two twentysomethings on a boston foodie adventure :)
My bf and I are visiting boston from July 1 - July 5 from toronto and thought I would ask all you boston chow fiends for some advice.
Prices are flexible, we'd like to hit some more expensive and some more affordable places. We're staying in the North End on a Battery Wharf hotel. It would be great to eat a couple nights around the hotel but we have no problems exploring all of Boston.
A little about us.. we're in our 20's (25 & 29) so would like places that are generally open a little later, some newer/trendier (yet still tasty!.. quality over style right?!). Also some fun bar suggestions would be awesome.
Would like to have at least one romantic dinner, but otherwise want to be in fun and busy environments and watch the boston locals do their thing.
Thanks so much in advance! Really looking forward to the trip!
oh! and is boston clam chowder really a must have??
Five days - that's a lot of chow opportunities. Here are some ideas to start - check them out in more detail by searching this board:
North End: Prezza, Neptune Oyster (in spite of the erratic owner, it's really great and pretty unique), Maria's Bakery, Taranta, and Pizzeria Regina. I think Mamma Maria is quite romantic with great food but not so new or edgy.
Great bar with solid food: Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square (not during a Sox game)
South End: Toro, B & G Oyster
Clam Chowder - a must if you love clams, cream, and potatoes - the thick version is good at Legal Seafood or Dry Dock Cafe (excellent food, zero atmosphere, best for lunch) and the thin version is really good at Kelly's Roast Beef or Moulton's Seafood in Medford (which I love but don't recommend as a dining destination for visitors - it's too basic and too far afield from public transit).
I hope that's a helpful start.
Best cocktail craft: Drink (a must -good but pricey food upstairs at Sportello as well)
Cambridge: Green Street, Chez Henri, Miracle of Science (great burger or breakfast burrito), Emma's (thin pizza), Dolphin Seafood (bare bones fresh seafood on a budget) and Christopher's (best veggie burger) - many would say Craigie on Main (only for cocktails and open late with good bar menu in my opinion)
Based on your criteria look into the following:
North End (Little Italy): Lucca (Italian)
Pizzeria Regina (Pizza)
Neptune Oyster (Seafood)
Trendy/Active: Toro (Tapas) South End
Union Bar and Grille (American) South End
Eastern Standard (American-French-Excellent Cocktail) Kenmore Square
Silvertone (American) Downtown Crossing
Franklin Cafe (Modern American) South End
Romantic Dinner: L'Esplaier (French) Back Bay
No.9 Park (Italian-French) Beacon Hill
Craigie on Main (French) Central Square
Expensive but the Best: O Ya (Japanese) Leather District
For Cocktails/Bars: Drink (Fort Point-South Boston)- A must in my opinion
Alibi in the Liberty Hotel (Beacon Hill)
Pubs: Mr. Dooley's (Financial District) Irish Pub
Lounge/Music/Bar: Enormous Room/Central Kitchen (Central Square)
Middlesex Lounge (Central Square)
Being from Toronto originally I have shown a Torontonian or two around Boston so I think this should get you started, enjoy!
774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199
9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111
63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113
No 9 Park
9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108
11 1/2 Thacher St, Boston, MA 02113
528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118
278 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118
Union Bar and Grille
1357 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118
567 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
226 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113
69 Bromfield St, Boston, MA 02108
348 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210
Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
Mr Dooley's Boston Tavern
77 Broad St, Boston, MA
re: Matt H
While Craigie serves excellent food and bevvies, I think calling it "romantic" in the traditional sense is kind of stretching it: the atmosphere is a little too boisterous and the service not quite fawning enough.
That said, their across-the-street neighbor, Salts, is super and hard not to deem romantic, although certainly not a cocktail place.
re: Matt H
A question about L'espalier... is it a unique enough french bistro experience to make it worthwhile?
We have quite a lot of french restaurants here in t.o...
I am looking forward to some of the amazing italian that I've seen on a couple of menus online. It's handmade pasta everywhere!! So exciting!
It's not a bistro - it's a pretty formal, quite upscale place in a luxury hotel - impeccable service, impressive (and costly) wine list - seems a little sterile to me but not enough to recommend against it if you are looking for some of the very best food in the city. I think you will lower the average age there by a few years as well...
I agree with the other responses that L'Esplaier is not a "must try". It is excellent though and fits the Romantic evening request.
If you are looking for something more along the lines of Italian I would go with Mama Maria or NO.9 Park for something more formal. As you mentioned as well coming from Toronto you will probably appreciate our upscale Italian restaurants here quite a bit more than L'Esplaier.
In addition, Meritage in the Rowes Wharf hotel is nice with a good view and a short walk from you. Not sure what people think about Sensing these days which is closest to you (.99 bites on Wed. tho!). I'd add Taranta for the north end cuz it's a nice space (ask for a table looking at the Custom House) and a blend of Italian and Peruvian. Fun place with cheap food and a bar scene is the Deluxe in the south end. Interesting chef inspired sandwiches at the Parish Cafe on Boylston St. Teatro by the Common is bustling, Italian. Also Via Matta and Davio's closeby.
We had a very nice meal at Sensing, but found the service a bit lacking, waited for a second glass of wine (I was halfway through my entree before it came), waited a while to get our check, that sort of thing. That said, my wife's cod in lemongrass was divine, and I'm not a huge seafood guy.
I cant disagree with anything thats been stated.
One other option Id add is some drinks at The Landing -down on the Wharf-close to your hotel just beyond the Marriott Long Wharf, followed by dinner at Sel De La Terre on State Street-directly behind the Landing. One of my favorite summer evenings...
I agree with the Mamma Maria rec for your romantic dinner, plus it's right in the North End. I also wouldn't miss Prezza in the North End.
For a newer, trendy, very lively spot, try Scampo in the Liberty Hotel, a gorgeous building that used to be a jail and retains some of the jailhouse features.
Take a boat ride out to Georgia's Island in Boston Harbor. Grab a sandwich from the Golden Goose in the north end and picnic out there.
Other places for dinner: South End-Union, Masa (upsale tex-mex food) Beehive
North End-Taranta, Euno (fairly priced) Pizza Regina
Upscale, Sorellina (in Back Bay) Oak Room
I may be jumped all over here but I think O Ya for your ( very) expensive meal can be an incredibly sensuous atmosphere..something about the dim lighting, sitting at the sushi bar sharing plates of mouth popping food and the sake ...call me over hormoned but I would definitely do O Ya as a romantic (as well as newer, trendy, and not to mention tasty) evening ...ask for the last 2 seats on the short end of the bar
Totally agree, but make reservations right away. My husband and I spent our 9th anniversary at O Ya in those last two seats at the short end of the bar, and it was incredibly romantic. With the favorable Canadian/US $ exchange rate it shouldn't be too painful to go for the omakase. The space is sexy, hip, and intimate, and the food is divine.
Price point is *really* different. The omokase at O Ya is at least $100 per person (you can ask them for the price you want), and a meal for two with a bottle of wine at Neptune won't run much more than $100. The food at O Ya, though, is ridiculous - there are multiple dishes we had there that are just qualitatively different from anything I've had elsewhere (the shitake mushroom "sashimi", the oyster with squid ink foam, the urchin, the foie with chocolate). It's the best in Boston by pretty much universal acclamation.
Neptune is great, and there's something "authentic" about going to the best Italian seafood restaurant in Boston. Plus you can get a lobster roll there. I'm not sure I'd mark Neptune as precisely "romantic" - it's a small place, mostly a bar, with tables on the side, quite food focused. I love it as a date place, but it depends on your taste.
As a side point, one of the great things about Boston is how walkable it is, and there are a bunch of smaller, more affordable places walkable from the N End - the chilean beef sandwich at Chacarero in downtown crossing, the chow mein at King Fung in Chinatown, pho at Xinh Xinh in Chinatown, spanish sandwiches at Las Ventas in the S End.
I think Sister Sorrel in the S End might be a fun place to go out, it's a mostly late 20s early 30s crowd, the drinks are good, the donuts are great. Second the recommendation on Drink. If you like beer, you can take the Green Line C train out to Brookline and go to Publick House, which has the best beer list in the city by far. (Food is pretty mediocre, but the fish and chips are solid.) Wally's in the S End has no food, but cheap drinks and jazz every night.
People may really disagree with me on this one, but I feel you should at least stop over at Top of the Hub for drinks at some point during your visit. It's on the 50-something floor of the Prudential Center and it really is a beautiful view of Boston. Their food has a bad rep for being over-priced and mediocre, but I think you would enjoy sitting at the bar there.
If you have a nice weather evening, you might try eating outdoors at Dante on the Cambridge side of the river (at the Royal Sonesta hotel). Nice views of the river and Boston across the way. You can walk along the river afterward to get the blood moving again after all the savory goodness. Good high end Italian, excellent cocktails and wine list.
Clam chowder? It is a specific thing, worth trying at least once if you've never had it. Easy enough to pop into any Legal's and get a cup as a tide-me-over while you walk to your real foodie destination of the day.
If you go to either Neptune of B&G Oyster (and you should go to at least one of those), you can trust them to serve you a good chowder. That and a lobster roll and a few dozen raw oysters will make a nice snack ;)
thanks so much for all the great replies!!
This is what I've decided on so far for the 4 nights:
Scampo (with after dinner drinks at alibi)
the last spot is up in the air -- either: O Ya/Neptune Oyster/No.9 Park
Top of The Hub
and hopefully a pub or two
Hoping to hit up pizza regina for lunch one day, and a legal seafood. If I pass it by, Artu seems like a good lunch spot too. Might grab a coffee at Sel de la Terre on the way to the aquarium.
Any gaping holes in my plan?
Sensing seems like a wasted choice in terms of time and budget based on what I've read about it (overpriced absentee celebrity chef covering high overhead location with unmemorable food) , with the cavaeat that I haven't been there - maybe consider a swap for O Ya at the high price point and leave room for Neptune, or maybe combine Drink with Sportello for dinner?
Top of the Hub should ONLY be for the tourist spot view that is quite good when the weather is nice. I'd keep it to one drink and go somewhere interesting nearby for any other cocktails.
I would drop Legal Seafood and include Neptune for lunch one day. I assume you included Legal because of the Chowder, but Neptune also does a great chowder and also has the best Lobster Roll and Oysters in the city as well.
If you are taking votes for the final dinner slot, mine would be O Ya.
re: Matt H
cool.. good advice with the neptune oyster/legal seafood switch.
The only reason we're going to sensing is because I work for the Fairmont hotel chain and so get *very* good discounts at the hotel and the restaurant... but if its really not that great I guess I wouldn't bother.
my only worry with some of the choices i made for dinner is that it could all be a little too serious. Wondering if I need to inject some fun into the dinner choices.
I don't think you'll find Scampo too serious. I've only been once, but it was a loud, lively scene. I think Mamma Maria is an excellent choice for your romantic dinner, and although it is more formal (but by no means stuffy), it's always been crowded when I've been, so it isn't quiet. I've never been to Sensing. Maybe you could substitute that night for something more casual like Toro (no reservations, though), or, go just across the river to Hungry Mother or Cuchi Cuchi in Cambridge.
Since you get a good discount at Sensing and you seem to want to check it out, you might as well try it. Half the people telling you not to go haven't been and it's gotten some decent reviews. You might want to throw in a Silvertone or Franklin in there just to lighten it up but that's a pretty good itinerary.
I have to agree with winedude over on the Restaurants You Hate That Everybody Loves thread. I'd hate to have someone think that Silvertone or Franklin are among the best Boston has to offer, even in casual dining. I've only been once to each and wouldn't go back because either the food, service, or both were so bad.