, the Vietnamese... how about some New England... some... weird ethnic that I don't have at home... anything!
I'm headed to Toscanini's after a nap, so that's done.
dunno what you have or don't have in abq, so with that in mind, i'd recommend portugese (many places in east cambridge), the bakeries (canto 6, hi-rise, clear flour are my favorites) and fried clams (many of these places require a car to get to, however.)
also dunno about new england-specific food, like "boiled dinner" and "indian pudding." i've been here a couple years now and have never been tempted; the discussions on this topic on the board often have the character of, "is new england cooking really terrible and gross, or is it merely kind of terrible and gross?" but maybe i'm biased.
we have some decent chinese, if that's of interest--fuloon in malden jumps to mind. and for what it's worth, i think the ny times recently gave o ya a big thumbs up as one of the few places that manhattanites may permissibly deign to consider dining at while abroad in the provinces.
Recent rundowns on Portuguese here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/497919
There's Cambodian, the most accessible being Floating Rock in Revere and a Cambodian/Thai place in Allston (haven't been there and can't remember the name, it's on Harvard). Sort of like Thai but different.
You might go for the local (north of Boston) style of roast beef sandwich: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/378048
Search the board for "fried clams," there's a thread pretty much weekly. Likewise for lobster rolls, here's an example: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/304016
Good Shanghaiese, Sichuan, and Shandong Chinese if you're looking for non-Southern (also good Southern).
Having recently moved here FROM Albuquerque, I would recommend as much Italian (house-made pasta, a must) as possible, even pizza. Albuquerque has nothing even close. Also, if you have any craving for non-chain produced donuts, very rich ice cream or Italian pastry, you should definitely indulge while you're here. I'm vegetarian, but I know the fish/shellfish should also be superior to anything in ABQ. As far as ethnic food, there's a Tibetan place, Rangzen, in Cambridge; Addis Red Sea (Boston and Cambridge, right?) for Ethiopian; a Himalayan place, Martsa, in Davis Square; Machu Picchu, Peruvian food in Somerville, none of which I have been to yet, but have been wanting to try based on postings here. Also, if you have time, browse our Boston area posts. I have been extremely pleased with the restaurants I have tried so far, after researching what my fellow Hounds have written. Have fun; the weather's great right now, too!
I'll happily vouch for PChicky's ethnic suggestions. Rangzhen, Martsa, Addis Red Sea, and Machu Picchu are all well worth a visit. Also consider Portuguese spots in Cambridge like Atasca or Casa Portugal for the classic version or Muqueca for a Brazilian seafood hot pot version, Helmand for Afghan cuisine, or Lala Rokh on Beacon Hill in Boston for Persian food.
Chinatown, Jumbo Seafood, Dim Sum or almost any place, look for lots of people. Pizza, Santarpio's, Regina's or Galleria Umberto, Seafood, Neptune Oyster or fried clams, Calamari at The Daily Catch, Just stay away from chains. Good for a start.
It isn't Chow, but... well let me put on the body armor first... there... Durgin Park is very Boston. DP goes back to the 19th century; it is in Quincy Market, which was right by the docks in Boston Harbor when it was built back around 1820 (until they dumped more landfill in the harbor). The food is okay - definitely not spectacular and not bad - but the menu is loaded with traditional specialties you will not find in New Mexico. If you eat there you should definitely have the Indian Pudding - it is very regional and very good. (If you like a scoop of vanilla ice cream on hot gingerbread you get the idea, except we are not talking gingerbread here.) If you are deeply into eating beef, the prime rib is very nice, but beware, the portions are huge.
It's been a while since I last ate there, so I can't estimate the price of a dinner. However in the past the price was middle-of-the-road, not inexpensive and not a budget-buster. The seating is at long tables, which is something that I actually like when I am traveling alone. Durgin Park has a reputation for surly waitresses but I don't think they are that bad. Yeah it is touristy, but my out of town guests enjoy Durgin Park and given what you are asking for you might too.
This wouldn't jump out, smack you in the face and make you think New England, but perhaps for lunch one day try a roast beef sandwich. There are lots of places, one of the best known is Kelly's. While I've never had a bad one, some are better than others. Along with threads about best burger and pizza in the area, this is another polarizing topic of Boston Hounds.
If at some point you find yourself in the mood for a superlative cocktail, I would suggest the bars at No. 9 Park and Eastern Standard.
There's also a lot of great recommendations already in this thread
This is a holiday weekend here, so keep that in mind. I think for the best in New England cooking, you would enjoy yourself at Henrietta's Kitchen at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. They use as many local products as possible and will give you a set of cards, similar to sports cards, with pictures and histories of the people they buy their food from. Real Boston is hard to define. The Union Oyster House and Durgin Park are fun places to visit, and are a tourist experience more than a fine dining experience. The Barking Crab across the channel and The Daily Catch in the Federal Court House building are representative of the non commercial feel of Boston sea food. The new Boston experience can be found at Eastern Standard in Kenmore Sq. or in LKT in So. Boston. I'm sure you have your share of really fine dining places where you come from so you are probably not looking for that kind of experince. Take a walk, explore the city, but avoid Copley Sq. for the next two days. A major race on Sunday and the marathon on Monday.
If you do Union Oyster House, stick to raw oysters and beer at the bar -- the rest they have to offer is dreck. I'd also strongly suggest Daily Catch in the North End far over the outpost in the Seaport area, and would very much suggest passing in Barking Crab. There's much better seafood at Neptune Oyster in the North End or for a more downscale option, Yankee Lobster in the Seaport area.
Interested in Turkish? Very mini chowdown in Brookline Village at Cafe Rizzeli today, Sunday - at 5:45 (away from crowds - Downtown is PACKED, packed, packed with out of town marathoners...) look for two middle aged women and one young guy! Anyone else welcome to join us...(Please don't respond on board - no planning allowed! Thanks)
I'm ex-ABQ myself (Nob Hill, to be precise) but before I moved here for good, I always insisted my now-wife take me to Chinatown at least once per visit. There just isn't anything there to compare. New Jumbo Seafood and King Fung Garden are my favorites.
Thank you for all of the suggestions thus far, and here's what I've had:
Tried Helmand's on Saturday, but even my lone butt couldn't score a seat when I showed up without a reservation. So, I was hungry and at Thai next door, which was Good, but.... I can get good Thai at home. Opportunity wasted, bummer.
I did have the brunch at Henrietta's - it was fabulous until I got the bill, then it was just very good. Yowch. Shoulda eaten more oysters. :-)
I've had Herrell's, Toscanini, and JP Licks so far - all were good, the hot fudge at Herrell's was bliss-inducing. Unable to eat enough sugar, I headed to Burlick's for hot chocolate and a few macarons - very nice, although I also can get killer and interesting hot chocolate at Kakawa in Santa Fe.
Let's see.... what else so far? I am headed to either the Oak Room OR Locke-Ober tonight - which one is better? That will probably be coupled with drinks & oysters somewhere in the vicinity, and my Cambridge friend says we have to go to the top of Prudential building for one reason or another.
Still need to have:
Maybe Italian? Yeah, NM Italian is weak, and southern Italian barely exists at all - so can I go somewhere to get things like grilled sardines and chicken livers with raisins and vinegar, that kind of thing?
(Oh, and I know about the weekend's events - that's why I'm here!)
The Oak Room is great for highend steak (you think Henrietta's is pricy!) and great drinks.
Locke Ober's has one of the finest dining rooms (talking the actual room here) in Boston. Lydia Shire renovated this old New England bastion into a truly beautiful dining room. The lobster chowder is killer.
If I had to choose, it would to Locke Ober's over Oak Room. Maybe Oak Room for coctails after the Pru!
Do you have time to get over to the South End before you leave? Lobster roll at B+G is very very good and I like the rest of the menu very much if you're sharing -- with a friend it's nice to do oysters, lobster roll, another main like the clams or the Portuguese fish stew.
Speed dog would earn you triple hound points but no one will believe you found him since he's our own Brigadoon. (I've been, just laughing at the hysteria on the board).
** (note for a traditional lobster roll I'd also recommend heading to Neptune in the North End or Kelly's if you have access to a car or time to kill)
B & G Oysters
550 Tremont street, Boston, MA 02118
Sardine season in Portugal hasn't gotten going yet, so its a bit early to find grilled sardines as the fishmongers aren't carrying them fresh.
There are a few places that do chicken livers. Davio's is probably the closest to what you are looking for -- fried and served with a balsamic glaze (the livers are great, the rest of the menu is a bit pricey for what it is). Rendezvous in Cambridge (one of the places that does offer grilled sardines) does them grilled as an appetizer. The East Coast Grill in Cambridge also does them with a more latin theme. For agrodolce dishes, when you missed out on the Helmand you could have tried Dante across the street (might still be worth it for a cocktail when you go back to the Helmand) and I haven't been, but Sasso on Huntington has been suggested to me as having a number of dishes in this style.
Yep, got it. So we did Neptune, a total of 12 different oysters (in one fell swoop about tripling the number of varieties I've ever had!), 2 clams, 1/3 a hot lobster roll and part of octopus salad. Wowee wow. Luckily (mostly due to the partial lobstah roll) that didn't stuff us completely so we missed Modern Bakery and hit Mike's instead.
Still, the tiramisu was intoxicating with some cappucino from next door, and haven't even dug into the cannoli yet. I held back from getting a whoopie pie, as well (even though I haven't yet had one)
Tomorrow (possible itinerary):
The Neighborhood brekkie
Christina's somewhere in between
Helmond's dinner (?)
Yikes, full day!
Since you like oysters so much, maybe you should squeeze in Union Oyster House for some at the bar (it *is* the oldest restaurant in the US). Then an Italian dinner in the North End? It looks like you're skipping Italian for Helmand tho. You could also get oysters at East Coast Grill and eat Portugese a little further down Cambridge St. Not sure if you have time for either of those tomorrow of if you leave too early.
Yep, I'm all done now. Did have portugese breakfast at The Neighborhood - very VERY cool experience, with great linguica and cream of wheat that will stop any kid's heart - that stuff is loaded with butter and sugar!
Had Christina's kulfi ice cream - pretty good but I'm approaching ice cream burnout now. All ice cream tastes "pretty good" to me.
Did not do Speed's, and skipped my Helmand's reservation because I reallly just wasn't in the mood. Personally I'm feeling a bit like a linguica today, so my chowhounding is cut short for this trip.
Thank you for all the info and advice - the lobster roll was definitely one of the highlights. :-)