Local flavor, real deal, one hit wonders, down scale, no reservations, hole-in-the-wall in Boston area…
I’m a fairly recent immigrant to the Boston area and New England in general. I have a couple of friends coming in for a visit from Houston and I’m looking for some recommendations. They’re foodies and particularly enjoy downscale local places that have a lot of atmosphere. Definitely nothing fancy. Places with a lot of history are great but local ethnic spots that are simple and real are also in order. Anthony Bourdain “No Reservations” type places, etc.
Two places that I’m thinking of so far (that I’ve found on Chowhound) are Floating Rock and Daily Catch in the North End. If what I’m talking about makes any sense and you get what I’m talking about, I’d really appreciate a recommendation or two. Thanks.
A few that come to mind:
Dok Bua in Brookline (Thai)
Cafe Polonia in South Boston (Polish)
Punjabi Dhaba in Inman Square (Indian)
Tacos Lupita in Somerville (Salvadoran/Mexican)
Taqueria Mexico in Waltham (Mexican)
Galleria Umberto in the North End (pizza)
El Paisa in East Boston (Colombian)
Pho So 1 Boston, Dorchester (Vietnamese)
Hong Kong Eatery, Chinatown (Chinese)
Don Ricardo's, South End (Peruvian/Brazilian)
Personally, I don't think anything in the North End would qualify as a hole-in-the-wall, "No Reservations"-type place. The North End caters to tourists and IMO the food shows that. There are a few places that are good, but they certainly aren't under the radar. Places like Rod Dee in Brookline and Tacos Lupita are much more the types of places I'd think of. If you want Italian, Gran Gusto in Cambridge is great option.
If you have never been to Galleria Umberto, Modern Pastry, Maria's Pastry, or the original Regina, then you are rather far off the mark. Just because a place is popular does not mean it is a tourist trap, or that it is not chow worthy.
And none of the above is particurlarly decor oriented. Regina is 20 years overdue for a makeover, and I love the 30 year old hand painted goofy murals in Galeria Umberto in particular.
Lim,I've never been but it generally gets good reviews.I'll take 1 for team in the interest of research..:) after I digest the fine Pace prosciutto/provolone sub I had yesterday..What I like about Pace is that they'll put whatever you want on the sandwich..ex. light pickles, hot peppers,roasted peppers, tomato, oregano for me It's either Mangia or Dino's that's a little more rigid in what they put on it.
If you're a fan of sci-fi fantasy art, the murals are doubly interesting as the "artist" liberally borrows (badly) figures from many of acclaimed fantasy artist Frank Frazetta's paintings. This is evident mostly in the "fighting" mural, where the main sword fighting figure and the tiger are lifted wholesale from Frazetta's work. Oh, and to keep it on topic, the arancini is the reason I go to Umberto's, though I like the pizza as well.
And decor! I love Wai Wai as much as anyone (heck I've been eating there when their decor was only 10 yrs out of date), but I actually think there are better roast meat places. I do love their chicken and rice, but I find their roast duck to be consistently less meaty than other places.
Does the relocated King Fung II still do their peking duck (3 course duck) meal? If so, I think that would be a good place to take them to, if they want Chinese.
Don't know how many Taiwanese are in the Houston area, but perhaps one of the Taiwanese restaurants would be good for something different and downscale.
There's also of course the Thailand Cafe, "but really we're a secret Sichuan restaurant too", in Cambridge (not so secret if you read Chinese). Your visitors might get a kick out of this one.
La Pupusa Guanaca
El Oriental de Cuba
Kebab and Tandoor
Brookline Family Turkish Restaurant
Taqueria el Amigo
Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken
Dorado Tacos (for a shrimp taco)
Hanmaru (for gamjatang)
J&J Turo Turo
Bottega Fiorentina (for penne fedora and an espresso)
Cafe Belo (Everett location is really bangin' right now)
Celebrity Pizza (for soft serve and fried seafood)
What you are talking about is largely in essence what this board is about, and there are dozens of respectable replies, give the board a good read some time when you have a few hours, that said, a few that come to mind:
Best Little Restaurant
Kebab and Tandoor
The Original Pizzeria Regina
The Warren Tavern
Winsor Dim Sum
El Oriental de Cuba
The Clam Box (Essex)
Wang's Fast Food
One of the various Brazilian BBQ places.
That'll hold ya for a meal or three, etc. etc.
Privus in Brighton (the spaciest bar and the best korean fried chicken) - Shanghai Gate in Brighton - JoJo Tapei in Brighton - Any of the vietnamese places in Dorchester (Sunrise Cafe comes to mind) - Orinoco (great drinks, good Venezuelan food) - Tupelo for southern - and the list goes on.....