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Jun 10, 2008 09:13 PM

1 night in Back Bay area

It is my 1st time to Boston, staying in Back Bay area-I like great regional food and a good wine list, reasonably priced-any ideas?
Also-is it safe to walk around that area at night?

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  1. Sonsie on Newbury St between Mass. Ave and Hereford is a fairly "hip" place, good food, outdoor dining for people watching. Back Bay is generally very safe during the hours when you would expect lots of people to be out; however, that being said, I don't recommend that any woman walk alone late at night in any large city and although walking along the Charles River is very pretty, again, DO NOT walk alone there late at night but during the hours right after work when lots of people are jogging, walking, etc would be fine!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: bakerboyz

      Sonsie doesn't really have outdoor dining, the windows open to the street. I do like Sonsie but wouldn't think of it as a place to go to on my own unless it was on the early side. I've had no problems with Bouchee. Parish Cafe is fun and has fancy sandwiches created by local chefs. The bar at Davio's is cool and you can put together some apps that aren't too pricey. Summer Shack on Dalton St. gets mixed reviews but you might want to look at their menu. Douzo for sushi.

      in my opinion, there are no problems walking around at nite in most of Boston, certainly the Back Bay. Of course anything can happen anywhere but incidents are few and far between. That said, there have been recent attacks in the north end which is a very unusual place for that to happen, so you never know.

    2. Hi Bubblegirl - depends how gourmet you want to go. If you aren't looking for top shelf food, here is a small restaurant group in Boston, with three restaurants around the Newbury St (Back Bay) area called Back Bay Restaurant Group. They own Joe's American Bar and Grill, Papa Ratzi, and Charley's Saloon. All are reasonably priced with reasonable food - Joe's is my favorite of the three and has a dining room upstairs and pub downstairs. The thinly sliced london broil there is my choice.

      I am a woman and I'd walk anywhere on Newbury or Boylston between Arlington and Hereford Streets (they're alphabetical so that's 7 blocks) even late at night. There are plenty of people around those streets and I have never felt unsafe. Some of the more residential blocks are quieter at night and thus a little creepier, but Commonwealth Ave has a great tree-lined park down the middle of it which is beautiful and probably well-traveled until at least 9.

      1. Just before the Common- Parish Cafe on Boylston may be a good option for inventive sandwiches at fair prices. Croma on Newbury Street has acceptable pizzas also at fair prices- though as Im re-reading your post Im not sure that Id rave about eithers wine list.

        I am also a woman and feel safe walking on Newbury or Boylston Streets during night time hours. As mentioned I certainly wouldnt walk by the Charles past 8:00 pm, nor would I walk through the Common or the Public Gardens alone at night, but the busier streets are safe.

        1. The Bay Bay is a super upscale retail and resisdential mixed use area, meaning that pickpocketing is always a danger, although for what it's worth it's probably one of the safest urban neighborhoods in the country.

          A good, reasonably priced meal in Back Bay is a tough challenge, because many of the restaurants on trendy newbury street are budget-busting mediocrities, and the really good places (L'Espalier and Sorellina) are astronomical, special-occasion only type places. I believe that your best bet is Vlora, a hip, trendy Greek-Albanian-Mediterranean place with very good food, and a bit easier on the wallet than many worse places around. The flat iron steak frites might be the best steak frites in the city. It's on Boylston Street between Dartmouth and Clarendon. I will disagree with the above poster and say that I would avoid all Back Bay Restaurant Group spots, ESPECIALLY Joe's.

          4 Replies
          1. re: tamerlanenj

            Joe's is closed because of a fire. I would avoid most of the BBRGroup's places, too, but Joe's is far from the worst. I'd give that "honor" to Bouchee. That place is horrible, pretentious and overpriced.

            Not sure what you are looking for as far as regional food, but I would second Brasserie Jo. Similarly, Petit Robert Bistro in Kenmore is walkable, as is Eastern Standard.

            1. re: C. Hamster

              wow, I would really disagree here. I have eaten brunch at Joe's 4x in the couple months (ugh, other people chose the location), and every time it was just awful-- "poached" eggs were completely cooked through, lemonade tasted like it was from a mix, service was clumsy/unavailable/rude, "omelette" had the tiniest bit of cheese and all clustered on one side of the omelette, etc. Truly terrible.

              I've also been to brunch at Bouchee twice, and both times I really enjoyed it. Friendly, knowledgable, helpful waiters; setting with a lot more charm to it; and great food both times! They definitely don't have a traditional brunch menu (I can only recall "brunch"y items on the specials list), but I had a great croque-monsieur and a yummy frisee salad (with perfect lardons). And on the lemonade front, it was definitely fresh-squeezed.

              Perhaps the experiences are dramatically different at dinner? I quite liked Bouchee, and don't see it as a typical BBRG place.

              1. re: iamsam

                I agree with iamsam. Bouchee is definitely a mediocre brasserie, but there are a few dependable choices on the menu for lunch or dinner. Good burger, good hanger steak, good steak frites, decent coq au vin. I can't think of anything on the menu at Joe's that isn't just plain bad, except for possibly the prime rib on good days.

            2. re: tamerlanenj

              Joe's is closed due to a fire. I'd also avoid most of the BBRestaurant Groups locations, but Joe's is far from the worst. That "honor" would go to Bouchee in my book. Horrible.

              Brasserie Jo
              Petit robert Bistro and Eastern Standard in Kenmore.

              It is a very safe area, except, as someone said, for the pickpockets.

            3. I second all of Tamerlanenj's comments, particularly about Joe's.

              Will you be dining alone? Would you prefer sitting at the bar? I have never eaten at the bar at Vlora so can't help on that issue. But the bar at Brasserie Jo on Huntington Ave. (in the Colonade Hotel) is a particularly nice spot for a solo diner.

              545 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

              Brasserie JO
              120 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

              5 Replies
              1. re: BBHound

                Leal Seafood in both Copley and Prudential. Casa Romero for Mexican 30 Gouceter St. Steve's Greek on corner of Newbury Street and Hereford for Greek food. Jae's for asian fusion and Sushi (my favorite). McCormick & Schmidt for great Happy Hour & $1 oysters. Back Bay is VERY safe to walk around, esp if you stay on the main streets. Davio's if you're willng to get a bit more pricey. There are superior restautrants in the nearby South End....a short walk, though not s safe as Back Bay. You could cab to Tremont & Clarendon Streets an have your choice of excellent rstaurants, In this nighborhood, try The Fraklin Cafe, Masa.

                1. re: johnecampbell

                  I really can't second any of these Back Bay recs, except possibly Casa Romero. Jae's is execrable, and no longer exists under that name. It's now a nightclub called 711 that still serves mediocre sushi. I've never had a very satisfying meal at Legal's, personally, though it is, I suppose, a safe choice in a spotty chow neighborhood.

                      1. re: BBHound

                        711 was in that space way before Jae's wasn't it?