1. definitely do a board search. There's a treasure trove archived here, and you'd be surprised how much useful stuff you'll find.
2. give us a whole lot more info. Where are you staying? What kind of food do you like? Which meals? Price range? Have a car, or just on public transport? Things like that.
We're glad to help, but help us help you.
thanks for the quick reply. we arent really concerned with price or location, although we're staying on boston common and won't have a car. high brow, low brow, whatever--essentially we are looking for standout meals that are unique to boston (we're coming from DC and NY)...basically the best you have to offer!
OK, unique to Boston usually means two things:
1. seafood. Things you usually won't find outside of the area are steamed clams, fried whole-belly clams, and lobster rolls. A really good place for them is Neptune Oyster in the North End -- not bargain basement seafood, but probably the best. They have both cold and hot lobster rolls, really tasty. Lobster in general is always a treat, and they do a grilled one there. They do great clam chowder, not the kind that's so thick you can stand up a spoon, but a bit thinner and more tasty. B&G Oysters (South End) also does this especially well, while you can also manage respectably at places as diverse as Dolphin Seafood (near Harvard Square in Cambridge) or Yankee Lobster (Waterfront) and (maybe less well) at Kingfish Hall (Faneuil Hall) or Legal Seafoods (several locs). Avoid suggestions to go to Barking Crab or Summer Shack, as they're weak foodwise.
2. old fashioned Yankee cooking, basically this region's take on comfort food. Indian pudding with vanilla ice cream is a must for dessert, sides like Boston baked beans can be very good, and entrees can be things like potted beef with onions, baked scrod, prime rib, pot roast, corned beef and cabbage, that kind of thing. You've really got two choices for this: Durgin Park (in Faneuil Hall) is the classic workingman's level spot for it, while a very fancy and expensive dress-up version (think lobster stew, lobster savannah, baked alaska, etc.) is found at Locke Ober (Downtown Crossing). Avoid any and all entreaties to try this cuisine at the Parker House or Union Oyster House, as the food and service at both is terrible.
If you're keen to try an Italian spot in the North End, check out my somewhat older but still useful post on the area:
Would strongly recommend doing searches on cuisines and price ranges you want on this board, as there are plenty of possibilities.
Note that all the restaurants I mentioned can be easily reached either via walking or public transportation. The North End, Faneuil Hall, and Downtown Crossing are easily reached on foot from the Common area.
Bachslunch, what a complete and largely constructive reply. It is investments such as yours that make this board so valuable. However I am one of the Summer Shack advocates that you coach DeanGreen to disregard, I’ll try here to make that slightly more difficult.
The most one can say is that on this board the Summer Shack is controversial … I’d recommend that people read the archives and judge for themselves.
The pan-roasted lobster at the Summer Shack is one of the best dishes I have ever had anytime, anywhere. Many dishes there are consistently quite good. It is casual, kid friendly, and a distinct alternative to the other venues mentioned.
Carty, thanks for the kind words.
I know that there are a few folks who have spoken here of good experiences at Summer Shack, and I certainly can't say they haven't had them. For me, I can only give a positive to a place if I've had a positive experience, and I've never done well at Summer Shack despite at least four visits -- for me, I've experienced nothing but weak and overpriced food in a stunningly noisy environment, and I've tried a variety of food options. If I ever do well there, you will all be the first to know about it.
Of course, diverse opinion is one of the things that makes Chowhound a fun place to frequent.
Welcome to our historic and handsome city. Given what you have in NYC and D.C., I would most stronlgy recommend Clio, Pizzeria Regina and O-Ya to you.To put them in context:
I hope you go to the original Pizzeria Regina in the North End. This is many afficianados' fav pizza place period. It is the original(and only worthwhile) location of what is now a chain, and most importantly, its pizzas taste like no others , partly because of the WWII oven they use, which is more than 'seasoned' by now. This pizza tastes like it does in Rome. It is also a tiny CROWDED, loud, FUNKY space; unique; not decor-changed since the 50's maybe. If you haven’t been there, don't go on a wkend,and go for lunch or earlier dinner to avoid lines.
Regina’s is located on the outer edge of the compact North End, so after pizza, walk over to the Hanover St. (main drag) area and feel the history of this unique neighborhood.Its oldest extant buildings are from the early 19th c.; through the centuries it has been peopled successively, by : rich bostonians, blacks,jews, italians. It has been Italian since the early 20th c. While harbor-dwelling yuppies have been encroaching of late, it still has lots of sidewalk life, Italian being spoken, bacci being played. There are some wonderful gelato/cafes on Hanover St. I particularly like the gelato at.Cafe Sport, and Modern Pastry is across the street, with wonderful quaresimali(an Easter specialty avail yr.round- a version of almond biscotti)
and sfogliadel, a very unusual 3 cornered hat of layered/crunchy pastry filled with a farmer's cheese/candied fruit mixture. (While many will steer you to Mike’s Pastry, I won't.)The North End is also home to the 18th c. Old North Church and 19th c. Seamen's Home etc etc. If you like to discover-by-walking, the end of Hanover St away from downtown Boston- leads onto the waterfront area. This is also architecturally and historically fascinating because it is very intact with its 19th c. warehouses/wharves (now waterview condos). With all I've described, you might find it worth your while to go to Regina's and the North End for lunch and the afternoon. You could incorporate the nearby Aquarium, and Sel de la Terre for dinner (excellent ,modern French style, a fav of CHs here.)You could also go the local seafood route and try Neptune Oyster in the North End (a CH favorite.)
The South End is Boston’s amazing well-preserved and very large Victorian district, chock-a-block w/ handsome brick and brownstone rowhouses and pocket parks, with a large gay population and lots of super restaurants(mostly bistro style). Union Bar and Grill and Acquitaine are my own favs. The former is handsome, dark, comfy with amer.regional food; the latter is trad French, very well executed and very attractive room.Tremont 647 has a FUN Sunday brunch, their famous Pajama Brunch, where all their servers, chefs etc. wear their pjs.On the edge of the South End is Toro, a very loud crowded Spanish tapas place owned by one of our most famous innovative chefs, Ken Oringer, whose Clio is probably Boston’s most innovative(Asian influenced) restaurant (and very expensive).
You can walk from Clio back to your hotel and experience one of Boston's most beautiful features: Comm Ave between Mass Ave and Arlington St.(next to the Public Garden, the oldest arboretum/public park in the U.S).This part of Comm. Ave was designed after the Champs Elysees and is a long strip of park with handsome 19th c. homes lining both sides. It is parallel to and one block away from Newbury Street, Boston’s center of couture and art galleries , with many restaurants.
At the other end of Newbury St. and across the Public Garden, away from Comm Ave, is Beacon Hill, Boston’s well preserved elite neighborhood of 18th and 19th c. town and rowhouses. Near the State House side of Beacon Hill (and the Boston Common) is No.9 Park, exp. innovative Northern Italian, beloved by many CHs.
Near South Station, a train hub, is a new and newly famous Japanese restnt- O Ya; recently heralded as ‘one of best new restnts in u.s’. by some famous critic. Very expensive and innovative.
Do report back so we can learn from your experiences.