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Restaurants everyone seems to HATE but you love

And on the opposite side, what restaurants often are panned on the board that you secretly or not so secretly like.

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  1. I love Fire and Ice and The Cheesecake Factory....they are both hated here.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Johnresa

      Golden Temple. I know its expensive, american, lacks all authenticity, blah, blah - i love the bar, the quality of the food is very good, and they even make tea I like. I just accept that I'll keep going and I don't mind getting sneered at.

      1. re: teezeetoo

        Actually, I'm going to agree with you. It's a guilty pleasure of mine as well. They make really good mai tais too. Not too sweet.

        1. re: purple bot

          I am going to third this one, the drinks are STRONG (I like the suffering bastard meself), and it's solid American style chinese, which is sometimes just what I am craving.....not always the perfect fit, but sort of almost a comfort food sometimes.

        2. re: teezeetoo

          I have to second Golden Temple. When I want a big, fat Chinese meal with a better-than-average atmosphere, this is my go-to spot. I also -- dare I admit it -- like Arirang, the Korean buffet spot on Mass. Ave. So sue me.


          1. re: TheScribe

            I also like the Golden Temple especially the chicken liver with cashews appetizer.
            They also make great martinis.

        3. re: Johnresa

          We do really like the Cheesecake Factory as well. Lots of food for two meals. A huge menu of choices and who can argue the cheesecake.

        4. i like Top of the Hub. I love their chowder, short ribs, and made to order baked cookies dessert.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Snoop37

            I like Tip of the Hub for drinks and nibbles with Boston visitors. We also used to use view to distract a family member with dementia for a holiday meal. It worked and gave us a topic of conversation and something to keep her occupied while we waited.

            By the way, the staff was helpful in pushing our meal through the kitchen so that she had a short wait between courses. The food was okay.

            1. re: Snoop37

              Me too...those exact items, as well.

            2. I'm a minority here that I like Joe's on the Waterfront or Sail Loft. Ms 9 runs a small boutique hotel and marina nearby and it's just so close.

              I also see the Ipswich Shellfish Co ( a quality supplier used by many restaurants) unloading at Joe's.

              I can rarely get Ms 9 into Sail Loft; even though she's a long time friend of the owner. The Sea to You truck that they buy from doesn't help the cause. Never order the blackened tuna. BTW, I stopped at Sea to You yesterday and their downhill alert is still in effect. Tuna of a color that I've never seen in nature; and I've caught hundreds of tuna. Good fried clams and cold beer.

              1 Reply
              1. re: 9lives

                I love Joe's too, and their burger is really one of the best in the city, i think, It's never mentioned but it's one of the best choices on their menu.
                And The Sail Loft is just such a classic Boston experience I would go there just for that --and perhaps a beer, some chowder, an app or two. Certainly not a dining destination but a fun spot, especially on a sunny day or warm evening.

                1. re: ScubaSteve

                  Second Barking Crab.

                  On a warm, breezy day, it is my #1 stop for lobster. I wouldn't want to eat indoors, and I would not order much beyond lobster, but I don't get the disrespect that place gets on this board. I really like it.

                  1. re: rlove

                    i just go for warm breezes, reggae, beers and maybe shrimps and crab legs.

                    1. re: ScubaSteve

                      redbones is a guilty pleasure of mine. its not high end place, but it's a bbq joint and frankly a high end would just be weird. it is what it is and what it is is fabulous.

                      1. re: ScubaSteve

                        Redbones definitely, but it's not universally hated out here, lots of people like it.

                      2. Legal Seafood- Chestnut Hill and Framingham, especially for the oysters.

                        1. The spicy pork bulgoki at Seoul Food.

                          1. Christopher's and Summer Shack. Seriously. I know people hate 'em, but I have really never had bad meals at either place (maybe because I always order basically the same stuff).

                            Two words: buffalo tofu.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: litchick

                              I have to second the buffalo tofu... and the Moscow mules!

                              1. re: litchick

                                I've always enjoyed Christopher's as well. Usually think of it as a fall/winter place with the fireplace, and I keep my orders basic, but have been consistently satisfied.

                                1. re: litchick

                                  IMO Summer Shack in Alewife has the best oysters around.

                                2. The late Great Bay and Summer Shack. I get a clam roll at the latter, just the right amount of clams, or the cold seafood platter (oysters, clams, shrimp, crab legs etc).

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: chuck s

                                    I too have never had a bad meal at Summer Shack, and really enjoyed the lobster roll and corn dogs that I have had there. Maybe their fish isn't always the most interesting, but I never felt cheated. And I liked the scallops I had last time I went to the Alewife location.

                                    1. re: chuck s

                                      I have to agree with Summer Shack. It's a great go-to for out of town guests for us-- easy parking, our visitors get to gawk at the lobster tanks, and I always enjoy my meal. Plus, I ran into Jasper White in another context recently and the man was wearing black socks with red crabs on them. You gotta respect that.

                                        1. re: Parsnipity

                                          The apparently secret Chow favorite: The Cheesecake Factory. Also, Rudy's in Teele Sq. and Johnny D's.

                                          EDIT: My posts keep popping up in the wrong spot! This was a response to the OP.

                                        2. re: chuck s

                                          I've had good meals at Summer Shack too (have only been to the one in Cambridge), and think they make the best baked stuffed in the city. We tend to get the same things - the wood-grilled seafood specials (especially the bluefish), or splurge on that baked stuffed lobster with shrimp, or the signature pan-roasted lobster.

                                        3. Cheesecake Factory, hands down.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: SASSYMI2

                                            cheesecake factory gets a big pppp..uuuu...

                                          2. The board opinion on Trattoria Il Panino always seems lukewarm at best, but I really like it. We go there very frequently, especially in the summer when we can sit outside. They have a ragu with lamb, etc. in it that is very good, and I really like the frutti di mare. We haven't branched out into the rest of the menu much, so maybe we got lucky with what we order, but we really enjoy it there. It's hard enough to get into on a Friday night during the summer as it is though, so everyone else can just keep on hating. ;-)

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: MrsCheese

                                              I think the board likes it OK , it's just the no water policy that is a turn off.

                                              1. re: MrsCheese

                                                i like il panino, especially that little one. i stick with the classics and have never had a bad meal there.

                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                  i ilke il panino ok too. even the one on mass ave in camb. has servicable pizza. no, i take that back, more than servicable pizza in a pizza wasteland.

                                              2. I have had 2 very good meals with thoughtful, unpretentious service and a not-crazy tab at Olives in Charlestown. I know Todd English is everybody's whipping boy but try as I might, I couldn't find anything to criticize. Was it L'Espalier? No. But the two times I went (midweek) were really pleasant experiences.

                                                1. ARTU, either location. I agree the ambiance is not 5 star and the service can have a touch of Durgin Park, but we always find it comfortable and enjoyable. It's our go-to place when we just need to relax for lunch or early dinner. Maybe it's closer to home cooking than I realized. Of course, a glass or two of house red doesn't hurt. And their sandwiches are wonderful!

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: powerfulpierre

                                                    Most hounds have posted very favorably on Artu especially the sandwiches. The roast lamb with eggplant is one of my favorite sandwiches in the city.

                                                    1. re: gourmaniac

                                                      Gourmaniac - You're correct that "hate" is much too strong a word but it seems that ARTU doesn't get the respect it deserves, IMO. And you're absolutely right that the lamb and eggplant is outstanding. Mrs and I get one of those and a mozzarella, tomato, and basil, split them and all is right in the world.

                                                      1. re: gourmaniac

                                                        Seems that there has been universal love for the sandwiches and highly inconsistent results from the dining-in experience.

                                                      1. re: phonelady

                                                        Kingfish Hall....the shrimp bowl they have at lunch ia pretty amazing.

                                                        1. re: phatchris

                                                          I have always like KH - my only reasons for not going are the price points - but I have always had good food there.

                                                          1. re: phatchris

                                                            Also a fan of KH - though pricey, it is ALWAYS good with solid service and hefty portions.

                                                        2. I think it garners more indifference that hatred on this board, but I like Bertucci's. There, I said it. Their lemon rosemary wings are unassailable.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: almansa

                                                            i like it too -- sporkie pizza, well-done.

                                                            1. re: almansa

                                                              there is nothing better than those rolls... they are magic

                                                            2. The Publick House and The Roadhouse. They have their problems, but I still likes them. Of course, the beer is the chief reason why.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: A.A.

                                                                I second the Publick house in a big way!
                                                                Roadhouse...not so much.

                                                                1. re: A.A.

                                                                  Yes, I too like them both. Road House comes in second to Publick House for me (we never intend to go there -- we just end up there because Publick is too crowdy) but I still have had some good food and beer. Mostly beer.

                                                                2. Border Cafe - mostly the Harvard Square original, but sometimes Burlington as well (NEVER Saugus) - the fajitas are solid, and the freshly-fried chips come with better salsa than most places offer. The popcorn shrimp app has always been a must order when there.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: rlh

                                                                    Confess to loving that catfish new orleans. and those chips, I usually manage to hoover up a whole basket of them.

                                                                    1. re: rlh

                                                                      Love Border Cafe in Harvard! Mmm, sangria. And quesadilla with marinated chicken! DH tried to order the popcorn crawfish but they were out of crawfish (Saturday night, Celtics playoff -- not really surprised but he was disappointed anyway).

                                                                    2. I have to say I love Antico Forno for soups, salads, and pastas.

                                                                      1. Summer Shack (Cambridge) - a pleasant place for an enjoyable seafood meal wth out of town guests.

                                                                        Barking Crab (Boston) - better than OK food in a great atmosphere.

                                                                        La Paloma (Quincy) - very good Mexican food and drinks for not too much money.

                                                                        1. some have already been mentioned (bertucci's, cheesecake) but also the fireplace in washington square has been panned on the board and i really like - i used to live in that area and had a couple very solid meals there, plus in the summer they have outdoor seating, which is always a plus!

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: vballgal

                                                                            Cheesecake factory and summer shack.

                                                                          2. The obvious answer is Sonsie. And probably about 3/4 of the stuff I post about.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Joanie

                                                                              I'm with you on Sonsie. Every meal I've had there has been good (though it's been a while - I'm not on Newbury often).

                                                                              1. re: MrsCheese

                                                                                I also agree with Sonsie...especially their chocolate bread pudding!

                                                                            2. Summer Shack (Alewife location) - have really never had bad service or food there. But other than one time, I've always eaten at the bar.

                                                                              Bertucci's - have never disliked it and used to work next to the old test kitchen in Wakefield, so got to try the new stuff before it was rolled out to the rest of the restaurants. Ordered 25-30 pizzas from them once a month for our company.

                                                                              Dali - longtime favorite; exclaim often enough about a special dessert, and they end up bringing it back on a regular basis (fresones and the churros). I crave their tapas if not there every couple of weeks or so...and there are enough of them that I can rotate some in and out so I'm having different things each time. And some damn good sangria. Plus, the people are just good people there.

                                                                              TGIFriday's - yeah, I know. But they have a relatively decent wine selection when I go with a friend to the Methuen location (midway between her home and my workplace), and usually decent snicky-snacks/apps and dinners. Plus, the service in the bar at the Methuen location has always been friendly and prompt.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                Dali- I dont know how this is in the hate but love column. How can anyone can hate the tapas and sangria. I never had a bad experience here.

                                                                                1. re: gastropunk46

                                                                                  Do a search. There's enough posted out on the Boston board that people don't like the wait; don't like the expensive sangria; the tapas aren't "authentic" enough.

                                                                                  But it gets my love. :-)

                                                                                  1. re: gastropunk46

                                                                                    LOVE Dali! We had my best friend's birthday there last year and it was great. The wait was not unbearable... its just as bad if not worse at Toro!

                                                                                    1. re: gastropunk46

                                                                                      Dali totally belongs in the Love, not love but hate, column. It's a small location, so a long wait is what it is. Hardly fair to punish a place for being busy. Tapeo, has sometimes disappointed me, but Dali never has.

                                                                                      Also, Blue Ginger. I know it's a bit pricey, but 1) the Bing bar is fantastic. If you haven't been since that opened, go. Reasonable prices in there, and great food. And 2) I get the sense that many board people dislike it not for its value/quality, but merely because Ming is famous and successful. There's a lot of carping about the merchandising, which I have always found to be plenty understated. But it's a terrific wine list, the best calamari I have ever had anywhere at any time (my kids, 5 and 12, always order it and scarf it down), and enough variety from visit to visit without absolutely everything being new that I have no complaints. Other than price. Which is real. (Pretty cool kids that love calamari, too....)

                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      I just re-read my post here since there was a new post, and I realized I didn't mean TGIF's in Methuen. I meant Not Your Average Joe's. WAY better than TGIFs (and after a recent visit, their wine selection has improved!).

                                                                                    3. summer shack- i go to dalton st a lot and have oysters a lot and a corn on the cob.
                                                                                      Giacomos- some people like it, some people hate it, i always get the fish special and it is always good- i had the halibut last night with a mango salsa, it was great and fresh.

                                                                                      1. Legal's. Sue me! I always have a good meal there, so sue me! :P ;)

                                                                                        1. Sunset Grill in Allston - now listen... I know lots of their food isn't amazing, but... Go @ lunch, try the empanadas. They're making the dough fresh, mine was cooked perfectly, golden brown, not a hint of oil left on it, nice filling, over greens with a housemade tomato based salsa that was all very well executed.

                                                                                          If you've been in the business, you know that a lot of the staff in the back of the house is not from this country - let them make what they know, and this is what you get!

                                                                                          My $0.02

                                                                                          Sunset Grill & Tap
                                                                                          130 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: okra

                                                                                              Too bad the Sunset Cantina doesn't have any similarly redeeming qualities.

                                                                                              1. re: litchick

                                                                                                Except their trashy but delicious nachos! ;)

                                                                                            2. It's a sad secret but Papa Razzi is one of my favorite chain restaurants. There is something about their chicken parmesan that I love!

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                                                                                                I think most people on this board like Papa Razzi. People seem to say a lot of good things about the place.

                                                                                                1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                                                                                                  I have to agree. Have always had a decent meal and competent service.

                                                                                                2. Redbones

                                                                                                  Barking Crab


                                                                                                  Salsa's (though I don't "love" it)

                                                                                                  Daily Grill (not sure if anyone here hates it but then no one seems to know its there)

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                    I usually like Woodman's OK, but had a terrible meal there a couple of weeks ago. I attribute it to the fact that I was there at about 4:30 in the afternoon, before the real dinner rush, and I suspect that they were pre-cooking a lot of stuff in preparation for the rush. I got the fisherman's platter, and every item on it was more dried out, chewy, and tasteless that what I'm used to getting there. The fish (haddock, one of my favorites) was particularly awful, and I just couldn't finish it.

                                                                                                    I'm not saying I'll never go back, but I would certainly pay more attention to what time of day it is (or maybe just ask them to prepare my items fresh - if they wouldn't take that as an insult).

                                                                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                                                                      In past years, I would always be surprised by Woodman's treatment on CH. In the last two years the prices, while always higher then the rest of the neighborhood, seem totally out of control. What does a large box of shrimp go for now? My memory seems to say $41.99, but I won't be surprised if someone corrects me.

                                                                                                      1. re: DTHEASH1

                                                                                                        website currently lists them at $34.95

                                                                                                      2. re: BobB

                                                                                                        That's really too bad - I had just about the best fried seafood ever about a month ago. Everything that batter-frying should be - not greasy, crispy, hot...That kind of variability just really sucks. Granted we were there on a Sunday with temps in the 50s so they were not slammed, but busy enough. If it was dried out and chewy, I wonder if you got stuff that had been sitting around rather than pre-cooked. :(

                                                                                                    2. Jin's in Saugus for Cantonese style family dinners north of boston. Just went there this weekend... where else can you get duck tongue and giant oysters in a clay pot for dinner? and they have parking! I think the parking is 75% of the reason why I go there over chinatown. The place is hated here on the board but I have yet to have had a bad dinner there (I think asking for the chinese menu is key).

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: noodlely

                                                                                                        noodlely I think Jin has been largely ignored, not hated. In total I can think of less than 5 posters who have reviewed it, mostly positive. There has been criticism of some specifics: the prepared dishes which sit a long time during dim sum, their non-chinese items (really awfully done sushi bar which I was forced to try once), sometimes iffy service, and personally I wish they would ditch the underage nightclubs to focus on food, but for the most part even that isn't an issue because I am never there past 9pm. There are a lot of overlooked gems which are posted about here on the board, so if this is one of yours great and plenty of us pay attention, but if you search out lest hounded locations there is no guarantee others will follow you there. North of Boston isn't going to compete with Chinatown any day soon, but between Fuloon, Chili Garden, Jin, Wonder Taste (another good cantonese option), plus Sichuan Garden II and Sichuan Gourmet a bit further out, there is a lot of variety to explore without worrying about parking.

                                                                                                        Update: One way to generate some interest in what you consider a hidden gem is to make it a bit more accessible to folks who might be interested. An ideal way which requires a bit more work is to setup a chowdown (or chowcrew like fredid), this way others get to benefit from more selection and someone choosing. And it gets people off their tush to actually try it. Its also helpful to compare and be specific. For instance if you really like the rotisserie chicken from El Chalan that is useful alone, but people will pay more attention if you say its more strongly seasoned than Machu Picchu or has more smoke flavor, etc.

                                                                                                      2. I had an absolutely awful, badly served seafood dinner with some out-of-state friends at the Porthole Restaurant on the Lynnway. None of the entrees came out at the same time, and the ones that did come out at the same time were either cold or rubbery. It was a Sunday evening and our group was practically the only people in the restaurant. We got there around 7 and didn't get out til past 11, and all we ordered was apps for the table and one entree each (clam chowder, some fried plates, some fish al diavolo and baked stuffed sole among the items we ordered).

                                                                                                        The appetizer was a daily special, clams casino, and it was actually piping hot and perfect. Not sure how the entrees fell so flat back in the kitchen but they did. I'd like to know if anyone had a good experience there, just because it seemed like a nice place and I'd hate to know that my experience was the norm.

                                                                                                        1. I'm racking my brains trying to think of an appropriately outrageous answer, which is especially challenging given that I--despite liking this board--don't go out to eat a lot. All that comes to mind is you know, after a good show at the Middle East and that extra whiskey someone generously bought for you, MAN does Hi-Fi pizza feel right.