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Apr 25, 2011 03:49 PM

Weekend in Boston - what would be your- ideal food itinerary? NY CH needs some help.

Hi Boston hounds. NY CH coming up with my family - husband and two kids (tweens) for three days - May 8, 9 and 10. I went to school up there but haven't been back in about 20 years and know that so much has changed. I will do research on this board but hope you all can give us a head start. No real limitations but want to include as many of the following as possible:
1. Seafood (how can you not?)
2. Ice Cream (told the kids Boston has some of the best so it has to be really good)
3. Great breakfasts
4. Light, easy lunch places or great snacks in lieu of lunch
5. Quintessential old school Boston
6. Quintessential new school Boston
7. Some real typical neighborhood joints with great food
6. Late night dessert (if other than ice cream merits).

All ethnic directions are of interest - except Chinese (we do that pretty well down here). I'd pass on Italian too since we do that pretty well down here too but the North End is its own animal and we've got to eat somewhere over there so tell me where to go and where to avoid.

Will be spending time in the Back Bay (reminiscing and likely feeling very old), the Fens, doing the Freedom Trail so North End , downtown, etc; the Common and Newberry Street, possibly also going to check out South Boston as I hear that's now an interesting neighborhood, Cambridge, Harbor, etc. Trying to it a lot in a short amount of time and get in meals too.

Only absolute "no" is franchise restaurants and touristy places. We will be staying in the Copley Square area and will be very mobile.

If you don't have time to do a full itinerary just throw out your one or two "MUST" dining spots.

Thanks in advance all. Your help is greatly appreciated.

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  1. Mike and Patty's - great breakfast
    Erbaluce - innovative northern italian
    La Voile - classic bistro french
    Parish Cafe - great lunches/sandwiches
    Cognac Bistro - great fish, great burgers, great oysters, cozy bar
    Locke Ober - just reopened, old school boston
    Bistrot du Midi - maybe representative of "new" Boston
    Orinoco in the South End or Coppa for fun neighborhood places that aren't cookie cutter.

    La Voile
    261 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

    69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

    253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

    Cognac Bistro
    455 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

    1. Island Creek Oyster Bar or Neptune Oyster (lobster roll!!!) for Seafood.
      Toro for Spanish (very creative, very delicious)

      I would definitely not rule out the Italian food of Boston. As a native NYer, I can't stand the pizza of Boston but I love the Italian food. There are only a couple places in the North End worth going to for authentic Italian (Prezza). For Italian-American, there are a few more options. I like the recommendation of Erbaluce for northern Italian (Piemontese) cuisine, which is not in the North End.

      Have fun!

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

      1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

      69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

      Island Creek Oyster Bar
      500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

      3 Replies
      1. re: ecwashere7

        I'd hit Neptune, but go to Belle Isle Seafood and get a lobster roll to go (make sure to ask for no mayo),,,

        Belle Isle Seafood
        1267 Saratoga St, Boston, MA 02128

        1. re: grant.cook

          grant, i think you mentioned this place on another recent thread? i was looking for it.sounds great but boy oh boy, i just cannot recommend visitors going all that way when they usually have such a limited time here. People's itineraries are usually packed as they are, and most or many are here for the first time. But it sounds like a great spot to recommend to locals for themselves ( and their guests.)

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            I agree; have your lobster roll at Neptune or B&G --I wouldn't trek all the way out to Winthrop with only a weekends' worth of time. Far too many other great places to explore in Boston!

      2. 1) Neptune Oyster, North End
        2) Toscanini's, Cambridge
        3 & 5) The Oak Room, Back Bay
        4) Picco, South End
        6) Menton, Seaport; Craigie on Main, Cambridge
        7) The Druid, Cambridge

        1. 1. Neptune Oysterl Island Creek Oyster Bar
          2. Toscanini's; Christina's
          3. Mike and Pattys; Flour Bakery
          4. Clover Food Truckl; Banh Mi at Mei Sum Bakery Chinatown
          5. Locke-Ober; Pizzeria Regina's
          6. Craigie on Main; Bergamot
          7. Bondir; Rendezvous
          6. Cafe Vittoria; Modern Pastry

          Ethnic: A dinner at Floating Rock for Khmer food would be a strong recommendation.

          Enjoy your stay!

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

          3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

          Modern Pastry
          257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

          Flour Bakery + Cafe
          12 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA

          Craigie on Main
          853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

          1. Welcome back, older and wiser! I know you have already answered some of these(smaht girl you!),but fill in some for us plse.:

            *VISITOR TO BOSTON? Read This First!:*

            Welcome. When planning your visit, Boston hounds are a great resource, but help them help you by including some important details. Tell them:

            -If this is your first visit , when are you visiting and which days of the week

            -Where you are visiting from (so people don't recommend restaurants like those you may have an abundance of at home)

            - Whether you plan to use a car/cab or will be relying on transit.

            - How far or how long you're willing to travel

            - What activities you are planning (Freedom Trail, museums, local colleges, conference sites)that you would like to pair with that locale's restaurants. Include out-of-Boston trips as well- Plymouth Plantation (South Shore); Salem (North Shore); Concord (Metro-West)etc.

            - What your budget is. Descriptions such as 'expensive', 'moderate' and 'cheap' mean different things to different people, so use dollar values (i.e. 'Entrees in the $20's.') Boston's restaurants can be expensive, but there are also a wide variety of great places with lower prices.

            - What types of cuisines you're interested in.

            - Any other special circumstances (traveling with kids? vegetarians? non-chowhounds?)

            or interests (i.e. ethnic food shopping; food souvenirs, farmers markets) that will help

            If you've done some of your own research, mention what you found so hounds can help fill in the gaps, rather than rehashing what you already know.

            AFTER YOUR VISIT

            Most importantly, after your trip , thank the Boston hounds for their help by reporting back. Tell people which suggestions you used and how the meals turned out, plus add tips about any great places you discovered on your own. This helps make the board more useful for everyone who visits after you.

            (*- this is adapted from the CH notice at the top of this page)

            your answers will be a great help, but preliminary suggestions:

            1. Seafood (how can you not?) Neptune Oyster, North End; Island Creek Oyster Bar, Kenmore Sq.

            2. Ice Cream (told the kids Boston has some of the best so it has to be really good) Toscaninis, Central Sq Cambridge

            3. Great breakfasts - Fantastic Brunch- East Coast Grill, Inman Sq, Cambr.; breakfast- Mike and Patty's near South End; Paramount, Charles St.

            4. Light, easy lunch places or great snacks in lieu of lunch- Parish Cafe, Boylston St.; Galeria Umberto, No. End ; La Verdad Taqueria by Fenway ball park; Myers+Chang

            5. Quintessential old school -Boston Pizzeria Regina, North End only; Clam Box,

            Ipswich MA(1 hr.north); Casablanca, Harvard Sq.; Bartley's Burgers, Harv.Sq.

            6. Quintessential new school Boston- price range? You and the kids might enjoy the 'small plates' phenomenon so you can sample all kinds of things. Toro is a fun LOUD spot for that. Myers+Chang is in a whole new area of Boston for you, near the South End. Terrific Asian.

            7. Some real typical neighborhood joints with great food- Aquitaine, French bistro, popular South End neighborhood spot but not a joint.

            6. Late night dessert (if other than ice cream merits). more ice cream: JP Licks

            There have been many recent visitor threads w/ lots of suggestions. Scroll down through the thread titles of the last few this one:

            Also, most of my suggestions have recent reviews exclusively about them; put the restnt name in the search box and voila.

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

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

            1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

            44 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114

            Toscanini's Ice Cream
            899 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            569 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118

            Casablanca Restaurant
            40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138

            J P Licks At Newbury Street
            352 Newbury St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02115

            La Verdad
            1 Lansdowne St, Boston, MA 02215

            Myers + Chang
            1145 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

            Mike and Pattys LLC Dba Mike and Pattys
            12 Church St, Boston, MA

            Island Creek Oyster Bar
            500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

            4 Replies
            1. re: opinionatedchef

              Thanks opinionated chef. You sound like a smaht guy and a knowledgeable Boston foodie at that. Just noticed also my OP had an error - even smaht girls make them - and we are there May 7, 8 and 9.

              To answer your specific questions - at least those that my op didn't present - we are driving and are willing to venture beyond the city confines for worthwhile destinations but will mostly be sightseeing in town so expect to use the T quite a bit.

              Price ranges will vary from meal to meal but one our Saturday night dinner will likely be most expensive selection. That said, I'd say all restaurants including whatever we select that night need to be casual and relaxed - no jacket and tie white tablecloth establishments. Want to avoid crazy busy places on Sunday - Mother's Day so that will likely be our biggest challenge. So hard to put a price tag on each meal this trip - but would be nice to keep breakfasts and lunches for under $80, some much less would be good. Dinners a bit more but not looking to spend $200 and up.

              Oh, should have also mentioned we are wine people - Mr. Laylag is in the wine business - so good wine lists are a nice plus. That said if anyone has any fantastic BYO places we are happy to bring a bottle or two up with us.

              No vegetarians or kosher and as for the kids - only one of which is ours - they eat kids food but palates are developing. We rarely make that the top priority as they can generally find something anywhere.

              Definitely sounds like we have to explore South Boston. A whole new area for me. It was just called "Southie" when I was in college and there was no reason to venture there.

              I haven't had a lot of time to do research so came to this board as the first stop. Plus, I generally find that local CHers have the best info.

              Hope that fills in any gaps I left in my OP. Don't know if it will change any of your original suggestions - which were copious, diverse and quite intriguing - but looking forward to any other thoughts you have.

              And, I do promise to report back.

              1. re: laylag

                Just FYI--BYO is not legal in most (though not all) communities around Boston, so there's no significant collection of byo restaurants.

                Since you're going to be staying in Back Bay, you might want to try Trident Bookselllers & Cafe for breakfast/brunch. I've never been (too far from me), but my friends like it a lot.

                1. re: emannths

                  Troquet has excellent food, and the best wine list in the city.

                  140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

                  1. re: kimfair1

                    great suggestion.

                    btw, except for boston's most expensive places (and maybe them as well) coat and tie etc is NOT required nor the majority dress of choice.

                    mother's day. knowing how crazy it can be (we just had a number of CH visitors here for easter so we had similar advice challenge)PLEASE stay away from hotels.

                    I have 2 suggestions for crazybusy-on-a-NORMAL-sunday options. I'm suggesting these 2 because both of them can

                    a) tell you around when you might be seated

                    b) call your cell when your table is ready, and

                    c) are in great touring areas.

                    Firstly, i would urge you to go to East Coast Grill. I can't think of a better family place for a crazy fun welcoming young vibe and just terrific food and very broad menu. It will be packed as it always is. If they give you 'an hour or more', drive up to the Harvard Yard/ Harv Sq area/Brattle St. area and walk or drive around. So much to see; tons of young people. get a frozen yoghurt at Pinkberry if you need something light to hold you over.

                    Other than that, you could really jump into the fray of frays and go to Neptune Oyster, also w/ great walking around (the kids could hop over to Quincy Market and meet you back at a given time.)

                    so glad you didn't mind the questions; they help alot in advising you!

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

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