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Visiting Boston for a Weekend + 1 day to Maine

I'm visiting a friend at M.I.T. and planning to drive up to Maine since I'm a blueberry fanatic and lobster/crab ain't so bad either =)

Need some recommendations on the must try places in the Boston MIT area, we will be cycling for a day, driving up to Maine for a day. This is my first time visiting Boston.

I've bookmarked this place a long time ago, definitely on my list of places to visit: "The All Star Sandwhich Bar" as well as Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market. Any recommendations in Boston or on the way to Southern Maine would be great!

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  1. Where are you coming from and what kind of places are you looking at (e.g. casual/fancy)?

    5 Replies
    1. re: samsoon

      Probably casual, just the guys =) I'm from Los Angeles, CA. Any ethnicity food would be fine, but I am really looking to try "Boston". Is there any culinary truth/goodness to "Boston Baked Beans" or is it just a candy? haha

      1. re: tonicart

        oooh. If you're from LA, then you're going to have a hard time finding better food around (I lived in Orange County for a while).

        I take my out-of-town visitors to Helmand (Afghan), which is close to the Cambridgeside Galleria. This is a nice restaurant without a huge sticker shock.

        Frankly, around the MIT area, there aren't many stunning restaurants if you don't count upscale restaurants such as Craigie on Main or Salts. When I visited Boston for the first time, my friends took me to Legal Seafood, but it's a chain seafood restaurant (although based here). You might want to try Bartley's in Harvard Square for burgers. It's like an institution. Also, if you haven't had a great pizza, try Emma's. I swear by New Haven style pizza, and Emma's actually comes close to one of the places (not Pepe's or Sally's) with the interesting combination of toppings.

        I also tend to just take people to the North End, which is basically a street lined with Italian restaurants. Most are good. I would recommend Daily Catch, but the place is tiny. Most people have Italian food and then grab a cannoli from Mike's Pastry. It's definitely a Boston destination.

        If you like Guinness, try The Field in Central Square. According a friend from Ireland, that place serves the best Guinness in the area. However, beer from student-run MIT bars may be cheaper (Muddy or Thirsty).

        1. re: samsoon

          Thanks for the recommendations, pubs or drinking spots are definitely welcome. Coffee shops too, to get us up in the morning =)

          1. re: tonicart

            Corner Tavern is just a 10 minute walk from MIT. Great spot to watch sports, crowd tends to be students with a mix of the older generation. Food is a step above the normal pub fare but still reasonable in price.

          2. re: samsoon

            cambridge is pretty small. not far from mit is central kitchen in central square and hungry mother in kendall, both very good. hungry mother has gotten quite a bit of national press. casablanca in harvard square is good and reasonable.

            miracle of science in central square for beers.

            plough and stars in central, or toad in porter square, for beers and live music.

            faneuil hall has become a shopping mall with the same chain stores everyplace else, and the food is just terrible. union oyster house, though, is right there, if you want to slurp some oysters at the bar when daniel webster sat.. DO NOT order anything else. if you want old-fashioned new englandy food, durgin park is also right there, for prime rib, baked beans and indian pudding.

            north end, and perhaps a bit of a splurge, would be neptune oyster. amazing oysters, cutting edge food, excellent wine list. tiny place though. you could just do your oysters there. mike's is a tourist trap for pastry and most locals prefer modern or maria's.

      2. A word of warning - blueberry season is over! Having said that, I know you will enjoy your travels in Maine, anyway. There you will find lobster aplenty and great natural beauty. (We have crabs around here, but crab is much more of a mid-Atlantic states thing.)

        I don't know if you would count Portland as Southern Maine - it is over 100 miles from MIT - but there is a very active and creative dining scene there. You might want to check it out....

        1. Definitely post your proposed Maine route(s) on the New England board to get lots of suggestions for that portion of your trip.

          4 Replies
          1. re: HDinCentralME

            Awesome, thank you everyone. Yes, I realized blueberry season is over =( I am hoping to find some good preserved products and perhaps some quirky souvenirs =) I am planning to take the 95 freeway/highway up to Maine.

            1. re: tonicart

              yes, by all means, go to portland. en route, stop off in newburyport (about halfway b/w boston and portland) and go to annarosa's bakery for incredible balsamic & sea salt rolls, pain au levain & other baked goods. then go to south portland's scratch bakery for possibly the best bagels on the planet, more fantastic artisanal breads and sweets. top it off by a dinner at bresca, a tiny little restaurant in portland run by a grand total of two women who turn out some fabulous cooking.

              my guess is that if you're coming from LA, you should skip all the pizza, burgers and so forth. i'm sure they are just as good or better in LA. i'd skip all star sandwich bar too. it's a great sandwich joint, but i don't think it's a boston must-try or anything. it's a sandwich.

              myself, i'd make the effort to go to neptune oyster. that seems to be a living echt boston sort of institution, rather than the other "real old-school boston" joints that get recommended and which, frankly, sound kind of gross.

              as for cycling, a nice route is to go out to the western burbs--weston, concord, lincoln, sudbury. you can hit up verrill's in concord, which is an overgrown farm-stand that sells the usual farm stand things plus sandwiches and other prepared foods. it's a nice stop on a chilly fall ride. the area around harvard (the town) is very scenic. look up the charles river wheelmen for cue sheets, maps and whatnot.

              1. re: autopi

                We are gonna try to hit Annarosa's for breakfast and on to Barnacle Bill's =)

              2. re: tonicart

                If you have time, I'd take Rt. 1 to Maine. It think it's a fun (but slow) ride thru Hampton, York, etc. and you can take fun detours. Bob's Clams, Flo's hot dogs, etc. are right on the road.

                All Star Sandwich Bar is fine, a couple doors down from there is East Coast Grill which lots of people like for seafood and some bbq. Blue Room in Kendall Sq. close to MIT is a nice restaurant. Green St. in Central Sq. is fun for drinks and upscale home cooking. If the chowder w/ bacon and fried clams on top is on the menu, get it. There are some Portugese restaurants pretty close to MIT, Atasca being the closest. That's not a common food in LA. The Middle East in Central Sq. is always fun for a beer. And Eastern Standard in Kenmore Sq. is a good time.

            2. Fore Street in Portland. A must-eat for any food-focused trip to Maine. If you can, go.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JMBigley

                2nd that (and go for the mussels!), and there's a number of excellent choices for food in Portland, as has already been mentioned.