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May 5, 2011 06:39 AM

Why no love for Le's in Allston?

or Pho Pasteur, whichever it is (that's what was printed on my bill). Anyway, I seldom see any mentions of this place, but it strikes me as an example of what 'chowhound' is really all about. Bit of a downtrodden space, ridiculously cheap and utterly delicious. Just by chance I've been in the neighborhood twice in the last couple of months and gotten a bowl of pho. The big one with everything in it. As I ate, I found myself wondering why there were only a few other tables occupied. Service was quick and friendly, broth was rich, deeply flavored, bowl was full of goodies...lots of noodles, bits of funky meat (in the good way). Beautiful, super fresh basil and bean sprouts. Just awesome. I threw down a 50% tip and strolled for $12.

Can't imagine a better value in town. Highly recommend.

Pho Pasteur Restaurant
682 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111

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  1. There were a couple of Pho Pasteur's, separately owned and around the corner from each other, downtown in the misnamed Chinatown. Not sure if that's why but these owners, who have a small chain, changed the name.

    I go to the Allston one. It's good. One can argue about which place has the best pho broth - not Le's in my opinion, but it's fine and no pho place around here is entirely consistent.

    Don't know why it doesn't get mentioned. Maybe because they have more restaurants.

    1. "Can't imagine a better value in town. Highly recommend."

      While Le's is fine, on the same block there are a half dozen chowhound gems. It wouldn't be my first choice there. Were it located in isolation, then i would agree.

      1. Le's has been around so long that it's gotten kind of invisible, plus I think that they used to be much better than they are now: the Allston location has gotten both more expensive and less consistently good than it was when I first started going there years ago.

        The Harvard Square location, in The Garage, is more consistent in its quality. And as gourmaniac says, it's arguably the worst restaurant on that block these days.

        26 Replies
        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

          Wow...I'm simultaneously surprised and pleased to hear it. Any strong recommendations there? I know everyone loves was closed when I passed it last night. I think the Korean place around the corner on Harvard is liked too.

          Would be happy to try more. Thanks.

          1. re: Eddie Van Hungry

            Jojo Taipei, Carlos Cucina, S&I Thai. Blue Cafe,

            1. re: Eddie Van Hungry

              Here's a good thread to get you going.

              I'm a big fan of Blue Asia in particular. And Yoma never lets me down.

              Blue Asia Cafe
              113 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

              1. re: Eddie Van Hungry

                Yeah, Brighton Avenue from Packards Corner to Union Square is one of Boston's great eating stretches, and that block in particular hits many high points: Jo Jo Taipei is back up to snuff after a wobbly stretch when the original chef split to open Formosa Taipei in Arlington; Punjab Palace is a fine Indian restaurant; Blue Asia Cafe is (mostly-)Taiwanese comfort food done right; the new Afghani restaurant Ariana is about as good as Helmand; Buk Kyung II is a bit spotty but the things it does right (I'm particularly fond of any of the rice-stick dishes) are as good as any of the several Korean restaurants in the area; Carlo's is solid red-sauce Italian...I do miss the shave ice place, though.

                And even beyond that block, this part of Allston has Shanghai Gate, YoMa (fantastic Burmese food), Mixx (arguably the best of the many Asian-style frozen yogurt stands that have cropped up lately), Cafe Brazil (perhaps my favorite neighborhood comfort food place), Garlic & Lemons, Sakanaya, Deep Ellum (home of the best deck in the city), the HKM food court, Roast Beast...seriously, the half-mile radius centered on the intersection of Harvard and Brighton is probably the best food neighborhood in Boston. It always makes me giggle when I hear people from other parts of the city dismiss Allston out of hand because they've always heard it's just the student ghetto. They don't know what they're missing.

                Shanghai Gate
                204 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                Cafe Brazil
                421 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                Deep Ellum Bar
                477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                JoJo Tai Pei Restaurant
                103 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                Buk Kyung Restaurant
                151 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                Punjab Palace
                109 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                Blue Asia Cafe
                113 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                Formosa Taipei
                315 Marrett Rd, Lexington, MA 02421

                75 Linden St, Boston, MA 02134

                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                  If only there were someplace to park....

                  1. re: drb

                    Buses 66, 57 - or take the Green Line to Packard's Corner.

                    1. re: drb

                      There's metered parking galore on Malvern, Ashford and Alcorn, a public city lot behind Blanchards and many other parking options, or as CookieLee points out, there's streetcar and bus service.

                    2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                      Amen to all of this, or the 90% of it I've tried (don't care for Asian froyo). What does "best deck" mean?


                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        The awesome patio outside behind Ellum? Sssshhhhh!

                        1. re: yumyum

                          That patio is ridiculous.

                          I'll date myself, but I remember absolutely loving Pho Pasteur Allston/C'Town back in the early-to-mid 90's. Then I left Boston for several years, came back, and it just wasn't as tasty to me. Did it change or did I change?

                          Pho Pasteur Restaurant
                          682 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111

                          1. re: digga

                            Pho Pasteur Boston is not operated by the same people as the other ex-Pho Pasteur (now Le's) locations. I would strongly recommend the Boston location especially for pho.

                            Pho Pasteur Restaurant
                            682 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111

                            1. re: digga

                              I can outdate you, :-) as I lived on Ashford Street when it was a hippy haven back in the early 80's.

                              We had none of the super places that are there now. Just the Linden Superette or Spa or whatever its called.

                              I'm not a big fan of Le's in Allston or harvard, but living in Dot near the Quincy border I'm spoiled..

                              I do like the Korean places in Allston a lot.

                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                And I outdate all y'all - my family's lived in the neighborhood since 1957. While I do kinda sorta miss the days when there was an A&P where Wonder Bar is now, a fishmonger and a butcher shop on that same block of Harvard, and I think even a Kennedy's Butter and Egg somewhere thereabout (not to mention my beloved German deli, Theise's, on Comm. Ave., where I first established my addiction to good-quality German marzipan) I'll take the current embarrassment of Allston dining-out riches any day.

                                1. re: Allstonian


                                  So it was an A&P before it was Bunratty's?

                                  What was the name of that diner lace on Harvard that burned down?

                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    Yes, once upon a time it was an A&P (not to mention that it was part of the Fathers chain of bars before it was Bunratty's.)

                                    The TJ Maxx was a Purity Supreme, and before that an older supermarket chain called New England Food Fair (which is why there's a liquor store at the front.) I believe there was also a First National (yet another defunct local supermarket chain) up where the CVS on Comm. Ave is now.

                                    The diner that burned (not all that long ago - certainly since I've been on CH) was the Grecian Yearning. I never ate there, and I don't regret that fact.

                                    1. re: Allstonian

                                      I did eat at Grecian Yearning. You should not regret you didn't! I go back to the Father's First days, but the only place I miss is the Deli King where the McDonald's is on the corner of Comm and Harvard. I lived on their corned beef hash and eggs in college. Hard to believe there was a grocery store in the Wonder Bar!

                                      1. re: kimfair1

                                        Had a friend who used to call it the Grecian Urinal, since it typically smelled pretty nasty and wasn't somewhere you'd really want to eat...

                                      2. re: Allstonian

                                        I remember the FINast grocery store and the Purity which had a NEFF sign on it I think. And the table talk pie warehouse where the Boston Sports Club is (and where The Squash Club was).

                                        The diner that I am trying to place was not Grecian Yearning. It was a "cool" retro kind of place in the 80's on same side of street as Bunratty's but farther down toward Brighton Ave.

                                        I havent been there in about 5 years, but the last time I was at the Silhouette Lounge there was a picture of me on the wall, as I played for their softball team. Like about a thousand years ago.

                                        1. re: C. Hamster

                                          wasnt kens pub open until, like, 2 am? seems to me when they threw us out of bunrattys we went there to eat. maybe the night we tried to have drinks in all five of the "fathers" bars has fogged my memory for good...

                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                            Was it Steve's Greek American? That place is still there.

                                            We used to call the Grecian Yearning the Greasy Burning!!!!

                                            The brassy waitress who used to work there can still be seen (well, not at this time, as she has been out with a broken arm, poor thing) at Mulligan's sandwich shop near North Station......she was the reason we went, she had such a great attitude, very Bostonian type of experience.....the food sucked though, and they watered down their ketchup, that was nasty.

                                      3. re: Allstonian

                                        Remember that fish mongers fish and chips? You could get fried fish and chips for $1.50!!!!! And it was good!!!! But the hygene of the place was a little sketchy...but $1.50!!!!!

                                      4. re: C. Hamster

                                        The Linden Suprette was freaky, the guy who worked the counter never took his hand out of his pocket (deformend? Missing? In use?!!!!???) and they had STACKS of used porn magazines on top of a freezer. CREEPY!!!

                                        Back then though Carlo's was a pizza and sub shop, and had (IMHO) the best pizza in Allston hands down.

                                        Went to many a throwdown on Ashford street in the 80's....good times, good times.

                                    2. re: yumyum

                                      Ah, right. Nothing to see here. Move along.

                                      The word "deck" threw me. I once had a landlord who was this ancient Beacon Hill Brahmin type; he always referred to my apartment's deck as "the piazza" in that clenched-tooth, William F. Buckley accent.


                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        I'd ratha have caahktails on the piaaaza.

                                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                      Thanks for the Mixx suggestion. I hadn't known about it until your post, and went after S&I tonight. Really great and more interesting than the competition. I had been to Sixteen Handles in the East Village, which is the same idea. You just have to keep from getting too greedy or the weight will balloon!

                                2. My husband and I ate at Le's in Allston last night after reading about it in a Chow round-up of Allston's "gourmet ghetto" and seeing lots of positive reviews online. We were totally disappointed. The food we got tasted like mediocre Chinese-American food, not like Vietnamese food at all. Have they declined in quality? I'm baffled why it has such rave reviews. It wasn't the light, fresh, flavorful food we were hoping for. What's good on the menu, besides the pho?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: TownSpa

                                    The bun is passable, but I'm surprised that it was included in a Chow roundup of the neighborhood since, as I said above, it's probably the single worst restaurant on that stretch of Brighton Ave right at the moment. Sorry you had to eat there when there are so many better places around. Allstonian and I, for example, tucked into some typically excellent shwarma plates at Garlic n Lemons last night.

                                    1. re: TownSpa

                                      Le's isn't good, and their pho isn't particularly good. The appropriate answer to the OP's question "why no love" would be that it just isn't that good, especially for the standards set by many other great cheap eats in the neighborhood. Also, there are a lot of dishes that skew Chinese-American on the menu... though basically every Vietnamese place in Boston will offer some stir-fried dishes of variable quality in addition to grilled meat/bun/noodles/stew/etc. I'd recommend going to Xinh Xinh or Pho 2000 for most of these things, with the latter being generally better at everything but more out of the way if you aren't already located to the Southern end of the city.

                                    2. Hey C Hamster, I think that the diner that you are thinking of was Beetle's Lunch, an awesome breakfast lunch joint that was open from probably 82-86. It was owned by two women Ellen and Noreen and was ahaven for alot of artists and musicians who lie in the neighborhood.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: nachovegas

                                        Ta Da, yes, I think that was the name of it!!! Breakfast and lunch and a lot of funkyness.