Eating in the Beacon Hill area
First time in Boston - from U.K.- and will be spending a few days in the School St, Beacon Hill area,and any advice for eating around here would be welcome.Will be on foot!
Earlier will be at Sheraton Newton Hotel, on Washington St. Not intending to eat in hotel - unless you know better - where is there in the area - again with reasonable walking distance.
There are lots of excellent posts about downtown Boston on this board - you can search adding some key words about your food preferences, price levels in order to focus the recommendations you find.
Buff's Pub across from the Sheraton in Newton has what some (including me) believe to be the very best rendition of Buffalo Chicken Wings in the area - it lacks ambiance and service is really basic (it is a pub).
i'm not a big fan of beacon hill dining. all those tiny, cramped over-priced places on charles street - no thanks. i would recommend checking out the new liberty hotel. it's a pretty impressive space - it's a converted, notorious old boston jail. there are three options: clink (seasonal american), alibi (cocktails) and scampo (conceptual italian). my girlfriend and I like to go by for wine and a cheese plate and sit in the grand room.
there's a place on charles street that reminds me of an english pub - it's called the sevens. they only serve soup and sandwiches, but it's a cozy spot to grab a pint and meet some gritty bostonians.
Is that like when you like the idea of Italian food, but not Italian food itself?
Scampo is Lydia Shire Italian, which means some crafty ingredients (like the house-made mozzarella -- love that burrata BLT), unusual produce, occasional bits of offal-y goodness (cracklings in the carbonara, sweetbreads in the risotto), and lots of clear, strong flavors. I think the best of that menu is the flatbreads like elephant ear and ciccio, all made where you can see them (they have a tandoor, too), and the pretty simple but excellent pastas.
I think the tagliata (Tuscan steak) is one obvious false note, over-complicated where it should be simple, and the place is very expensive. But the bartending is strong, it's kind of a cool space (big U-shaped bar, elegant booths, rustic open kitchen) and they have a great patio. Nice to see her working in this idiom again.
(It's a bit odd if not frightening on weekends to use the bathrooms, which are shared with the overserved, dressed-to-hookup patrons of Alibi, kind of a funny bit of crossover.)
What rlh is hinting at with his answer is that at least on the Boston group, you are likelier to get enthusiastic help and advice with a little advance leg work to see what people have written in the past, rather than throwing out a request that has been asked a couple of thousand times before. (Having said that, just running a Beacon HIll search myself turned up a whole batch of useless posts where someone helpfully advises the poster to search past posts on this board ...)
You'll want to search on Beacon Hill and Downtown Crossing when you do search. If you're up for a moderate stroll, Chinatown (mostly Cantonese style Chinese cookery) and the North End (mostly southern Italian cookery) are also within an easy 20 minutes' stroll.
Some threads to get you started are included below. If that doesn't help, let us know specifically what you're looking for and I'm sure there will be someone with an opinion.
My personal faves: 75 Chestnut, Panificio, Grotto, Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro, Paramount Diner.
Downtown in general:)
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/547480 (look for opinionatedchef's survey
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/529976 (more for drinks
)http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/502212 (more for lunch
)My faves: Sam La Grassa's (lunch only), No. 9 Park (very expensive), Sultan's Kitchen, Boston Kebab House
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/448599 (many surveys, but this is one of the best
My faves: Empire Garden and Hei La Moon for dim sum; Wing's Kitchen for Shanghai cookery; Taiwan Cafe for adventuresome non-Chinese-American but not necessarily bear penis and monkey brains either food; King Fung Garden and Peach Garden routinely get praised for their Cantonese cookery.
Good luck and have a good trip!
"(Having said that, just running a Beacon HIll search myself turned up a whole batch of useless posts where someone helpfully advises the poster to search past posts on this board ...)"
I find that after hitting "Search," if you switch the "Sorted By" option from "newest" to "relevance" you get much better and, well, more relevant listings.
re: C. Hamster
What??? no one has mentioned Bin 26 Enoteca??? This is my favorite place on Beacon Hill. It's a wine bar and restaurant on Charles Street. I think it's awfully good, although it is not cheap. Good place to sample wines, obviously, and you can get different size pours allowing you to sample more different wines. They have a large bar and you can eat at the bar if you like (and if there is room).
School Street is actually downtown, although it is adjacent to Beacon Hill. School Street is probably a 10 or 15 minute walk from Bin 26 Enoteca and the whole Charles Street thing.
There is a restaurant very close to School Street called Marliave. This restaurant is not new, but just reopened after a big renovation (if you look at old reviews of Marliave, they won't be very good). The food has changed and I ate there for lunch just last week, and liked it a lot. It's sort of old fashioned looking without trying too hard -- there are old tile floors and simple furnishings in the main floor room. They are putting in a new "oyster bar" that is at sidewalk level but it was not finished when I walked by last week -- it is going to be at the lowest level of the restaurant and very tiny.
Another idea for you on Beacon Hill is Lala Rokh. I believe this is supposed to be "Persian" cuisine and it's a "fancy" restaurant, but I've never eaten there.
Have a good time.
I'm feeling in a helpful mood, so here are some choices, rather than other links :)
Grotto on Bowdoin St. or Bin 26 on Charles St. for upscale Northern Italian food
Antonio's on Cambridge St. for casual, straightforward Italian-American food
Pierrot Bistrot on Cambridge St. for good solid French Bistro food
Lala Rokh for excellent Persian cuisine with a nice romantic atmosphere
The King and I on Charles St. is a good Thai restaurant
Closer to School St., you'd want to head over to State and Broad Sts, and hit the Sultan's Kitchen, which is a top notch Turkish place. Very casual, with just a few tables. It's great for lunch, but they are open until 8pm, so dinner is possible too.
The Kinsale is a good Irish pub on Cambridge St. at Center Plaza. They have a broad menu and decent staples such as burgers, salads and fish and chips.
If you are staying on School St, you are probably staying at the Parker House. That really is downtown crossing/financial district, not Beacon Hill.
You may be tempted to try some of the offerings at nearby Quincy Market. Resist those temptations. Instead, go to Sel de la Terre on State St at Long Wharf. Good stuff at a reasonable price.
Sel De La Terre
255 State St, Boston, MA 02109
But also note that Beacon Hill is about a block away from the Parker House. Boston is small - you're literally a stone's throw away from just about every other neighborhood. All of the locations mentioned here are easily walkable from your location (and often a very pleasant block to the Beacon Hill area).
I'm feeling surprisingly helpful today, so here are a couple of ideas:
No 9 Park for a splurge - I had the corn agnolotti last week that were divine.
Troquet is equally lovely.
KO Prime for a steakhouse-ish experience - last night I shared the vietnamese spareribs, a chopped salad and their short rib mac n cheese that were all excellent.
The Marliave - an old school/new school dining experience - lots written about recently.
Chinatown for Chinese - Taiwan Cafe for Taiwanese, New Shanghai for Shanghai cuisine, Hong Kong Eatery for Hong Kong style roasted meats, Xinh Xinh for Vietnamese, Mei Sum for a bahn mi.
Grotto for Italian comfort food.
The Paramount for breakfast/diner eats.
The assortment of options in the Liberty Hotel if you're feeling trendy or scene-y.
I think the assorted links for the North End etc are very helpful as well.
You are very helpful, gini! Great recs. I agree about the divine corn agnolotti at No. 9 Park. If I get there again before it's off the menu, I'm going to ask for it in an entree size (right now it's an appetizer). That and a couple of cocktails...double divinity.
I like Grotto, too. I think when some people read "Italian comfort food" they might think red sauce. It certainly is comfort food, and there's some, but not much red sauce. Lots of cheese, though. It's very heavy, rich and delicious food. If the garlic truffle soup is on the menu, get it. I don't even like garlic much, and that's one of my favorite dishes (and it's a huge dish) in the city.
I can't wait to try Marliave and Scampo myself, so thanks for the reminder.
Blue Ribbon BBQ is at 1375 Washington St in West Newton, whereas you'll be staying at 320 Washington. Coming from the UK, the novelty of BBQ might make the taxi/2.5 mile walk back to your hotel worthwhile.
Sorry if there are some repeats here.
Marliave is terrific at the bar level, where the menu is pretty modestly priced, nothing over $20, good steak frites and roast chicken and Welsh rarebit. I'm a little surprised to find out that the upstairs menu is fine-dining-expensive, with the cheapest entree around $30. It's a cool room, but it doesn't seem quite fancy enough to justify those prices. Great food and cocktails downstairs, though; I have yet to try their tiny basement-level oyster bar.
Silvertone is a terrific basement bar with excellent, nice-priced American comfort food, very good cocktails, and a nice-priced wine list. A lively hangout.
Chacarero serves a wonderful Chilean sandwiches (though not very late into the evening): cheap and huge and delicious. I like the beef one with some fiery chili sauce on it. If you walk over to the Hyatt, there's a great Persian kebab stand along the side called Pita Kabob, wonderful kubideh. Very fine felafel in Felafel King in a little food court off Winter Street.
A bit of Old Boston snobbery in a gorgeous 19th century room with excellent if expensive Yankee cookery at Locke-Ober Room on Winter Place. Worth stopping in for a drink just to look around.
You're an easy walk from the North End, which has some lovely options but many more middling tourist traps. I like Neptune Oyster, a non-Italian seafood place, Taranta, creative Southen Italian, Prezza, a high-end Italian chophouse, Marco, a chef-owned place doing sophisticated Roman cuisine, Pizzeria Regina, a touristy but good pizza-only place, and a few others.
Chinatown is also quite close. I like Peach Farm for HK-style live-tank seafood, Taiwan Cafe for modest Taiwanese fare, Xinh Xinh for Vietnamese, Mei Sum Bakery for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches to go, New Shanghai for Shanghainese snacks (good soup dumplings, for one), and the dumpy but lovable King Fung Garden for Northern Chinese (if you have the foresight, you can get a terrific traditional Peking Duck three-course dinner with 24-hour notice).
You might not be wowed if you've spent any time in London's ultra-high-end cocktail bars, but you're near one of our best purveyors of fancy cocktails, the bar at No. 9 Park. It's gotten quite a bit more expensive to enjoy dinner in the bar there since they ditched the more modest cafe menu; only the pricier dining room menu remains.
Troquet is a terrific French place with one of the better wine-lovers' lists in town, with many wines to taste by the 2- or 4-oz pour.