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Essential Boston Food for a 2-Day Scouting Trip

Hello Boston!

I'm coming up from Austin for a food scouting trip this week and want to know all the best places to eat. But I only have 2 days! So no messing around with mediocre just-opened hotspots. I want the best of the best, from Vietnamese holes-in-the-wall to the finest farm-to-tables.

Here's the map: http://citizentaco.com/2010/04/11/apr...

What am I missing?

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    1. With only 2 days, I'd prbably skip Blue Ribbon. I love the place, but you have great Q at home. Uni has lost it's main sushi chef (opened his own place, AKA Bistro, in Lincoln.. so for high end creative Japanese, I'd go with Oya. I'd try to fit in a trip to Neptune Oyster for great seafood and Pizzeria Regina (original North End only) for what is arguably the best pizza in town. TWFood in Cambridge would fit in.

      Looks like you've done your homework but you'll need a few more days to hit all the places..:)

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

      1 Reply
      1. re: 9lives

        T.W. Food is a great suggestion--I would consider switching that out for Ten Tables. I went to both this weekend and while I really enjoyed the cooking at Ten Tables (except for the dessert we had--a sour cherry clafoutis) I thought the food at TW Food was even better, and the overall experience (including the space and the service) was superb.

        If you are coming to Inman Square anyways, you should also go to Christina's Ice Cream. East by Northeast, also in Inman, is quite interesting and a new favorite. There are many fans on this board, including me.

        Sounds like a fun trip! Hope you have already started saving up room.

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        East by Northeast
        1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

      2. While Blue Ribbon is by some distance the best barbecue in the area, you more than likely have better within a 10-minute drive of your front door.

        Same goes for Felipe's Taqueria: here it's one of the better options, but in Austin it would be, to paraphrase Calvin Trillin, almost as good as the place you go when you don't feel like going all the way out to the place you really like.

        Brown Sugar has its partisans, but there are also those of us who think it's rather vile: if you have to pick a Thai restaurant in that neighborhood, stick with S&I Thai.

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        Brown Sugar Cafe
        1033 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

        S&I To Go
        168A Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134

        Felipe's Taqueria
        83 Mount Auburn St, Cambridge, MA 02138

        1. I hope you've got a pal to split food with or you won't make a dent in that. Everyone's right about the tacos and bbq. Neptune and Regina are good suggestions if you haven't been before and convenient to each other (in fact, you didn't have anything in the north end). I'd keep Toro on the list and work another south end place in. Personally I'd pay the extra $8 and get the Chez Henri cubano but there's other stuff you could get at El Oriental (and grab a coffee from Velouria a few doors down) and could combine with the JP Ten Tables. Good luck with that crazy itinerary.

          -----
          Toro
          1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

          Chez Henri
          1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

          Ten Tables
          5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

          15 Replies
          1. re: Joanie

            Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions! As far as BBQ & Mexican, obviously I'm spoiled living here in Austin. But I'm always excited to try to find the best of both whenever I travel, and every once in a while you'll find a few gems. Last week I was in Nashville and never thought I would find any good Mexican, and yet there were dozens of taco trucks that locals didn't seem to know about but were fantastic and as good as anything in Texas. Hopefully I'll uncover something comparable in Boston.

            Also I'm a huge fan of Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Ethiopian, Korean and Latin American cuisines, so if you have any further recommendations on those, especially for little hole in the wall places, let me know!

            1. re: Citizen Taco

              For Ethiopian, I would recommend Habesha in Malden, just north of Boston (easy drive, or on the subway.)

              In East Boston, there is a Peruvian place called Rincon Limeno.

              -----
              Rincon Limeno
              409 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128

              Habesha Restaurant
              535 Main St, Malden, MA

              1. re: Citizen Taco

                To pile on: You should try Cambodian; the most accessible (geographically) is Floating Rock in Revere, on the BLue Line. I also highly recommend YoMa, a Burmese restaurant in Allston. 2nd Habesha, Rincon, and S&I. If you find yourself in East Cambridge, check out Azorean Portuguse at the Snack Bar (order the rabbit if they have it). Pretty much anywhere in the US has better Mexican than we do--shortage of Mexicans--but try the Salvadorean pupusas at, say, Buen Gusto in East Boston.

                -----
                Floating Rock
                485 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

                Habesha Restaurant
                535 Main St, Malden, MA

                1. re: Aromatherapy

                  Floating Rock I believe is closed until they open their Cambridge location. I would substitute Yoma Burmese in Allston, truly unique and amazing food.

                  I would also hit some of the Taiwanese which we excel at here in Boston: Shangrila or Formosa Taipei, or Mulan. Might also Hit Wang's in Somerville for dumplings, or Shanghai Gate, New Shanghai, or Fuloon for really excellent Shanghainese or Szechuen.

                  -----
                  Floating Rock
                  485 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

                  New Shanghai Restaurant
                  21 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

                  Shanghai Gate
                  204 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                  Formosa Taipei
                  315 Marrett Rd, Lexington, MA 02421

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    floating rock is open until the end of the month

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      Might also add Rincon Limeno (Peruvian) to the mix, think someone mentioned it above:

                      http://www.rinconlimenorestaurant.com...

                      And the link for Shangri La was wrong, here's the right one:

                      http://www.shangrilachinese.com/home....

                  2. re: Citizen Taco

                    Believe me, we'd know if there were any good taco trucks in Boston. The problem is that there are basically NO taco trucks in Boston: city regulations severely restrict truck and cart dining. It's one of the city's main problems, along with the near-total lack of 24-hour diners.

                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                      Herrera's actually started with a small cart on Boston Common..back in the early 90's..similar to Chacarero. For me, it was love at first bite. They still have a few carts in downtown and a store on Temple St. I should retry them but my last experiences weren't all that good.

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                      Chacarero
                      101 Arch St, Boston, MA 02110

                    2. re: Citizen Taco

                      I'm from Houston, and Barmy is from El Paso way, and trust us, you don't want to spend your short time here eating Mexican food or BBQ. I'm not an expert in other latin cuisines, so I couldn't say whether the Salvadorean food is better here than there, but I'd stay with things you can't get there.

                      -----
                      El Paso
                      15 Norwood St, Everett, MA 02149

                      1. re: cpingenot

                        Actually, Barmy's mostly from Lubbock.

                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                              There's a hug Lubbock/Liverpool crosspolination/cultural exchange thing.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                Yep - it's like the old Cambridge/San Francisco wormhole.

                                1. re: Allstonian

                                  I tumbled out of that one back in the '70s!

                  3. Farm to Table Fine Dining: Craigie on Main

                    Incredible Spanish and an awesome burger (lunch only):Toro

                    High End Italian: Via Matta (erbaluce would be close second) - North End has a fun atmosphere but doesn't really deliver on high end Italian (more red sauce). Neptune Oyster (not Italian), though, is certainly one not to miss in the NE.

                    Sushi: Oishii for more traditional, O Ya for mind-blowing, break the bank sushi that is certainly non-traditional

                    I'd skip all pizza in Boston. There is so much to offer in Boston, and the pizza is not anywhere close to hitting the mark. (disclaimer: I am a former New Yorker)

                    Best BBQ near Boston is actually in Manchester, NH (not very close) at KC's Rib Shack. Much better than Blue Ribbon.

                    Rod Dee and Brown Sugar are my two favorite Thai places in Boston.

                    -----
                    O Ya
                    9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

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

                    Brown Sugar Cafe
                    1033 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                    Via Matta
                    79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

                    Craigie on Main
                    853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    12 Replies
                      1. re: ecwashere7

                        Haven't heard much in the way of Vietnamese or Korean.

                        Are there any good Pho places in town?

                        Also good shops for dark chocolate?

                        And good beer bars?

                        1. re: Citizen Taco

                          Well, Pho 2000, which is on your list, is excellent. Many also like the nearby Pho So 1, which I haven't yet tried, and Anh Hong is just up the street and also very good. Try their bun.

                          Taza Chocolate is a local favorite--sold in almost any interesting grocery store and many other places (such as Sherman Market in Union Square, Darwin's on either side of Harvard Square, Savenor's) and many also like Chocolee in the South End, which just reopened.

                          The beer bars question is often debated here. Personally I like the Druid in Inman, which has a nice, well-selected beer list. Bukowski and Lord Hobo, also near Inman, both have long lists and some neat stuff. I tend to be Cambridge/Somerville-centric for bars, but there are many other favorites around that you will find with some searches on these boards.

                          -----
                          Pho 2000 Restaurant
                          198 Adams St, Dorchester, MA 02122

                          Bukowski's
                          1281 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                          Taza Chocolate
                          561 Windsor St, Somerville, MA

                          Anh Hong
                          291 Adams St, Dorchester, MA 02122

                          Lord Hobo
                          92 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                          1. re: Citizen Taco

                            You could go to both Chocolee and Aroa in the south end (about 6 blocks apart) to try some good dark chocolates of interesting flavors. I think you had Orinoco on your list so you could get the real food there.

                            Publick House and American Craft in Brookline are known for beers as is Deep Ellum in Allston. And Allston offers all sorts of Korean places plus S&I Thai which was mentioned, so you could combine those.

                            -----
                            Publick House
                            1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                            Deep Ellum Bar
                            477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                            S&I To Go
                            168A Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                            American Craft
                            1700 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02445

                            1. re: Citizen Taco

                              since you ask about dark chocolate and beer bars, if' you happen to be driving to/from Boston through CT, stop in NOrwalk CT at Chocopologie and Ginger Man (both within a block of each other, coincidentally)

                              1. re: Citizen Taco

                                Beer Bars:

                                Cambridge: Lord Hobo, Bukowskis, Cambridge Brewing Company (all within walking distance of each other)
                                Downtown/Backbay: Jacob Wirths, Stoddards, Bukowskis, Kinsale, Otherside
                                Allston/Brookline: Publick House, American Craft, Deep Ellum

                                -----
                                Cambridge Brewing Company
                                1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                Publick House
                                1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                                Bukowski's
                                1281 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                Deep Ellum Bar
                                477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                                Jacob Wirth
                                31 Stuart St, Boston, MA 02116

                                Lord Hobo
                                92 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                                American Craft
                                1700 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02445

                                1. re: Citizen Taco

                                  For good Vietnamese, head to Xinh Xinh in Chinatown. Excellent Vietnamese.

                                  Boston doesn't have the strongest Korean options either. I think Chung Ki Wa in Medford is one of the better places. If you don't have a local place with Korean fried chicken, stop by Privus for their addicting bonchon chicken (ignore the clubby atmosphere).

                                  -----
                                  Xinh Xinh
                                  7 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

                                  Chung Ki Wa
                                  27 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA 02155

                                2. re: ecwashere7

                                  ecwash, that's all well and good that you have that opinion regarding the pizza here, but I think for someone coming from Texas, the original Regina is a top-notch recommendation.

                                  Vietnamese: if you don't want to go all the way to Dorchester (and if you're only here for two days, that is a heck of a detour), go to Xinh Xinh, right in Chinatown.

                                  Thai: Montien is also very convenient, right on the cusp of Chinatown in the Theater District. Be sure to ask for the Thai menu, or else you'll get the regular stuff you can get anywhere. There are a couple other excellent Thai places in Brookline, but again, since you're here for such a short amount of time, stay as close in as possible. Never been to S&I Thai, tho. Brown Sugar is not that great at all--very ordinary.

                                  Cambodian: I thought Floating Rock was open through the end of April? But again, really out of the way for someone only here two days.

                                  Cuban: agree with Joanie. Just get the Cuban sandwich at Chez Henri. If you specifically were longing for Cuban food, then sure El Oriental de Cuba would help you out, but given your wide-spread interest, probably not worth it this trip.

                                  Chocolate: Beacon Hill Chocolates.

                                  -----
                                  Floating Rock
                                  485 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

                                  Xinh Xinh
                                  7 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

                                  El Oriental De Cuba
                                  416 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                                  Chez Henri
                                  1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                  Pizzeria Regina
                                  11 1/2 1/2 Thacher St, Boston, MA 02113

                                  1. re: Alcachofa

                                    I do agree that Regina is probably the best option for pizza in Boston (or Gran Gusto in Cambridge), but I would not say its worth someone's time when he or she only has two days. There are way too many better options for food in Boston than pizza. Pizza should not be considered a signature food of Boston.

                                    -----
                                    Gran Gusto
                                    90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                    1. re: ecwashere7

                                      Whether or not any pizza place is worth the time during a short visit is really up to the individual. The OP is all over the map and so obviously won't hit everything. He may decide he just doesn't want pizza, generally.

                                      But the fact is, his time would be better spent at Regina than at Brown Sugar--it's absolutely "essential Boston". I like Via Matta, but by extension you're basically saying an upscale Italian restaurant is "a signature food of Boston"? Regina is way more a signature food of Boston than that. It is important to emphasize that this refers to the original Pizzeria Regina, because of the character of the joint.

                                      1. re: Alcachofa

                                        Bugaboo Creek has a lot of character, too.

                                        1. re: ecwashere7

                                          Man, no wonder why I was just talking with someone last nite about why he doesn't read this board anymore.

                                3. Hi all - thanks for the wonderful recommendations for my stay in Boston. Here is the final map that resulted from my adventures. More suggestions are always welcome.

                                  Thanks!

                                  http://citizentaco.com/guide/boston/

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Citizen Taco

                                    I don't understand the map. Where did you end up and how did you like it?

                                    1. re: Alcachofa

                                      Purple pinpoints are the places I went and liked.
                                      Blue pinpoints are places I still want to try.

                                      Favorite places I ate all week:

                                      S&I Thai (green papaya salad was super spicy and really amazing)
                                      Hungry Mother (their cornbread with sorghum butter is gluten-free and OUTSTANDING)
                                      O Ya (duh, it's probably the best restaurant north of New York City)
                                      Aroa Chocolate (the gluten-free/vegan brownies are possibly the best brownies of any kind I've ever had. truly amazing)

                                      -----
                                      O Ya
                                      9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                                      Hungry Mother
                                      233 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02141

                                      S&I To Go
                                      168A Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134