Must try for visitor from SOCAL
I'll be driving up to Boston from DC next week and I'm looking for some recs for places that are quintessential to Boston or just great food!
Not looking for anything in particular and I'd like to avoid tourist traps that serve signature mediocre dishes at extraordinarily high prices.
Also not looking for any ethnic food in particular, just want great relatively cheap food that locals eat at; little jewels in Boston. I'm from LA so I'm pretty experienced with Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Mexican cuisine but not much else.
$20/ per person (without tip and drinks) and under would be great!
Being a translant from Cali, I take all my SoSal relatives to Bon Chon Chicken, Helmand, India Quality lunch, Little Q hotpot lunch, Regina's on Thatcher, Basil Leaf Cafe for triple lobsters $23.95 special, and Boston Beerwork for watermelon and blueberry beer.
If you have the time, a drive up to Cape Ann for lunch and 1 of our great seafood shacks would be worthwhile. Essex Seafood, farnham's or Clam Box are 3 names often mentioned. Beautiful part of the area and not something you're likely to find in SoCal.
Staying in town, check out the North End for our Italian neighborhood. Great markets. At the high end, I'd recommend Prezza. Low End..Pizzeria Regina or Galleria Umberto (lunch only) Mid priced and excellent red sauce..Massimino's. Neptune Oyster for great seafood. Daily Catch on Hanover for Sicilian style seafood..small, cramped but a great linguinew/white clam sauce and known for it's squid dishes.
South End...architecturally beautiful..lots of places. Do a search cuz I don't really keep up with the many places over there.
Galleria Umberto is a great suggestion--definitely what I would classify as a "hidden jewel." You can find great Italian in the North End but many consensus favorites are probably not so different from what you might find at the high end in LA--but Galleria Umberto would be near impossible to replicate. Clam shacks are also a very distinctive regional favorite. I would also suggest Speed's, the city's--and one of the country's--most famous hot dog carts and also a local specialty (you can search the board and find tons on it). Lastly, Boston is well-known for great ice cream. I would strongly endorse Christina's in Inman Square and Toscanini's (near MIT)--both in Cambridge and both known for their unusual flavors (think burnt sugar, sweet cream, fresh mint, fresh rose...).
I would highly recommend a meal of fried clams and/or lobster rolls for the authentic New England experience. If you don't want to leave Boston, try Neptune Oysters in the North End or B&G Oyster in the South End. For the real experience though, it must be on Cape Ann. Ipswich or Essex. JT Farnhams, Clam Box, etc.