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where to live/eat in boston?


I know this question is sort of random for chowhound, but I'm moving to Boston this summer, and my fiance and I are trying to figure out where the best area is to live that will have REALLY good places to eat <b>within walking distance</b> and also have good delivery. I know we don't want to live around Charles St./Beacon Hill.

For reference, we are big fans of:
comfort food (american),
bars with great burgers,
and organic/vegetarian food.

don't really do the indian thing too often, but having <b>really good</b> chinese and/or mexican delivery is important.

Any suggestions much appreciated. THANKS!

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  1. For me it would depend upon the kind of neighborhood you like (whether you want a yard or more of a city experience) and where/how you're communting (T vs car, downtown or elsewhere). I live in Newton Centre, within a few blocks there are around 20 restaurants plus bakeries and butchers (including everything you mention except an organic place, but there's a Whole Foods 1/2 mile down Beacon), there is a Green line T stop and it's convenient to 128.

    1. The great thing about Boston is that you can get almost anywhere in about 45 minutes either walking or via public transit. I would pick your neighborhood based on the sort of community you want to live in and go to the following parts of town for the different kinds of food you listed. The North End, which is off the orange and green lines has tons of great Italian places. Comfort food and burger bars are a dime a dozen, but the best burger I've had in Boston so far (we've been living here since last summer) was at PF O'Sullivan's in Somerville. Fugaku in Brookline has pretty good sushi although I've heard that Gari's, in the same area, is better. I know good Chinese places exist, but I haven't found them yet. I lived in Houston for 7+ years before moving here and am definately missing good Mexican/Tex-Mex. Good luck with your move!

      1. As I've said in previous threads, Roslindale should be on any list of good "food neighborhoods," especially if you're at all into cooking. It's also one of the friendliest, quietest, and most affordable neighborhoods in the city. You can live in a victorian house plus walk to the excellent restaurants.

        We have all of the above except possibly the chinese and the veg (though they are both nearby), plus much much more as the commercials say. And it is extremely different from Beacon Hill. There was a recent article in the Globe which talked about all this, plus some gloom and doom about the local economy (overstated).

        2 Replies
        1. re: skordalia

          I moved from Charlestown (a very nice neighborhood, but a culinary wasteland) to Coolidge Corner. I am loving it! Green Line access, dozens and dozens of restaurants in the neighborhood, and an easy walk to Allston.

          1. re: drewames03

            I second the Coolidge Corner recommendation, it's a really great area, with a good variety of restaurants, the amazing Coolidge Corner theatre, and also sufficiently quiet in places (compared to Allston, anyway).

            Also, it's debatable, but I'm of the opinion that of all the T lines, the Green Line is the best to have quick and easy access to (which is a definite advantage to living in Coolidge Corner).

        2. OK -- seems we're all going to pitch for our own hoods (Boston is fiercely loyal, after all) but I will make a play for Somerville.

          Davis Square is where it's happening, but that brings its fair share of annoyances too -- including a host of eateries that aren't that good (I'm looking at you Redbones) and some that are great. Me, I'm a 20 minute walk to Davis, but much closer to Union Square, which is the next up and coming area of the Ville. What I love most about Somerville, and why I chose to buy my home here, is that it's a diverse city, economically, ethnically, and food-wise in general, and offers excellent access to other parts of town. I'm 15 mins away from Angela's in Eastie, and 20 minutes away from Blue Ribbon in Arlington, etc.... The ONLY times I complain about traffic are when I'm schlepping over to JP (another great funky hood, btw) or heading to Allston.

          Somerville is for Lovers.

          10 Replies
          1. re: yumyum

            I would enjoy Somerville / Davis Square as well - it's become a happening place - not so years ago. My son lived in the South End just off tremont, columbus st area. I loved visiting him, and he loved living there - awesome foodie ventures close by.

            1. re: yumyum

              I love Union Square. I hesitated to jump in since I expressed this view passionately last year during a similar thread. Easy access to great food stores and restaurants perfectly suited to people who enjoy excellent food at reasonable prices.

              1. re: yumyum

                I'm intrigued by this -- could you give me a quick rundown of what's in Union Square? I can see that you're within a mile of Inman and Central, but what's in Union Square itself? I have in mind restos but also anything food related (I might ask about bookstores and cinemas but won't since this will get me in the CH penalty box).

                Also I've heard many people say Davis is a great area -- again what are some of the highlights?

                I should mention that I tend to measure distances by walking rather than driving, so would consider anything within 1 mile a short walk.



                1. re: bombaybeauty

                  I live in North Cambridge, about halfway between Porter and Davis Squares. There are some very, very high points about Davis and some very, very low points also. Shopping is sort of uneven in that area -- on the one hand, Downtown Liquor in the square has an outstanding beer selection and a decent selection of wines, and MacKinnon's is an old-school butcher that sells some lovely cuts of meat for shockingly low prices (at least for me, coming out of Whole Foods gouging and disappointments from CostCo). On the other hand, the Shaw's in Porter is a travesty, so for everyday groceries you're either looking at a long bike ride, bus + walk, or Zipcars to get you to Whole Foods in Fresh Pond, Market Basket nearer to Union Square or Johnnie's Foodmaster (which might not be that much better) on the Somerville/Arlington line.

                  I'll disagree with yumyum about Redbones -- no, it isn't authentic Carolina BBQ, but some of the offerings are quite good. I'm a big fan of their oyster po'boys, possibly one of my favorite go-tos for down-and-dirty evil, and I think they do one of the best roast chickens that I've come across in the Boston area. I had some of the beef brisket the other night when I didn't feel like cooking, and it was plastic-fork-tender. Combine that with a surprisingly diverse draft beer list, and you have one of my favorite choices for the area. Gargoyle's is another place that we find ourselves for an overpriced (but very good) burger-and-a-beer and a slightly more adult setting than Redbones. Qingdao Garden will deliver, written about at great length elsewhere on this group, but suffice to say one of the few dedicated northern Chinese places that I've ever come across (along with Wang's Fast Food, in a neck of Somerville that I don't ever find myself going to) and some of the best Peking ravioli in town. Elephant Walk is on Mass Ave, and is capable of some very fine French/Cambodian cookery. Sagra in Davis is an Italian joint which is a bit more uneven in my book -- some really good food, some appalliingly bad food and problematic service.

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/51440... includes my brief thoughts on Central and Allston; I think Coolidge Corner is also a solid option.

                  My highlight destination in Union Square is Capone's, which is my favorite cheese shop. No, the selection isn't as dizzyingly diverse as at Formaggio's, but you also don't get the dizzyingly high prices and dizzyingly snooty arrogance of the hired help at latter either.

                  1. re: Dr.Jimbob

                    "Snooty arrogance" at Formaggio Kitchen - really? What a different experience we have - I have been going to Huron Ave regularly for over a decade and never once experienced this - in fact, just the opposite -- virtually every server (including owner Ihsan) is really well-informed and passionate about the products and willing to offer opinions/recommendations or just give you what you ask for quickly and move on. I do agree about the premium pricing but the quality is there and for me, the service as well.

                  2. re: bombaybeauty

                    Sure! I'll just post some favorites ...

                    In Union Square you will find:
                    Taqueria la Mexicana
                    The Independent
                    Macchu Picchu (restaurant and new Peruvian grilled chicken I'm meaning to try)
                    J+J Restaurant
                    Wuchon House
                    Buk Kyung
                    India Palace
                    Market Basket (supermarket)
                    Internacional (small international market)
                    Reliable Market (Asian market)
                    Capone's (fresh pasta)
                    Sherman Cafe
                    Bloc 11 (depite the name, very good coffee)
                    A small but growing Saturday Farmer's Market in the summer

                    The Burren
                    Mr, Crepe
                    Martsa on Elm
                    McKinnons (butcher)
                    Downtown Liquors (amazing beer selection)
                    Dave's Fresh Pasta (prepared foods, pasta, wine, nice cheese)
                    Somerville Theater (shhh, just put it in for you)
                    Johnny D's (live music)
                    Wednesday Farmer's Market in the summer

                    Within a mile walking of either are LOTS more options. Within a walk of both is Highland Kitchen.

                    1. re: yumyum

                      This is brilliant, thanks yumyum and Dr. Jimbob! Will check these out when I am next in town and as I begin to settle... BB

                      1. re: bombaybeauty

                        I am an East Arlington resident, and the town is good for food (although not good for drinking, unless you like eating apps along with your martini).

                        I would second the Somerville comments above - you have close proximity to Cambridge, Arlington. For the list above, I would add Soundbites, a fun breakfast place if you don't mind a bit of a line and service that says "Eat and get out quickly"

                        Strategically, if you wanted to set yourself up well, and avoid having to drive after splitting a bottle of wine, anything that gets you close to the Red Line / Green line intersection at Park opens up a lot of the city. And longer term, when they run the Green line up into Medford, you'll have even more options.

                        But I don't know how much of a neighborhood choice I would base solely on restaurants.. I tends to find a few places they enjoy, and can be more regular at, versus hitting 2 new places each week. I enjoy Arlington as much for the decent Italian and Thai takeout I can find as I do for Flora and Tryst. My gf lives in Roslindale and being able to walk to Geoffrey's or Sophias is enough, versus having 3 dozen places spread all over.

                      2. re: yumyum

                        Union Square additions to yumyum's list:

                        a halal market on Somerville Ave
                        butcher on Bow Street
                        rumors of a green grocer next to Shermans Cafe

                        the Neighborhood for hearty breakfasts and Portuguese lunches

                        and two under-utilized zip cars for when you need a car for a Costco run or an area farm.

                        1. re: smtucker

                          Brilliant, thanks! -- will include Union Square in my exploration of the vicinity. BB

                  3. Sorry to interrupt, folks, but please keep this discussion on the topic of where is the best place to live in Boston so far as chow is concerned. Other aspects of Boston-area housing choices are off-topic. We've removed a number of posts that have nothing to do with food.

                    1. As mentioned, the best place to live for chow will depend a lot on whether you have a car and what your commute is like. For example, Union Square is great (I'm nearby), but it's hard to get around on weekends without a car because the bus lines are less frequent. I personally prefer Somerville, but in the evening and on the weekend I drive when it's too hot/cold/far.

                      I agree that Coolidge Corner has a lot of options. I'll add that they have my new favorite Japanese restaurant, Shiki. It's not primarily a sushi joint, but they serve a wide variety of good stuff (closest thing Boston has to an izakaya). The sushi is as good as nearby Fugakyu (frankly, there are only a few really impressive sushi joints around here). Personally, I think the Green Line is a big PITA, but I've never lived on it (and the Red Line has its moments...).

                      If you don't mind a little grunginess, Central Square is another good option. It's convenient to get anywhere. Good bar food at Miracle of Science or River Gods, more upscale with Green St or Rendezvous, organics from Harvest Coop (w/ TJs and WF not too far as you get into Cambridgeport). Picante is okay for Mexican. Lots of other stuff, including Inman Square not too far away.

                      My favorite Chinese restaurant is Mulan, and they should deliver to the "east" half of Cambridge (including Central, Inman, Kendall, East Cambridge). Don't know how much further they'll go.

                      I don't think you'll find really good Mexican, let alone delivery. Recently had a decent meal at Tu y Yo. There are okay burrito shops everywhere (many Anna's and Boca Grande partisans - personally I prefer Chipotle but don't often eat at any of them).

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: nfo

                        On MuLan - I gave up a long time ago, so maybe they've gotten better, but for a long time they wouldn't really deliver. There was a 2 month stretch where I'd call multiple times per week and had maybe a 10% success rate of them actually delivering (and I'm less than a mile from where they live, they just said that they didn't have delivery that night)

                        1. re: jgg13

                          My bad - I rarely get takeout, so should not have recommended them for it. No idea if they've improved their act. The food is awesome, though. You could just live next door and pick it up yourself. You'd also have Emma's for pizza, Hungry Mother for more creative cuisine, CBC for beer and B-side for cocktails - not a bad package. Yeah, my new advice is to live next door to Mulan.

                          1. re: nfo

                            Oh don't get me wrong, I hope that I'm incorrect and that they deliver consistently now. I've asked a handful of times and no one ever answers and I've long since given up bothering to call them.

                            The few times I got them to bring me food though, it was delicious.

                      2. As yumyum said, everyone is going to plug their own neighborhood here, and truth be told, just about every neighborhood in Boston has something to offer food-wise. From the shi-shi dining in the South End to amazing mexican in Eastie, to up-and-coming Somerville, etc, etc.

                        All in all, I'd strongly recommend not basing your living situation in Boston around food. You'll be happy eating just about anywhere you live, since nothing in Boston is really out of reach... it's much smaller than other major cities. Find a neighborhood that suits your lifestyle and go from there. Best of luck!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: heWho

                          That's a good point. I have lived in Davis Square, Coolidge Corner, Back Bay and now "mid" cambridge (between Harvard and Inman). All of these areas have treated me well from a dining perspective. All of them have good things close by, but none are so great that you won't travel for the specific things you like. e.g. Several of the best burgers are on the Cambridge side of the river, but you will need to head to Boston/Brookline for the better sushi fixes.

                          There are a few places I would avoid living (Southie and Charlestown to name a few) from a dining access perspective.

                          1. re: Gabatta

                            I also agree with yumyum and heWho, I've previously lived in Central Square, Porter Square, and Back Bay, all had their advantages. I have deliberately moved around to learn about all the different areas (Beacon Hill is actually on my list of next destinations, if I can accomodate a car!).

                        2. I assume you don't want to cook very often? I find myself travelling in Boston and its surroundings not so much to find great restaurants but to find great ingredients - Arak/Seven for eastern Med stuff, Medford/North end for Italian, Super 88's, Whole Foods, Savenors, Penzey's, Christinas, Iggy's - the list could go on and on.. nothing wrong with Stop and Shop, just a bit limiting.

                          1. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the Fenway area. It is a pain when the red Sox are playing but that's one reason there so many restaurants to choose from. There is a Whole Foods in walking distance and a sub par Shaws for everything you can't stand to pay for a WF.
                            Burgers and beer abound, the beloved Tratorria Toscana and Eastern Standard are there plus this always been a start up neighborhood for ethnic restaurants - Brown Sugar and El Pelon to name two. Several public transportation options and resident parking. Landmark Center has a big movie theater, some very useful chain stores and restaurants and the Olmstead designed open space is beautiful. I don't think there is a good Chinese in the area but some people on this board still like Chef Chang, just over the Brookline line.

                            1. I have lived in and would go back to Coolidge Corner. It is relatively safe, and there are great food options that have been well described. I don't know if you have kids, but part of the attraction is one of the best school systems in the country.