HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


only 3 Meals in Boston.....

hello hounders from Boston...
My wife and I will be in Boston for few days at the end of April...
we are looking for 3 recommendations from you all for the quintessential Boston dining experiences... any cuisine, any budget... just looking for 3 meals that will make our Boston trip special..
thanks in advance

- Perceptor from Los Angeles

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Here's what gets my vote:
    Troquet one night
    Number 9 Park a second night (I like Sorrellina more but Number 9 Park sits at the foot of the State House and Beacon Hill and thus is very Boston-y)
    And since you will probably want a less expensive night, as those two are pricey, have dinner one night at a casual seafood joint like The Barking Crab or the Sail Loft as both are on the waterfront.
    I assume by "quintessential Boston" you are looking for seafood but I think our high end dining is quintessential Boston.

    3 Replies
      1. re: Perceptor

        One more suggestion - 75 Chestnut in Beacon Hill is lovely...very Boston-y as well. You might like it and you can wander down Charles Street either before or after dinner. Charles Street is my favorite street in the city. Enjoy!

      2. re: bostongal

        Would agree with much from bostongal here, but am very much no fan of either Barking Crab or Boston Sail Loft. Neptune Oyster is not far from either, and runs rings around both.

      3. Perceptor, your reports are always a pleasure to read-- at the high end, I would suggest O-Ya and the tasting menu at CLio. (Close seconds in this category imo would be the tastings at Troquet and 9 Park) For more casual, Craigie on Main, Scampo. For cocktails, Craigie, Drink (very limited food though), Eastern Standard.

        1 Reply
        1. Questions similar to this come up a lot here, and you're of course only going to get a small subset of opinions for your specific post; the best thing you could possibly do is search the board and come back with more specific questions. That said, my two cents:

          In my opinion, the local elements that are most different from what you can get in Los Angeles would be the North End and Cambridge. The former is our Little Italy, the latter our erudite academic center. A few ideas in each:


          Salts and Craigie on Main - these two Central Square neighbors are bar none my favorite upscale destinations in the metropolitan area. Craigie is a little more masculine and aggressive (organ meat, bone marrow, quail with the feet still on), Salts a little more subtle and demure (refined nods to Ferran Adria, an almost telepathic sense of integration within a dish). NB Salts is beer and wine only, Craigie has a full liquor license.

          Baraka Cafe - this place just epitomizes Cambridge dining to me. Delicious, homey North African in a tiny side street storefront. Call the requisite 36 hours in advance for the outstanding squab b'stilla. Cash only, no alcohol (although Green St Grille, a 5-minute walk away, makes some of the city's best cocktails).

          North End

          Prezza - a bustling Italian steakhouse with great homemade pastas and a very respectable wine list.

          Neptune Oyster - get your New England seafood fix here. Great raw bar, as well as a lobster roll served either cold (with mayo) or hot (with drawn butter), on a homemade brioche roll.

          Caffe Vittoria - old school Italian coffeehouse, open late.

          [I agree with barleywino that Clio and O Ya are great, but for an Angelino, I tried to steer clear of recommending anything with Asian accents.]

          1 Reply
          1. three things i would find special in boston

            oleana; in cambridge, i've always had nothing less than great food and wine experiences. great chef and an excellent wine list well suited for the menu

            toro - south end, jamie bissonet (chef) is on the top of the nose to tail food ladder right next to fergus henderson

            silvertone-downtown; grilled cheese and tomato soup, a shot of fernet and a high life.

            3 Replies
              1. re: cockscomb

                Just to prove Finlero's point--and i echo his first paragraph--I disagree that Oleana and Sivertone are special. I was underwhelmed with both.

                I agree with the Prezza rec. (Is it a steakhouse, though?) For a tiny notch down in food quality but a big leap up in Boston charm and elegance, I'd recommend another North Ender, Mamma Maria. I also second Scampo since I haven't come across any fine dining in a renovated jailhouse in LA.

                1. re: cockscomb

                  Oleana is a great recommendation, representative of a lot of Cambridge joints. I would recommend something in the South End, too, perhaps Hammersley's (casual)? If you want a piece of Somerville, Highland Kitchen is solid and has great, cheap drinks. There are some other great recs on here, so I won't go on. These would be considered a bit out of the way (save Hammersley's I guess), but worth it.

                2. I definitely second Neptune Oyster, particularly for a nice lunch -- if you go, the hot lobster roll is a must try. Probably the best lobster roll I've ever had. Their raw bar is excellent as well. I'm pretty sure they don't take reservations, so you may want to try to get there early.

                  After lunch, you can always stop at one of the Italian bakeries for cannoli. Check the boards for more advice re: cannoli, everyone has their favorite (mine is Modern Pastry). Enjoy your trip!

                  1 Reply
                  1. I will also recommend Neptune and the hot lobster roll (and of course oysters).
                    Prezza in the North End
                    and O Ya- Even though as Finlero said recommending Asian to an Angelino is a bit risky, but O Ya is definitely strong enough to satisfy anyone and should be viewed as the exception.

                    I would also add L'Esplaier for New England/French at the Mandarin and Bina Osteria for high end Italian in Downtown Crossing.

                    You also might look into a couple ethnic places that offer something you may not have as readily available in LA, for example Atasca for Portuguese.

                    Finally there is some really great bartending going on in this city currently and I would definitely recommend a stop off at Drink in Fort Point for the very best in the area currently.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Matt H

                      If I was going to only have three dinners here they would be;
                      1. O Ya - Asian yes, but special for here, and excellent (the most expensive restaurant in Boston currently).
                      2. Craigie on Main - wonderful food, well prepared. A six course tasting menu will get you at least 7 courses, and run you $80 per person. well worth it. Drinks not quite up to Drink standard, BUT excellent.
                      3. Troquet. - Excellent food, great wine pairings. Some may say #9 Park, and while it is excellent, I think they are a bit overpriced for what you get. If you chose #9 Park over Troquet, you wouldn't be doing badly.

                        1. re: kimfair1

                          i would agree with kimfair1 on O Ya-- it doesn't have the purity and asceticism of Urasawa (LA), but it makes up for that in creativity

                          1. re: Matt H

                            The guy from O-Ya apparently cooked at Urasawa, so despite O-Ya's quality, it may not qualify as an exception insofar as offering something different.

                            1. re: limster

                              he did cook at Matsuhisa but i hadn't heard that he cooked at Urasawa...anyway I found Urasawa to be much more traditional and about the purity/freshness of the fish whereas O-Ya wanders much further down the fusion path

                              1. re: barleywino

                                I had read about the Urasawa part in one of the Boston weeklies back in the day. But Matsuhisa too.

                                1. re: limster

                                  interesting, thanks! at least O-Ya is much cheaper than Urasawa ;)

                          2. When I think of a quintessential Boston dining experience I can't help but think of Locke-Ober. It's one of the oldest restaurants in Boston, established in 1832. It definitely holds on to that classic old Boston feel and in 1986 it was even added to the National Historic Register (wikipedia). And if you really enjoy dressing up, I think it's the last upscale restaurant in Boston that requires men to wear dinner jackets. It's very expensive, the cuisine is French/ American, maybe not the best in the city (still very good), but it's definitely unique to Boston.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Snoop37

                              Also I would like to second/add Neptune Oyster in the North End and B & G Oyster in the South End. You should definitely do a seafood joint while youre here and these two restaurants are arguably the best for it in the city. Lastly, although I've never gone to Troquet (it is on my list) I love No 9 Park. It's right at the foot of the state house, the food is wonderful, service is attentive, the brownstone its located in is very cozy, they have an awesome cheese cart, and great cocktails. I just love it.