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Need rec. for dinner-10 people, visiting from Ohio

Good morning all,

My Aunt and Uncle and some of their friends are coming to Boston next week for the first time. I have been asked to make dinner reservations for a Wednesday night for 10 people. That was all I was given. So I need some help. Looking for something moderately priced. Since they have not been to Boston before, I am thinking something that is unique to Boston. My initial thoughts were something in the Fanhueil hall area or the North End. I realize that this might not be the most 'chowish' question but really need a bit of direction. Thanks in advance.

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  1. Well, when my family dines together (and we have a big family), we go to Maggiano's ( Back Bay near Park Plaza hotel)...they have "family style" dining menu and this is great for groups. And they continue to bring refills on what you order if you run out.
    I know some hounds will bash this pick but we love it and I have always found the italian food to be consistent and you can find something for everyone.
    I would also recommend Summer Shack...also a slightly controversial chow pick. It is extremely casual place but I have always found seafood to be well prepared and fresh (also located in Back Bay). And again, something for everyone. And if you have kids, they have plenty of options. You can also head downstairs after dinner and go bowling at King's.
    Boston can be an expensive dining venue if you aren't looking to go for Pho in the suburbs like Quincy...that would be the most affordable option but not everyone might go for that. The picks above are more "mainstream" dining.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bostongal

      Maggiano's is a chain from the midwest, though. And in a hotel, too. Not very unique.

      I agree that Summer Shack might fit the bill.

      If you have to go to Faneuil Hall, maybe McCormick and Schmick. I know it's a chain, too, but it's seafood.

    2. If your people are into seafood, I would suggest the Barking Crab. The outside dining is the "Lobster in the rough" experience, which you won't find in Ohio. It can get a little pricey there, but so can the Summer Shack. Or, if you have enough cars, you could even drive to Quincy, and eat seafood at Tony's Clam Shack.

      1. Go to the Summer Shack in Cambridge. Very laid back. Big lobster tank. Good oysters. Order off the board and a good time will be had by all.

        1. Someone will shoot at me for this, but take them to Durgin Park. There is nothing like it outside of Boston. The price is right, the menu has lots of old-school Yankee food, and there will be no problem accommodating the group. The prime rib is always a safe bet for big smiles. You can get a big platter of oysters as part of the appetizer course. Try to convince at least some of your relatives to try the Indian Pudding with vanilla ice cream for dessert. It is not a chow-ish kind of place, but the food is good, the setting is unique, and I can't imagine anyone (perhaps except for a raw-food vegetarian) not being able to find something they will want on the menu. Plus, the Quincy Market / Faneuil Hall area is great for after-dinner strolling, sitting, and/or drinks.

          6 Replies
          1. re: PinchOfSalt

            Second Durgin Park. Visitors love it.

            1. re: PinchOfSalt

              Why would anyone shoot you for reccommending Durgin Park? It may not be everyone's cup ot tea, but I think its a good idea. Those posters on this board that don't like Durgin Park don't have to go there. I thought eveyone's opinion was welcome here.

              1. re: skippy66

                I can't stand DP. But if the "experience" means more than the food (and in this case, a lot more, IMO) then it fits the bill.

                So does the Union Oyster House. Bad food in the most unique setting in Boston.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Union Oyster House and Durgin Park should never be compared outside of saying that both are very old. I would never send anyone to Union Oyster House. When I think of my experience there (yes, I have been dragged there by out of town people who had to go there just because), I think of food that is maybe a notch above tv dinners, without the nostalgia and the folding table in the living room. Durgin Park, on the other hand serves food that is definitely better than acceptable. It is not gourmet fare, but it is fresh, decently prepared, and perfectly pleasing, unless you are looking for creativity and/or the latest foodie trends. However the OP said nothing about the visitors asking for that.

                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

                    Yes, the food at Union Oyster isn't very good, except at the oyster bar, but it's the oldest restaurant in both Boston and the US and that definitely is unique. And unique was what OP was looking for.

                    I wouldn't send people there if they were looking for good food, but neither would I send them to Durgin Park, as I think the food there is very mediocre as well.

                    1. re: C. Hamster

                      Good Lord, I in fact went to CH right now looking for ALTERNATIVES to Durgin Park—my boyfriend had his birthday dinner there last year for old Yankee tradition's sake and attendees across-the-board vetoed ever going back. Very mediocre food and, adding injury to insult, expensive too.

            2. I'll probably get flamed for this but for first time visitors, nothing says "Boston" quite like Legal Seafoods. Decent food, moderate price and (like Durgin Park) they're only in Boston. There's one right at the Aquarium near Fanueil Hall.

              3 Replies
              1. re: lowbuckbob

                There are Legal Seafoods in 10 states now -- not just in Boston.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Oops. My bad. (I was born and raised in Boston and I've lived in the area for 55 years!)

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    and there is nothing especially bostonian about the decor or the menus now.

                2. Maggianos is in a parking garage and the Barking Crab if fun, unless you have to use the bathrooms. Between Durgin Park and the Union Oyster house, Durgin Park would be a lot more fun, but to treat your relatives from Ohio, I would suggest you take them to the Eastern Standard. It has developed the new Boston feel and I;m sure they will enjoy the food and the spirit of the place.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: ghostcat

                    Mama Maria's in the North End can accommodate 10 and the food is wonderful. Prezza would be another good option. Both are Boston Italian and both are good and each is special in its own way. Portuguese is also very Boston: Atasca in Cambridge is a nice option for that. All three have nice service and nice ambience.

                    1. re: ghostcat

                      Maggiano's is NOT in a parking garage...although parking is conveniently located next door. I have never had issue with the food which is always consistent and the menu is huge. Great for large group as there are many choices...and it doesn't break the bank. The OP is not looking to break the bank as they indicate "MODERATE" pricing...which is why some of Boston's jewels are not on this list (due to price tag). I dine out with a large family and there are not a lot of places you can go without taking out a small business loan to eat dinner! Thought this might be a good suggestion.

                      1. re: bostongal

                        It is not in a parking garage, that is true. But their food is mediocre at best, IMO and, more importantly, emmyru is looking to take them to a restaurant that is UNIQUE to Boston, which Maggianos is not.

                        Maggiano's is a chain from Chicago. Perhaps the relatives even have one nearby in Ohio.

                        IMO there are a whole lot of other moderately priced places that would be much more of a local treat for them.

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          maggiano's is about the last place i'd take anybody for an authentic italian boston meal. it is a midwestern chain that specializes in big giant portions of concept italian-american food. we have hundreds of privately owned, non-chain joints that are quite good.

                          to teezee: while i like mama maria and love prezza they are on the higher end for pricing.

                          op might want to consider antico forno, the original il panino, panza (newish, on hanover with very good pasta) or even giacomo's if they don't mind waiting. none of these are chow darlings but moderately priced and a lot more "local" than maggiano's.

                          1. re: C. Hamster

                            There are Maggiano's in large malls all over Ohio. My parents love to go to the one in Columbus as well as the one in Cincinnati, but I certainly wouldn't take them to one in Boston!

                      2. Maggiano's and Barking Crab? I would never choose those places for any occasion.

                        Durgin Park is a good choice: good food, historically prominent, central location.

                        I think Legal Seafood is a good standby for Boston area foods, clams and lobsters and steamers and fish, but some people do not. I'd recommend it.

                        Jasper's Summer Shacks are also good, though I've regularly complained. I'd choose the Back Bay location.

                        1. When my friends come to town from Cleveland they want fresh seafood. Everything in Ohio is frozen. Last time we had a big crowd (teacher's convention) and went to Legal next to the Aquarium. Everyone was thrilled. You may not get that "old" Boston atmosphere, but you will get close to the waterfront and the food is reliable. I think Summer Shack has high prices for what it delivers and if someone from Boston thinks the prices are high, imagine what someone from Ohio will think.

                          Good luck and enjoy.

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: kate used to be 50

                              I agree completely with Kate. I am from Ohio (but have lived here ten years) and have entertained numerous friends and family visiting from Ohio. Seafood is always the thing to do and everyone I have taken always loves Legal. That said, many good options have been presented here. As cheesy/touristy as people in Boston may think Fenieul Hall restaurants are, they are a big hit with visitors.

                            2. My top 3 choices would be Durgin Park, Legal Seafood (Aquarium) and Antico Forno in the North End. They meet all the OP's needs - they can accommodate a group, are moderately priced (for Boston) and there is something uniquely Boston in all of them. The food at all is very respectable, even if not terribly exciting for the average chowhound.

                              Durgin Park is classic New England food and right in Quincy Market and Antico Forno is in the historic North End.

                              Legal may be a chain, but outside of the Boston area, there aren't THAT many of them and I think they're all on the East Coast mostly in the NY/NJ and Metro DC area. It's definitely a Boston institution.

                              Re: Maggiano's - I think it's great for a big group, but because it's a midwest chain, there's nothing Boston about it.