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What is your guilty pleasure?

I've seen several posts detailing favorite restaurants, favorite dishes, great recommendations for out-of-towners to try, and everyone has differing opinions. This got me thinking... what is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Do you occasionally find yourself at a local dive or chain restaurant and think "I know this is not great, but it really hits the spot." Maybe you only go once a year, or after a long night of drinking, or when you get together with old high school friends, but you still find yourself enjoying every last bite.

I'm Italian and have a difficult time finding a really good Italian restaurant, especially outside of the North End. However, I can't resist going to Carrabba's once in a while for their fried mozzarella and chicken soup. Then there is always McD's breakfast sandwiches. I only get them once a year and always regret it immediately afterwards. Finally, I spent a brief period of time in the south and LOVED Waffle House. It's dirty, it's cheap, and it was the best breakfast ever!

What's your guilty pleasure? Don't be ashamed, we're all friends here...

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  1. while i remain a total snob for pizza, and find that the boston area is still poor in great pie, i have to admit to rarely (if ever) turning down an offered piece. any "house of..." crap, frozen trader joe's or cold from the night before and reheated. i will pass on the big nationals (domino's, etc.) but even there i have been known to fall...

    1. Folks, we'll ask you all to help us keep this thread focused on specific foods that can be found at specific restaurants in the Boston area. There are a few other threads on this topic floating around on the General Chowhounding Topic and Chains boards if you'd like to discuss your favorite indulgences that are not unique to the Boston area. This search http://search.chow.com/search?query=g... locates some of them. This search finds previous discussions on this topic on the Boston board http://search.chow.com/search?query=g...

      1. Sorry, I should have been more focused on the Boston area in my original post.

        DC and I have a tendency to go to restaurants that have been around forever and dine along with the early birds. One favorite is The Chateau in Waltham. I just can't resist getting their toasted raviolis each and every time we go.

        Another is the Century House in Peabody. Has anyone else become addicted to their potato skins? We always sit on the lounge side (actually, we've never been on the other side of the restaurant) and love watching people playing keeno and pull-tab lottery tickets.

        Century House Restaurant
        235 Andover St, Peabody, MA 01960

        1 Reply
        1. re: robyn76

          I love the "Chapeau" and was very disappointed when it moved out of Arlington.

        2. I like the pizza at the Villa Rosa in Quincy........

          There, I said it. :-b

          5 Replies
          1. re: hiddenboston

            As long as it's not the pasta, I can live with that.

            I really dis-like Americanized Chinese food, but I have to admit that a greasy chicken wing or a crab rangoon can hit the spot. I sadly haven't found as good of a crab rangoon since the restaurant my dad worked at closed, but Mr. Chan's in East Milton Square does some pretty good fried chicken wings.

            1. re: kobuta

              More the result of a night of cross species passion between a crab rangoon and a springroll than a true crab rangoon, but have you ever tried the cheese rolls at Shanghai Gate? http://shanghaigateboston.com/Menu/ho... I'm not a huge crab rangoon fan but am quite fond of these. If you haven't, they're like crab rangoon filling in a cigar shaped crispy wrapper that's more like a spring roll than the usual wonton wrapper

              Shanghai Gate
              204 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

            2. re: hiddenboston

              Marc, you make me crazy, you can't possibly like the Villa's pizza! Say you were just kidding! :)

              1. Every once in a while I'll stop into Michael's in Coolidge Corner for the gynormous breakfast sandwich on a bagel with sausage and American cheese (I can never even come close to finishing it!) It is quite possibly the largest breakfast sandwich I have ever seen for under 3 bucks I think?


                1. Beef and potato empanadas from Trolley Snacks at Lechmere Station.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: phatchris

                    Those are disgusting! I love them.

                  2. I once went to a lecture by a leftist nutritionist who said it took 7 years for the nasties in a donut to be removed from your body. That said, I love fresh made cider donuts. My son's school is near Parlee Farms in Tyngsboro and every fall I add many multiples of 7 to a body cleanse.

                    Parlee Farm
                    95 Farwell Rd, Tyngsboro, MA

                    1. Even after living here for ten years, the candied nuts they sell at Downtown Crossing *still* get me. I will bust out 3 bucks for a bag of cashews and skip down the street with them, as giddy as any Faneuil Hall tourist.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ginafly

                        TOTALLY AGREE! The smell alone is intoxicating! They are soooo good.


                        1. re: ginafly

                          Ok, now I'm curious. I think they smell good too, but I guess I'm not a buy-a-bag-of-nuts kind of gal, so I've never tried them. I've never even seen anyone buy them, so I'm always suspect, and I've been here for 30+ years.

                          1. re: kobuta

                            I used to LOVE the cashews - especially when they would heat them up in the copper bowls before they would bag them & give them to you. Haven't had them in about 10 years since I was working the overnight shift, but now I'm on days so I'm just catching up on the places I haven't had for a while.
                            But, for a local/Southie guilty pleasure, there are 2 that come to mind - the chicken & chips - with extra sauce on the side - at The Fish Pier & french fries with gravy at South Boston Chinese - they have the BEST crab rangoon is Southie too!

                            South Boston Chinese Restaurant
                            429 W Broadway, Boston, MA 02127

                            Fish Pier Restaurant
                            667 E Broadway, Boston, MA 02127

                        2. Tex Barry's Coney Island hot dogs. Nothing special about the dog, the bun, or any of the toppings except the meat sauce, but they hit a nostalgia button. The only two outlets left (that I know of) are in Attleboro and Taunton.


                          5 Replies
                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            Hot dogs with meat sauce. There's a weird culinary variation that I never saw until relatively recently. I guess it's not that much different from a chili dog but I had never heard of it until my (then) girlfriend took me to Capitol Lunch in New Britain CT 10 or 12 years ago. Does anyone know where this practice originated?

                            1. re: scratchie

                              The Tex Barry Coney Island is a chili dog. The chili just happens to be made from a finely-minced beef without any beans, which always struck me as distinctive from the chili used to top most chili dogs. But the seasonings would likely be pretty familiar to chili dog lovers. I'm told this particular style actually originated in Michigan.


                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                Huh, I didn't know anyone served Coneys around here! Do they do chili cheese fries, too? /intrigued...

                                1. re: dulce de leche

                                  The cheese was/is an orange Cheez Whiz-like substance, kept in a squeeze bottle that stands in simmering water to keep it semi-liquid. I don't recall ever seeing this or the chili sauce put on fries, but I can't imagine them not honoring a request to do so for a reasonable upcharge.

                                  I found this old Chronicle segment on diners; the first part is on the Attleboro Tex Barry's, with a good look at the classic dog there. http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video...

                                  (It also includes cool segments on the also-worthwhile Lanna Thai Diner in N. Woburn and Liberty Elm Diner in Providence).


                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    Oh, I see. It's the right idea but wrong execution. Coney chili is soupier with more finely ground meat. No weird cheese liquid for the fries, just grated. And a "skin" hotdog, made from beef.

                                    Ah, well! Thanks for the followup information!

                          2. I love a lot of foods, especially in the Boston area, where my favorite gourmet burger of all time happens to be (Radius!).

                            When I'm really craving food, though, all I want is a fast food burger, from any one of the typical chains. A nice Whopper, a Big Mac, whatever--as long as I get a large burger, with a side of fries, and a Milk Shake.

                            1. I admit that while I am completely horrified in every realm by the fluffy, spongy, uniform substance posing as egg in the Dunks egg sandwiches... yeah. Those things taste good.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: djd

                                This reminds me of the ham and egg bun at Eldo's. Every other Chinatown baker does a a thin sliver of egg, while Eldo uses this thick rectangular block of egg with their thin slice of ham. I love it. Maybe not a guilty pleasure, but an odd one for sure.

                              2. Sometimes I get a big craving for the onion rings at Kitty's in North Reading. I loved that place as a kid, and though I find it pretty awful now (and the decor hasn't been updated since I was a kid) those onion rings still hit the spot.

                                1. STEAMERS! - When I'm in the mood for steamer clams; the real thing - soft shells with the necks. I head for the Halfway Cafe. In Watertown & Dedham plus a few other locations.

                                  Halfway Cafe
                                  394 Main St, Watertown, MA 02472

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: frambusch

                                    Since when are steamers a "guilty pleasure"? They're one of the finest foods available in this area. I love them at Brown's in Seabrook. They're so sweet you don't even need to dip them in butter.

                                  2. Love the Japanese steakhouses - on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, Rt. 60 in Revere. Are they chowish? No, but they make me happy. <g>

                                    The Italian sub from the Croissant place in the Park Square building.

                                    And once or twice a year I get a McDonald's/Burger King/KFC yen.