relatively new to boston.. help?
i've eaten at some of the high end places in boston such as clio/uni, l'espalier, #9 etc.... what i haven't found yet are the hidden jems.
here is what i am looking for
1) great ethnic places
2) good late night places (not places that serve food late)
3) restaurants with good wine lists (not wine spectator award winning lists but places that serve the appropriate and well thought out lists for their respective foods)
background - i've moved around quite a bit and found it really hard to get to know these spots in the first few months of living somehwere. living in new haven ct for a while i was spoiled by pepi and sally and louies lunch. (greatest pizza and no fuss burger joint) i've worked in paris and was spoiled by great french food, wether it was legumes at l'arpege or cured meet sangos and menetou rouge bottled by a friend at au sauvignon. i like all kinds of stuff but want the inside dirt on the 4 things mentioned above. hopefully i provided enough to go on. i live near downtown so getting around by t or cab to the other hoods is not a concern. i work and eat for a living is how i look at it....
if you want to add some standouts that don't fall into the 4 categories that would be appreciated also
One good place to start is Taberna de Haro, one of the most authentic Spanish restaurants in town. The food is excellent, with a nice mix of tapas and larger plates, and they have an extensive, well-chosen list of Spanish wines including many that you don't often see in the US. This fits your categories 1 and 3, and it's easy to get to by T, it's right at the first above-ground stop on the C line.
Boston is not really a late night town, but then, I'm no longer a late-night kind of guy (when I was, back in the day, the late lamented Mondo's was the spot). I'm sure there are others who can fill in more details on this.
As for delis, this is a perennial topic of discussion out here. All the real old-style Jewish ones are long gone, but you can get excellent corned beef and pastrami at Michael's in Coolidge Corner (weird hours though), and Sam LaGrassa's downtown.
44 Province St, Boston, MA 02108
Taberna De Haro
999 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446
256 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446
Good advice above.
The two delis BobB mentions above are arguably the best in the Boston/Cambridge/Brookline area. Note that Rubin's Deli in Brookline is indeed an old fashioned Jewish kosher deli, but it's the last one in this immediate region and the food is not as good as at Michael's or Sam LaGrassa's -- though if you must stay strictly kosher it's the only game in town nowadays. Zaftig's (Brookline) is about on a par with Rubin's, and S&S (Cambridge) is the weakest of the lot.
I now live in Wilmington, DE. and miss the ggeat Deli"s I grew up from when in Brookline, MA.. When my Wife and I return to Boston one of our first visits is to Rubin's a Kosher deli on the Brookline / Brighton line! Very close to Commonwelth Ave. This place is all Kosher and prices are on the high side but worth the visit! Corned Beef on dark rye bread is the best!! Brandywine
Chinese: FuLoon in Malden Square (honorable mention to a batch of others, but this is the gem to find). Many speak highly of Jo Jo Taipei in Allston, but I haven't built up the courage to brave the traffic to get there. Chinatown has been discussed at great length on this board; would search to see what people say and then ask more specific follow up questions if you need them.
Turkish: Brookline Family Restaurant in Brookline Village. Many have spoken highly of Sarayi in Allston, but I haven't gotten out there yet.
Afghani: Helmand in East Cambridge
Ethiopian: Addis Red Sea in the South End and Cambridge between Harvard & Porter
French: La Voile in the Back Bay
Spanish: I'm partial to Dalí on the Cambridge/Somerville line, but many on this group sneer at it.
Italian: Grotto in Beacon Hill; Daily Catch for a hole in the wall in the North End. North End also discussed at great length; try finding "My Own Private North End" for a good recent run down of the best.
Albanian: Vlora in the Back Bay is quirky, but spectacular when it's on
I think there's general agreement that Indian and Thai are some of the weaker links in the Boston area, though I'm partial to Punjab in Arlington Center, Namaskar in Davis Square for their naan, and Bombay Cafe near Berklee and Symphony for peshawari naan and convenience to Jordan and Symphony Halls.
Hearty second on Sam LaGrassa's for deli. Apart from one or two passable places, deli is not a strength in Boston, though there are some wonderful small sandwich joints like Darwin's in Harvard and Inman Squares and Dave's Fresh Pasta in Davis Square.
For places for well thought out wine lists, I'd look at Erbaluce (well thought out but very pricey, in Bay Village), Navy Yard Bistro in Charlestown for a laid back approach. I keep trying to get into Enoteca 26 in Beacon Hill, and something between the prices, the crowds and the attitude keeps me away.
Oh, and if you're jonesing for a French style baguette, you'll need to discover the Clear Flour Bakery in Brookline/Allston. And get in line.
Excellent options above and from Igss below. Would also suggest:
Indian: India Quality (Boston), Rangoli (Allston), Kebab Factory (Somerville), Rani (Brookline), Tamarind Bay, Tanjore, Cafe of India (all Cambridge).
Portuguese (all Cambridge): Atasca, Casa Portugal.
Thai: Dok Bua, Khao Sarn, Rod Dee (all Brookline), Brown Sugar, Montien (Boston).
Brazilian: Muqueca (muquecas), Midwest Grill (rodizio) (both Cambridge), Cafe Brazil (Allston).
There's a treasure trove of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese options in Chinatown.
I agree with Bob that Boston is not really a "late night" town. Most places that stay open late close at 1, maybe 2 if you are lucky and rarely serve food until then. Close to the financial district is the South Street Diner. Its as close to a dive as anyone can get, but at 3 am, you have to expect that. They have your standard diner fare... grilled cheese, burgers, fries, etc. They will also serve you beer until like 1 or 1:30. The food is really not horrible, especially after you've had a few drinks. Also, perhaps try Chinatown. There are several places there that stay open pretty late!