Boston summer eating
A foodie friend and I are going to be in Boston in July for three nights and want to hit three different but great restaurants (by great, we want good quality for the price. Quality of the food is our most important criteria but also want to enjoy the experience). We are fans of Italian (particularly southern), southwestern, French and fusion. I'm from the San Fran area and she's from Chicago so we can get really great restaurants in our home towns as well, but we want the best Boston has to offer. We also really enjoy wine and cocktails. We've done a bunch of research and are having a horrible time narrowing things down. We didn't find anything southwestern. So far, this is our tentative list from which we've got to narrow things down:
Petit Robert Bistro
Bin 26 Enoteca
We've discarded Craigie street Bistro because it seems to get such wildly divergent reviews.
Would love to have some feedback about our list and/or additions to consider.
thanks in advance!
I would HIGHLY recommend Via Matta for Italian. It is especially great in the summer as they have a patio area that is awesome on a nice day.
Drink is also a must. If you don't go there, then you wasted your trip. I'm not kidding.
79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116
Thanks for all the great responses. Now, it's back to the drawing board to incorporate these ideas with our schedule. We do have a car, so we can drive to Blue Ginger but if it's not particuarly interesting we will avoid that.
Would love to go somewhere that is representative of the local cuisine--if there is such a place. I know that in San Fran that would be impossible to answer. What local cuisine? Italian? Seafood? Asian? etc. We are staying near MIT, so anything in that area will be easy for us to get to.
One final question, we are taking four kids (which will NOT be joining us for dinner), but we do want to take them somewhere "Bostonian" for lunch. Any ideas?
Boston has many fine, some very fine, restaurants featuring Italian style cuisine. So does almost every major city in the USA.
Seafood used to be Boston's distinctive thing, but the collapse of the fisheries in the Gulf of Maine is such that more comes From Away than was formerly the case. That said, local shellfish (you won't be here during bay scallop season or Maine shrimp season - those are winter treats) and squid (Point Judith on the southern RI coast is the home base for the major East Coast squid fleet) are very strong points.
Cuisines of Portugal and its former colonies feature big here because the area has - due to fisheries - a long history of connections with the Lusophone world, as it were. Cambridge has several Portuguese places, much discussed on this board.
East/SE Asian cuisines also are fairly prominent, but not on the scale as in SF, so I would be looking for things you cannot find there. On the very lux end of things in Boston, for example, there is the fabled O Ya (I can't afford to go there, but Mark Bittman declared it last year it to be his favorite new restaurant in the USA):
We also have our share of places inspired by your cross-Bay area doyenne. Such as Oleanna in Cambridge. Some of the best such places are out well beyond Boston, though, like Arrows in Ogunquit in southern ME. Portland ME is the real locus of locally inspired eating, but that's somewhat over 2 hrs away (worth it if you come back for serious exploration).
I don't know if this fits with your plans, but the quintessential summer eating experience for me in this area is The Clam Box in Ipswich, either before or after a trip to Crane Beach. The kids would probably enjoy it, and I have never had fried clams even approaching the quality of the ones there. There are a number of threads on the Clam Box with info on fat changing, and mosquito avoidance.
I will second, third, whatever ... Drink. Absolutely amazing craft cocktails. And I also am not sure why you are nixing Cragie on Main, it's fantastic. Maybe the best meal I have had in Boston. Hungry Mother is also amazing. I review all of these places on Chowhound and in my blog. In fact, Craigie is the latest posting. If you like cocktails, Craigie is also fantastic for that too. Really, give it a second thought.
yea... i dont know why you got rid of Craigie either because I think it only gets raving reviews, especially on these boards. I agree with Salts and Hungry Mother but not so much Blue Ginger- I think it's pretty overrated and not worth the drive. Stick to Boston.
Bin 26 is probably the only true wine bar in town.... hundreds of wines offered by the glass with pretty good food, but not excellent. Also by the same owners and just recently opened- Bina Osteria has gotten outstanding reviews all across the board. This one is a bit more expensive and i haven't been myself, but I definitely plan on going soon.
If you want tapas, a nice trendy spot in the South End is Toro. I really like it here but you have to get in early if you don't want to wait an hour for a table. Unfortunately, they dont take reservations. It's not your traditional Spanish tapas, there's a certain flair that goes with many of the dishes, but if you do want traditional with an awesome selection of Spanish wines- Taberna de Haro in Brookline would be perfect. It's fairly close to Fenway Park and in the summertime they have outdoor seating and it's so nice at night.
Just to push back to encourage you to seek something more:
I wouldn't come to New England expecting kick-ass Southwestern cuisine - the local ingredients in the Southwest make the Southwest the best place to seek that. If you really want the "best that Boston has to offer" you should think of foods that you can get here only with more difficulty elsewhere. Like clam shacks on the North Shore, Portuguese food, local American cuisines, et cet., or great old Boston establishments not readily duplicated elsewhere, like Locke-Ober, the Oak Room, et cet.
1. Neptune Oyster
2. Sportello (with cocktails at Drink before/after an absolute must - and look for Josie, who relocated from a top bar in SF - she's among the best mixologists you'll find anywhere)
3. Silvertone (really casual, however) or Salts or Craigie St. Bistro (haven't been to new space but it seems generally very well-reviewed) or Scampo (fun and great space, solid food) or Eastern Standard (great scene, great cocktails, less amazing but still good food)
Finally, please don't go to Figs...and have fun!
Blue Ginger is a good choice- you will need to have a car or take the commuter rail from South Station.Worth it (but I am sure that the Blue Ginger haters will chime in). If you can get there for lunch the menu is similar but less expensive. I love Figs but certainly not a destination. Salts is unique (and expensive). Petit Robert is good but again, not really destination. For a more unique french experience Le Voile in Copley is a good choice- search the board for comments. Troquet in the theatre district is also excellent. with a nice view of the park. For excellent Italian in a beautiful restaurant Sorellina is great. Prezza in the North end is also excellent. Search the board for "North End/Italian" and you will find loads of recommendations for Italian . Craigie Street Bistro is now called Craigie on Main. It gets excellent reviews- not sure why you think not- I haven't been so can't comment.
With all due respect to the other responder, if you wanted to take the trouble to go to Maine, Chauncy Creek would not be my choice. The lobster is fine, but anyone can boil a lobster. Plenty of places in Boston to get lobster.
WRT Chauncy Creek. Not to mention that you could get lobster rolls from Hook and Company (they can do cooked lobsters, but you'll need more utensils) or some picnic fixings from the Sel de la Terre boulangerie to take on a nice summer outing to the harbor islands... then pick something from the North End for dinner all without sitting in traffic. Dining in Boston is pretty informal so you can literally go from the boat to a restaurant if you feel like it. And there are some clam shack style options which are T-able (Tony's and the Clam Box in Wollaston which require T + bus, or Kelly's on Revere Beach (blue line to Wonderland + 10 minute walk), although that didn't sound like what the original poster was looking for.
By the way, of the places you listed above, Blue Ginger (Wellsley is about a 30 min drive) is not bad for fusion, but you can find something similar in California (Chaya, Roy's, etc). Salts and Hungry Mother are more unique and intimate. Bin26 is a fun wine bar with a huge selection, but you're probably close enough to Napa... Petit Robert is OK for French bistro food.. I'd go just for the French bread trucked in from Montreal.
It's about an hour drive up North, but Chauncey Creek is fun for Lobsters by the water - very fresh, bring your own alcohol, salads, etc.. they have lobsters, clam chowder, and some other basic seafood. I'm originally from the bay area, too, and this is more of the "east coast" experience.. pretty different from clam chowder in a bread bowl at fisherman's wharf. There are also some other places in Maine worth checking out like When Pigs Fly bakery (chocolate bread, other interesting/random breads..). There's also a big candy store (Yummy's or something) and an outlet, but nothing compared to Gilroy...
Also for cocktails, check out Drink - the new place by Barbara Lynch in the fort Point channel area.. or Eastern Standard (maybe you can catch a game at Fenway after!)