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Boston and beyond. College Visits for daughter, fun food for mom.

Hi, I'm going to be staying in Cambridge at Hotel Marlowe from March 22-30 with my teenage daughter. We will have a car. We are visiting some colleges and sight seeing. I am looking for great food on the way there or back. I like funky, one of a kind, area specific places to eat. I love breakfast and fresh seafood (shacks are awesome). I'm not looking for high end with my daughter (w/ my husband but not her). She could care less if we eat at subway everyday. I like ethnic but I live in San Francisco and don't want to go to the East Coast for ethnic food. Great Irish food maybe. I would love any ideas and will post a review when we return.- Thanks!!!

3/23- Dartmouth
3/24- Brown [day] (Louis's) Museum Fine Arts [night]
3/25- Amherst {maybe Old Sturbridge on the way back}
3/26- Harvard [day] Science Museum [night] (Bartly's Burgers and Zoe's)
3/27- Freedom Trail [day] Boston Symphony [night]
3/28- Salem then to Concord
3/29- Boston College then MIT

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  1. East Coast Grill & Raw Bar.

    No matter how many times I go there, they never fail to please. Also, this is the kind of place that can be a bridge for yoru daughter to move up from Subway to adult food...but prices will not make you balk. The interior is young and fast and bright and fun...she'll find things she likes to eat on the menu and you'll have fabulous seafood options-but not soo many that you're overwhelmed.

    A tip, try to avoid driving in Boston & Cambridge. As an out-of-towner you are 99% sure to get lost...this is just b/c Boston was built on the concept of "squares" (more like spokes on a wheel than squares) and not the grid system. ECG is in Cambridge so a cab would be cheap & easy-maybe $10 each way...and a tip for your college search...check out the career services folks in addition to admissions. Career services sells their graduates to the world, but admissions is there to sell the college to you...

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    East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
    1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

    1. How are you defining "ethnic" food? Italian? French? Portugese food is well-represented in Cabridge--does this count as "ethnic", or is that just a catch-all term for Asian/Indian/insert non-Western European food here____?

      6 Replies
      1. re: LeoLioness

        ethnic = non-Bostonian
        Foods that are well represented in California. I like to eat something that I can't get out here. I don't want to go to the East Coast to eat Oysters from Point Reyes. Or wine from Napa (I know it's the best) but I don't need to go on vacation to get it. I would like to try a Johnnycake that my 10 year old didn't make when learning about the western expansion. Or Boston Baked Beans or a lobster roll or boston clam chowder (I heard it's different than SF chowder). Or a great dish that you would be willing to buy a plane ticket to fly across country for (there is this ceviche in Cabo that is worth the plane ticket). thanks for asking, didn't mean to rant :)

        1. re: newstarr

          Most Asian cuisines are certainly better represented on the west coast than here, but some European cuisines are better here than in SF - Iberian in particular. We have a couple of exceptionally authentic Spanish restaurants, Taberna de Haro and Estragon, as well as several very good Portuguese options like Atasca and Muqueca. They are very much a core part of what the Boston dining scene is about.

          1. re: BobB

            Muqueca seems fun and interesting. What would you recommend?

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            Muqueca
            1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            1. re: newstarr

              Muqueca has just moved to a new, larger location acroos the street from the original. Supposedly, they will have a beer and wine licence (eventually).

              The signature dishes are the muqueca. Strongly recommended. Also, similar seafood dishes are good. However, the servings are huge; I usually share one with my DC as well as an appetizer.

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              Muqueca
              1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

              1. re: newstarr

                Muqueca is not Portuguese but Brazilian, and the muqueca is the best item on the menu IMHO. The fried yuca with beef or sausage is also quite nice as an appetizer, and the passion fruit (maracuja) custard is a delicious dessert.

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                Muqueca
                1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

              2. re: BobB

                I would also add Toro to the Tapas recommendations. While not entirely authentic, the food is great. It does get very busy on the weekends. Expect to wait if go don’t go early for dinner.

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                Toro
                1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

          2. "Funky"..."Breakfast"..."Cambridge"...Try The Friendly Toast at 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge.

            http://thefriendlytoast.net/

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            The Friendly Toast
            1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

            15 Replies
            1. re: Guinness02122

              do you like the friendly toast over Zoe's? It was recommended. Which is better?

              1. re: newstarr

                I'm not a fan of Cambridge, so I don't know either. I know Deluxe Town in Watertown is best. I know The Friendly Toast in Portsmouth, NH is good. I'm sure it's the same thing.

                http://deluxetowndiner.com/

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                The Friendly Toast
                121 Congress St, Portsmouth, NH 03801

                1. re: Guinness02122

                  we don't have to stay in Cambridge. Is there anywhere on the way to Salem or when we get there? Or on the way to Dartmouth or dinner on the way back? Or dinner near the Fine Art Museum? Dinner near the symphony? I love breakfast but we still need to eat lunch and dinner. East Coast Grill Sounds cool. Which day should we do it? 3/26?

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                  East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
                  1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  1. re: newstarr

                    If you're willing to drive about 10 miles north of Salem to Ipswich you will arrive in the home of the humble fried clam. The Clam Box (my favorite), J.T. Farnham's and Woodman's, among others, are in this area. This is an under-appreciated foodie area if you ask me. The Clam Box is on Rte 133 in Ipswich. The other two are in Essex, I believe. The Clam Box serves great seafood including great lobster rolls. The best lobster rolls are in Kennebunkport, Maine in my opinion. Worth the trip in late May when the weather is warmer. Ipswich, MA to Lubec, ME has to be the best seafood stretch anywhere.

                    I can't tell you about any restaurants in Hanover, NH. There will probably still be some snow on the ground when you arrive. Lake Sunapee ski area is close to Hanover. I think there are good restaurants in Manchester, NH, but I haven't tried them.

                    http://www.ipswichma.com/clambox/menu...

                    1. re: Guinness02122

                      The following is from the Clam Box home page...

                      "Call ahead for hours
                      (978) 356-9707
                      Our hours vary and are subject to change
                      without notice, please call ahead of time.

                      We are Open

                      246 High St
                      Ipswich, MA 01938
                      (978) 356-9707

                      SORRY NO CREDIT CARDS ARE ACCEPTED"

                      NB: note that High St. is Rte 1A...NOT Rte 133.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Route 1A and Route 133 are the same road at that point.

                    2. re: newstarr

                      Zoe's is pretty standard diner food. Decent, but nothing special. I'd head to The Friendly Toast for it's funkiness before I'd head to Zoe's. Lots of people love the sweet potato pancakes at Deluxe Town Diner, too. I haven't been in a few years so I can't comment, but I think it has more personality than Zoe's.

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                      The Friendly Toast
                      121 Congress St, Portsmouth, NH 03801

                      Deluxe Town Diner
                      627 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                      1. re: bear

                        I just thought Zoe's would be better since it isn't a chain. I can change it though.

                    3. re: Guinness02122

                      Is Watertown on my way to any of the schools? This diner looks fun!

                      1. re: newstarr

                        Watertown is a little west of Cambridge. It's on the way to Bentley College (or maybe it's Bentley University now.

                        1. re: newstarr

                          Actually, this would be on the way to Amherst. I think exit 17 on the Mass Pike.

                          1. re: Guinness02122

                            Don't take the pike to Watertown, but travel west on Mt Auburn St from Harvard Square to Deluxe Town Diner about 2-3 miles. You can get Johnny cakes or several other kinds of pancakes. Then continue on Mt Auburn St through Watertown Sq. to pick up the pike in Newton Corner to Amherst or get on to Memorial Drive to I 93 to I89 to Dartmouth.

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                            Deluxe Town Diner
                            627 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                        2. re: Guinness02122

                          Deluxe Town Diner is perfect for this purpose.

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                          Deluxe Town Diner
                          627 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                    4. I'd second East Coast Grill for a casual meal of great seafood with Caribbean and Asian influences. It's where I would ask my parents to bring me when I was at BC.

                      Most of the really good food in Boston, though, comes from the ethnic/regional influences of the people in the city (where people came from). You can find great Thai, Spanish, Italian, Middle Eastern and even sophisticated Southern food. The Bostonians I know (including myself) rarely eat lobster rolls and clam chowder (we do love them though!). I just find that most places that serve lobster rolls and clam chowder are generally catering to tourists and are less dedicated to high quality food.

                      There are some places that do make a great lobster roll, though, so when the craving kicks in I go to Neptune Oyster or B&G Oyster. Neptune is in the North End, so that may be more convenient for you on a Freedom Trail jaunt.

                      Have fun and try not to get sucked in by Quincy (Quinn - zee) Market and Faneuil Hall (tourist trap hell).

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

                      East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
                      1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ecwashere7

                        We don't need high quality just quality :) I hate tourist traps. I have lived in SF my whole life and have never been on a Trolly. But what would a trip to SF be without a bread bowl of Clam Chowder from Boudins. As touristy as it is and not that great. It's a must do. We love all food, but I am Thai and Italian so I can make both anytime. Is there a place outside of Boston that is great and off the beaten path? What about Summershack? Is it any good? Or a place on the coast where you schuck your own oysters or clams?

                      2. We are from the metro Boston area, and toured some colleges in NE last month. My daughter's favorite "restaurant" is Subway, so I live in your world. A few random recommendations are as follows: in the Amherst area, we had dinner at the Rt. 9 diner, and the three of us really enjoyed it; I more than I expected. Friendly service, good food, generous portions, reasonable prices, jukeboxes, etc. Greek emphasis on the menu. We had lunch the following day at Bistro 63 at the Monkey Bar, which we also enjoyed. For Providence, you may want to check the New England board (southern); there is a lot on Providence. For ethnic, I would suggest trying Rhode Island clam chowder- it's kind of a hybrid of manhattan and New England styles (broth is a little tomato based, but watery, not thick). We like Pastiche for pastry, a little European style pastry/coffee shop. For seafood in Boston/Cambridge, you may want to consider Summer Shack- it's gotten mixed reviews on the board, but many have recommended it for visitors such as yourselves. It's not a shack per se, but they do specialize in fish, casual atmosphere, both locations are convenient to the subway. It is one of my daughter's favorite places. Also, we ate breakfast at a sort of funky local place in White River Junction, which would be convenient for your Dartmouth trip. I don't remember the name, but my husband may. I do remember the homemade bread, and homemade hash, and very local flavor. I hope you enjoy your trip; this sure has changed since my time...

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                        Summer Shack
                        310 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: AnnieP

                          Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone with the subway kid. Now that they have their own song it's like a cult!