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VISITING BOSTON? One Hound’s Guide to Historic Areas and Restaurants

I have gone to school and lived here 40 years and I really like to steer few-day visitors who are food-oriented>> towards great dining in attractive and historic walking areas- so they can have the best of both worlds. Below is a very long detailed piece I put together for visitors. *This is not a consensus guide, just my suggestions . I’m sure other Boston CHs will jump in with their own thoughts. We all want you to have some great food while you’re here!*:

For the most attractive and historic parts of our city, I would direct you to the area around the Public Garden, Commonwealth Ave., Copley Sq. and Newbury Streets; the South End; Quincy Market /North End/Waterfront; and Charles Street/Beacon Hill, all lovely historic areas that show off the best of our city

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*North End/ Waterfront/ Aquarium/ Faneuil Hall-Quincy Market*
If at all possible. one must go to the original Pizzeria Regina in the North End. This is many aficionados' fav pizza place, period. It is the original(and ONLY worthwhile) location of what is now a chain, and most importantly, its pizzas taste like no others , partly because of the WWII oven they use, which is more than 'seasoned' by now. This pizza tastes like it does in Rome. It is also a tiny, jam-packed, loud, FUNKY space; unique, not decor-changed since the 50's maybe. Unless you have no other option, don't go on a Saturday, and go for early lunch or early dinner to avoid lines.

Regina’s is located on the outer edge of the compact North End, so after pizza, walk over to the Hanover St. (main drag) area and feel the history of this unique neighborhood. Its oldest extant buildings are from the early 19th c.; through the centuries it has been peopled successively, by : rich Bostonians, blacks , Jews, Italians. It has been Italian since the early 20th c. While harbor-dwelling yuppies have been encroaching of late, it still has lots of sidewalk life, Italian being spoken, bocce being played. For a filling snack, Galeria Umberto Rosticeria is unique for its large arancini, calzone and Sicilian pizza by the slice. There are some wonderful gelato/cafes on Hanover St. I particularly like the gelato at Café Sport. Modern Pastry is across the street, with wonderful almond biscotti ,torrone, and sfogliadel ( a very unusual 3 cornered hat of layered/crunchy pastry filled with a farmer's cheese/candied fruit mixture.) Avoid Mike’s Pastry. For very upscale Italian dining, Prezza is highly touted. And the tiny jam packed no-reservations Neptune Oyster is the temple of the freshest seafood, impeccably prepared for traditionalists and foodies alike and always in the Top 5 lists. For Italian food goods, Salumeria Italiana gets raves. The North End is also home to the 18th c. Old North Church and 19th c. Seamen's Home etc. If you like to discover-by-walking, the end of Hanover St away from downtown Boston- leads onto the waterfront area. This is also architecturally and historically fascinating because it is very intact with its 19th c. warehouses/wharves (now waterview condos). With all I've described, you might find it worth your while to go to Regina's and the North End for lunch and the afternoon and maybe dinner. You could incorporate the nearby Aquarium,IMAX and dinner at Neptune Oyster or Sel de la Terre (excellent ,modern French style.) Street parking is near impossible in the North End. Throughout the summer, religious festival weekends turn the North End into quite the zoo.

http://www.pizzeriaregina.com/

http://www.salumeriaitaliana.com/

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Quincy Market is the old historic marketplace from 18th and 19th c. Boston. It was the prototype for most of the other U.S. 'Commercial Historic Restoration/Tourist Attractions'. It’s large handsome warehouse and market buildings are now full of endless shops, restaurants and vendor carts. It’s o.k. for sampling some finger food or ice cream but not more. However, Durgin Park is a Boston institution where, if you order correctly, you can have a memorable time (lobster, clams, baked beans, Indian Pudding). Nearby are CH lunch favs- Zo, Sultan's Kitchen , and Sam la Grassa's for huge sandwiches.

Somewhat near Quincy Market, in the area of South Station, are two of Boston’s top rated and most expensive restaurants. OYa is perhaps the most creative Asian food in Boston, consistently listed in the top 3 local restaurants. Menton is a silk purse prix fixe paean to European luxe and service perfected.

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*South End*
The South End is Boston’s amazing well-preserved and very large Victorian district, chock-a-block w/ handsome brick and brownstone rowhouses grouped around pocket parks in the middle of all the side street cul-de-sacs. There is a large gay population, young stylish couples with strollers, beloved dogs everywhere, lots of super restaurants(mostly bistro style) and an active sidewalk cafe and strolling culture. Union Bar and Grill and Aquitaine and Erbaluce are my own favorites. Union is handsome, dark, comfy with American regional food(lovely cornbread in a skillet brought to you when you sit down).Aquitaine is an authentic French bistro with great Steak Frites and simple traditional roasted or grilled food (also an excellent duck confit sandwich w/ melted gruyere for Brunch.)in a very handsome atmosphere and beautiful historic neighborhood. 4 blocks away is Tremont 647 and their fun Pajama Brunch, where all their servers, chefs etc. wear their pjs . Mike and Patty’s is a beloved neighborhood gem for breakfast and lunch.The Gallows and Coppa are two recent bistros with many fans.

On a far edge of the South End is Toro, a very loud crowded Spanish tapas place owned by one of our most famous innovative chefs, Ken Oringer, whose Clio is one of Boston’s 2 most innovative and expensive Asian influenced restaurants . On a different edge of the South End is Myers+Chang, a casual hip 'new Chinese' menu , with great drinks and weekend dim sum. Nearby is Oishii for very expensive innovative sushi. On another edge of the South End is Mistral, a dramatic bustling elegant space with Northern Italian foods, popular with the expense account set, and Masa, a comfy Southwestern bistro.

http://www.aquitaineboston.com/

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*Back Bay *
Make sure to experience one of Boston's most beautiful features: Comm(onwealth) Ave between Mass(achusetts) Ave and Arlington St.(next to the Public Garden, the oldest arboretum/public park in the U.S. ) This part of Comm. Ave was designed after the Champs Elysees in Paris and is a 9 block long strip of tree, bench and statue- lined park with handsome 19th c. mansions lining both sides. It is parallel to and one block away from Newbury Street, Boston’s center of couture and art galleries , with many restaurants. Right around the corner from the Public Garden end of Newbury Street is Parish Cafe on Boylston St. with great sandwiches designed by and named for different Boston chefs . At the other end of Newbury St. is Sonsie, a handsome swank spot with a broad menu and loud bar, which is popular with the Euro crowd. Also near that end of Newbury St. are Clio, Deuxave and Island Creek Oyster Bar, the first two known for innovative high end dining and the latter for abundant fresh seafood.

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*Beacon Hill and Charles St.*
Across the Public Garden, away from Comm. Ave, is Beacon Hill, Boston’s well preserved elite neighborhood of 18th and 19th c. brick town and rowhouses.Also the spot for our famous gold domed State House. Historic Charles Street, full of restaurants and shops, runs along the base of Beacon Hill. In that neighborhood, Figs has good simple Italian pizzas, pastas etc. Lala Rokh has delicious Mediterranean-Persian food with grilled and stewed lamb and eggplant taking the spotlight. It is a very quiet comfortable resting spot after a long day of walking. It's sister restaurant on Charles St. is Bin 26, for Northern Italian.Away from the Charles St. edge of Beacon Hill, and near the State House, the intimate bohemian Grotto has excellent well priced and creative Northern Italian influenced food. Nearby is #9 Park, an elegant Northern Italian spot , owned by local-girl-made-good and dining-empire builder, Barbara Lynch.

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*Chinatown*:
Dimsum carts or dim sum menu ordering: Winsor Cafe for the latter. Hei la Moon and Chau Chau City and Great Taste for the former. Peach Farm for meals.

Bakeries with many savories as well as sweets: Mei Sum, Eldo Cake House, 101 Bakery, Ho Yuen

Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches): 163 , Mei Sum

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*Fenway Park*
Next to our beloved old baseball park is a terrific Mexican taco place, La Verdad. Their tacos of carne asada(grilled beef), pescado(fish),are the real deal and the best i have had here, and be sure to also get their refried beans . For more upscale and seafood before a game- Also nearby is Island Creek Oyster Bar(upscale and seafood) and tiny Trattoria Toscana . A five minute drive away is our amazing Museum of Fine Arts, world famous for its substantial collections of French Impressionism, American paintings and decorative arts, and Japanese art. (The new Art of the Americas wing has just opened in 2011.) The Gardner Museum, Venetian Palazzo famous for its art collection and flower filled Courtyard, is next to the MFA.
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Boston has many ethnic cuisines represented here. Our most established immigrant groups are Irish, Italian, Chinese, Portuguese, and Armenian. In recent years communities from Russia, Cambodia, Brazil and Central America have grown substantially. Unfortunately, most great ethnic eats are located in the less attractive parts of Boston and its close towns. Some are easier to access than others via the T , but street parking is usually available.

Here are some Adjacent and Nearby Towns and Areas w/ CH fav ethnic (and other) spots:

*Allston/Brighton/Brookline*

Turkish, Lebanese, Egyptian, Israeli, Indian, Pakistani, Thai, Chinese, Szechuan, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Burmese, Russian, Japanese, Brazilian..........If Boston has an ethnic group, this is where you will find its restaurant contingent.
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*Watertown*

Armenian, Lebanese, Turkish food shops and bakeries: Eastern Lamejun, Arax, Sevan
Diner Breakfast: Deluxe Town Diner
-----------------------

*Cambridge Harvard Square*-
Chocolates(New England's most famous artisanal)- Burdick's
Harvard Square Institution(Mediterranean leanings)- Casablanca
Indian- Tamarind Bay, Tanjore
International Artisanal- Ten Tables, Bergamot
Lunch: Sabra, Casablanca
---------------------------

*East Cambridge, Inman Square*

Portuguese- Casa Portugal
Afghani- Helmand
Seafood, Mexican/Latin,American Southern - East Coast Grill
Artisanal Farm to Table- Bondir
Innovative Asian Small Plates- East by Northeast
Creative Turkish and Mediterranean- Oleana
Ice Cream- Christina's

-------------------------------
*Cambridge, Kendall Sq.*

Elegant International- EVOO
Taiwanese- Mulan
Afghani- Helmand
American Southern- Hungry Mother

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*Cambridge Central Sq.*

Craigie on Main- always listed in Boston's top tier; broad unusual menu specializing in meat and offal, but including seafood and vegetarian.
International Flamboyant/Fun Girls Night Out- Cuchi Cuchi
Ice Cream- most innovative in the Boston area- Toscanini
Dim Sum- Mary Chung
----------------------------------

*Somerville*

Innovative International- Gargoyles and Bergamot
Upscale Taverns- Foundry on Elm and The Independent
Breakfast,Brunch- Sound Bites
Cheap Indian Buffet lunch- The Kebob Factory
----------------------------------------

*East Boston and Chelsea
Mexican, Central and South American - Angela's, Jalisco, El Charro

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Trattoria Toscana
130 Jersey St, Boston, MA 02215

Peach Farm
4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

O Ya
9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

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

Mei Sum Bakery Coffee Shop
40 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

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

Christina's Homemade Ice Cream
1255 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

Sultan's Kitchen
116 State St, Boston, MA 02109

Prezza
24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

Gargoyles On the Square
219 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Mary Chung Restaurant
460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

Sam Lagrassa's
44 Province St, Boston, MA 02108

Toro
1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

Oleana
134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

Tremont 647
647 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118

Tamarind Bay
75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

EVOO Restaurant
350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

Sound Bites
704 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

Deluxe Town Diner
627 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

Union Bar and Grille
1357 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118

Salumeria Italiana
151 Richmond St, Boston, MA 02109

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

Aquitaine
569 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118

Cuchi Cuchi
795 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

Casablanca Restaurant
40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138

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

Modern Pastry
257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

Hungry Mother
Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

Burdick's
Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

La Verdad
1 Lansdowne St, Boston, MA 02215

Masa
439 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

Casa Portugal
1200 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

Oleana
134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

Hungry Mother
233 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02141

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

Cuchi Cuchi
Boston, MA, Boston, MA

Sel de la Terre
1245 Worcester Street, Natick, MA 01760

Masa
348A Cambridge Rd, Woburn, MA 01801

Winsor Dim Sum Cafe
10 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

Ten Tables
5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

Eldo Cake House
36 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA

Zo
3 Center Plaza, Boston, MA

Lala Rokh
97 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, MA 02108

Sonsie - Boston
327 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02115

Deluxe Town Diner
627 Mount Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

The Independent
75 Union Sq, Somerville, MA 02143

Tanjore
18 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Durgin Park
1 Faneuil Hall Sq, Boston, MA 02109

Regina Pizzeria
Thatcher St, Boston, MA 02113

Erbaluce
69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

Coppa
253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

East by Northeast
1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

Menton
354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

Bergamot
118 Beacon St, Somerville, MA 02143

Foundry on Elm
255 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

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

Bondir
279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

#9 Park
Boston, Boston, MA

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  1. Fantastic, useful post, OC! I expect I'll be pointing people to this often.

    The only significant item I feel was missed was the handful of excellent pubs in the Boston area.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Area Man

      areaman, PLEASE would you write a list of the best, w/ their neighborhood/areas, so i can add that info.?

      i also have not included any mixed drink or wine places, so i hope others can give me info to insert- a few of the best places, w/ their neighborhood/area. Thanks so much.

      **i well know that this is not a perfect post, so i am really hopeful that local CHs will fill in the holes so i can improve it.**

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        Hurry please. We'll be there for the BoSox /Cubs series and NEED that pub list.
        OC, have already printed out your post to take with us. Many thanks.

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          I took a crack at this in between putting cover sheets on my TPS reports. I welcome additions/corrections.

          ::
          Boston has a well-chronicled history of Irish pub enthusiasts, and has also flirted with brew-pubs, grub-pubs and gastro-pubs. Regardless of category, the following spots are known for good food and beer in a casual setting.

          *East Cambridge, Inman Square*
          Atwood’s Tavern- American Pub (has live music)
          The Druid- Irish Pub (noted for excellent fish and chips)

          *Allston/Brighton/Brookline*
          Matt Murphy’s Pub- Irish Pub (noted for excellent fish and chips)
          Audubon Circle- New American Pub
          Washington Square Tavern- New American Pub
          Publick House- European/Craft Beer Pub (noted more for its beer than food, it does have winners on the menu)

          *Cambridge Central Sq.*
          Miracle of Science- New American Pub

          -----
          Matt Murphy's
          14 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02445

          Publick House
          1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

          Washington Square Tavern
          714 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02446

          Audubon Circle Restaurant Bar
          838 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

          1. re: Area Man

            this is TERRIF and hopefully others will supplement ( harv sq?downtown/quincy market?somerville? beacon hill/charles st? back bay?)

            maybe i dreamt it but i thought someone else responded here yesterday w/ a bunch of them in camb; but i can't find that post. Did anyone see it?

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              Maybe what I posted: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7810...

              It talks a bit about Cambridge, Downtown, and Fenway options.

              1. re: emannths

                yes!!!!! thank you, em. i NEED this great info to supplement my long guide above!em's post:

                " I'll chime in here on the pub side of things. I usually look at things from a quality-of-the-beer standpoint, so don't take these to be any validation or impeachment of the food or ambiance unless otherwise mentioned.

                For a visitor, I'd put Cambridge Brewing Company at the top of my list. Their beers are truly outstanding and only available at the brewpub, and if it's a nice day, you can sit outside. They're open for lunch and all afternoon too, if you're looking for a lazy afternoon. Just down the street is Lord Hobo, which has probably the best taplist in the Boston area for a beer geek (and helpful bartenders to help you navigate the menu and provide samples). Meadhall is right there too, which has a taplist with a heavy emphasis on regional breweries (it looks like they're pouring just about every one of Smuttynose's beers, for example).

                The Kinsale is my favorite place in the downtown area--their selection is good and the prices are excellent. Stoddard's has a good list and a neat atmosphere, but be prepared for eyepopping prices ($10 for a pint of cask ale, I believe). Scholar's (http://www.scholarsbostonbistro.com/) just opened this month, and may be another option--early reports are that prices are very reasonable (~$5/pint).

                Near Harvard, John Harvard's brewpub isn't bad. Russell House Tavern and Cambridge Common are good options for beer too. If you like cocktails, Green Street Grill in Central Square is great (good beer list too).

                Near Fenway, I'd consider either getting a beer at the Lower Depths (a little pricey, cash only) or walking over to the Otherside Cafe. If you've got time, you could take the T a couple stops to/from Washington Square, home to the Publick House and American Craft, or Harvard Ave, home to Sunset Grill (100+ taps of great beer, but mind the college-y feel) and Deep Ellum.

                I personally don't like Bukowski's. I find that their prices are high and their pours are frustratingly short. I'd rather put up with the limited selection at the Druid or the 10 minute walk to Lord Hobo if I'm in Inman Square, or head to the Otherside if I'm in Boston. But many people do like the place, and the locations certainly are convenient."

                Permalink | Report | Reply
                By emannths on Apr 27, 2011 03:36PM

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  I like your additions for beer-centric spots, OC.

                  However, I would just caution that you make it clear in your guide that some pubs are listed for their beer selection, and some are listed for beer AND chow. A chowhounder from out of town would likely be disappointed with John Harvard's food, for example, and we wouldn't want to discredit the board via the misunderstanding.

                  1. re: Area Man

                    I tried to make that clear with my opening paragraph, but you're absolutely right. I think people have an even wider range of expectations from bars than they do from restaurants--with drinks (nevermind specifically beer/wine/cocktails), food, and/or ambiance being given weights ranging from from irrelevant to trumping. The chow at those places, if worthy, is covered elsewhere, and can be weighted individually that way.

                    1. re: emannths

                      My apologies, emannths, I was at work and skimming the thread, and didn't realize that opinionatedchef had quoted your post from a different thread. Having re-read it, yes, you speak to the concern perfectly in your first paragraph.
                      /thumbsup

      2. So generous and helpful of you. I always love to tell people about great lunch places when they're exploring new places but always feel like we never have time after talking about dinners. This is so great!

        1 Reply
        1. Great Taste does not have carts that im aware of...

          1 Reply
          1. re: hargau

            thanks for that catch. should they , or someone else, be added to that section(or any other, for that matter)?I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible, 2 or 3 spots.

            1. re: uhockey

              yay hockey! we're routing for your time here!

            2. OC, WOW! What a great job. I won't have to look to far for recommendations for a long time.
              Now I'm hungry, again.
              Enjoyed,
              CocoDan

              1 Reply
              1. I do believe I'll attempt to do as much of the north end tour as I can manage on my first day in town. I'm guessing Regina doesn't do slices, though?

                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                4 Replies
                1. re: uhockey

                  Regina's doesn't do slices at the original location if I'm not mistaken. However, having just come back from Italy, I would say as much as I love Regina's for Boston, it's not the best pizza ever, even in the US. However, it's pretty damn good, especially if one chooses fewer toppings.

                  I respect OC's comprehensive compilation, but if going on a foodie pilgrimage, as I believe you do, having now read some of your excellent posts on Paris, there are a few places (such as sel de la terre) that I would entirely omit. I think Neptune gives a great taste of New England and is more representative of what is done well in Boston. I would also go to modern pastry, but many of the actual italian places, as a genre, can be had better outside of Boston. North End is a nice place to wander around though. Have you posted your itinerary somewhere?

                  tb

                    1. re: uhockey

                      Thanks...I missed the end of that thread due to our own travels, and just now retyping this due to interruption by daughter!

                      Not sure whether to best post in that thread, but I will make a few comments based purely on my own biases...

                      For brunch, definitely, definitely do Craigie on Main instead of Mistral. Don't get me wrong, Mistral is a very fine brunch, but the corned beef hash at Craigie ranks as the single best brunch item I've had anywhere...which I would recommend to you despite your dislike of beef.

                      L'Espalier is also fine, and I've never had the tasting journey which sounds interesting, and a recent post on it intrigued me. But the meals I've had there have been good, but in no way mind-blowing. Think one star michelin.

                      If you do get to Cambridge, definitely do go to Toscanini's for ice-cream. It's no match for the chocolate ice-cream at Berthillon, but it's among the best ice-cream I've ever had in the US.

                      One last suggestion, again in Cambridge. Oleana can vary from good to mind-blowingly excellent, and it just depends on the produce. Again, it's no L'Arpege (not that I've been - envy you that), but when the produce is good, ideally end rather than beginning of summer, and one sits in the garden, definitely ranks as the peak of dining in Boston for me.

                      tb

                      PS are you going to the endocrine society meeting?

                      1. re: trueblu

                        I am indeed in town for the endocrine meeting. My plans have changed up a little bit in the past few days, but I don't want to derail this thread so I'll post them in the thread I created.

                        As a side note, thank you much for the recommendations. My friend is not going to be able to make it for Rino's so now I'm now looking for other options or co-diners in the setting of having Friday morning/afternoon to explore either East Boston or the area around the aquarium.

                        http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                2. Very well done. I'm usually critical of you newcomers (40 years ... pffft!) and your so-called expertise but this is a great start on eating in Boston, historically and otherwise.

                  1. Wow! Not sure if this thread is still active....but that you OC for this!! I am a native New Yorker and now living in Pasadena. I come home to visit NYC every summer. This is the first visit that my husband and I will incorporate some travel with the family visits. I have lived on the East Coast for 38 years and I never visited Boston!! Well this will change this summer. We are really excited and I will be reading through your selections. I hope I can narrow them down:) We will be taking the train from nyc and staying three full days in Boston. Thanks again!!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: italiana3

                      italiana, i'm so happy to be helpful. As you narrow things down, do post again and we all can help further. you might also want to read my post on this thread; it is more thorough:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/845348

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        thanks oc! I have it bookmarked...and will be doing lots of reading on your thread . AS I get closer to our trip , I will give you a shout!

                    2. This is fantastic! I'm local and still will find it super useful.

                      1. What a fantastic overview of Boston restaurants. Thanks so much. I've only been in Boston once, very briefly on business, and at clams at the Union Oyster House. I'll be there a few nights in late October, at a conference center on the south side, but staying near downtown. I'll be eating my way through the city.

                        Thanks!

                        1. This is a great list!

                          If you ever update it, Reginas original location does do slices and Strip T's is one of the best eateries around and prolly should be in the list.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: C. Hamster

                            due to earlybird's post, I actually AM updating it as we speak! (and i just finished adding strip t's- so there must be some serious CH ESP in the air!

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              how about adding Rialto in Harvard Square and Rendezvous in Central Square?

                              And what about other C-town places such as East Ocean, Jumbo, Dumpling House?

                              What about Sichuan Gourmet?

                              I do not know how Sakayana fits in, given that it is take-out, but it is really good.

                              I stop in at Sonsie frequently and Mary Chungs occasionally; are these really food destinations?

                              I am sure that many visitors can thank you for the good over-view.

                              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                dr, i did add most of these in the updated guide. But just a clarification, the many places mentioned aren't all 'best of' level; a lot of the restaurants mentioned are intended to be 'a good spot if you're in the area' places. (The agendas,tastes, budgets of visitors are vastly varied!)

                          2. This is a great list and starting point for anyone on their way to Boston. My one missing cuisine and my favorite is Vietnamese? I am from the DC area and used to a lot of Viet food. Where are some of your favorite Viet spots? I'd take some sushi recs too if you feel like still typing. Thanks!

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: sekelmaan

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/862724

                              is about my personal fav sushi place, but fyi, it's not in boston proper.

                              i get banh mi from Pho Viet in the used-to-be-super88 food court but i think Luther is one of the vietnamese aficianados here iirc. You would do better to check his posts (go to his member page) and also do a 'search' for 'vietnamese' and 'dorchester.'

                              1. re: sekelmaan

                                sek, i had a heck of a time trying to find and read through the eattv ethnic threads, but i did see 2 CHs highly recommending anh hong in dorchester and phien's in lowell.

                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                  Thank you very much. I happened to walk by Pho Pasteur. I had a bun tiht noung. It was nothing special, but not bad either.

                                  I have been doing a lot of reading of the Boston board. I have me a good list of places starting as there is a high probability I will be moving to the area.

                                  SI looks great. Thank you for that tip.

                                2. re: sekelmaan

                                  sekelmaan, for vietnamese in the boston area, dorchester is very strong - Pho Le and Sunrise are among our favorites.

                                  1. re: teezeetoo

                                    Thank you!

                                    You know I was just thinking about Mughal food, northern Indian and Pakistani halal cooking. Have you any of those types of places around?

                                    1. re: sekelmaan

                                      I don't know very much about these cuisines but I have liked India Quality and Punjab Palace which I understand are Northern Indian and Darbar which is Pakistani and I believe halal. There are certainly other CH's with a stronger knowledge of what's authentic in these kitchens. I also like an Indian restaurant in Dorchester, Shanti, but don't really know what area of India the chef is presenting. If you like Burmese or would like to try it, I highly recommend YoMa and for Chinese my preferences are Shanghai Gate and JoJo Taipei in the Boston area, Mulan in Dorchester and in Waltham, and Asia Gourmet in Concord. Thai North is a very specific cuisine from a particular area of Thailand and is well worth a stop but remember to speak to the chef or the menu will seem pretty standard. CH's have posted about these and their favorite and more adventurous dishes, particularly at Thai North which might help as a guide.

                                      1. re: teezeetoo

                                        That is a great guide thank you very much!

                                        1. re: teezeetoo

                                          teezee, is there a mulan in dorchester?or did you mean kendall sq?

                                      2. re: teezeetoo

                                        teezee, i certainly could have miss-googled but when i did a 'sunrise' search for awhile, i couldn't find it. could you provide links for these 2? thx.

                                    2. Thanks! I have been planning to try a new restaurant every week in Boston and this is a terrific list!

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: sabman

                                        here's the link to a month like you're planning:

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/787402

                                        Hope you'll do some reporting back so we can learn from you!

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                          Chef, I understand that Neptune is considered to have the "best" or among the very best lobster rolls. I'll be having one there for sure. I'd like to try other authentic rolls near the conference center in So. Boston. I just don't know the city well enough, but I can imagine that I could "take an important call" in the middle of the conference and end up at the water's edge munching a good lobster roll or other food from a stand watching ships go by. Any suggestions specifically for a quick bite in that part of town? Thanks again!

                                          1. re: EarlyBird

                                            hi early, sorry i know not, but a recent visitor with dog, posting today, said:
                                            "As for my husband and I, we enjoyed lunch at Neptune Oyster and Yankee Lobster Company - YLC got the higher marks for the lobster. It was fresher tasting and more tender."

                                            This is the first I've heard of this place or its 'being better than Neptune.' but it is fairly close to your convention cntr. I know Neptune gets its lobster delivery daily so i'm not sure 'fresher' is the issue; maybe just one batch better than another, for whatever reason (oysters can be like that too; Neptune and Isl Creek Oyster Bar can both carry Island Creeks at the same time and for whatever reason, one person thinks they're better at one or the other of those 2 places , when they had them).

                                            And here's a link for the most recent Lobster Roll threads! :

                                            http://www.chow.com/search?query=lobs...

                                            1. re: EarlyBird

                                              i forgot- here's this really great current thread too, on Boston's best lobster dishes:

                                              it's a sticky (at the top of the threads):
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/861171

                                            2. re: opinionatedchef

                                              Thanks again! I wish I could be as articulate as you are when it comes to food. But I will do my best.

                                              1. re: sabman

                                                no worries about that! and also, i think you'll find that the more you read CH and the more you post on CH, the easier it might become!

                                          2. Great list. Here are some additions I like.

                                            In the North End Carmen, right next to Paul Revere's house. Very small, lovely space, superb food. I second Modern but they are SLOOOOOOW. I can't figure out why it takes them so long to serve their customers, but since I work down the street I just don't go there when everyone else does (nights and weekends).

                                            On the harbor, Meritage and the downstairs version in Rowe's Wharf hotel are excellent. The outdoor seating in the summer comes with a variety of shows, including Friday night movies.

                                            Near the Common, Troquet (on Boylston near the Piano store), great wine list, excellent food.
                                            Someone mentioned Gourmet Dumpling House I think in Chinatown. The best dumplings I've had in Boston. Very very busy. Expect a wait anytime after 6 and before 9, every day.

                                            In the South End, Hamersley's and B&G Oysters across the street. B&G has another great patio eating area (did I mention the best of the outdoor eating spots, Oleana?)

                                            In Harvard Square, Upstairs on the Square is one of the most whimsical, fun spaces around. Downstairs noisier & a bit less expensive, upstairs more austere. Good food both levels.

                                            On your way out to Watertown/Belmont, stop at Ana Sortun's other place (Oleana being the first), Sofra. Not open for dinner but mouth-watering breakfast/lunch, middle eastern style. It's a favorite bike ride stop for me.

                                            For the pubsters, Doyles in JP has been around forever and is a great place for families. We used to go there regularly when our kids were small and they loved it. Great beer, of course, decent food, and their black raspberry/chocolate chip ice cream is fabulous (if they still have it).

                                            In Brookline, Taberna de Haro is one of my two favorite restaurants (the other being Oleana - inside or out). The very best Spanish wine list around, to go with stupendous Tapas. It's on Beacon just where the green line surfaces.

                                            In Coolidge Corner, I like Lineage for new American, Shiki (a bit north, off Harvard on Babcock & downstairs) for Japanese, and still further North on Harvard, Dok Bua for wonderful Thai. Off topic but I can't get this close and not mention the magnificent Clear Flour Bakery, about 5 blocks off of Harvard Street (really just inside the elbow Comm. Ave. makes when it stops running in a straight line). If someone makes better bread, sticky buns, tarts, focaccia, . . . I have yet to find them. If you think you have and you haven't tried Clear Flour, try it. Another place where there are frequently lines out the door.

                                            Pho Le, formerly Pho Pasteur (not to be confused with the remaining Pho Pasteur in Chinatown) is a small chain, the newest in Field's Corner Dorchester but others on Brighton Ave. in Brighton and in Harvard Square. All uniformly good. I like Anh Hong, also in Fields Corner (on Adams St.) and my son thinks their peanut sauce for the spring rolls is superior to Pho Le's.

                                            If you venture to my neck of the woods (Dorchester) for Vietnamese, Chris Douglas' restaurants are fun. The Ashmont Grill has a great back patio which makes for delightful summer meals, and Tavolo has a very nice bar area. And you should definitely go to the end of Dorchester Avenue, Lower Mills, for the incomparable Ice Cream Smith.

                                            That's my two cents' worth. Bon Appetit, as cooking in America's godmother used to say.

                                            1. Tried the Tuscan Omelette at Sound Bites and it was really good. Should I be reply about the food I try here or look for old threads on restaurant ?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: sabman

                                                If you're reviewing Sound Bites, it makes more sense to either search out a thread on the restaurant or just start a new thread of your own.

                                              2. If you are still looking for additions, I would be sure to add L'Espailer, Gourmet Dumpling House, Dumpling Cafe and Xihn Xihn (Viet).

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                                                  yep, they're in the new updated guide i just posted!

                                                2. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. What a great resort for visitors- like us! In reading other sources (TripAdvisor, Yelp) , I have seen reference to La Voile as a great French resto, which I noticed is not on your list. Any thoughts about this place? We are thinking of French Bistro style for one night of our upcoming visit- we were thinking Aquitane based on your post (also convenient because we will be staying in the South End area), but now wondering about La Voile ? Cheers.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: weinerdog

                                                    There are many reports on La Voile here on the Boston board - do a search using the box in the upper right-hand corner at the very top of the page, and you'll find quite a few mentions. Here's one: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/803595

                                                    1. re: weinerdog

                                                      wdog, you are certainly most welcome! so glad your visit will be past this horrid heat we had for awhile.

                                                      We ate at la voile once , 2 yrs ago iirc, and it was completely and totally 'meh'. And the menu was like stepping back in time 40 years, but in a tired uninspired way. But there are CHs who really like it.

                                                      Aquitaine is a completely diff experience; striking, au courant, bustling, handsome classy bistro with modern takes on trad french. I think that, aside from the food, it is the feeling I get when I go there- that makes me such a fan. It is just so professionaly run. You walk in the door and you are going to be taken care of from the get go. If something were to go wrong, they're going to make it right for you. (**If you do choose to go there and you don't order the Steak Frites, ask (beg!) for some truffle vinaigrette w. your order of frites. You will not forget it!!) And that Beet salad with the melted Boucheron cheese- is also really special. And be sure to stand back and take in the historic Aquitaine building-the granite really stands out ,as most of the South End is brick, w/ some brownstone.

                                                      oh,wdog, I have actually updated my 'One Chow hound's Guide' because of restnt closings and new places etc. I'll post it now. In the So. End, be sure to go to ChocoLee for some very special handmade chocolates, and Formaggio Kitchen for a fascinating food emporium packed into tight quarters!

                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                        Wow, that description of Aquitaine sounds fantastic- the exact type of experience I am after!

                                                        1. re: weinerdog

                                                          wdog, i really hope you like it there.

                                                          And here is the link to the (Revised )One Hound's Guide to Boston by Historic Areas and Restaurants 08/2012:

                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/864894

                                                          You might want to toss the first guide,the subject of this thread. i wish the monitors could toss it but keep the responses and attach them to the new updated guide.(I should have dated the first guide, but by the time i finished it,I was too tired to think far enough ahead to the need for updates! Pretty dumb, really, when you think about the always and quickly changing restaurant world.)

                                                          1. re: weinerdog

                                                            Just for your consideration, Aquitaine is quite good but is part of a small group of restaurants. La Voile is classic French bistro and singular and for those of us who like that style, feels considerably more authentic.. Zagat's rates it slightly higher than Aquitaine. It depends on what you are looking for.

                                                            1. re: teezeetoo

                                                              tz, you are quite right about the 'trad trad' vs 'new trad' but my negativity about la voile is primarily based on our food's lack of deliciousness. I love great trad french when its delicious. But i am really glad you and others find it so.

                                                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                i'm always curious as to the last time you've tried it? so often a visit three years ago is not indicative of the kitchen today.

                                                                1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                  Maybe you've never had this experience t, but sometimes we walk out of a place that is in the category of 'nothing draws us to return'. La Voile was in that category.
                                                                  I guess that never happens to you.

                                                      2. If you only had one dinner, and needed an upscale place that takes reservations in Back Bay or South End, and were probably planning to order seafood, but didn't want Island Creek Oyster Bar (lucky enough to dine at ICOB last night), would you recommend Deuxave or Union Bar + Grill more? I realize one is French and the other is American, but which would you choose?

                                                        Are there any upscale New American restos you'd recommend in Back Bay?

                                                        13 Replies
                                                        1. re: prima

                                                          That's an odd pair to choose between.
                                                          Given your criteria, I'd go to Erbaluce, as long as your sense of "upscale" pertains to the food more than the dining room aesthetic. Otherwise No.9 Park would be a good choice.

                                                          1. re: jajjguy

                                                            Thanks for your comments. I hope to try Erbaluce on another visit. Which dishes do you recommend the most at Erbaluce?
                                                            We had a lovely dinner at DeuxAve tonight.

                                                            1. re: prima

                                                              Glad you enjoyed Deuxave.
                                                              Erbaluce's menu changes often, so I can only mention a few memorable past dishes. A whole flounder was one of my top fish experiences, so silky tender and flavorful. They have often had an appetizer of razor clams that was marvelous. Lobster "minestra", which was a light but intense lobster broth. Since you were focused on seafood. But even when I'm in a seafood mood, I can't resist ordering at least a half pasta course.

                                                          2. re: prima

                                                            prima, i don't know how but i missed your post. Whew, so glad you chose Deuxave. I would avoid Union right now because it i going through complete concept change, if it is even open. Erbaluce changes its meny very frequently just fyi so it might be fruitless to get recs of specific dishes. But there are Erbaluce threads if you do a Search.

                                                            I really hope you make it to Oleana; it's worth the cab fare.

                                                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                              Oleana vs. Bondir for unique cuisine/experience? Different, obviously, but I'm guessing Oleana?

                                                              http://endoedibles.com

                                                              1. re: uhockey

                                                                hi there mike, are you back?bondir is sooo boring in comparison.no need to go back there(imo,but many CH fans)- unless you are looking for protein with just jus(no wines, sauces), pretty plain everything else but wicked local/highest quality ingredients. And the room itself is just charming; certainly (iitc, if i'm thinking clearly) the loveliest room in Cambridge.

                                                                oleana is such a treat for unusual elements and uses of spices et al.
                                                                but one does need to order well to have a sublime experience there.I do dislike the room except for the garden and the rear tables looking out at the garden. others are way too packed.

                                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                  Indeed - I will be back in a couple of weeks for 2 days.

                                                                  Trying to decide on a small plates sort of dinner place.

                                                                  http://endoedibles.com

                                                                  1. re: uhockey

                                                                    welcome back uhockey. I just re read your reviews from your last visit. Oleana is very different but I hope you will like the small plates. no foie gras, but lots of unusual spices and vegs even in the winter. I haven't been lately so i can't comment on the current mezze list.

                                                                    1. re: Madrid

                                                                      Thanks. Still trying to knock one off my list:
                                                                      Menton
                                                                      West Bridge
                                                                      Clio
                                                                      Oleana

                                                                      http://endoedibles.com

                                                                    2. re: uhockey

                                                                      Forget clio. all words. the dishes lure you w/ rare ingredients that contribute nothing to the plate. I can't say enough bad things about that place. four of us, twice. Nevah again. Whatever genius Ken had, he's been on sabbatical both times we went. And we all agreed. such a shame.

                                                                      west bridge- forget the awards; easily missed, for someone with your top of the top food experiences. No brainer-- get thee to Strip T's and Sycamore. I've done lots of CH raving of them. And their foie; man o man. whey cured, salt cured and then some... my tastebuds are grinning.

                                                                2. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                  Thanks opinionatedchef... we weren't able to make it to Oleana on this trip. Oleana, Erbaluce and Neptune are at the top of my wishlist for my next visit to Boston.

                                                                  1. re: prima

                                                                    terrif. how did it go? any keepers or 'skip this one'?

                                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                      It went well :-) I'd certainly return to ICOB and DeuxAve.

                                                                      At ICOB, loved the fried oyster slider and fried clams, nice take on a lobster roll. Razor clams were ok- not as good as I've had elsewhere, but maybe it was just the preparation. Apple fritters were skimpy on the apple.

                                                                      At DeuxAve, delicious food, beautiful plating, interesting approaches with vegetables, amazing desserts. Kouign Amann with rum ice cream, roasted pineapple was neat. KA was slightly heavier/more dense than some, but the flavour of this KA was the best I've found in Canada or the US, and it was the closest to the KA I loved in Brittany. I thought DeuxAve offered good value for an upscale restaurant. I thought the food was as good as what I can order at the top 3 restaurants in TO (where I live) , even thought similar quality food in TO usually costs 25-30 percent more.

                                                                      For Sunday breakfast in Back Bay, we were happy with our French Toast and granola/fruit salad/Greek Yogurt at Cafeteria (serving brunch at 9 on the weekend), which we enjoyed more than our other Back Bay breakfasts at Brasserie Jo and Trident.I thought the breakfast food at Brasserie Jo was mediocre compared to most hotel restaurant breakfast food I've ordered, although I did think the prices at Brasserie Jo were more reasonable than the prices most hotel restaurants charge in Montreal or Toronto.

                                                              2. So here is an odd one - classic diner in Boston for early breakfast: South Street Diner vs North Street Grille ??

                                                                http://endoedibles.com

                                                                1. I have not been myself, but it is on my list. Apparently, at Porter Square in Cambridge is a Japanese shopping area with a bunch of stores and eateries.

                                                                  1. HMM.. nothing on South Boston and thats where I am headed this weekend......

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: few

                                                                      The OP of this thread has stated elsewhere that there are parts of Boston she finds insufficiently charming, and therefore prefers not to recommend restaurants there to out of town visitors. Perhaps Southie is one of those areas.

                                                                      That said, KO Meat Pies is a treat.

                                                                    2. OC, how generous of you to take the time to share all of this! That was a lot of work. I am from the Bay Area and will be visiting Boston for the first time-- arriving next weekend. Your info is a wonderful resource for eating and seeing local sights.
                                                                      Thank you!

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: houndbythebay

                                                                        I am so glad that you may find it useful; that is all I hoped for . Plse do keep in mind that some facts may have changed since I wrote it ( for instance, Zo and Gargoyle's no longer exist.) and chefs and quality often change. You may want to post about your visit before you come- and get current CH responses about places. Also, if you're coming solo and would like company/informal guide, you can contact me through my member pg. address. We have missed our annual SF trip; we always come back w/ a load of Recchiutti and Bay Bread goodies! Hope you find some favs out here too.