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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/

                -----
                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.

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

                        2. re: Guinness02122

                          Deluxe Town Diner is perfect for this purpose.

                          -----
                          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).

                      -----
                      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!

                        2. The Modern Diner in Pawtucket, RI, near Providence has great breakfasts. Unfortunately I think the specials are only on the weekend, but everything we've had there was great. I especially love their cheese grits.

                          -----
                          Modern Diner
                          364 East Ave, Pawtucket, RI 02860

                          1. I see many people have recommended the East Coast Grill. If you need a lunch spot in Cambridge, the All Star Sandwich Bar is just a couple of doors down from there, and I’m a big fan of it. They are open for dinner too. I really like Atomic Meatloaf, but it is spicy so you may want the hot sauce on the side. The rings of fire are good too. But the real highlights are usually the daily specials. They are constantly creating new and interesting sandwiches, and the owner takes a lot of pride in putting together interesting flavor combinations. Check out their special sides of the day too.

                            -----
                            All Star Sandwich Bar
                            1245 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

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

                            1. I third East Coast Grill. It's a fun, vibrant place for a meal and the food is excellent. Though it's not traditional NE fare (i.e. chowder and baked beans) they will have lots of native seafood grilled expertly, as well as some great oysters....it is a bit off the beaten path, in Inman Square, which isn't exactly a place you'd just randomly stumble upon --though it's about a 10 minute drive from Harvard so could certainly be dinner that night. You should try to get there early though, esp if it's on a weekend night. It's a popular place and doesn't take reservations.

                              In that same vein, you should get yourself to Neptune Oyster one night, in the North End. Do a search for previous posts to learn more about this place, but it's in the North End, which is the italian section of Boston and a great place to walk around. Again, great east coast oysters, and really good seafood. You are also very close to Fanueil Hall and even though it's touristy and you don't want to be "sucked in" to one of the mediocre meals around there, it's a fun place to walk around. Again, Neptune is a very popular place, so if you are going for dinner, you should get there early, or be prepared to wait (the good news is they'll take your cell # and give you a call when your table is ready, so you could use that time to walk around the 'hood.) You can also go there for lunch, which is a great option as you probably won't have to wait at all.

                              If you're in the mood for pizza one day, you could go back to this neighborhood and have a really good pie at Regina's Pizza. A classic Boston experience; again, do a search on this board and you'll find lots of praise.

                              Enjoy!

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

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

                              1. A few thoughts:

                                I'd definitely second Guinness02122's recommendation for stopping at one of the North Shore clam shacks on your Salem/Concord day. However, double-check that they are open, as at least some of them close for the winter.

                                For seafood in Boston, I definitely agree with the East Coast Grill and Neptune Oyster recs (Neptune Oyster is a bit pricier and a bit more high-end, and definitely harder to get a table at). Summer Shack is also a decent, fun option - I haven't been in years, but it has a good range of options on the menu and would probably satisfy both you and your daughter. I'd avoid B&G Oysters - it is very high end and pricey and doesn't seem like the destination for this trip, based on your parameters. A more casual and off-the-beaten path seafood option is Pescatore, a casual Italian restaurant in Somerville that specializes in seafood (but has plenty of other things on the menu). I really like the fusilli Amalfi there, and it is cheaper and more causal than many of the other options mentioned.

                                A few other options you might consider: Durgin Park, in Quincy Market, is certainly not the best food in Boston and is definitely touristy, but might be a fun experience. It serves traditional Boston/New England food, and is certainly much better than Union Oyster House in the "restaurants that have been operating for more than 150 years in Boston genre".

                                Boston has some quite good Southern restaurants, which might be something that isn't readily available in SF (I don't know, I could certainly be wrong). My favorite is Tupelo, which is in the same neighborhood as East Coast Grill (Inman Square); Hungry Mother is also really good (a bit more high end).

                                Boston also has a real strength in Portuguese restaurants. I'm not the expert, but if you search the board you can find many relevant posts.

                                You might also try posting on the New England board for Providence-specific recommendations. I will say from my time as an undergrad at Brown that Louis's is great if you want a greasy breakfast at 5:00 am after an all nighter (or 9 am after driving from Boston, for that matter), but it probably isn't your best option for lunch (and they aren't open for dinner).

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

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

                                Pescatore
                                158 Boston Ave, Somerville, MA 02144

                                Summer Shack
                                310 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210

                                Hungry Mother
                                Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                                Union Oyster House
                                41 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108

                                Durgin Park
                                1 Faneuil Hall Sq, Boston, MA 02109

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: greenzebra

                                  OMG! I just read the menu for Hungry Mother and now my tummy is growling. No one in California puts grits on a menu. I love them and my kids hate them. And the cornbread sounds wonderful. Their late night menu seems fun! Do you think it would be crazy to go to the Symphony on Saturday night then go to Hungry Mother then to our Hotel? I need to find time to run also. I need to burn all of these calories.

                                  -----
                                  Hungry Mother
                                  Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                                  1. re: newstarr

                                    Yeah, but it's non-Bostonian, so "ethnic" by your suggestion. Although check out some of the Brazilian places (Muqueqa, Valentino) or Salvadoran (Taco Loco, Tacos Lupita) for some excellent Bostonian food!

                                    1. re: newstarr

                                      Hungry Mother is amazing. Probably my favorite place in Boston. If the menu looks good to you, you should definitely go. However, you will need to make reservations in advance --it's very popular.

                                      -----
                                      Hungry Mother
                                      Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                                      1. re: twentyoystahs

                                        Do I need reservations for late night?

                                        1. re: newstarr

                                          What constitutes late night? If it's after 9, you probably won't have a problem getting in, but if it were me I'd place it safe and make a reservation. You can do it easily from opentable.com

                                      2. re: newstarr

                                        Even your kids might like the shrimp and grits at the Hungry Mother, some of the best low country food outside South Carolina. Boiled peanuts are nice indeed.

                                        -----
                                        Hungry Mother
                                        Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                                    2. Definately hit the clam box or one of the northshore seafood shacks. Id be curious to see what you think of East Coast Grill if you go. Im personally not a fan at all of the place. Seems to be a hit with many locals for their sunday brunch, drinks, apps, hell night, rawbar. The main dishes i found to be really meh. Dry/mediocre bbq/cornbread. Overpriced/small fish portions.

                                      There is a lot of good Chinese in the area but im afraid S.F. has it beat in that area. Not sure about Sichuan though. We have several very good sichuan restaurants, not sure how they are in S.F. or if you like spicy food or not?

                                      Definately would try the new england clam chowder at a couple of places. Im personally a fan of it at Legal seafood. I will get hammered for saying that though, especially after saying i dont like ECG. But for a bowl of chowder its a good representation.

                                      Overall id say S.F. has Boston beat for most of the types of places i personally enjoy. We do have an exceptionaly large amount of good ice cream. The stands i think will all still be closed but plenty of year round places. If you go to ECG definately get dessert next door at Christinas.

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

                                      1. Breakfast----Lunch----Dinner---Late Night
                                        3/23- ?---?---?
                                        3/24- Louis---?---?
                                        3/25- Route 9 ---? ---- Muqueca
                                        3/26- Zoe's --- Bartley Burger---- ?
                                        3/27- Mike's --- Galleria Umberto -----?----- Hungry Mother
                                        3/28- Red's ---- JT Farham's ---- Highland Kitchen
                                        3/29- Deluxe town diner ----?------- Neptune

                                        Do I have way to many diners? I know when we go to Disney World by day 2 the thought of a buffet with a disney character makes me want to run. I think I spend more time planning where I'm going to eat on vacation than I do on the sights. So where there are blanks I still need help. I watched man vs food with the east coast grill and I don't think it's for me. Should we just grab something fast some of the time?

                                        -----
                                        Muqueca
                                        1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                        Highland Kitchen
                                        150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                        23 Replies
                                        1. re: newstarr

                                          If you saw East Coast Grill on Man vs Food, they were probably filming one of their periodic Hotter Than Hell nights, which are fun if you're into seriously hot food. But that is NOT the normal everyday menu or scene there at all.

                                          1. re: newstarr

                                            I'd go to Parish Cafe on Mass Ave for lunch on 3/24. It's not far from MFA. Everyone raves about Sean's Simple Chicken. I like Rowdy's chicken sandwich.

                                            http://www.parishcafe.com/index2.html

                                            1. re: newstarr

                                              Also, who suggested Mike's? Are you talking about the Mike's Pastry in the North End, or Mike's City Diner? Mike's Pastry is lousy. Modern Pastry and Maria's are better. Mike's City Diner is good for breakfast. Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe on Columbus Ave. is good also.

                                              -----
                                              Mike's Pastry
                                              300 Hanover St, Boston, MA

                                              Modern Pastry
                                              257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

                                              Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe
                                              429 Columbus Ave Ste 1, Boston, MA 02116

                                              Mike's City Diner
                                              1714 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                                              1. re: Guinness02122

                                                Mike's city diner. For breakfast. :) I'll be sure to grab some pastries from Modern or Maria's also!

                                              2. re: newstarr

                                                A few additional suggestions:

                                                3/24: if you want something simple for lunch, try East Side Pockets on Thayer St for falafel. Tiny little place, and deservedly very popular. Dinner near the MFA is a bit of a challenge, although one potential idea would be Merengue, a Dominican restaurant in Roxbury (about a 10 minute drive from the MFA). Alternatively, either Toro or Estragon in the South End for tapas might be a good option.

                                                3/26: If you are planning on going to the Science Museum in the evening, this might be a better day for Neptune Oyster, as the North End and the Science Museum are quite close.

                                                3/27: I'd consider grazing through the North End instead of eating a real dinner before the Symphony if you are going to Hungry Mother afterwards. Between Regina, Galleria Umberto, Modern Pastry, Mike's Pastry, Maria's Pastry (Modern being my favorite, but this is always a subject of much debate), and possibly a stop into Neptune Oyster for some East Coast oysters, you'll have plenty of food.

                                                3/29: Getting from your hotel in Cambridge to the Deluxe Town Diner during the morning rush hour could be nasty traffic-wise. Friendly Toast would be much more convenient if you are seeing MIT as well. I love Friendly Toast and haven't yet been to Deluxe Town Diner, though, so I can't really comment on whether it is worth the extra hassle.

                                                1. re: greenzebra

                                                  3/24 I went to East side pockets web site. the grape leaves sold me. Yum!
                                                  3/27 Great Idea!
                                                  3/29 Is traffic bad at 5:30am? I like to eat around 6am, 7am at the latest. Then heading to Boston College from Deluxe Town Diner around 7-8am. Is this traffic bad also? Are we talking L.A. bad?

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

                                                  1. re: newstarr

                                                    No, that early you should be fine. I didn't realize we were talking 6 am!

                                                    1. re: newstarr

                                                      If you're on your way to BC, I'd also consider Zaftig's for breakfast. It's right down the green line from BC. I loved going there when I went to BC (and still love it).

                                                        1. re: newstarr

                                                          Deluxe Town Diner by a mile. Zaftig's has been going downhill since its heyday.

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

                                                    2. re: greenzebra

                                                      There's a lot of advice on this list already but I wanted throw in an additional plug for East Side Pockets. I haven't been back in 3 years, but ESP is most certainly Thayer Street institution. My first experience eating felafel was there many years ago. I had always liked that the donut shape of the felafel allowed for more surface area for their excellent fried batter.

                                                      -----
                                                      East Side Pocket
                                                      278 Thayer St, Providence, RI 02906

                                                    3. re: newstarr

                                                      I know you said that you didn't want Italian, but I'd highly suggest some of the Italian options outside of the North End like Via Matta, dante (very close to the MOS), and erbaluce. Incredible food.

                                                      Another option that IS in the North End is Taranta. It's actually a mix of Italian and Peruvian cuisines. I've had great meals there.

                                                      -----
                                                      Via Matta
                                                      79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

                                                      1. re: ecwashere7

                                                        I know you have more choices than time at this point, which will hopefully mean that you can save some for future visits, but I do think Dante could be a good suggestion, both for its food and location. Unfortunately, their patio won't be open at that time of year. We went there for brunch last year on Father's Day; it was a miserable, rainy day (like most of June, unfortunately), but my daughter (the Subway fan), loved it, and tasted her first carbonara there, which is Dante's grandmother's recipe. Another place that hasn't been mentioned, just to throw it out, is 75 Chestnut, in Beacon Hill. You will find posts on the board about it. The area is very charming and a historic part of Boston. The food is good, though I wouldn't say that it's a destination or anything. I took a relative there for dinner who was visiting from Florida, and just loved it (he had fish and chips, and likes the fish better up here). As for the water, it depends on where you are- we've usually liked Boston water better than Cambridge, but in general, I think tap water is good around here. And I'm not pushing the idea, but I do think Summer Shack is worth keeping on the list if it fits anywhere- I think you'd both enjoy it.

                                                        -----
                                                        75 Chestnut
                                                        75 Chestnut Street, Boston, MA 02114

                                                        Summer Shack
                                                        310 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210

                                                        1. re: AnnieP

                                                          Summershack has a great special during the week but I don't have a place for it. I met some guys on a chair lift in Tahoe this weekend (from Boston) and they said it was horrible.

                                                      2. re: newstarr

                                                        Mike's is fine, a typical diner though and not really anything special. Charley's Sandwich Shoppe is a slice of Boston history and personally I think is an experience not to be missed. Love the french toast there too. That's in the same area as Mike's (the south end) but closer to Back Bay.
                                                        I think Red's is a fun choice for Salem, too.

                                                        I had a good meal at Highland Kitchen though I'm not sure it's a destination spot. It's good solid food, but honestly if I was visiting Boston there are other places I'd choose first.

                                                        -----
                                                        Highland Kitchen
                                                        150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                                        Sandwich Shoppe
                                                        188 County Rd, Barrington, RI 02806

                                                        1. re: twentyoystahs

                                                          Agreed. I'd skip Highland Kitchen. It's pretty good, but you can do much better.

                                                          -----
                                                          Highland Kitchen
                                                          150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                                          1. re: twentyoystahs

                                                            I thought Highland Kitchen would be fun because they have live music on Sunday night.

                                                            My daughter saw Mike's on D,D&D's. And wants to go there. But they were featured for their Turkey Dinner.

                                                            -----
                                                            Highland Kitchen
                                                            150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                                          2. re: newstarr

                                                            Atasca is a good Portuguese place, and as a former San Franciscan, it was one of the kinds of food here that surprised me, that I hadn't had much of before.

                                                            Also as a former San Franciscan, I would recommend getting a lobster roll somewhere. It's a local must. Lots of opinions about where to get the best. I go to Charlie's Kitchen in Cambridge but it's kind of a beer garden, sending a bad message to your dear child perhaps, and it's not like the lobster roll is actually that good. It's about the ambience. But it's a reminder that lobster used to be a crap food that only poor people ate--a lobster roll is some lobster salad (= +mayonnaise) and a white bread hot dog roll. It's awesome. I'm sure there are passionate lobster roll threads elsewhere on this board, sorry I'm useless on specifics.

                                                            -----
                                                            Charlie's Kitchen
                                                            10 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                            1. re: aquariumtown

                                                              It doesn't sound good, I'm picturing a costco hot dog bun with imitation crab salad. I'll have to split one with my daughter and find out. Do you have to drink at Charlie's Kitchen? I like to eat my calories not drink them. I only drink water. By the way how is the water out there. On our trip to FL I almost died drinking the water, it tasted like metal. Will I be shunned for only ordering water at resturants?

                                                              -----
                                                              Charlie's Kitchen
                                                              10 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                              1. re: newstarr

                                                                Come on in, the water's fine! You'll have no trouble getting by on the local taps.

                                                                I'm not the biggest lobster roll fan myself but they're not even remotely comparable to fake crab salad. And although most are the chilled mayonnaise-based type described above, you might look for one of the places that serves warm lobster rolls, which are made with melted butter instead of mayo, on a toasted roll. Not sure who's doing those these days - 'Hounds?

                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                  Neptune Oyster has both kinds, don't they?

                                                                  1. re: greenzebra

                                                                    Yes, Neptune Oyster offers lobster roll with melted butter. Very good.

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

                                                                  2. re: BobB

                                                                    butter sounds much better than mayo. Can I get a wheat bun? :)

                                                            2. I agree with, or would add:

                                                              Neptune Oyster (North End)
                                                              Trattoria Toscana (near the MFA)
                                                              Pizzeria Regina (North End)
                                                              Delux (South End)
                                                              Picco (South End)
                                                              Helmand (East Cambridge)
                                                              Toscanini's Ice Cream (Central Sq., Cambridge)
                                                              Hi-Rise (Harvard Sq. Cambridge)
                                                              Burdick's (Harvard Sq. Cambridge)
                                                              Friendly Toast (Kendall Sq. Cambridge)

                                                              -----
                                                              Trattoria Toscana
                                                              130 Jersey St, Boston, MA 02215

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

                                                              Delux Cafe
                                                              100 Chandler St, Boston, MA 02116

                                                              Toscanini's Ice Cream
                                                              899 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                              Burdick's
                                                              Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                                                              The Friendly Toast
                                                              1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

                                                              9 Replies
                                                              1. re: pollystyrene

                                                                Agree with just about all the recs on this list (esp Toscanini's for ice cream, one of the best spots around) but wouldn't makea special trip to Delux. I have been there lately and found the food pretty greasy and just not all that good. Which is a bummer as it is one of the least pretentious spots in the south end, with a very reasonably priced menu.

                                                                -----
                                                                Delux Cafe
                                                                100 Chandler St, Boston, MA 02116

                                                                1. re: twentyoystahs

                                                                  Toscanini's Ice Cream is good, but for ice cream in Cambridge I’d give the edge to Christina’s. It has recently overtaken JP Licks as my favorite ice cream in the Boston area. It’s next door to the East Coast Grill.

                                                                  1. re: Dan Boston

                                                                    Best ice cream is Ron's 20th Century Bowling in Hyde Park. Toscanini's, Christina's and JP Licks are far behind.

                                                                    1. re: Guinness02122

                                                                      I've never been. I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for the recommendation.

                                                                      1. re: Dan Boston

                                                                        It's on Hyde Park Ave. near Cleary Square. My new favorite restaurant, Townsends, is close by on Fairmount Street.

                                                                        Don't be put off by the appearance. Some major magazine rated it the 3rd best ice cream in the world a few years back.

                                                                        1. re: newstarr

                                                                          Yes. I went tonight and got a hot fudge sundae and a quart of ice cream. Like many great eateries, this place is off the beaten path. Some place named Bob's in Pamona, CA was 2nd in that ranking. National Geographic was the magazine. The bowling is actually candlepin bowling. I doubt you've ever seen anything like it unless you've spent time in New England. The balls are almost twice the size of softballs and the pins are thin like candles.

                                                                            1. re: newstarr

                                                                              The African Cuisine across the street is good also. The area itself is fairly desolate. I reiterate my Parish Cafe suggestion. Great high end sandwiches near Boston's greatest institution of higher learning, Northeastern University. :) Just kidding, that's my alma mater.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              The African Cuisine
                                                                              1248 Hyde Park Ave, Boston, MA 02136

                                                                2. I lived in the SF area from 1979 to 1987 and moved "back" to Boston (where I went to coillege) in 1988. I'm still in mourning. Could we cut a deal...you bring me stuff from the farmers market and I make you a NE dinner with subway for your daughter? Extra bonus for local asparagus and strawberries...I'm originally from North Carolina and I'd say go for the grits!

                                                                  seriously....go to Neptune Oyster in the North End early for lunch or dinner. They open at 11:30 am, it's very small. Don't get turned off by the name of the "cioppino"...it's the North End not North Beach version. Our Science Museum has nothing on Bay area science venues..and do reconsider East coast Grill. don't even think about Mexican here, did I say I'm still in mourning? New England is New England and it does have its own charms.It's 70 degrees today, but not so many years ago we had a huge snowstorm night of March 31...bring layers. Think SF fog and 70 degrees alternating.

                                                                  good luck!

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

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Madrid

                                                                    Have you been back since they opened the Ferry Building Market. A friend helped start it and has a locavore cookbook out. It's a little touristy and my dad keeps asking why so many people want to buy Vegetables (he's an old grumpy Italian), but they have great items you can't get from a store (but I'm in a food co-op, so we get the same items for less). I might take you up on your deal but I might have a tough time with perishables on the plane.

                                                                    The reviews make the science museum seem larger than any ever seen. Is it smaller than the new Academy of Science or the Exploratorium?

                                                                    I'm so sad that we aren't there now! It's supposed to rain the whole time we are there. I just went and bought umbrellas tonight to pack.

                                                                    Now I feel like a crazy person for not wanting to go to ECG. The menu really didn't stir anything in me or the Hell night episode of Man Vs. Food. But how can I not go, if everyone thinks it's great. I'm torn.

                                                                    1. re: newstarr

                                                                      It's too bad you don't have Dartmouth and Amherst back to back, then you could stop at
                                                                      - the REAL Burdick's in Walpole NH
                                                                      - Curtis's Barbecue in Putney, VT (in the big blue schoolbus)
                                                                      - TJ Buckley's in Brattleboro (there's a Subway three blocks away)

                                                                      Try the Black Sheep deli in Amherst, it's more or less a Subway designed by chowhounds. You and your daughter will both be able to find something you like.

                                                                      Actually, Burdick's is quite do-able from Dartmouth, you just have to take a different route home (and BTW there is NO snow in Hanover, my stepson visited last week)

                                                                      1. re: newstarr

                                                                        no, unfortunately I have not been back since the Ferry Building Market opened, but I sure wish I had. I remember reading an article about it that even gave suggestions for lodging with kitchens nearby, so you could visit, shop, and then cook! I'd have to bring along several of my good friends so we could all enjoy together. My SO makes horrible demeaning comments about starry eyed middle aged women moaning over produce. That's me, only nothing to moan over here locally until July.

                                                                        Don't beat up yourself over East Coast Grill...if nothing on the regular menu speaks to you, it's not for you. I hate the hell night myself...just too loud and macho.

                                                                        The Museum of Science is large, but in my opinion not as innovative and interactive as Exploratorium...and I haven't seen the new Academy of Science.

                                                                        Check back in as your trip develops if you want more suggestions! Hope it all goes well...

                                                                        -----
                                                                        East Coast Restaurant
                                                                        1456 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02122

                                                                    2. When you're in Providence, you need to check out Thayer Street. There are a few good places - if you want something simple for lunch, check out Spike's Junkyard Dogs. They have great hot dogs. Other options on Thayer Street are Andreas or Cafe Paragon. If you end up staying in Providence longer than you expect and don't make it back to Boston for dinner, I would recommend heading to Federal Hill and dining at Siena. I have not yet been, but have heard wonderful things. We tried to walk in on a Tuesday night a few months ago when it was freezing cold and they wouldn't seat us because they were already overbooked, so make sure to make reservations. It is supposed to be the best Italian food in Rhode Island.

                                                                      For your day along the Freedom Trail, you must go to the Pizzeria Regina in the North End - the best pizza in Boston - ask for your pizza well done, not burnt. When I go to Symphony Hall, we tend to visit Brasserie Jo at the Colonnade Hotel - the chicken coq au vin and steak frites are amazing. The best part of the meal is dessert - either the banana crepe (large enough to share) or the profitterole (which they pour warm melted chocolate over - as much or as little as you like).

                                                                      When in Harvard Square we tend to frequent Cafe of India, but this seems to conflict with your ethnic rule. I would defer to others opinions on that area as I don't frequent it often enough to give you an informed opinion.

                                                                      Near Boston College, you should check out the Publick House in Brighton for a local option - they have an amazing eggplant sandwich and macaroni and cheese or Eagles Deli for a true local haunt.

                                                                      Keep in mind that while you're visiting, it is Boston Restaurant Week so many of the restaurants will require reservations, but can offer you a good deal at a high end restaurant. I went to Top of the Hub (52nd floor in the Prudential building) and got a prime view of the city - with the three course meal for $33.10. The lamb was to die for. This is a must if you want a top of the line meal with a top of the line view. Check out all of the menus at www.bostonusa.com and click on Restaurant Week.

                                                                      Enjoy your stay in Boston and best of luck looking at colleges!

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Top of the Hub
                                                                      800 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02199

                                                                      Publick House
                                                                      1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                                                                      Cafe of India
                                                                      52 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                                      Eagles Deli
                                                                      1918 Beacon, Brookline, MA 02445

                                                                      Brasserie Jo
                                                                      120 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: FeastNut2008

                                                                        Sorry Feast,

                                                                        Top of the Hub stinks. Bay Tower Room was THE better choice for hi-rise dining, but they're closed.

                                                                        Publick House excels in beer, not food. Mac-and-cheese was barely edible and forgetable while the mussels flavorless and rubbery.

                                                                        Eagles Deli - never understood the fascination with this place. The burgers were decent and greasy 5 years ago. Nothing exceptional. Might as well go to Audubon Circle.

                                                                        Spike's Junkyard Dogs are horrible. The whole menu is horrible. I doubt these people want to spend the day with heartburn. If they could find Speed Dog, that would be a better choice. It's also seconds from the expressway, I93.

                                                                        Pizzeria Regina is not "the best pizza in Boston". That's been debated enough. I'd put it in the solid category with Santarpio's still on top (props to the barbecue lamb and sausage). Of course, that's an opinion. Many others are into Galleria Umberto and the various flat bread pizza places.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Top of the Hub
                                                                        800 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02199

                                                                        Publick House
                                                                        1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                                                                        Eagles Deli
                                                                        1918 Beacon, Brookline, MA 02445

                                                                      2. I'm all for experiencing the flavors of New England, but on these college visits, I suggest grabbing a meal at the college dining hall with your daughter, since this is where she will be eating breakfast lunch and dinner for the majority of the next 4 years. The food isn't great, but it's a great way to see the students at the college, and to get to know the school beyond a simple tour. I suggest going to Annenberg Hall at Harvard for breakfast before your tour-- it's less crowded then and absolutely gorgeous inside. You can purchase a meal where students swipe in.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: lycheefloat

                                                                          I thought about that. But I can still taste 4 years of college food and I don't think I want to punish myself. At least undergrad food was unique at a UC. Graduate food was at a state college and they only offered chain fast food. Maybe we will check out the campus dining. The offerings might give us an idea of the population on the campus.

                                                                        2. Hi All!

                                                                          Thanks for all the pointers! We are back and this is where we ate!
                                                                          Flight was cancelled, so we were delayed a day.

                                                                          3/23- Santarpios (anchovie pizza and lamb) This was wonderful! I loved it and the little peppers that come with the lamb was perfect.

                                                                          3/24- Louis in Providence (fruit cup, granola pancakes) The fruit cup was the best presented fruit cup I have ever had and the pancakes were fantastick.
                                                                          Sam Lagrassa (cornbeef ruben) OMG!! It was so yummy!! The best ruben I have ever had!

                                                                          3/25- Route 9 ( pancakes, bacon, eggs, potatoes) nothing special.
                                                                          Durgin Park (prime rib, baked beans, mashed potatoes, squash, corn bread) squash was yummy, our server was great, the prime rib was good not the best ever.

                                                                          3/26- Red arrow in Manchester, NH (pancakes, bacon, eggs, potatoes, beans, toast, twinkies) Fun! We were devirginized and given stickers. Great customers. We got our homemade twinkies 1/2 dozen to go. On the drive back from Dartmouth we went to eat them and they were moldy so we called ahead and stopped back by on our way back to Boston. They gave us like 20 fresh ones to make up for it. They were yummy.
                                                                          Umblepys (soup) ok. not bad or good just soup.
                                                                          Some pizza place in Harvard Sq.- they gave me 3 slices of pizza for the price of 1 cheese. So for $2.50 we had dinner!
                                                                          JP Licks- asked for the cool looking counter guy to give me his favorite flavor and he gave me Pistachio. Not my favorite but I guess I should have decided on my own.

                                                                          3/27- Maria's (cannoli) good not great.
                                                                          Haymarket (clams, fruit, cheese) How do they get the fruit so cheap? And I lived after eating a raw clam from a vendor! Stomach of steel.
                                                                          Galleria Umberto (1 of everything) This is the best place ever!!!!! I just want to pack up the stocky italian guy and bring him home. He is sooo cute.
                                                                          Union Oyster House (Oysters and clam chowder) ok. the beer was good and a fun crowd at the oyster bar.
                                                                          Hungry mother (catfish poorboy, okra, grits, ham and biscuits) late night menu. We had a 9:30 reservation but I told them we were coming from the symphony and would be there closer to 10pm. He said that was fine and he would give our 9:30 slot to someone else. We got there at 10:08 and they wouldn't let us order off the dinner menu. DO NOT go during late night menu if you are hungry! You get larger portions from the costco samplers! The food was good, the onions were to die for, but I thought that since he knew we were coming and our situation he could have let us order some real food.

                                                                          3/28- Helen's in Concord (sandwich) ok, busy, bad service, not impressed.
                                                                          JT Farnhams in Essex (fishermans combo) Bland! The batter was bland, the sauces were bland. I asked for seasoning and they told me they didn't carry any. I had to put salt on the food to try to bring out some flavor besides grease. I would never, ever recommend this place!

                                                                          3/29- Bartley's burgers (american idol, french onion soup) fun place! the burger wasn't anything special. It was a burger. But it is a fun place to go to once. I wouldn't eat there if I went to Harvard and wasn't a tourist.
                                                                          Some random North End bakery on a corner by itself on a side street. (the best butter cookies in the north end!!! ) I wish I knew the name. They were better than Maria's, Modern or Mike's.

                                                                          3/30- Galleria Umberto (1 of everything) Our favorite place! How do they cover their costs with prices so low? I love the potatoe things!! I'm hungry writing about it!
                                                                          McCormick and Schmicks (lobster clam bake and crab soup) It was o.k., nothing special.
                                                                          Christina's (banna split) coconut ice cream was yummy, out of most toppings at the end of a rainy tuesday night.

                                                                          So we didn't get to all of the places we wanted to go. We were tired. We had a great time. And thanks for all the pointers!

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Sam Lagrassa's
                                                                          44 Province St, Boston, MA 02108

                                                                          Union Oyster House
                                                                          41 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108

                                                                          Durgin Park
                                                                          1 Faneuil Hall Sq, Boston, MA 02109

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: newstarr

                                                                            Great update! Thanks for sharing - gave me ideas of some new places to try, and also reminded me I'm due for another visit to Galleria Umberto. That place is so incredible.

                                                                            Little bit of history that may or may not be true: I was told (by someone who practically lived in the North End in his younger days) that the owners of Galleria Umberto started the restaurant to um...launder money. The intention was to lose money, but it took off and became a hit, surprising everyone, owners included.

                                                                            Don't know if this colorful tale is true or not - but I absolutely love the place. It's a bit of old-time North End that seems to be disappearing all too fast.

                                                                            1. re: threedogs

                                                                              That story would make sense. I did the math. After you subtract the ingredients, plates, napkins, boxes, straws, salt, pepper, and rent. They are losing money. It explains the short hours also. But it is so yummy! I don't care if they have boddies in the freezer.

                                                                            2. re: newstarr

                                                                              Thanks for the nice report and glad that you had a great time. glad you liked Galleria Umberto which I think is unique. Sorry that Maria's was just OK. it's my favorite of the three Ms. I agree on the Farnhams review and find that i have to add salt. I still haven't been to Sam Lagrassa's for the Ruben but you remind me to go.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Sam Lagrassa's
                                                                              44 Province St, Boston, MA 02108

                                                                              1. re: newstarr

                                                                                I forgot we went to the Barking Crab, My daughter got sick and we had to go before the food came up. I told them and they were not understanding at all. I couldn't believe what they were charging to eat in a circus tent at a picnic table.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                The Barking Crab
                                                                                88 Sleeper Street, Boston, MA 02210

                                                                              2. Great trip report! Thanks! My wife and I go to Gallaria Umberto about every 4-6 weeks or so. We love the panzarotti (potato roll w/cheese), but we really go for the arancini (rice balls) which my wife calls GOG (Golden Orbs of Goodness!).