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Help me check off my must-see/must-do restaurant list!

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Well, let me start off with saying that I'm not sure if this is an appropriate post on the Chowhound boards. If it's not, I'm okay with it being deleted (or will have to be haha).

Basically, I have a month and a half left in Boston and am looking to try as many restaurants as possible. I have a loooong list of places to go but a short list of people to go with. I can only drag my few friends here out so many times! I guess what I am trying to say is that I'm looking to see if there are any chowhounders out there who are willing to help me check off my list (or add new ones to it!). I'm up for trying anything whether it's breakfast, lunch, dinner, tapas, apps, drinks or dessert as long as it's good (or at least good fun!). Maybe we could start a night out once a week where whoever is interested in the said restaurant can show up???

Again, if this is not an appropriate post I completely understand... thought it was worth a shot!

After lots of research, here is my list... and please try your hardest not to laugh. I know it's ambitious but what can I say, my eyes have always been bigger than my stomach : )

o Hungry Mother
o L'Espalier
o Brookline Spa
o Ten Tables
o Flour (lunch)
o No. 9 Park
o Antico Forno
o Mamma Maria's
o Trattoria Toscana
o Santarpios
o Taranta
o Prezza
o Pizzeria Regina
o Fun Food Snackery
o Angela's Cafe
o Anna's Taqueria
o Ortanique
o Oleana Restaurant
o The Helmand
o Muqueca
o Punjab Palace
o Floating Rock
o Atasca
o Dok Bua
o Guru the Caterer
o Tremont 647
o The Dish
o Giacomo's
o Grotto
o Tangierino Lounge & Hookah Bar
o Finale
o Fugakyu
o Dali Restaurant & Tapas Bar
o Top of the Hub (for a drink)
o Pho Republique
o The Clam Box (fried clams)
o Bob Lobster
o Murphy's - Fish and Chips
o Locke Ober (for a drink at the bar)
o Oak Room (for lunch)
o Eastern Standard (for drinks)
o Gran Gusto (pizza margherita)
o Chez Henri (cubano)
o River Gods
o Publik House

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  1. I did laugh. That's a long list, but I hope you make it to every single place.

    "Maybe we could start a night out once a week where whoever is interested in the said restaurant can show up???"

    I think that's a great idea. I don't have enough friends able or willing to take on the expense or calories of trying a new place every week either.

    I'd cross off:

    Antico Forno: bland food, brusque service
    Finale: all style no substance. Try Burdick's instead.
    River Gods: very limited menu and not great food. I'd go for a drink and to soak in the funky atmosphere before Oleana or Hungry Mother.
    Taranta: bland caprese, gummy gnocchi. Nothing about it calls me back for a 2nd try.

    I assume you're a cheese fan, so you shouldn't miss the grilled cheese at Eastern Standard as long as you'll be there cocktailing. And don't miss Mamma Maria, Prezza, or Regina's.

    Your post is perfectly appropriate. There have been similar ones as I recall, and I'm sure plenty of folks would love to tell you where to go and where not to.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pollystyrene

      Re: River Gods...I would definitely leave it on the list. I have enjoyed what Luke Park has been doing there after many repeat visits over the years. Love the Korean handroll....and fries. :D

    2. I also got a chuckle out of your posting, but I would have eliminated half of them easily. I'm out every night of the week, almost, and you never mentioned the places I go the most like the Union Bar & Grille, Pops and Banc in the So.End. I love Teatro and Pigalle downtown and in Cambridge, Rendevezour and Upstairs at the Square are bothl great. I wasn't sure if you were looking for someone to join in on your quest for the ultimate belt buster, or was looking for more imput. Brookline has lots more to offer than the few places on your list. It was a fun post to read.

      1. Intriguing! But for goodness sakes delete Anna's Taqueria from that list. It belongs no where near some of those other restaurants. Having said that, where are you moving to? You could use that as a guide as to what to keep/delete on your list. If you're moving to Texas or Phoenix or Cali, for example, you could eliminate Angela's from that long list--the Mexican you can get in your new home will be far better (though Angela's is certainly good. You must get the guac.)

        1. I would cross off:

          1. Finale
          2. Giacomo's
          3. Fugakyu

          The quality at all three are nothing to write home about...you can find better things elsewhere...

          1. Ortanique has closed. I would keep Antico Forno & Taranta on your list - I've had nothing but good experiences at both w/a DC and w/groups. I, too, would scratch Anna's & Finale. If you want hounds to join you, you'll need to give us an email address in your profile to reach you offline to make arrangements.

            1. Haha! I'm so psyched with the positive feedback I've received and the amusement you all have gotten from my list! I was going to edit my post/list based on your recommendations, but I don't think that is possible (is it??). If not, I will definitely keep a note of your comments!

              "I wasn't sure if you were looking for someone to join in on your quest for the ultimate belt buster, or was looking for more imput."

              Yes! Again, whether it's breakfast, lunch, dinner, tapas, apps, drinks or dessert, I'm interested... Feel free to critique my list but also feel free to help me check it off in person! Even if it's not on my list... if you suggest it, I'm up for it.

              "If you want hounds to join you, you'll need to give us an email address in your profile to reach you offline to make arrangements."

              ms.macandcheese@yahoo.com

              "I assume you're a cheese fan"

              Haha, I guess my login name gives way to that a bit. I actually just got back from Europe where I think I ate more cheese in a few weeks than I have in my collective lifetime (of 25 years).

              "Having said that, where are you moving to?"

              New Jersey... bad rap, good food.

              2 Replies
              1. re: msmacandcheese

                You know, this sort of thing is very personal. Perhaps you can tell us a little bit about yourself, personal style, etc. I would not want to send someone who thinks that Formaggio Kitchen is the zenith of cuisine to say Santarpio's, with such a short period of time. Just would not be appreciated as much as say a Gran Gusto.

                Am I also correct that you have not yet tried the restaurants on your list? If so, I disagree with taking a place like Anna's off the list - it is such a ubiquitous presence in the city, you should consider trying a burrito just so you know. If these ARE places you have been and you're just trying to fill out the list, please substitute (Pretty much any other taqueria in Boston) for Anna's. :)

                That said, I would recommend the following from your list based on my personal experiences -

                o Hungry Mother - truly a unique Cambridge-style joint with cuisine you are definitely not going to find in Jersey.
                o Ten Tables - Just such a lovely restaurant with excellent chow - a place like this I reckon will be hard to find in Jersey. I imagine everything there as bigger and less subtle than 10Tables (not that there is anything wrong with that).
                o Oleana Restaurant - if you dine on the patio, an unforgettable night - should be your final summertime din din.
                o Muqueca - A little taste of Brazilian is not a bad idea - I think they are open for lunch, which is the best option here, given your dinner choices.

                Definitely skip Finale and pretty much any Italian place in Boston (including Santarpio's and Regina), purely because you will have LOTS of Italian choices in NJ. Oh ok, you can still go to Santarpio's or Angela's Cafe - Eastie represent. ;)

                If you are set on trying L'Espalier, do it for lunch, often recommended here on the Board as a great value.

                Can I also suggest that you grab a beer at the Cask & Flagon on game day, just so you'll know what you're missing?

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  OK.... a bit about myself... I'm hitting the quarter century mark in August, love to travel (8 countries and counting), love trying new things whether it's activities or restaurants, love meeting new people that can teach or introduce me to something interesting (even if it's a new idea/way of thinking) and despite all, am very laid back. This all reflects in my restaurant style. I enjoy the higher end places (especially steakhouses) as well as some finger-licking pub food or fresh seafood on a local dock. After re-reading this, it's starting to sound like a personal ad but it's the best way I can describe my "personal style" - open to anything. Could choose a restaurant based soley on atmosphere or solely on taste...

                  And yes, I have conquered the beer at the Cask & Flagon... twice : )

                  Thank you for your recommendations as well... I'm not sure if this was the response you were looking for ?????

                  Oh, and I have been searching for pizza most similar to NY/NJ style pizza and, ironically, found the closest recently at New York Pizza in the theater district.... just fyi...

              2. Quite a list!

                Haven't been to all these, but places on your list near the top of my personal list for one reason or another would be: L'Espalier, No. 9 Park, Helmand, Ten Tables, Mamma Maria, Trattoria Toscana, Taranta, Prezza, Santarpio's, Pizzeria Regina, Oleana, Muqueca, Atasca, Dok Bua, Grotto, Tangierino, Dali, Clam Box, Locke Ober, Oak Room, Anna's Taqueria, Matt Murphy's, and Eastern Standard. Hope you can get to them all.

                Ortanique is closed. Flour is easily skipped, and I did not care for the food at Publick House, Tremont 647, or Pho Republique. Also would not venture beyond a drink at Top of the Hub.

                1. Thank you all for the tips... I'm going to use all of your suggestions to form a new top 30 restaurant list (cutting out 15!). Again though, if anyone's interested in going to one of the places because you have yet to try it or it's just a personal favorite, email me at ms.macandcheese@yahoo.com! Or if there are a few people interested, I could post one restaurant a week and whoever's interested can jump in? Pollystyrene, I know you're in favor.... anyone else???

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: msmacandcheese

                    I'd love to try Hungry Mother, Gran Gusto and the bar at Chez Henri. If you want to arrange a chowdown at any of these, I'm in (as long as there are no schedule conflicts). If I don't see one posted soon, I'll e-mail you and we can plan an eat-up!

                    1. re: pollystyrene

                      Pollystyrene, why don't you give me your email or email me at ms.macandcheese@yahoo.com... I've gotten interest from about 10 fellow chowhounders, 5 of whom are interested in Hungry Mother (among others) so we could probably set that one up first. I can mass email those interested, we can set up a day that works and then I can post it on here for others who may be interested as well. Thanks!

                  2. I wasn't impressed with Grotto. Nice place for the neighborhood, but not transcendent.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: madmelanie

                      I'm just curious: what did you have? I'm asking so maybe I'll avoid those things, or put off trying them.

                      1. re: pollystyrene

                        Don't put off Grotto - it is a delight! My recommendations are for the gnocchi with short ribs and/or the cavatelli. Their chocolate pudding is also the only restaurant version I like (my mother's being the measure against which I judge!)

                        1. re: heathermb

                          I like Grotto - really, I do. But I recently had the gnocchi and short ribs, which in theory is a great dish, but it's sooo heavy and rich - cannot eat this in the hot weather, seems to me to be a purely winter dish and I question why it remains on the menu in the summer - also most folks forget to mention the inclusion of LOTS of gorgonzola cheese, which is really so strong that it overpowers, at least in the version I got.

                          1. re: heathermb

                            Thanks for watching my back, heather (and I'll be forever grateful for your ES grilled cheese rec.) But don't worry, I haven't put it off. I almost passed out from bliss when I ate their garlic truffle soup. I tried some of the gnocchi off a DC's plate, and it was perfectly pillowy. I agree with BobDob about the gorgonzola, though. It's too strong a cheese for that dish; goat cheese, or something like the fontina they use in the fondue would be ideal. However, I still really liked it.

                            I was just asking medmelanie what she didn't like so maybe I'll put off trying it in favor of sticking with my favorites.

                      2. I agree with previous, finale's not worth it.
                        Definitely missed Kenny O's places. You could skip Clio as long as you make Toro and Uni, maybe La Verdad. Also Rialto.
                        Def get to No.9 and L'Espalier.
                        Beer...Deep Ellum.
                        BBQ...Soulfire Cafe (get the brisket sandwich)
                        Hot Dogs...Spike's
                        I really like Upper Crust's pizza

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: IndustrialFoodie

                          Spike's??? Have you ever been to Speed's for a dog? Not even close.

                          1. re: Hambone Willy

                            adding one hot dog place to the list... somehow it's growing instead of shrinking! : )

                            1. re: msmacandcheese

                              While I'm not as severely down on Spike's as some others are on this board, I'll strongly endorse the idea of hitting Speed's. They make a truly transcendent hot dog, the best I've ever had by far.

                              1. re: bachslunch

                                Certainly Speed's instead of Spike's. Spike's is absolutely useless.

                        2. fun idea, good luck!

                          i wouldn't bother with pho republique. for vietnamese, you're better off in fields corner.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jylze

                            Word. I had managed to avoid Pho Republique until last week and the food is crappy, the service was flaky and I soooooo wished I was in Dorchester instead.

                            1. re: yumyum

                              I went there once and asked the waitress for the ubiquitously Vietnamese salty lemonade; she gave me a look as if my three heads had just asploded. First restaurant with "pho" in the name, that doesn't have salted lemonade!

                              Pho-gettaboutit.

                          2. Doing the quick math, there are 45 restaurants on the list and you have approximately 45 days left in Boston. You could double up some days and do lunch at one place and dinner at another. Lunch at Flour is a good start. Better start eating! ;-)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jjbourgeois

                              Haha... I have managed to cut my list down to the top 31 and if I am able to experience half of it, I will leave Boston a satisfied customer... hm, better make sure Flour made the top 31 or else it will become the top 32 : )

                            2. Hi all! Here are the newest hounder outings... If you are interested in these, please email me at ms.macandcheese@yahoo.com. There are a few spots still open for Hungry Mother (5 hounders confirmed so far).

                              * Wednesday July 23 - Floating Rock 12pm lunch

                              * Thursday July 24 - Hungry Mother 9:30pm dinner

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: msmacandcheese

                                Ahh work :\ Floating Rock is my favorite! Be sure to try cambodian style pad thai, special fried rice, lort soup, tiger tears... :)

                                1. re: marilees

                                  Oh, I'm sorry it doesn't work for you Marilees! Thanks for your suggestions though! I will definitely be putting them to good use... have heard tons of good things about the tiger tears!

                                  1. re: msmacandcheese

                                    Ms Mac -- at Floating rock you should also share the catfish soup with jackfruit, long-bean salad and fish cakes. Good quail and good pork with chiles too. Have a blast!

                              2. For the food (high-end):
                                o L'Espalier
                                o Prezza

                                For the food (mid-range) :
                                o Oleana Restaurant
                                o Ten Tables
                                o Hungry Mother
                                o Taranta
                                o The Helmand
                                o Grotto
                                o Antico Forno
                                o Chez Henri (cubano)

                                For the food (low-end):
                                o Trattoria Toscana
                                o Angela's Cafe
                                o Floating Rock
                                o Dok Bua
                                o Punjab Palace
                                o Muqueca
                                o Gran Gusto (pizza margherita)

                                For the uniquely Bostonian flavor:
                                o Santarpios
                                o Pizzeria Regina
                                o Locke Ober (for a drink at the bar)
                                o Mamma Maria's – reserve the little 2-person dining room if at all possible.
                                o The Clam Box (fried clams)
                                o Eastern Standard (for drinks)

                                Problematic:
                                o No. 9 Park – great for drinks (none better in Boston), but the food might not blow you away for the price.
                                o Atasca – like the food a lot, but the surviving location lacks the charm of the original and of O Cantinho. I’d steer you to Casa Portugal instead.
                                o Dali Restaurant & Tapas Bar – great atmosphere, but there are better choices for food, say, Taberna de Haro or Toro.

                                Skip:
                                o Tangierino Lounge & Hookah Bar – food doesn’t live up to the atmosphere.
                                o Finale – not many places deliver a worse prettiness to flavor impact ratio.
                                o Giacomo's – generic, average touristy Italian-American with too-big portions.
                                o Top of the Hub (for a drink) – run by really unpleasant, inhospitable people who are highly likely not to seat you anywhere with a good view. If you need the view, take the Skydeck tour instead.

                                Don’t know / haven’t tried:
                                o Guru the Caterer
                                o Brookline Spa
                                o Bob Lobster

                                Cut if running out of time:
                                o Flour (lunch)
                                o Fun Food Snackery
                                o Anna's Taqueria
                                o Tremont 647
                                o The Dish
                                o Fugakyu
                                o Pho Republique
                                o Murphy's - Fish and Chips
                                o Oak Room (for lunch)
                                o River Gods
                                o Publik House

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  Wow, MC Slim JB, that is incredible! Thank you so much.... that is really amazing you went to all that trouble in organizing/critiquing everything. I will definitely be using your list as a reference point from now on. Thanks again : )

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    Speeds really needs to be on this list.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      Since Ms Mac is moving to New Jersey, as long as she is up for a trip to Newark she could scratch both Atasca and Cafe Portugal off the list. In fact, she could send us a care package of items which are even hard to get on the South Coast. Muqueca is a judgement call, not aware of a similar restaurant in NJ, but Newark overall has much more Brazilian food than here (including at least one a la carte) so its certainly possible to find an acceptable Moqueca there (there are some less usual things like torta capixaba and some of the variations Muqueca offers which might be worth the trip, or see if they can arrange a chowdown for a bahian soft shell crab moqueca -- moqueca baiana de siri mole + siri catado if you want crab meat too). I am not a huge fan of Atasca, but if you can sit at the bar (all of 3-4 seats) and is easy to order small plates while having the chefs feed you things... less of a commitment overall than Casa Portugual and could have been a pre-Hungry Mother stop.

                                      I would also drop a lot of the italian restaurants and pizza joints to lower on the list. Gran Gusto is wonderful for us but A Mano in NJ, Isabellas in NY are examples of similar places which best it where she is going. Mama Maria's might be worth the private dining room you suggest, but the overall experience could be had in Jersey if its not available... and there are places like the Daily Catch (a totally different experience) which are particularly unique (and to stay Boston NE style, don't ask for marinara with the calamari which you could take out to Christopher Columbus park on the waterfront).

                                      On the lower end, I don't see any sandwich places on the list (Chez Henri is another catagory). Volle Nole, Fresh Cheese, the Portuguese man-o-war at the Snack Bar, Banh Mi in Dorchester, Roast Beef at Mike's, and Formaggios. Its worth picking something from this list!

                                      If the OP insists on keeping 2 hot dog places on the list, take a spin around Castle Island and go to Sully's instead of Spike's. Would be a bit too much to combine it with Speed's, but if you did clams at Wollaston (Tony's) as a hedge in case you can't make Essex (or even at Neptune -- all could be done on the T) it would save you a bit of time.

                                    2. Don't miss the Clam Box! It's New England summer food at its best. I agree with another poster who suggested Teatro. It's wonderfully loud, and the food is great.

                                      1. Next outing is tomorrow evening (7.29) 8:45pm at Santarpios.

                                        If you are interested, please contact me at ms.macandcheese@yahoo.com