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May 30, 2008 07:31 PM

Heading to Boston, looking for good recs

Hello! I am going to be in the Boston area (Waltham) for six weeks (from the beginning of June to mid-July). My companion and I will have a moderate food budget but would love to be able to have at least one big-budget celebratory dinner. I love to cook, so we won't be eating out every night, but we'd love to have some memorable meals. I am concerned about winding up in any tourist traps, though.

I'm coming from a very small town in far Eastern Oregon - the Mexican food here is unparalleled, but I'm particularly keen to get into some excellent ethnic food when I'm in Boston. I particularly love (and miss) seafood as a transplant from Charleston, SC, and I hear Boston has some of the best. We'll have a car and are willing to travel anywhere within the Boston area. My friend isn't as adventurous an eater as I am, but he's game to try *most* things.

We'll also be on the Cape for a wedding, so if you have any recs for good restaurants in that area I'd appreciate that as well.

Thanks, hounds!

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  1. I've come to have standard recommendations in Boston: for seafood go to Neptune Oyster in the North End (Legal Seafood also isn't a bad choice). For a first-tier restaurant choose East Coast Grill (I'll also suggest Casablanca as a Harvard Square icon) . Then I'll go to the Publick House in Brookline for exceptional beer and ambitious food.

    3 Replies
    1. re: steinpilz

      I would sound a cautionary note on Casablanca. True it is a Harvard Square icon, but this place has been slowly decelerating for years. I used to go here for the vibe, but now the place is pretty dead. The food remains acceptable, but wouldn't rate it as much more. I think Harvard Square offers better food (Upstairs on the Square, Rialto) or more iconic (Mr. Bartley's).

      Upstairs On the Square
      91 Winthrop Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

      Bartley's Burger Cottage
      1246 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

      1 Bennett Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

      1. re: bombaybeauty

        Yeah, I wasn't suggesting that Casablanca is a really great restaurant, just a favorite that crossed my mind. Legal Seafoods isn't too popular on this board, so I was also being contrarian there. East Coast Grill and Publick House are much more generally well regarded.

        Here are some of the more popular recommendations from the board:
        Helmand -- Afghan, near the Science Museum
        Taiwan Cafe -- Taiwanese, in Chinatown
        Peach Farm -- Cantonese seafood, in Chinatown
        New Shanghai -- Shanghai style, in Chinatown
        Hong Kong Eatery -- Hong Kong style, in Chinatown
        Mulan -- Taiwanese, Cambridge
        Aneka Rasa -- Malaysian, in Alston
        Khao Sarn -- Thai, in Brookline
        Taberna de haro -- Spanish tapas, in Brookline
        Toro -- more tapas, in the South End
        Uni -- sashimi, in Back Bay
        Eastern Standard -- bistro style, good mixed drinks, Kenmore Square
        Daily Catch -- Italian seafood, in the North End
        Regina -- pizza in the North End
        Cafe Vittoria -- classic Italian cafe in the North End
        B&G Oysters -- oysters, seafood, in the South End
        The Clam Box -- great fried clams, Ipswich
        Woodmans -- ok fried clams, but more picturesque, Essex
        Troquet -- great food and wine, Boylston T stop

        Ok, now you're more on track. I feel better.

        1. re: bombaybeauty

          However (Casablanca) the space is very pretty, good for conversation, convenient if you're in the Square, food attractive if not Great, prices good. Would personally rather go there than ear splitting elbow to elbow Mr.Bartley's.

          Casablanca Restaurant
          40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138

      2. The Cape is quite a large area, 50+ miles long -- where is the wedding?

        1 Reply
        1. re: purple bot

          The wedding is in a place called Mashpee. Yeah, I should have been a lot more specific there!

          Thank all y'all so much for the recommendations so far. It's going to be a big help considering the amount of time I'll be in the area - six weeks is ample time to sample the good things in any city.

        2. Welcome to the Boston area! You'll find lots of great recommendations on this board for places throughout the area, but you'll also find that Waltham has plenty to offer right in your own back yard. Since you like to cook, Moody St. has lots of options for shopping. There's La Chapincita which is a decent Mexican market (for this area, anyway...maybe not compared to the variety you can get at home), several Indian markets that also carry Asian and South American produce, and Salem Foods, an Italian-American market with filled-to-order cannoli, decent sausages and cheeses and a small selection of cured meats. Pretty close by in Watertown is Russo's, a terrific market with great prices and wonderful varieties of produce and flowers, as well as a decent deli with imported cured meats, a section with prepared foods and some unusual breads.

          For mid-priced dining, there are also several decent Indian restaurants on Moody, as well as Thai, barbecue, Central American and a Ugandan place named Karibou that has been favorably reviewed on this board, although I haven't personally tried it yet. For a slightly less casual place, there's Tempo, which is more of a contemporary bistro with a decent bar scene (although the acoustics when I was there made conversation pretty difficult.) There's also the Tuscan Grill, another option for slightly higher-end dining on Moody. La Campania and Il Capriccio, both nearby on Main St., are also excellent, if somewhat pricey, options.

          Waltham is fairly centrally-located, so you can get pretty much anywhere you want to go if you have a car, and there are plenty of easily-accessible buses and trains to help out when you don't have wheels or don't feel like driving. Enjoy your stay, and keep us posted!

          2 Replies
          1. re: bear

            bear and okello - thanks so much for the ultra-local recs. I especially appreciate the mention of local lunch places and markets!

            1. re: bear

              I definitely second spending some time on Moody for both ingredients and restaurants. The produce at the Indian markets is really remarkable - one time I bought three different types of mango that had totally unique tastes (Michael Pollan would be proud.) Don't miss Russo's in Watertown (recommended above) for produce.

              I like Tempo and Tuscan Grill just fine. I think La Campania rivals even some Boston restaurants for an upscale dinner (and I live in the South End!). Solea on Moody is fun tapas place and I think that tapas are a good choice if you and your DC have different levels of adventure in mind.

              There are two casual sandwich places I'd also recommend. Spot Cafe in Watertown on Main St. has great bread and baguettes and fresh ingredients for sandwiches. Don't be put off by the service, it's friendly but they take their time. New York Deli near Moody is a sandwich/sub shop that is probably nothing special except it's *my* nothing special that I used to get lunch from a few times a week. Mostly takeout, turkey on a roll to chicken parm plate.

              You are not far from Watertown Square either, and there are several nice choices there. Of course I wouldn't skip proper Boston/Cambridge dining but you have a lot of choices for a quick work-night out too.

            2. While you're in Waltham, be sure to eat at Dom's! aka Domenic's. It's a lunch-only place, but great sandwiches. I recommend the Chicken Parm, the turkey dee-lite (very nice spicy honey mustard on this. emphasize spicy). The Tonno (fish) also good from what I hear. This place has the best bread ever for their sandwiches, which is why it is so good.