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Looking for the best cornbread in Boston

I've had the cornbread at Summer Shack, at Durgin Park (RIP) and lots of other places, who makes the best?

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  1. Well, I wouldn't say it's the BEST, but I did try an interesting and unique corn bread from Hi-Rise Bakery in Huron Village section of Cambridge. It wasn't the standard yellow corn-mealy stuff that I'm used to (and love), but was closer to a traditional loaf of wheat bread, but with a subtle corn flavor.

    1 Reply
    1. Why do you note Durgin-Park as RIP?

      1. What's with Durgin Park RIP? They closed? The web site is still there.

        There's no such thing as cornbread in MA, just sweet corn cake wrongly called cornbread. (Except at my house.) Nobody makes real corn bread, as New Englanders wouldn't know what to do with it. Real corn bread is dense and NOT SWEET! The stuff around here is much too risen and fluffy, and sweet like a dessert. You end up wondering where's the frosting instead of looking for a pat of butter and a bowl of beans with hamhocks and some sour corn relish.

        11 Replies
        1. re: applehome

          Scuze me. While one can debate whether it's a bread in your sense, I have one word for you: jonnycake. Rhode Island and SE MA. Two styles, I prefer thinner East Bay style. Make it with genuine local white flint cornmeal (flint corn is beyond heirloom, and has a unique grit due to its millstone-dulling hardness).

          1. re: Karl S

            love jonnnycakes. completely different then cornbread

            1. re: Karl S

              Oh I know - didn't mean to sound so uppity about it - I think I was upset that Durgin Park supposedly closed. I can't find any reference to that in the paper sites (boston.com), but I haven't got around to calling them yet to check it out. I wish the OP would come back with what he/she knows about it.

              There definitely is a significant improvement in cornbread over the last 20-30 years. I used to be particularly upset when supposedly southern food restaurants, particularly bbq, served northern style sweet cornbreads. But there are, now, places that make it in the skillet and make it dense and not sweet.

              I agree with Striper, below - make it yourself in your cast iron pan. I follow the recipe on the Quaker Oats package, except that I even out the flour/cornmeal (1:1, instead of more flour and less cornmeal), and I leave out the sugar - or maybe add just a 1/2 tsp. The key is to pre-heat the oven and pre-heat the pan. Put a pat of butter in the pan before pouring in the batter - that crusts up the bottom nicely.

              1. re: applehome

                We've moved the recipe discussions over to the Home Cooking board, at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/588506

                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                  Sorry folks, it looks like that didn't work. We'll try to get Engineering to fix the thread, but in the interim, if anyone who participated in that thread wants their post back to repost, please let us know at moderators@chowhound.com. We can usually dig them out of admin tools.

                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                    I went to the store yesterday and bought the corn meal and the buttermilk to make the recipe. When I looked fo the recipe it was gone! It looked great. Any chance to find it again?

                    1. re: macadamianut

                      Easiest thing is probably to go here:
                      and scroll down to Barmy's post with the recipe.

                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                            It just came out of the oven and it's gorgeous! My house smells heavenly. It's big fat and round and I cannot wait to eat it and serve it to my family tonight. Thanks for sharing BarmyFotheringayPhipps.

                2. I actually found something approaching a southern version at Lower Depths in Kenmore Square. Came in a cast iron pan, crunchy edges and it wasn't sweet or cakey. The only version they were offering was with jalapenos, but it wasn't overwhelmingly hot. It's been a few months so my memory is hazy, but I think it was only offered as a side with the chili. Anyway, as a New Englander, I did know what to do with it - I ate it.

                  1. I second the Union Bar and Grill. The corn bread is served in a hot skillet, not sweet and somewhat adictive.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ghostcat

                      I didn't see it on Union's menu. Do they automatically serve it before dinner instead of a bread basket?

                      1. re: pollystyrene

                        Yes, in a little cast-iron skillet with very good butter.

                    2. Actually had decent cornbread that I bought last night at Whole Foods at Symphony. Was on the chili bar in large, individually wrapped squares. While it was the dense, moist cornbread of my youth, it still was a little sweeter than the Southern version (and as applehome said - real cornbread is not sweet), but not so sweet that I was turned off. Then again, I just may be getting used to Northern cornbread!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kate used to be 50

                        I've always liked the Whole Foods cornbread, too.

                      2. Poppa B's is pretty good, closer to a Southern style than most in Greater Boston; still too sweet, but it has whole-kernel corn in it. I like the stuff at Union, but it is on the sweet side, with a faint maple glaze on it. They use it to stuff one of their chicken entrees; that's really tasty. The funniest version I've had is at Josephs Two in Waltham; it's like corn-flavored angel food cake.

                        1. Blue Ribbon BBQ gets my vote. It has an excellent texture and is not too sweet. A single piece is really enough for two servings.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Velda Mae

                            Blue Ribbons is nice....but VERY sweet. Sorry to disagree.

                            1. re: Science Chick

                              Gotta agree on the Blue Ribbon cornbread. Plus its consistency is too cakey. A little icing and you have yourself a nifty cupcake. The Redbones version is satisfying, if a little dry. I've been making my own, using the Alton Brown Creamed Cornbread recipe, mixing fine and coarsely ground corn meals, and adding diced chilis. Much better for my tired pancreas.

                              1. re: GrowingBoy

                                another agreement on Blue Ribbon -- a little too sweet and sponge-cake-y for cornbread -- it isn't bad and I don't mind it, but it isn't great

                            1. re: litchick

                              I LOVED Hungry Mother's version but it was served with a sorghum butter and was very sweet, as I recall. Absolutely delicious though. Just depends what you are looking for in a corn bread.

                            2. The best cornbread can not be bot.

                              Has to be eaten hot right out of a skillet. So, so easy to make. I just use a Joy of Cooking recipe. Served with some butter, and Gallbery Honey:


                              And the Harvest Market in Central Square sells really nice stone ground cornmeal.

                              1. I really like the cornbread from Mrs. Jones in Lower Mills. Also like it from Lester's BBQ in Burlington and Blue Ribbon in Arlington...

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: hiddenboston

                                  The last cornbread I got from Lester's (Burlington) was about three days past its last-fresh-sale date. Really middling BBQ, too. That place is off my list, which is too bad, as the next nearest BBQ is Blue Ribbon in Arlington, a little far afield for a lunch trip.

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    I'll pick ya up for lunch!! Blue Ribbon has the best Hoppin' John in Boston.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      Lester's bites. Used to be okay for a nearby BBQ fix. Last time we ate there, though, I wanted to pitch it in the trash. Nasty, oversweet glop like from a jar bought at the dollar store.

                                  2. I have to agree w/ Union. Best cornbread!

                                    1. It's not Boston exactly, but Persy's Place, which has a few locations south of Boston and on the Cape has my favorite crumbly sweet grilled cornbread. We usually schedule our trips to the Cape to coincide with brunch at the Middleboro location...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Dizzied

                                        I bought the best (IMO) package of corn bread at the Union Oyster House's gift shop as a gift for Mr. T's stocking. It was so dee-lish. Moist. Have tried other packaged, have made from scratch but loved this one. About $4.95, I recall. Also, fun little gift shop right accross from the oyster bar.

                                      2. Did Durgin close for good?

                                        1. er, I don't know why you said "Durgin Park RIP" - it isn't closed. I like the cornbread very much.