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What does Boston bring to the table?

What are the foods or dishes i absolutely must try in Boston? Could also be a restaurant or staple. I'm a tourist staying 3 days so unfortunately i will not be able to venture far off the beaten trail.

Please forgive my ignorance, i know this question must come up a LOT but hard to find keywords to search with on this subject.

PS: I am from Montreal. We do have a lot of food types too, i am not looking to be "wowed" by something unique or exotic, just was something good, like any other foodie :)

But please....... no french food. I've had my share.

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  1. Boston is particularly strong in Taiwanese and Portuguese and Brazilian foods. If you don't see these where you live, I can suggest seeking these out.

    3 Replies
    1. re: yumyum

      Oh nice! That gives me something to go on, thanks!

      1. re: SourberryLily

        i think that the afgan restaurant, helmand, is a very good and unique; I think that Tamarind Bay is a unique Indian restaurant; I think that one should try a lobster roll that are available at various places.

        I eat a lot of Chinese food here, but there is better in other cities, especially on the West Coast.

        -----
        Tamarind Bay
        75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

          I noticed Chinatown and North End always come up on this board, must be popular. I have a soft spot for Indian food. Noted down Tamarind Bay on my google map :D Thanks!

          -----
          Tamarind Bay
          75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

    2. For a city of its size, Boston has a relatively large Nepali community, which has brought us 5 (and at one point, 6!!) different Nepali restaurants:

      yak & yeti (broadway st, somerville)
      annapurna (mass ave, porter sq/cambridge)
      kathmandu spice (mass ave, arlington)
      mt everest (brighton ave, allston)
      himalayan bistro (west roxbury)

      I'm not sure if I would consider the restaurants I've listed above as "ZOMG U MUST TRY THEZE NAO" destinations, especially for a 3-day trip, but it does (hopefully) add to an answer of your question of what Boston brings to the table. :)

      3 Replies
      1. re: Prav

        Not to mention Coriander Bistro in Sharon, from the Himalayan Bistro folks.

        -----
        Coriander Bistro
        5 Post Office Square, Sharon, MA 02067

        1. re: Prav

          I guess House of Tibet doesn't technically count, but it's close right? :)

          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            Oh yeah, aren't there like THREE Tibetan restaurants in metro Boston as well? Crazy!

        2. How about tradition? Can we go back more than 10 years? Consider Locke-Ober, or Union Oyster House, where Daniel Webster ate oysters 184 years ago and you can do the same thing at the same bar. Young adults may find it un-cool, but they will change their minds in 50 years when all these other recos are long gone and UOH is still standing.

          -----
          Locke-Ober
          3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

          Union Oyster House
          41 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108

          6 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            UOH is only good if you sit at the ancient curved oyster bar for a beer and some raw oysters/cherrystones. Anything else there is an avoid at all cost.

            1. re: joth68

              And tune in to the rhythm of the dumbwaiter. The bar is magical, in what museum can you put your elbows and a beer on an exhibit? The building works and the shellfish are good: your objections are management and QC issues, which are curable in the long term.

              1. re: Veggo

                Except for its downstairs oyster bar, the Union Oyster House has been awful for at least 25 years. I don't expect a cure for the rest of its issues anytime soon.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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                Union Oyster House
                41 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  I concur, the downstairs bar is what it's all about. And it exudes history and makes for a pleasant experience. The shuckers know this. The rest is unremarkable until the glaciers move.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    I had a vague memory of this place so i asked my mother and it turns out its one of the first restaurants in my memory. We're talking "mooommy look its a seashell" young... Unfortunately, that was my first and only attempt at oysters and i got sand in my mouth that made me spit it out. I'll pass thank you :P

                    1. re: SourberryLily

                      I think you should treat yourself to good pizza in the North End, Reginas or such, or other killer Italian there.

          2. Not to single you out to dump on, when requesting this type of input it would be helpful if the OPs stated where they live and what kind of cuisine is available to them locally. It's a real pain, if your computer connection isn't the speediest, to jump to the OP's profile in an attempt to ferret out this info. You may miss out on potentially good ideas because some hounds look at this kind of post and dismiss it, thinking that if the OP can't be bothered to pose the question better, they can't be bothered to respond. In your case, I assume you don't want poutine or French food, but have no idea what else is local for you.

            That said, other than lobster rolls, chowder, and other seafood, the Boston area is big on ice cream. Massachusetts consumes the most I.C. per person of all the 50 states, and there are interesting flavors like grapenuts. Christina's in Cambridge also has a spice shop, which makes it THE spot for unique I.C. flavors.

            8 Replies
            1. re: greygarious

              I'm sorry! I'm so used to Trip Advisor always putting my location next to my name, i forgot ot mention here. I'm from Montreal. My city has a lot of good french food, chinese, cantonese, japanese, greek, jewish...... as well as many other nationalities. We're not too far from each other so i don't expect something i absolutly can't get back home... but that's fine as long as it's something Boston does well.

              I have never even heard of lobster roll so that is a very interesting suggestion.

              1. re: SourberryLily

                http://search.chow.com/search?query=l...

                It's most often lobster with a little mayo and celery on a hot dog type bun, but sometimes hot buttered lobster and sometimes a better roll like brioche.
                The Boston Globe and Boston Magazine have done features on them. They run the gamut - you can find them pre-made in supermarkets and even McDonalds has had them for a limited summer run. Enjoy!!!

                1. re: SourberryLily

                  Montreal! Well, knowing that, don't spend too much time seeking out bagels. :)

                  1. re: Prav

                    I'd add to that, don't seek out much high end stuff either. You can do better at home. Ditto the deli culture, cured meats. Me, I'd keep it simple. Lots of good breakfast stuff here, check board. Sandwich fare... Not that there arent great places to eat but again you live in Montreal.

                    1. re: Prav

                      Hahahaha no kidding! I'm sure your bagels are also very good, but i wont go hunting them down.

                      1. re: SourberryLily

                        That's kind of you to say, but... they're not! Sure you can find a bagel worth eating in Boston (I'm partial to Bagel Rising/Espresso Royale, since I never make it over to Chelsea for Katz's) but... as a genre, they're really not very good at all.

                  2. re: greygarious

                    Went to Christina's on 7/31. Not sure what happened but it seems they changed the recipe. Just went in for a scoop of chocolate. Flavor was weak and the ice cream had a gummy consistency. It hasn't been like that in the past so i'm not sure what happened. Ended up making the drive to Crescent Ridge in Sharon/Canton (Not sure which town, it's pretty close to the border) Ice cream was much better than Christina's. nice and creamy, rich chocolate flavor.

                  3. Scups on the Harbor for waterfront and food. fried clams (I like Summer Shacks). Neptune Oysters for yet more very good seafood. Don't know where you are staying but I'd also recommend our portuguese food (Casa Portugal in Cambridge for example) and, for fun, lunching around the Asian world at the Super 88 food court near BU. Italian is strong here: upscale, try Erbaluce or Via Matta. And no, we don't have good bagels! Really!

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

                    Summer Shack
                    149 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02140

                    Via Matta
                    79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

                    Erbaluce
                    69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: teezeetoo

                      Since you brought up Summer Shack, the signature Pan-Roasted Lobster is a once-a-decade decadent indulgence. Loads of butter in the bourbon/chive/roe sauce. I've only had the winter version, not the summer one. And I think I may have heard it's only available at the Cambridge location, though that seems wrong.

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                      Summer Shack
                      149 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02140

                    2. Another cuisine that is well represented here and not so easy to find in Montreal is Spanish. The two best and most authentic are Taberna de Haro and Estragon, run by ex-husband and wife Julio and Deborah de Haro. Together they founded Taberna de Haro, and when they divorced Deborah got the restaurant and Julio went on to start Estragon.

                      -----
                      Taberna De Haro
                      999 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                      Estragon
                      700 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: BobB

                        I love Taberna de Haro. I haven't been to Estragon but I consistently hear great things about them. Anyhow, great choices! If you like pies, go to Petsi's Pies. They make some delicious ones! Sure, that's not what Boston is known for, but Petsi's does a great job and has some excellent flavors. Their scones are terrific as well. New England is known for ice cream so definitely check out some ice cream places. In Boston, there's JP Licks. They offer some interesting flavors and some regular standbys. I had Christina's at the Harvard U. Farmers' Market and it was quite good. Toscanini's is another one. My favorite ice cream is out of the city though at Kimballs in Westford, MA. There's always Durgin Park for a Boston experience. There are certain things I like there, and others not much at all. The Indian pudding is good though.

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                        Durgin Park
                        340 Faneuil Hall Market Pl, Boston, MA 02109

                        1. re: BackBayGirl

                          by the way, i second the pan fried lobster at Summer Shack, and i also recommend that you try the lobster roll though I like the lobster sandwich at Alive and Kicking in Cambridge; get it and eat it while sitting by the Charles River.

                          Since you come from Montreal, i would recommend the seafood restaurants such as B&G and Neptune - though Neptune is busy and has spotty service.

                          -----
                          Summer Shack
                          149 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02140

                      2. I have a good friend from Montreal who comes to visit several times a year. When here he likes to go to Redbones for BBQ, Reginia's for pizza, North Shore either Clam Box or Essex
                        Seafood for fried clams, Hungry Mother for interesting food with a southern accent, and Bartley's Burger Cottage for burgers. I'd also throw in East Coast Grill for grilled seafood, BBQ and great appetizers.

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

                        Redbones
                        55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                        Essex Seafood
                        143 Eastern Ave, Essex, MA 01929

                        Bartley's Burger Cottage
                        1246 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                        Hungry Mother
                        Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                        Clam Box
                        789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: chuck s

                          I'm starting to see that pizza and seafood come up a lot, they must be popular! I think we might try some of these thanks! Many are walking distance from Harvard.

                          We're not likely to venture out of town much since we have little time and we plan on doing a bit of the touristy thing.

                          1. re: chuck s

                            These are great rec's. Especially, whenever I take an out of town guest to East Coast Grill they love it.

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

                            1. re: yumyum

                              I second east coast grill.

                              And I second seafood in general: Neptune and B&G Oysters are good; I like the Chinese fish in the tank restaurants though would not recommend these to someone from Montreal. The expensive sushi places such as Clio, O Ya, and Oishi certainly are good. Skip Legal's though they have a good deal on osyters before 6 pm.

                              pizza is not a boston specialty though i liked the one that I tried at Coppa, a restaurant that i recommend highly.

                              -----
                              Peach Farm
                              4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                              Coppa
                              253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                I don't know why people think that pizza is not a Boston thing. I grew up here, 60+ years, eating pizza on Revere Beach, the North End, and East Boston. Rodney Dangerfield had a joke in his routine about going to Revere and seeing a statue of Paul Revere twirling a pizza.. To me New York serves Boston pizza.

                                1. re: chuck s

                                  Maybe it's overlooked because it's such a common dish. Every city has pizza, even good one. But coming from Montreal i can tell you we don't seem to have an obsession over it like Boston, New York or New Haven.

                                  Actually we have a chain here called Boston Pizza. It's aweful though, I don't think it does you justice.

                          2. I think the best thing going in Boston these days is the cocktail scene. Any of Drink, Eastern Standard, Clio, Green St., the Woodward, Trina's, Deep Ellum, No. 9 Park, and so on are better than average. Drink, especially, is best of breed. www.drinkboston.com for more info.

                            -----
                            Eastern Standard
                            528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                            Deep Ellum Bar
                            477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: montuori

                              Any place i can have a good drink but still be dressed casual? I looked at No. 9 Park and it looks a bit too upscale. I'm just your average yuppie tourist with reasonable budget and will be in my sneakers all day.......

                              1. re: SourberryLily

                                Eastern Standard fits that bill. Good food too. And easy to get to, right in the moddle of Kenmore Square. But stay away just before or after game time when the Red Sox are playing at Fenway, it's just a couple of blocks away.

                                -----
                                Eastern Standard
                                528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                                1. re: SourberryLily

                                  As BobB mentions, ES has no issues with casual dress. No. 9 and Clio are business casual or better places, and you might be more comfortable at Drink not wearing shorts, at least on the weekends. Trina's, Deep Ellum, and Green St. are casual neighborhood joints.

                                  Boston's not a hugely formal city, so usually anything goes (for better or, often, worse).

                                  -----
                                  Deep Ellum Bar
                                  477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                                  1. re: SourberryLily

                                    I've been to Drink quite a few times on weekdays after work (5-7 ish) in shorts and a T-shirt and certainly not felt out of place. Honestly, I think Mon-Thurs around 5:15 pm is by far the best time to go to Drink. The few times I've been on a weekend night it was so packed that it was hard to really appreciate, and the bartenders are so slammed that it is hard to interact with them.