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If you could only show foreign friends one amazing restaurant in Boston, which would it be?

Hi, I'm looking to take a friend and her husband to a great restaurant in Boston to celebrate her 40th birthday. We are all from out of town, so I can't use personal experience to guide me. My friends are French but live in London, and though they are very down-to-earth and not snobby, they both love their food! I'd like to take them someplace fun and celebratory (uniquely American could be a plus but isn't necessary). It doesn't need to be fancy or expensive, but should have a sense of occasion and above all, the food must be fantastic. I've read about Coppa in a few posts so have put it on my 'maybe' list. Does anyone have any other favorites for a memorable meal?

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Coppa
253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

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  1. Tee hee, rarely does anyone request a restaurant recommendation suitable for non-discerning eaters!

    Humor aside, if you tell us where you will all be staying in Boston, what modes of transportation you would be willing/able to use and whether you would be willing to cross the city limits to dine at other nearby locations (such as Cambridge), it might help us Boston Hounds focus in on the best recommendations for you.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PinchOfSalt

      Ha, good point! Actually, they haven't booked their hotel yet so I'm not sure what part of town they will be in, though I'm guessing they will end up near the waterfront, faneuil hall, etc. We'll be using public transportation though- crossing town is fine, as long as we can do it on the Metro.

    2. OK, have changed the title of the post to be more clear about what I'm after!

      2 Replies
      1. re: stephfret

        I'd go with Craigie on Main (go with the chef's tasting menu), or Troquet if your friends are particularly into wine, as they have a stunning list and serve 2 and 4 oz pours with a huge array of choices. If you do choose Troquet try to reserve a table overlooking the Common.

        Both serve amazing, memorable food and support a special occasion vibe (though Craigie is a bit more casual). They're on the expensive side but not at a break-the-bank level.

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        Troquet
        140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

        Craigie on Main
        853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

        1. re: BobB

          Those both look lovely, thanks for the suggestions! I may not go for Troquet this time, since my friends are French and they would probably enjoy something else while on holiday...but it looks great so I am putting it on my list of places to try another time!

      2. I like to take out-of-town friends to mid-priced, everyday kind of restaurants with excellent food but a neighborhood feel, and I think Coppa fits that bill nicely. Avoid stuff they get better in their home or adopted home: no French, North African, Syrian/Lebanese, British Isles, Polish, or Indian/Pakistani food, for instance.

        Bars with excellent food are among my favorites for visitors: The Franklin, Highland Kitchen, Garden at The Cellar, Chez Henri (bar only), et. al. They usually appreciate the same kind of everyday, not-fancy places I do, and the food and atmosphere are far more evocative of real city life than the touristy places. Plus the cuisine usually has a distinctly American slant. Don't call it a gastropub, which might set the wrong expectations.

        Not cheap, but something that showcases our local seafood beautifully is another option, and Neptune always tops my list on that score. Depending on where they live, we might have better traditional Chinese food than they have access to. A live-tank seafood place in Chinatown like East Ocean City, Jade Garden, or Peach Farm also showcases local seafood and has fine traditional Cantonese, too. (Great traditional Chinese food can be a treat: if you think Americanized Chinese food is bad, try British-Chinese.)

        Among places that are tourist draws, I like East Coast Grill: good grilled seafood, raw bar and respectable real barbecue. Portuguese and Brazilian food are unusually good here: maybe Casa Portugal or Muqueca.

        If they live in London, they're not short of options, but much of the UK really lacks for proper cocktails, so a craft cocktail bar would be good: Green Street, Drink, Eastern Standard just for drinks.

        Some other ideas for places they're unlikely to find equivalents back home, chef-driven places with unique sensibilities: Hungry Mother, EVOO, Bergamot, Ten Tables, Rendezvous, that sort of place. Hope that helps!

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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        Peach Farm
        4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

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

        Eastern Standard
        528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

        EVOO Restaurant
        350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

        Muqueca
        1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

        Chez Henri
        1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

        Highland Kitchen
        150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

        Ten Tables
        597 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

        Hungry Mother
        Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

        Casa Portugal
        1200 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

        East Ocean City Restaurant
        27 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

        Coppa
        253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

        6 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          I agree completely, especially with the Cambridge / Somerville slant.
          I think of East Coast Grill, Hungry Mother and Highland Kitchen as three places that are uniquely American. I might also through in Toro for the vibe/scene being American, as opposed to the cuisine. Of course, a place like Vinny's at Night could be fun too. (You could also take them to Applebee's or the Kowloon for a different sort of uniquely American.)

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

          Toro
          1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

          Highland Kitchen
          150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

          Hungry Mother
          Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            Haha, if anyone here thought that Kowloon or Applebee's was truly amazing, it probably would not be in a good way. Oh my gosh.

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            Applebee's
            85 Main St, Tewksbury, MA 01876

            1. re: PinchOfSalt

              fast food is everywhere; no one needs to come to boston to try it.

              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                Agreed! Though those two places are more casual dining than fast food; neither would ever be held up as having "fantastic" food or any "sense of occasion" whatsoever.

          2. re: MC Slim JB

            Great list!

            However, the OP did suggest that they were going out to celebrate a 40th birthday, and although not knowing who they are, most London types would probably find Peach Farm etc rather too casual for such an affair.

            London is a truly great food city -- if one's wallet is deep enough. One can easily spend GBP50 on an unmemorable meal, so in terms of bang for buck, Boston can be great value.

            I would recommend a seafood (non-Chinese) restaurant. There are great fish restaurants in London, but lobster is just exorbitantly expensive there, and not as sweet as Maine lobster, and there aren't clams to the same extent. Neptune Oyster is the best quality place I've had seafood, but it's not really suitable for a celebration, as are many of the other lobster shack like places I've had great sea-food at.

            Any recommendations for great seafood in an elegant setting? I've seen some posts suggest that steak houses do good sea-food, which may be true...but it sort of misses the point, and also gets expensive v. quickly.

            tb

          3. I second Toro. The food is good (tapas) and the vibe is so lively, good for a celebration.

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            Toro
            1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kat

              i'd add Taberno de Haro, outside, great tapas, nice wine list, very local in feel

            2. in another take, have foreign friends who moved here for a while and then relocated to the suburbs of the l.a. area, when i speak to them the three places that i dragged them to and are often mentioned as missed are, j.j foleys, mandy and joes place on washington in brighton center ( thanks a lot mcslim for reviewing my secret place, thank god it closes at 4p), and johnny d's in somerville.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hyde

                i think that the local seafood is boston's big plus, especially shell fish.

                Coppa has a lot of charcuterie from La Quercia that comes from Iowa as well as meat prepared on premises that would make it interesting for a foreigner.

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                Coppa
                253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118