What's Boston known for?
My husband and I are coming to Boston in early November, for his b'day. We're doing sort of a guy's trip or things that he likes, i.e. taking in a Bruins game, Sam Adams brew tour, etc.... I'm trying to get a few rest. recs. We are from New Orleans, and are staying in the Boston Common/Copley area. People come to New Orleans for the cajun/french style food, so what is the can't miss in Boston? Looking for something fun, we're early 30's, DINKS and looking for something laid back, i.e. bistros, brasserie, pub, or quaint cafes. NOT TOURISTY, and not CHAIN, we get enough of that in N.O. Thx!!
Neptune Oysters in North End - Seafood
Eastern Standard - Kenmore Square near Fenway Park - Great Drinks and Food
Pops - South End - Great Food; Laid Back; Neighborhood Favorite
Green Street - Central Square, Cambridge - Drinks, Good "New England Style" food
Beehive - South End - A bit crazy on the weekends but a great place on the weekday for drinks and Jazz
Regina's - North End - Pizza
I hope you enjoy Boston!
Long-term residents of the area, but pretty similar demographically to you - and we got married in NOLA in Feb, 2005, then visited again earlier this year and will be back again regularly - and looking for your recommendations then (we love your home city!)
Here's a start on my uniquely-Boston favorites without veering into the suburbs - you should also search for detailed discussions on any of these as well:
Green Street (best cocktails in town and awesome food)
East Coast Grill (seafood and the wet bone)/Christina's Ice Cream
The Helmand (Afghan-make reservations ahead)
Chez Henri (French-Cuban - great small bar or more upscale dining room)
Miracle of Science (gastro-pub style - great burgers, salads, skewers, etc.)
Upstairs on the Square (Monday Club - nice lively bar with great food)
Mary Chung (excellent, old school, authentic Chinese)
Central Kitchen (classic neighborhood bistro)
Il Panino (pizza by the slice and simple pastas)
Formaggio Kitchen (phenomenal cheese shop+++ for takeout and specialty food options)
Neptune Oyster (everything is great - raw bar, lobster rolls, etc.)/Marias Pastries
Pizzeria Regina (ONLY this location even though it is also a local chain)
Prezza (upscale Italian - nice bar)
Eastern Standard (non Red Sox time - 2nd favorite bar scene, tip top cocktail craft and always solid brasserie food)
Sultans Kitchen (Turkish-lunch)
Toro (tapas and good bar - go early - always crowded)
B & G Oyster (pristine seafood, and pricey)
Franklin Cafe (an institution of great cooking)
Formaggio Kitchen (backup location)
King Fung Garden (24 hr call ahead if you want the Peking Duck)
Taiwan Cafe (not the usual Chinese menu options - great for lunch)
Near where you are staying:
Sorrellina (upscale Italian)
Mistral (upscale Mediterranean)
Brasserie Jo (French)
Clio/Uni (celebrity chef Ken Oringer's top spots)
Others will definitely have much to add (e.g., Portugese options, unique, good, but not my forte)
Enjoy your visit!
You've got some really good recommendations so far. The only thing I would try, even though there's no shortage of them in NOLA, is oysters. Unlike NOLA, where you get only Gulf oysters, in Boston -- at places like Neptune and B&G -- you will find a wide variety of East Coast and West Coast oysters that are very different than what you are used to. If you are oysters fans, you should get a variety to experience how different (and how good) they can be. Unfortunately, you should expect to pay more than double (and probably close to triple) what you'd pay at Casamento's or Cooter Brown's or Acme.
This isn't really a Rest. Rec, but I recommend you take a Harpoon Brewery tour instead of Sam Adams. It's def a local favorite as far a beer goes.
As far as Boston specialties go, I agree with previous posters about Neptune for some fresh east-coast seafood. Also try Harvest or Henrietta's Table in Harvard Square for really nice seasonal dishes.
Some things I hanker for when I'm in NOLA are:
Chinese food. A dim sum brunch, while by no means unique to Boston, is something I haven't found down there. Emperor's Garden, while probably not the very best food as far as dim sum goes, is still quite good and the experience is pretty cool. It's in Chinatown on Washington Street.
You'll find a very warm reception at No. 9 for cocktails and a somewhat expensive dinner, especially if you sit at the bar. On Beacon Hill near the Park St. station right on the Common. Similarly, Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square has good bistro type food and great cocktails. Avoid Eastern Standard when there's a Sox game, No. 9 doesn't have a TV except very occasionally during a pennant race or World Series game. Both have some French influence, but not like New Orleans. Both are on the higher-end price wise for a full meal, good spots for drinks and snacks though.
For similarly good cocktails with a slightly more Yankee menu, other posters have recommended, and heartily second/third/fourth, Green St. Grill in Central Square in Cambridge. Very good and well priced food and gorgeous cocktails. They also have a good beer selection. Chill place, popular with the locals too.
Aside from Rocky's, which holds quite a spot in my heart, I always miss good pizza down there. Regina's in the North End is a great choice.
Neptune Oyster is a good choice. We don't know what oyster shooters are up here. Our oysters are smaller and typically saltier. Most of the oysters you'll find are from the coast from Maryland to Prince Edward Island and are very different from gulf oysters. The west coast oysters are definitely worth a try as well. B&G Oysters in the South End is also a good option.
A nice cafe in Harvard Square is Cafe Pamplona. I don't think it's a good destination trip, but if you're in Harvard Square it's a good choice for an espresso or something.
One final thing we seem to have here that others don't, is Tibetan food. This is kind of a discussion here as to what's authentic and not, but I like Martsa in Davis Square. Kind of a Tibetan/Indian blend and just delicious. It's especially good in cold weather (go figure!).
I've never found really good Mexican in New Orleans, and this place is well off the beaten path, but Angela's Cafe in East Boston deservedly gets a lot of love on this board.
Finally, our ice cream is excellent. JP Licks on Newbury St and a few other locations around town and Herrels in Harvard Square and in Allston and Christina's in Inman Sqaure are all quite good. Again, not really destination places but if you're nearby, make sure you duck in.
Have a great time!