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Seattle Chowhound Looking for Unique Boston Eats

I'll be in Boston from this coming Tuesday morning through the following Saturday afternoon. I'm looking for eating experiences that are uniquely "Boston" -- not just the usual generic request for suggestions as to the "best restaurants." For example, I can get great Asian food in Los Angeles, where I used to live and where I visit frequently, so that's not what I'm looking for. On the other hand, I'm planning to go to Neptune Oyster to sample some good Atlantic oysters (e.g., Island Creeks from Duxbury Bay) and other local seafood. Can you help me find other places that serve good food that is uniquely "Boston" or at least regionally "New England," that I probably can't get in Seattle? Baked beans? Lobster roll? You get the idea, I hope. Thanks for your help.

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  1. Tom, fortunately Boston has a lot more to offer than baked beans and lobster rolls, just as Seattle has a lot more to offer than salmon and Dungeness crab. When I was living in Seattle, some of the items I missed most from Boston were (in no particular order) good pastas (Italian food in general), innovative sushi (and good Japanese comfort food), tasting menus, soup dumplings, salt and pepper soft shell crab (when in season, which isn't yet). Seattle is strong in Vietnamese, Indian, Korean, Spanish but relatively weak in Mexican,Thai, northern Chinese/Taiwanese, pizza. I would definitely seek out some good pastas here (carbonara at Sportello, lambs brain ravioli at Coppa, corn/rock shrimp raviolini at Prezza, to name a few), sushi/sashimi at O-Ya (which I would put above any I've had in Seattle OR LA, including Urasawa, if you like creativity), the tasting at Clio, crispy pigs head (and fried New England clams) at Craigie. That already "eats up" your 4 days in Boston I think. While on your way out of town on Saturday, stop in at Hong Kong Eatery to take out some crispy skin roast pork (specify center cut) to eat on the plane. PS. Island Creeks are great but I think I prefer the Totten Virginicas I used to get in Seattle. Also although Seattle has a great cocktail scene, you should also check out Drink, Craigie, Eastern Standard (to name a few) while here.

    1. Toro for an interesting (and tasty) take on Tapas. I don't remember finding anything like that in Seattle while we were visiting.
      Fried clams/scallops if your stomach can deal w/ the grease (I prefer scallops but clams are a new england thing)...the Clam Box in Ipswich.
      Definitely hit Neptune for their lobster roll and oysters (though I like B&G Oyster's variant better).
      You can try a new england lobster bake but I've never been too impressed w/ that...

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      Toro
      1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

      2 Replies
      1. re: Spike

        I second Clam box and Casa Portugal and would add The Daily Catch in the North end for all things squid.

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        Casa Portugal
        1200 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

        Daily Catch
        2 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210

        1. re: Spike

          Seattle does have Harvest Vine (and Txori) which have excellent tapas, more elaborate than Toro actually

        2. Tom, not sure if you have a Brazilian or Portuguese population but E. Cambridge has a plethora of Portuguese restaurants including Casa Portugal, Sunset and Portugalia with a wide variety of seafood dishes and the Midwest Grille with Brazillian barbecue brought to your table by gauchos. Think big slabs of meats on skewers.

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          Casa Portugal
          1200 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

          1 Reply
          1. re: trufflehound

            I was also thinking Iberian when i saw the OP. Let me add Estragon (for Spanish tapas) for Muqueca (Brazilian seafood). One other thought is New World hispanic. eg. Dominican (Yely;s Coffe Shop or Alex's Chimis) or South American (RIncon Limeno).

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            Alex's Chimis
            358 Centre St, Boston, MA 02130

            Muqueca
            1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

          2. I loved the seafood I had in Seattle last year, but cried when I couldn't find any place to offer decent (from a Bostonian's view) fried clams. The closest were fried clam strips - yuck, yuck and yuck. In all seriousness though, I didn't realize how fried whole clams may be more of a New England thing not just a "seafood-centric town" thing. You're right in time to catch the start of good fried clams, as the shacks start to open up so go have some fried clams.

            I think a lobster roll is a good option, and Neptune Oyster does one of the best renditions. If you're willing to travel a bit, getting out to one of the local clams places is better than a sit down restaurant in Boston IMO, but I know that may not be realistic. If Clam Box in Ipswich is too far, than Tony's in neighboring Quincy is a closer and good choice.

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

            Clam Box
            789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

            1 Reply
            1. re: kobuta

              I think Neptune's fried clams are just as good as any of the shacks. Nice light batter, not greasy at all, good delicate fry.

            2. A couple of logistical items:

              1. Next weekend is Patriot's Day weekend, when there are thousands of runners and their families in town for the Boston Marathon on Patriot's Day (the Monday of the holiday weekend - celebrating the 235th anniversary of the beginning of the American Revolution in these parts). So, as you get closer to the weekend, you may find it more pleasant to avoid the Back Bay, which is the nerve center of all things Marathon-y.

              2. If you have access to a car, you can enjoy going up to Clamshack Valhalla/Nirvana/Olympus/Zion, which extends from Essex to Rowley, with Ipswich at its heart. Very beautiful towns (frankly, all the way from Gloucester to Newburyport is a lovely excursion), too.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Karl S

                I agree with KarlS that Essex is the place to go, if you have a car. All you really need to look for is Rte. 133, which runs past a bunch of the best clam restaurants. Farnham's is right on the saltmarsh so it has a better view than the others. If you are interested in sightseeing, this is the same neck of the woods as Salem (witch trial history and the Peabody-Essex Museum, America's oldest, with diverse exhibits but particularly strong on maritime and Asian www.pem.org). Also Rockport, the quintessential artsy seaside town, and Gloucester, a fishing hub.

                People in MA consume more ice cream per capita than anywhere else in the country. There's Christina's in Cambridge (also a spice shop) which makes flavors not found elsewhere, but there are also a passel of ice cream stands along Rte 133, and all of them are good.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Cambridge does have fabulous ice cream, although Seattle has some great gelato places, so maybe the OP is good on that score...I like the squid ink aioli that comes with the fried clams at Craigie

                2. re: Karl S

                  This also means the pasta centric North End will be busy so I would go to Neptune before the hordes arrive Thurs,Fri and Saturday.