Coming from Montreal
I'm coming to vist Boston from Montreal for 2 days next Monday. Any suggestion of any must go restaurants or clam chowder place?
I'll stick with some of the "cheap" food, since that's what I like to go for when I'm in Montreal.
Sultan's Kitchen on State St. for excellent Turkish food
Chacarero on Province St. near Downtown Crossing has excellent Chilean-style sandwiches called a Chacarero. It has grilled beef or chicken, green beans, muenster cheese, a spicy avacado spread and it's on this very delicious homemade round bread.
I don't get the impression that the Montreal Chinatown is one of the city's culinary strengths, so you might want to try two favorites here in Chinatown. Peach Farm on Tyler St., or the Gourmet Dumpling House on Beach St. Both are excellent.
Cafe Jaffa on Gloucester St. has excellent Israeli/Middle Eastern cuisine.
A bit more upscale, but not terribly pricey, is Vlora. It's a Mediterranean restaurant in Back Bay on Boylston St. As someone commented about Boston cuisine, it's the type of place where the preparations are fairly simple, but allow the freshness of the ingredients to shine through.
Another place I think you'd like is Cuchi Cuchi in Cambridge. It's a very funky "small plate" place, with international influences. They make some great cocktails too, and it's got a very fun vibe to it.
I don't know if those qualify as local "hot spots", but maybe you will enjoy one.
Montreal is such a good city for food, so I shrink a little bit from recommending restaurants to you. However, just to get this going I'll mention a couple. I like "Bin 26 Enoteca" which is a wine bar on Charles Street (Beacon Hill, but very close to Back Bay). This could be good for taking a break if you are in that area; it tends to be pretty expensive but good. In Cambridge, Oleana is a special and different restaurant with beautiful decor, an outdoor garden and a sophisticated take on Middle East cuisine. That's in a weird location not too far from MIT, you might need to take a cab there. But in Harvard Square (Cambridge) I really like these 2 restaurants: Harvest and Upstairs onthe Square. The latter is a quirky looking place with good cocktails and very good food. The main floor is a little cheaper and the upstairs restaurant is a little pricier and more formal. Harvest is an all-around restaurant but I have always had really solid meals there and great service. It has a beautiful little courtyard. Might be worth stopping in even if just for a drink, as the bar area is very comfortable and pretty. This restaurant is the type that offers game in the fall and often has foie gras on the menu (again, I hesitate to say this to YOU . . . .). Have a good visit.
Montreal certainly is an awesome food city. One major difference I find between the great chow in Boston vs. Montreal is that Montreal's chow tends to be a little more heavily produced, whereas Boston's is a little more simply prepared, letting the ingredients speak a bit more for themselves.
I find the Cambridge side of the river to have the edge with this light-handed style of cooking. A few particularly ingredient-focused places you might try: Oleana, Chez Henri (bar menu is best, but seating is limited), EVOO, Craigie on Main, T.W. Food, Ten Tables.
In Boston, for clam chowder, and seafood in general, I'd hit Neptune Oyster in the North End.
I second Neptune (North End), for any seafood. Also in the North End are Bricco (big) and Carmen (tiny) both very good Italian. I like Taberna de Haro in Brookline, a Spanish Tapas restaurant with a comprehensive Spanish wine list. The owner's ex-husband now owns another Tapas restuarant, Toro, in the South End. I've heard good things about it but have not eaten there.
The best Indian I have had in Boston is at Tamarind Bay in Harvard Square (and I hear there's another one in Brookline).
Have fun. We just got the first sunshine in it seems like years and I hope it stays for your trip.
I don't know why you would want to try a French restaurant here coming from Montreal, but if you do Troquet is a lovely restaurant, on the Boston Common, lovely food and a large wine selection.
A big yes for Neptune Oyster. And I think if you do decide on tapas, you should decide between Taberna de Haro and Toro. The former is much more traditional and romantic, while the latter has a sleek, contemporary, and very loud atmosphere. I think the food at each place can be described in the same exact way respectively. In the end, both are very good.
The restaurant opened by Julio de Haro, the ex of Taberna de Haro's owner Deborah de Haro, is Estragon. Toro is another Ken Oringer venture.
I'll second (or is it third?) Taberna de Haro, especially now that the weather's warmed up. They have sidewalk seating - you may have to wait a while for an outside table but it's worth it.
I think you've got a bunch of good replies already, but stepping outside of the chowder request, I might suggest a few places which specialize in local, seasonal ingredients.
I'm sure others can add more, but places like Garden at the Cellar, Craigie on Main, EVOO, Oleana, TW Food (opinions vary here) and I believe Persephone may fall in this category as well.
Please do post back of your Chow-venture
I'll second the recommendation for some of the restaurants in Cambridge with a focus on seasonal and high quality ingredients. I am particularly fond of EVOO, T. W. Food, and Craigie on Main. T. W. Food has wine dinners every Tuesday night; next Tuesday is USA (menu here: http://twfoodrestaurant.com/menus/usa... [pdf]), which could be fun. Craigie on Main also is one of the better places for cocktails in Boston/Cambridge, and the bar menu is good. You might also consider the Chef's Whim at Craigie on Main (see here: http://www.craigieonmain.com/?page_id...) -- a 4 or 6 course tasting menu served after 9pm on weekdays, for considerably less than the standard tasting menus (might need to get a reservation though).
In Boston, I'll second the recommendation for Chinatown (I had a great meal at Gourmet Dumpling House recently; a board search will turn up many other options), and for Toro (definitely a local hotspot IMO, great Spanish tapas).
Finally, I'll throw out a recommendation for Hungry Mother (in Kendall Square, Cambridge) or Tupelo (in Inman Square, Cambridge). Both are Southern cuisine. I haven't been to Tupelo but it's gotten raves on this board; Hungry Mother I can recommend from personal experience (try the fried oysters if you go).
One of the newest local hot spot is Scampo at the Liberty Hotel. This hotel used to be the Charles Street Jail and is very interesting. The various food/drink venues are in keeping with the prison theme- Clink, Alibi Lounge and Scampo (which I believe means escape).
Lydia Shire runs it- she is famous in Boston. Delicious lobster pizza, great breads, pastas and creative main dishes. Also, excellent cocktails.
The restos here generally aren't comparable to the quality you'll find in Montreal either in terms of quality, skill or presentation. That said, I'd try Lala Rokh for Persian, Monica's on Richmond Street in the North End for Italian, Rendez-vous in Cambridge. Many people like Craigie on Main in Cambridge. Henrietta's Table in Cambridge has a nice lunch. Wherever you go, bring your own bread and dessert.
Thanks to everyone's great suggestion. I wish I had time to try all of them. The first day I got there, hungry, punched in Toro on my GPS. What a surprise! It's a nice place, food is delicious especially the grilled corn with cotijua cheese, simply heavenly. At night, we went to Oleana. I was surprised by how full the place was at 9pm on a Sunday night. We also went to O Ya, which was nice but over priced I find. Evoo was nice too but I find the music was a bit out of touch. There's a little bakery/cafe across Evoo, The Biscuit, I had the best biscotti there and great coffee. I actually went back to get more to bring them back. I have to agree on Neptune, the seafood is great and it's a beautiful little place. I enjoyed it very much. Overall, Boston is a pleasant surprise, I wouldn't hesitate to go back.