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Not your typical out-of-towner recommendation thread

At least, I don't think this is. Anyway, I'm going to be coming to Boston for a few days next week, and I realized that I didn't really know what I was going to be doing for food. So, naturally, I thought of Chowhound, but I also didn't want to be that guy who says "I'm looking for a restaurant recommend me one please thanks." Here's what I want to know: for all you Boston CHers, if you had to pick one lunch spot and one dinner spot in the entire city, what would they be, and why? I'm open to anything from hole-in-the-wall lobster roll shacks to white tablecloth extravaganzas. Surprise me.

(I'm staying in the Back Bay, but I want to get out and explore other areas of the city, too, so don't let that influence anything.)

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  1. Okay. I did some more digging, and I've come up with a list. Kind of. Pretty much everything is ending up being in the North End, but that shouldn't be too big of a deal.

    Lunch:
    Parish Cafe
    Pizzeria Regina
    Typhoon (my counterpart on this trip went once, a few years back, and has her heart set on going back. Apparently, some sort of heavenly soup was involved.)
    Chili Duck (?)

    Dinner:
    Neptune Oyster
    Sel de la Terre
    Sorrelina

    Any terrible choices? Any glaring omissions? Anyone?

    (And to the above poster: good question. It probably isn't. I'm just not usually a picky eater, and I really am open to anything. But I digress.)

    3 Replies
    1. re: adg1034

      Good choices. Since youw ill be coming in the warmer weather, I would skip Pizzeria Regina (this trip). How about Neptune Oyster for lunch and Sel De La Terre for dinner. Nice contrast and neither are too precious.

      1. re: adg1034

        typhoon is terrible and chili duck is passable -- boston does not really have any great thai food. parish has a cool gimmick and a great patio, but the food can be meh.

        don't know where you're from, but regina's, while very good, is a very specific style of thin crust pizza. not everybody thinks it's the bomb. it is a good time-travel trip. and this only applies to the original location in the north end. the outposts, even nearby in quincy market, suck.

        but for neptune, none of these would be on my list of "if i only could have one meal..."

        curious as to your search parameters, because your list seems strange to me. where are you from? are you looking for something different than your city offers? something new englandy? something spendy? does wine matter? service? do you want a tasting menu?

        1. re: adg1034

          Can I second that I think Typhoon is gross? Not only is the food below mediocre (pan-Asian, so IMO it exemplifies the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none" ...everything tastes generic fake Asian to me) but my last memory of it was also a table that was so sticky, it reminded my of dirty movie theater floors - except you put your hands and utensils on it. Blech.

          I actually like Chilli Duck. Not wanting to re-open yet another debate on Thai food in Boston, but I think Chilli Duck is one of the better Thai restaurants we have.

        2. hm....So one spot for dinner and one for lunch? I guess B&G Oysters for lunch (in order to sit outside at their patio) and Oleana for dinner (again, patio). Considering the time of year I am writing this, that's just the kind of mood I am in!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Suze123

            i'd do neptunes for lunch and the super 88 food court for lunch (graze among some excellent inexpensive asian food). I'd do erbaluce for dinner and, if no ball game, eastern standard kitchen for great drinks and good vibes. you have lots of good choices: enjoy

          2. I understand everyone's qualms about Typhoon, but I've checked, and I definitively cannot dissuade the lady involved that we shouldn't go. So that's a lost cause.

            As for everything else, however, here's what I have in mind:

            Next Tuesday- fly in, grab some chowder from Legal's in the early afternoon, then head to Sel de la Terre for dinner (or perhaps Via Matta, or maybe even Sorrelina?; convince me on this, people).

            Wednesday: Parish Cafe for lunch, then Neptune Oyster for dinner (just about the only meal where it fits into our schedule, sadly, unless we want to skip out on an Italian lunch in the North End on Friday.)

            Thursday: Eat somewhere in Marblehead for lunch, then (ugh) Typhoon for dinner. (It's possible that we could just get some of their supposedly fabled soup for starters, then head somewhere else later on for salad and dessert.)

            Friday: Mike's Pastry for breakfast, followed by the North End Italian restaurant tour, with lunch... somewhere. Preferably Italian, though we could possibly swing a Neptune Oyster lunch this day, too. No dinner, as that's when we're flying home.

            Now that I think about it, very little is actually set in stone. I'd love to change that. Thoughts?

            20 Replies
            1. re: adg1034

              This is an age-old war, but I must encourage you to go to Modern Pastry instead of Mike's!

              I like Assaggio in the North End, nice Italian food and a low key atmosphere.

              1. re: MenuPorn

                Any particular reason why Modern over Mike's? Be fair to both parties involved.

                And my thoughts on meal arrangements are changing by the minute. If we went to Neptune Oyster for Friday lunch, that gives us an extra dinner slot on Wednesday. From my very limited knowledge about Boston's restaurant scene, I've got three restaurants that have piqued my interest for two nights- Tuesday and Wednesday. Out of Sel de la Terre, Sorrelina, and Via Matta, are there two that just stand head and shoulders above the third, or should these even be the three on my list in this price range in the first place?

                1. re: adg1034

                  IMO Mike's is more of a tourist trap. You'll never find a better ricotta cannoli than at Modern, and all of their pastries are fresh and authentic. They actually did some of the pastry for my wedding.

                  I just ate at L'Andana, which is a sister restaurant to Sorrellina, and it was fantastic. I'm planning to hit Sorrellina soon because I've heard nothing but good things.

                  1. re: adg1034

                    Mike's carries a wider selection of items, but the quality level isn't particularly high, and on the key items that are the main things I would be picking up at an Italian bakery -- cannoli, ricotta pie, sfogliatelle, sesame cookies, florentines, etc. -- Modern has them beat.

                      1. re: adg1034

                        Skip SDLT in favor ot Sorrelina and Via Matta.
                        But what about the south end? I *love* Union and Sage these days.

                        1. re: adg1034

                          Modern is smaller and they take much greater care in each item the bake. I find Mikes' stuff to be very sugary and unintersting. Modern's cannoli and ricotta pie are the freshest and creamiest you will find anywhere.
                          While I am not a native born Northender, I can tell yout that all of the locals who grew up here get their holiday items at Modern - not Mike's

                          1. re: Northender

                            I live in the NE for 8 years and concur.

                            1. re: Northender

                              I personally like Maria's as much as Modern, and its far less touristy and thus less crowded.

                              1. re: phatchris

                                I always recommend Maria's too, their only drawback being that they close much earlier than the other two.

                        2. re: adg1034

                          If you're in Marblehead, a place I'd recommend is the Barnacle..ok..not great seafood..with a magnificent view of hte Harbor. Boston Yacht Club is open for lunch and is also a good choice.

                          My experience with Marblehead (strictly near the harbor) is that there's not much great. I went to Maddie's sail Loft a few nights ago; sort of for old times sake and I've had decent fried clams; which I was craving..They didn't have whole belly clams and against my better judgement went to the Landing..who did have the clams. Without goiing into the gory details, that would get this post deleted..:), I won't be going back and would suggest you avoid it.

                          1. re: adg1034

                            If you can convince your cohort, typhon is less than a block from Sel de la Terre. Get the soup and then head over to SDLT for mains etc.

                            If you can fit in SDLT this way, then I would go to Sorelina on Tuesday evening.

                            I think Neptune is a better deal at lunch than dinner. They are (somewhat) less crowded and if you want their famed lobster roll , they sometimes run out later in the day. Prices are the same throughout the day.

                            Why not fit in an Italian dinner on Wednesday and Neptune Friday noon?

                            1. re: BBHound

                              Good suggestions.

                              So, my schedule is now looking like this:

                              Tuesday dinner- Sorrelina
                              Wednesday lunch- Parish Cafe; Wednesday dinner- either Peach Farm or some amazing Italian place on the North End
                              Thursday lunch- Boston Yacht Club in Marblehead; Thursday dinner- Typhoon for soup, followed by SDLT for dinner
                              Friday lunch- Neptune Oyster. Also, I'll see if I can swing Modern.

                                1. re: Taralli

                                  I second Prezza. The food is fantastic.

                                  I also prefer Mike's over Modern, which might diminish my credibility. Mike's isn't a tourist "trap." Many tourists go there, as they do Modern because they're both on the main drag of the North End. Modern is touted for filling their cannoli on demand, while Mike's pre-fills them. But Mike's does such an incredible business (there will be about 50 people in front of you in line, but they know what they're doing so it moves quickly, unlike the snail's pace at Modern), that the cannoli fly off the shelves as soon as they get them filled, so they're not sitting around. The cannoli shells I've had at Modern have been stale, but fresh at Mikes. I also find the filling more flavorful at Mike's. So there. I like Mike's and that's why.

                                  I'd substitute Sorellina for SDLT; have Tuesday dinner at Neptune; substitute the original Pizzeria Regina in the NE for Parish; and have Friday lunch at Eastern Standard. If you want amazing Italian instead of Chinese Wednesday night, I'd pick Prezza or Mamma Maria.

                                  1. re: pollystyrene

                                    there is also erbaluce, which is small and killah good. it's in bay village, a nice stroll from the op's hotel. i'm also not getting the fixation on parish cafe.

                            2. re: adg1034

                              I wouldn't go to Mike's or Modern for breakfast. Their offerings tend to lean more towards dessert imo. I would highly recommend the Lobster Tail's at both establishments though.

                              1. re: joth68

                                Agreed. Only go to these places if you want cannoli for breakfast, but who wouldn't?

                              2. re: adg1034

                                Just had dinner at Sel de la Terre for the first time this weekend. Have eaten at Via Matta and Sorrelina numerous times. Both of those restaurants far surpass Sel de la Terre. In fact, I will not return to Sel de la Terre. Via Matta would be my first choice, Had dinner there on Sat. evening and it was delicous.

                              3. For someone who professes to not be going for the usual, in all fairness, it does not seem like your final list is at all adventurous. Nothing really off the beaten track. Parish is a bore, sandwiches only. Typhoon, well I understand.

                                There are some truly unique places in this town:

                                Jo Jo Taipei
                                Best Little Restaurant
                                Yoma Burmese
                                East Coast Grill
                                Franklin Cafe
                                Rincon Limeno
                                Marblehead is tough, but here is a good thread on the North Shore here:
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/621508
                                Heck hit any of the Chinese places for buns or Dim Sum in lieu of Parish:
                                Winsor Dim Sum, Hei La Moon
                                Clio/Uni
                                Craigie on Main
                                Rendezvous

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  what's unique about franklin? i like it too, but...

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    I was going to ask the same thing, and I don't like Franklin. Also, I wouldn't sent anyone to Clio without warning them about the tiny portion sizes. Craigie seems like a good bet.

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      Guess I just have a soft spot for the place. I agree, perhaps not that unusual.

                                  2. I'd definately do Neptune for lunch, unless you plan on eating dinner early. Neptune is a sh#t show by 6:30 every night. And the lunch and dinner menu are identical minus the dinner specials.
                                    For dinner if you need a North End rec. mine would be Prezza, But I would travel over the bridge and hit up Hungry Mother in Cambridge for some really great southern style cuisine.