Hi, I am a devoted foodie from Toronto, Canada who will be visiting Boston and the New England area in October. We are spending four days in Boston, staying at the Harbourside Inn on State St. I would appreciate some suggestions for inexpensive dining with an authentic Boston feel; maybe some brew pubs or Italian restaurants and places to get good seafood. We plan to have one upscale dining experience as well so please give us some ideas where to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary. I have an adventurous palate so all ideas are welcome.
Also, if you have any favourite places along the Cape I would be happy to hear about those too.
Looking forward to spending time in such a great city.
See you soon, Higgiette
The North End is a logical first trip - any number of great Italian places throughout the area, though others on Chowhound will have opinions to share, I'm sure. My one suggestion is to visit the original Regina's on Thacher Street for a slice or a pie. Classic pizza parlor, one of the few that offer bottles of seasoned olive oil to add flavor to your pizza. (BTW - while you are in that neighborhood, stop by Polcari's Coffee, a great, old general store for foods and coffees.)
Also near your hotel is Union Oyster House. While the restaurant is not recommended, the raw bar is. Wait in line for a stool at the round wooden bar, reading about Daniel Webster's prodigious appetite for oysters while you wait. Oysters and three sizes of clams washed down with any of the draft beers and ales makes for a wonderful appetizer before heading back to the streets. Best raw bar in town? No, but the best history and quite a unique scene.
Down at the harbor I have two recommendations, Legal Seafoods facing the Aquarium (as with any of the Legal locations, HUGE menu, good quality fish, well-prepared standbys, and some adventurous dishes) and The Barking Crab in between the old and new Northern Avenue bridges. I know some people are going to flip at this one (they have been closed by the board of health twice in the last two years), but again I go there as much for the scene as for the food. Simple fare, reasonably priced and served either inside or out under the red & yellow striped, open-sided tent along the Fort Point Channel. Outside you'll be seated at large picnic tables, sometimes with others you do not know, taking plasticware out of buckets on the table and using a rock found on every table to both hold down the napkins in the breezes or crack any shellfish that needs it, but that is exactly what makes it unique and memorable. I have found in my experience of being there dozens of times in the last 20 years, depending on the daily specials, you may have at best one of the tastiest seafood meals in your life, or at least have had a lot of fun.
I'll leave the other 45 recommendations to others. Happy anniversary!
Thank you so much! This is exactly what I was hoping to hear and so much more honest than anything a guidebook is going to tell me. I love to eat where the locals eat and not the tourist traps. Chain restaurants are always to be avoided. I don't eat in them here so why would I when I'm away?
I look forward to 45 more - or any number for that matter.
I'll second the recommendation of the North End Regina's for pizza - Toronto pizza is pretty poor, and Regina's is among the best in Boston. As far as other Italian spots in the North End, it's tricky - much like TO's Little Italy, there are some great places and some seriously mediocre tourist traps. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of experience thereabouts myself, but there are plenty of folks on this board who can offer good advice. Oh - here's one that doesn't get mentioned as often as it should - the sandwiches at Dino's are excellent.
If you visit the Museum of Fine Arts, you might also consider dinner at Trattoria Toscana, in the Fenway, not far away.
TO has plenty of great Chinese food, better than Boston in the Cantonese category, but if you're interested in Szechuan cooking there are some good places around. Unfortunately most of them are not in areas where a visitor with only 4 days is likely to be enjoying the sights, but let us know if you're interested. There's also been a spate of Taiwanese restaurants with excellent food that might be a bit different for you.
There are several good Portuguese restaurants in Cambridge, and that's a cuisine you don't get in TO.
If you're visiting Harvard Square, Dolphin Seafood is worth a visit.
You should probably state a budget for your upscale anniversary dinner - one person's "moderate" is another person's "high-end splurge."
Excellent suggestions from Allstonian.
For the North End: Mamma Maria or Prezza for expensive Northern Italian, Maurizio's or Pagliuca's or Saraceno's for Southern Italian, Galleria Umberto for super-cheap Southern Italian lunches, Daily Catch or Giacomo's for Southern Italian Seafood, Taranta for Peruvian/Italian crossover, Gelateria for gelato, Caffe Vittoria for coffee-and-cannoli dessert, Modern Pastries or Mike's or Maria's for Italian pastries, Volle Nolle or Mangia Mangia for lunches. Dino's (as Allstonian suggested) does excellent (and huge) subs; Tutto Italiano or J. Pace are good as well.
For Portuguese, try Atasca near Kendall Square or Casa Portugal, Portugalia, or Sunset Cafe, all near Inman Square. Also consider Muqueca, near Inman Square, for Brazilian seafood hot pots, or Midwest Grill, for Brazilian rodizio all-you-can-eat meat fests.
And will specifically second Dolphin Seafood as a very good seafood option and suggest East Coast Grill as well.
Thanks for recs but just for the record, you should know Toronto has one of the biggest Portuguese populations in North America. We actually have a 'Little Portugal' and it has outstanding restaurants, one per corner. You should visit more often!
I was planning to take advantage of the free admission on Wednesdays after 4:00 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts so Trattoria Toscana might be a good idea for dinner afterward
You're right about Toronto pizza and I hear Boston's pizzas are not to be missed, just like Chicago's, though different, of course.
I can pass on Chinese food - most of it is too oily for my taste.
We will be visiting Harvard so I will remember Dolphin.
Budget for a high end meal would be $200. including wine. I've spent more and not minded it when it was worth it
Will second Pizzeria Regina, and srdill is spot on re Union Oyster House.
For old fashioned Yankee style cooking, Durgin Park is the best reasonably priced example locally. Think coffee jello, Indian pudding with vanilla ice cream, prime rib, pot roast, potted beef with onions, baked beans, that sort of thing. It does this style of food much better than the UOH or Parker House. Locke Ober does a very upscale slant on this kind of food.
Would strongly caution against Barking Crab -- if it's downscale seafood in the area you want, Yankee Lobster is a much more reliable option. Legal's is OK, but Neptune Oyster is notably better for higher end seafood.
My husband would be in heaven would Yankee style cooking and he definitely wants to have some Boston baked beans. I will never get him to eat an oyster but I plan on downing a few. Mostly I want lobster, but since we may be heading to Maine on this trip I might be able to wait. Still, I will remember Yankee Lobster if I just have to have one NOW! I have no objections to downscale, as long as it's reasonably clean and the natives are friendly.