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Jan 7, 2010 10:54 AM


Hello, I am heading to Boston from Toronto to spend a weekend with my GF. Staying at the Lenox. No car. Toronto is a lot like Boston in many ways, with different parts of the City dedicated to different ethnic groups and cuisine. One would think Boston would be known for its seafood, but perhaps other cuisines too.

So, please tell me what I should try and where. While I enjoy all cuisines and am prepared to pay a premium for a worthwhile experience I tend to prefer smaller neighbourhood restaurants that maybe not a lot of tourists will know about.

Looking forward to visiting a City with sports teams that actually win.


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  1. Hmm.. I'd find someplace in the North End for Italian one night, get something at Mike's or Modern Pastry, and walk around (in the freezing cold, of course.. its more active in the warmer months). Hit Neptune oyster up first and get some raw oysters.

    Perhaps a lobster roll lunch.. I like Belle Isle, over near the airport, but its purely a take out place. Ask them to hold the mayo. A nice dinner in the South End might be a good girlfriend higher-end eating evening..

    1. You can walk to Hamersley's Bistro from your hotel. Go there. Classic French, very well executed. You'll need a reservation.

      For seafood, Neptune Oyster (esp the hot lobster roll) can't be beat. It is in the North End. They don't do reservations, so go for a late lunch or early dinner (they are open from 11 am on through the evening). I'd avoid everything else in the North End. Pomodoro is okay I guess. I do not think the best Italian is in that neighborhood. I prefer Via Matta (also not too far from your hotel--I enjoy eating in the bar there). You are pretty close to Pazzo, on Newbury, which has decent Italian food, but I prefer Via Matta. Most restaurants on Newbury are tourist traps. You might duck into Trident Booksellers and Cafe if you need to take a break to get out of the cold...they have a nice tea selection and it is a fun indie bookstore.

      Have fun! Your hotel is nice and centrally located, so you should have a great time!

      15 Replies
      1. re: ginafly

        seafood: a fish in the tank chinese restaurant such as jumbo seafood or east ocean seafood in chinatown. i prefer these to the similar restaurants in nyc.

        Legal seafood: not the best, but the most bostonian.

        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

          As discussed in another active thread, I wouldn't steer a Torontonian to Boston's Chinatown: as much as I love our Chinatown, there's nothing there that the OP can't get as good or better on Spadina.

          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

            Or on another level in Markham/RH, as an ex-pat I agree with Barmy, no Chinese.

            I want to second (Third?) the recommendation of Neptune Oyster one night, followed by Modern Pastry for desert.

            Other option for High End would be Craigie on Main (Kendall Square) or O Ya (Leather District-Very $$$$)

            For a more casual options Hungry Mother for Southern Comfort food (Think Harlem in Toronto, done much better and more refined) or Orinoco for Venezuelan in the South End, because good South American in this type of setting is lacking in TO.

            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              I think all these Toronto folks who visit Boston need to get together and compare notes. There seems to be an inordinately high bunch of visitors from that city.

              Other places you can walk to from your hotel are Coda or Franklin for a casual comfort type meal, Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe for a big breakfast (not on Sun), and the bars in the Lenox and Copley Plaza hotels are fun.

              1. re: Joanie

                Probably because Boston is a lot like Toronto and we feel comfortable, except, as I said, your sports teams win.

            1. re: ginafly

              The North End is a tourist trap IMO, so I totally agree with the recommendation of Via Matta. Another place for great Spanish food is Toro (Estragon too). Via takes reservations so try to book one through Open Table or just call.

              1. re: ecwashere7

                I thought for years that the North End was a tourist trap - and parts of it definitely are - like an extension of Quincy Market for the most part.

                That said, there are REAL gems not to be missed there as well - I would not write off or ignore the following (in descending order based on which I love and frequent the most):

                Neptune Oyster
                Regina Pizzeria
                Maria's Bakery
                Caffe Vittorio
                Mamma Maria
                Wine Bottega

                Neptune Oyster
                63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113

                24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

                Mamma Maria Restaurant
                3 North Square, Boston, MA 02113

                Wine Bottega
                341 Hanover St, Boston, MA

                Mamma Maria Restaurant
                3 North Sq, Boston, MA 02113

                Prezza Restaurant
                24 Fleet St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113

                1. re: ecwashere7


                  1. re: OLDCHEF

                    I completely agree with both of you that there are great spots in the NE, and I don't mean to paint such a broad stroke here. I just think that there are better places to get truly authentic Italian in the city. I loved Prezza the few times I've been there, but I found it to be too showy (ooh we have a big wine list). I love Taranta for its unique cuisine, but it certainly isn't authentic. Salumeria is truly a gem, but not a restaurant. Neptune is another great spot, but not for Italian.

                    Don't get me started on the over-rated pizza at Regina.

                2. re: ginafly

                  I like the idea of Trident instead of the usual Starbucks. The independent coffee places are booming in Toronto. Are there others in Boston I should look for to warm up as I walk around and see your City?

                  1. re: Attknee

                    If you're planning to check out Harvard Square you should hit up Crema and/or Burdicks. Crema for delicious coffees and house made english muffins, Burdicks for ridiculous hot chocolate.

                    1. re: yumyum

                      Second Crema, for sure. I have yet to have anything there that wasn't delicious. I had their chicken sandwich with cotija cream, corn and avocado the other day, and it officially displaced chacarero as my favorite chicken sandwich. Their capuccino is the best I've had anywhere.

                        1. re: yumyum

                          Trident is a place to stop though the drinks/food is pretty mediocre. The bookstore is pretty nice. Crema in Harvard Square is THE place for coffee in Boston these days and Caffe Vittorio in The North End is a nice stop as well.

                    2. The egg yolk raviolli at Prezza Northend
                      Fried clams at Neptune Northend
                      Steak Frites luncheon at Aquitaine South end
                      Mussels at Eastern Standard - Fenway
                      fried calimari and or chicken parm at Giaccamo's Southend
                      crunchy eggplant, rice balls , house bread with basil evoo and a caraffe of house red at Via Matta ParkSquare
                      basic cheese pizza at Regina's northend bar

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gyppielou

                        For an unique restaurant, try Oleana. You won't find this type of restaurant anywhere else. Kind of high-end Turkish with a heavy Italian/French and North African influence. Very talented chef. Best Italian: Gran Gusto in Cambridge. Also the prix fix at l'Espalier for lunch is hard to beat $40 for 3 dishes (very seafood heavy). Probably the, if not one of the, classiest restaurant in the city. Fabulous use of New England products by this classically French trained chef.

                        1. re: kelly001

                          Perhaps too late on this comment, but I think Oleana is a great suggestion for a Torontonian. Between the local, seasonal focus and the Mediterranean flavors, I think it both jives some common trends and offers something unique.

                          I definintely agree to stay away from Chinese whatsoever.

                          I tend to feel Mike's, when busy, is a terrible suggestion for a Torontonian on the sheer point that they might never get their order in if a lack of willingness to shove their way to the front of the line exists. I mean, unless you enjoy that sort of thing...