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Looking for the tourist traps...

I am coming to Boston for a couple of days and am looking for the stereotypical tourist places. I know it sounds weird but since i am only there a short time, I want to have the tourist version of Boston. For example, if people came to my hometown of Philly, I'd tell them to get a cheesesteak at Pat's or Geno's (despite them being far from the best cheesesteak), hit the Reading Terminal Market, get a Philly soft pretzel, etc....

I'm guessing clam chowder is a must but what other Boston specialties are out there and where should I get them?

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  1. Try The Barking Crab on the waterfront and Mike's Pastry in the N. End.
    You'll be in tourist trap heaven!

    2 Replies
    1. re: FastTalkingHighTrousers

      Barking Crab is the best touristy place I've found. The food is pretty good (I honestly haven't found a seafood restaurant that I'd say is much better) and it has a busy atmosphere and you can sit outside (though the water view maybe isn't as nice as it sounds: you are right against the water, but it's just some channel...)

      My alternative seafood choice would be Legal Sea Foods. Its clam chowder has supposedly been served at many presidential inaugurations.

      I also have the impression a lot of the people at Bartley's Burgers in Harvard Sq are tourists.

      1. re: jtw

        I went to the Barking Crab when I was there this part April. While it may be a trourist trap - it was way overpriced, and small portions. You will be better off at Legals or try No Names.

        You should also hit the northend for dessert - there are a couple of cool well know places along the freedom trail

    2. I would recommend Durgin Park in Faneuil Hall. The restaurant has been around forever - and so have many of the famously cranky waitresses. While far from gourmet, I seem to recall that the food isn't bad either. Lots of New England seafood (lobsters, steamers etc.), plus stuff like cornbeef and cabbage. Plus - you can walk around Faneuil Hall afterwards and be entertained by the street performers or your fellow tourists! (whatever you do - I know you'll have fun - Boston is a great city).

      1. Mintchip, you and I think alike. I was just writing to encourage our tourist to ride on the Beantown Trolly and get off at Faneuil Hall and he/she will be in tourist heaven. One could spend a small fortune eating there. Don't forget to have some Baked Beans.

        1. Don't forget to hit the "Cheers" Bar while you're there! I think the Boston Cream Pie at the Omni Parker house is kind of a touristy. I saw it in a food network special =P

          1 Reply
          1. re: lycheefloat

            Omni Parker House is also the home of Parker House rolls, cut in the same dough press from back in the day.

            per the same FN special, I'm sure.

          2. In the same Durgin Park vein, I think you'll also want to hit the Union Oyster House - Boston's oldest restaurant - for some oysters at the infamous raw bar and a quick peek at the booth dedicated to JFK. Speaking of JFK, I'd stop by Locke Ober for some JFK Lobster Stew -- rich with history as well as butter and cream. Not sure how fair afield you're willing to travel, I'd also consider a quick jaunt to the original Kelly's Roast Beef at Revere beach for a roast beef sandwich amid the sand and seagulls and a nostalgic glimpse (via postcard display) of the beach's colorful history as a recreation mecca.

            3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

            Union Oyster House
            41 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108

            Kelly's Roast Beef
            410 Revere Beach Blvd, Revere, MA 02151

            1. I'm surprising myself because this is a place I usually "un-recommend," but Barmy and I went to Jacob Wirth's Friday night, found ourselves in the midst of the weekly sing-along party, and had a great time, and also enjoyed our eats. We split a pitcher of the Jake's Special Dark and shared three apps: the calamari, the nachos, and the pretzels. The calamari were fantastic, the pretzels were good and the mustard dip had a serious kick underneath the sweetness, and the nachos were fine (but I think nachos just don't appeal to me much anymore for some reason.)

              Here's the thing: I get mad when someone asks if there are any German restaurants in the Boston area and folks recommend Jacob Wirth's. Just because they have a handful of German items on the menu doesn't make them a German restaurant, and I really like German food and wish there were decent choices closer than Springfield MA or Topsham ME, so I get cranky. However, it's a fine old Boston pub with plenty of history, a beautiful bar, and great decor in the dining room, and it's well worth a visit as long as you're NOT looking for a German restaurant.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Allstonian

                Allstonian - thanks for the review/feedback. I've been meaning to try...love live music and beer!

                1. re: gramercyfoodie

                  Gramercyfoodie-Jacob Wirth's is not your style!! more my style with the pig knuckles. Used to be more of a place to go but these days not like dem good ole days!

                  1. re: UES Mayor

                    But they don't have pig knuckles anymore! They have fried calamari and nachos and burgers and sandwiches and salads. And as an afterthought they have a couple of schnitels, a couple of wurst plates, and sauerbraten.

                    And I have to say that the sing-along was a total hoot.

                2. re: Allstonian

                  What bothers me about Jacob Wirth's is that they used to be, many, many years ago a German restaurant. I worked nearby and I would order some great wursts with hot potato salad .My coworkers would go for the pigs knuckles or tongue and always a few pints. It makes me crazy to see buffalo chicken and nachos on the menu. I guess I just have to get over it, and think of it as just another pub, then maybe, just maybe I could enjoy it.

                  1. re: Pegmeister

                    Believe me, Pegmeister, I feel your pain, and this is why I hadn't been in to Jacob Wirth's in about 25 years. But it is one of Boston's historic spots, and we were downtown enjoying a movie and Barmy's never been, and I took it into my head to say that we should go just for the hell of it, and it was fun and the food was considerably better than I'd expected (especially the calamari.) But I'll still be right there at your side screaming "No! No! No!" if anyone recommends them to some poor soul looking for a German restaurant in Boston.

                    1. re: Allstonian

                      I'm guessing that if not for the non-German menu, there would be no Jacob Wirth's at all in Boston. It would go the way of my favorite German in Chicago, the Berghof. So I think you should be thankful for what we've got. How many folks are asking for German and wouldn't be satisfied with Jacob Wirth's anyway? My German-American relatives love it.

                3. And if you want an easy idea for seafood, any of the Legal Seafood locations will do. For a seafood shack "experience" without really being in a seafood shack, you can head to Summer Shack in the Back Bay.

                  1. I would put the No Name on the list. A tourist trap institution!

                    1. Great TT trap list but no Anthony's Pier 4 ?
                      C'mon, if ever there was a tourist trap this is it.


                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Harp00n

                        That would be an OTT. Octogenarian Tourist Trap.

                          1. re: Harp00n

                            When remembering Anthony's, we shouldn't forget Jimmy's Harborside. Another OTT for sure.

                            1. re: othervoice

                              'Tis true but Anthony aka himself used to tip the balance in their favor.
                              God help you if he ever had to hear a complaint from a "customer"!

                              1. re: Harp00n

                                Jimmy's Harborside has been torn down. Union Oyster House is by far the best tourist trap type restaurant in my opinion, packing in the tourists but still maintaining a bit of authenticity. Durgin Park is authentic and packs them in, but other than the chowder, the food is not so hot.

                                Another one is Bartley's Burger Cottage in Harvard Square in Cambridge.

                                1. re: ohiomeister

                                  That's a good catch as well. Although I know that and I'm sure othervoice does as well the OP would have no reason to suspect that based on our comments.


                                  1. re: ohiomeister

                                    Hmm, I would say just the opposite about Union Oyster House and Durgin Park. In my experience Union Oyster House is nothing special. The food is sort of okay but there is nothing on the menu to distinguish it from any seafood-centric restaurant. On the other hand, Durgin Park's food is at least as good, has a number of stand-out dishes (the prime rib immediately comes to mind in addition to the chowder), and also several that you will have trouble finding elsewhere. Try the Indian Pudding with some vanilla ice cream. Oh so yummy!

                          2. re: Harp00n

                            Absolutely! How I could I have passed Anthony's over?

                            1. re: Harp00n

                              I doubt their menu has changed in its entire history! I adore their popovers though....

                            2. Many travelers/tourists in Boston have researched the local scene, so you are very likely to find travelers in places like Chacereros for sandwiches and Neptune Oyster for fresh seafood. These are spots that have trapped repeat locals as well.

                              The oldies, like Anthony's, are well past their prime, but once you form your list do a search because many of the tired places still have some decent food e.g. fresh lobster, popovers and wine at Anthony's, fresh shucked oysters at the bar at the Union Oyster house (and nothing else), perhaps chowder and prime rib at Durgin Park, a beer at Jacob Wirth, and Fanueil Hall in general. There is also the original Regina's pizza in the North End. Lots of local ice cream, too.

                              It is possible to enter some of the traps and emerge having had something better than over-priced forgettable food.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chowfamily

                                I guess Regina's in the North End would qualify as "two traps in one" for tourists and Hounds alike.. There simply isn't a better pizza to be had in Greater Boston and that's coming from a Santarpio's fan.

                              2. Barking Crab...ick! It may be a tourist trap but it's AWFUL! I agree w/ Durgin Park if you want a real New England/Boston experience, and I agree w/ Regina's in the N. End...the pizza is the best in Boston IMHO. Good call too on Bartley's in Cambridge. If you want some Boston Cream Pie, head over to the Omni Parker House where it all started. Cheers is another Boston tourist trap, and maybe I'll be bashed for saying it, the food is actually decent pub grub. The Fours in Boston would give you a good sports bar to go to w/ all Boston sports team memorabilia and a good bar/pub menu to boot. You could always go to the L Street Tavern in Southie for a drink (Good Will Hunting if you're into the whole movie aspect of it).