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South End/Back Bay Top 10?

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Just moved to the South End (from Los Angeles) and am working hard to find my footing in my new home town. (Incidentally, I've been here all of 8 weeks, and to date, Flour Bakery on Washington and Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe on Columbus are collectively responsible for about ten "extra" pounds that I'm going to have to starve off at some point soon.)

Anyway, wonder if folks have a view on a top ten list of places we should in the South End/Back Bay area. We have a little one at home, and if we're lucky, we get one "date night" per week. Fancy, or hole-in-the-wall, doesn't really matter, as long as the food's great. What places should we absolutely have sampled before the summer's over?

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Flour Bakery + Cafe
1595 Washington St, Boston, MA

Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe
429 Columbus Ave Ste 1, Boston, MA 02116

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  1. Welcome! This is certainly not a top ten, however a few places we liked when we lived in the neighborhood include:

    Anchovies - cozy bar atmosphere and simple but good food
    Meyers & Chang - chinese with good ingredients
    Via Matta - high end italian
    Hammersley's - fancy
    Mistral - fancy, excellent for brunch or dinner
    Coppa - italian small plates (prefer lunch when its not mobbed, but lunch is limited menu)
    Mike & Patty's - breakfast
    House of Siam - thai takeout
    Gaslight - reasonable priced french bistro

    3 Replies
    1. re: Gabatta

      Have you really enjoyed Via Matta? I have yet to enjoy a dish there

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      Via Matta
      79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

      1. re: meeps2002

        I find the apps and pastas are the best things to get at Via Matta (I'm usually underwhelmed by their entrees). Also, they used to have a killer panna cotta, but it wasn't as good as in the past the last time I ate there.

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        Via Matta
        79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

        1. re: meeps2002

          No I haven't really enjoyed VM, I was just trying to steer the OP wrong. Muahaha!

          Actually, yes I have been eating there since it has opened and I think the food is excellent and extremely consistent. That being said I get the bolognese every time. My DCs always enjoy the other dishes though.

      2. -The Butcher Shop
        -B&G Oysters
        -Myers+Chang
        -Toro
        -The Gallows
        -Gaslight
        -Aquitaine
        -Metropolis
        -Mela
        -Orinoco

        1 Reply
        1. re: hsquare2southend

          Missed this thread the first time around.

          Ha, hsquare2southend! We should probably go eat together: I probably wouldn't have included Mela, Gallows, or Orinoco in my top 10, but the other 7 match.

          Replacements:
          -Coppa
          -Erbaluce
          -Grill 23 or Hamersley's

        2. Union
          Estragon
          Brasserie Jo
          Deluxe

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          Brasserie Jo
          120 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

          1. There isn't much in the Back Bay that can pry me out of the South End, except for the occasional need for a steak house dinner.

            1. Myers+Chang- I think its the coolest place in the SE, the foods great and the owner is genuinely a nice person. Win, Win, Win.
            2. Oishii- Superb Sushi and a swanky atmosphere but also a nice little bar
            3. Toro-Probably most peoples coolest spot, and it is really cool. Again, the bartenders and service staff are generally really nice people who tend to remember neighborhood folks.
            4. Giacamos- much maligned as overrated on this board but I really like it. My wife and I always sit at the food bar and have a great time.
            5. Anchovies & The Delux-Great little divey places with surprisingly good food. There aren't enough diver places anymore so these two are really appreciated. Also the food, especially at the Delux, can really surprise you with it's quality.
            6. Coppa-Toro sister restaurant doing really good snout to nose food in a great atmosphere.
            7. Teranga- Senegalese food? In the South End? Yup and it's good and you always feel at home.
            8. Orinocco- Awesome place that has great arepa and sandwiches for lunch and then turns out quality Peruvian food for dinner.
            9. Picco- arguably the best pizza in the city. And if you don't think so be prepared for an argument from me because I think it is. ***Kid Friendly***
            10. The Gallows- Cool room, great drinks, awesome food and maybe the best burger in the South End, in this case I'm ready to be proven wrong. I like the burger but it's different than many swanky burgers.

            -----
            Delux Cafe
            100 Chandler St, Boston, MA 02116

            Teranga
            1746 Washington Street, Boston, MA

            13 Replies
            1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

              I completely agree about the burger at The Gallows. Best burger in the South End, except maybe the burger at the Butcher Shop (lunch and brunch only), which is totally different but equally amazing. Love the "California-style" flat patty.

              1. re: hsquare2southend

                Have either of you guys tried the burger at JJ Foley's? Excellent. Totally a basic burger, nothing fancy or special or worth the $17? the Butcher Shop charges, but always juicy, flavorful and cooked just right with a heaping pile of hand cut fries. I haven't tried the Gallows burger but until I do (and decide it is indeed a better burger) Foley's gets my vote. (Sorry to take this thread OT, let me add JJ Foley's to the list though it is really more of a spot to bring the little one, IMO. My 3 yr old and I have a standing date there whenever she wants a "boiger")

                Additional favorite spots include:

                Coppa
                Toro
                Stella
                Giacomo's
                Metropolis
                B&G
                Gaslight
                Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe (clearly you don't need my rec on this tho')

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                Toro
                1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe
                429 Columbus Ave Ste 1, Boston, MA 02116

                Coppa
                253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                1. re: twentyoystahs

                  I've been going to Foley's for far longer than I've lived in the South End and it holds a special place in my heart. That said it seems as though the quality of the food changes with the seasons. I was excited about the food when they first started serving a few years back bur I've since kinda given up. Had some buffalo fingers there during the bruins game seven and that's the first food I've had there in ages. Perhaps I'll go back for the burger.

                  1. re: twentyoystahs

                    Had the steak tips at J.J. Foley's today and they were really superb.

                    1. re: twentyoystahs

                      I love Foley's truffle mac and cheese, so that's my go-to and I've never tried the burger!

                  2. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

                    I agree - Picco is my favorite pizza...ever

                    1. re: meeps2002

                      Great pizza and by far the best beer list in the South End too.

                      1. re: Kinopio

                        Isn't it odd that with all the great restaurants in the South End that there aren't more places with good beer lists? Picco is an exception but I wouldn't say it's the best, that designation would go to The Parish Cafe IMO.

                      2. re: meeps2002

                        Definitely agree with that. Used to go to Picco almost weekly when I lived closer. Even treked there in a blizzard for pizza and ice cream!

                      3. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

                        Oiishi has a $20 lunch special that is the best deal in town.

                        1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

                          The pizza at Picco is pretty damn good!

                          1. re: David Kahn

                            Which pizza(s) did you try? I am craving it now and it's only 8:30 AM

                            1. re: meeps2002

                              I've now visited several times and have tried the sausage and mushroom (my favorite to date; really like how they sauté the mushrooms before putting them on the pie), the bacon, caramelized onions and Gruyère, the broccoli rabe, sausage and olive, and the goat cheese and arugula. All excellent. I also like how they crank out really excellent pizza, but it's low key and unassuming (in contrast to, say, Mozza in Los Angeles). In fact, I may get a couple of pies to take home for dinner tonight! (Their warm spinach salad is also pretty damn good.)

                        2. Have to add Estragon to the mix - excellent Spanish food, well-crafted wine list.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: BobB

                            And the Las Ventas sandwich (only on toasted slices!) at Estragon's sister shop "Las Ventas" next door is one of the best sammies in town!

                            1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                              What's in it?

                          2. 1. Picco

                            2. Coppa

                            3. Sonsie

                            4. Union Bar & Grill

                            5. Masa

                            6.Toro

                            7. Skipjacks

                            8. Myers and Chang

                            9.Sibling Rivalry (Sitting at the bar/not in the restaurant)

                            10. Parrish Cafe (Boylston Street Location)

                            Bay Village Wild Card: Mike & Patty's

                            -----
                            Masa
                            439 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

                            Coppa
                            253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: meeps2002

                              Skipjacks? Yikes ...

                              IMO they serve seriously bad, bad food. With bad service.

                              Not even in the same ballpark as the rest of your list.

                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                It's funny - I could name almost any other spot in it's place...but I have to say...my wife and I go there late night for maki, beverages, occasional HH type apps... it's always delicious. I guess it comes down to personal experience, eh? I went to Gaslight 1 time and thought it was awful.

                                I could add in its' place...South End Buttery or even Metropolis Cafe.

                                Beehive is a drink/music spot...they have sub-par food
                                B&G did nothing for me, other than burn a hole in my pocket...Id rather Yankee Lobster

                                -----
                                Yankee Lobster
                                300 Northern Ave, Boston, MA

                              2. re: meeps2002

                                Skipjack's? I don't think so.

                                1. re: meeps2002

                                  sonsie?

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    Why question it? Is this not a forum for others opinions? Have you tried their appetizer "Devils on Horseback" or their Trout Entree... unreal

                                    1. re: meeps2002

                                      i had to stop going, honestly, because the service was always so badly flummoxed. bartenders totally forgetting to put in my food order while busily flipping their hair. servers bringing me the wrong dish. bottles of wine taking more time than it took for apps to be finished, when the order was placed at the same time as the food.

                                      the cons never outweighed the pros.

                                      better places to spend my dough.

                                      yes. my opinion. :)

                                2. Tico

                                  I haven't been but Towne has gotten some good reviews

                                  Butcher Shop

                                  Douzo
                                  Davio's

                                  -----
                                  Douzo
                                  131 Dartmouth St, Boston, MA 02116

                                  Tico
                                  222 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    For the life of me, I cant seem to get into Butcher Shop - always packed or reserved.

                                    Douzo I liked, didn't love...I prefer Zen or Haru
                                    Davio's agree is good

                                    Tico I was unimpressed, though the reviews its getting are insane. I thought for 2 small, 2 bite tacos...$10 was a little high...but I will say the atmosphere is great.

                                    I have not had more than a bunch of split apps there, Id like to hear about entree opinions

                                    -----
                                    Davio's
                                    75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                    Douzo
                                    131 Dartmouth St, Boston, MA 02116

                                    Tico
                                    222 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116

                                    1. re: meeps2002

                                      great lists already but I'd add Erbaluce, Bistro du Midi, La Voile, and, for relatively price-friendly Italian, Da Vinci. Also Italian sub shop across from Landry and Arcari's near castle whose name I always forget (Vela?)

                                      -----
                                      La Voile
                                      261 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                      Erbaluce
                                      69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                      Bistro du Midi
                                      272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                      1. re: teezeetoo

                                        Viga is the sub shop.

                                        My one experience at Tico was underwhelming. When you say something has Habenero in it and I order it I expect it to be spicy. I felt like Tico was dumbed down on all fronts. The menu descriptions made the food sound daring and exciting but the flavors promised were either not present or simply shadows of the flavors I expected.

                                        -----
                                        Tico
                                        222 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116

                                        1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

                                          Tico's habanero sauce or whatever was very disappointing but everything else I've had there has been very good.

                                          Croissant DuJour also has great sandwiches

                                          -----
                                          Tico
                                          222 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116

                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                            Tico is still newish, but they're on their way to figuring it out. Aside from the prices it's a pretty good spot.

                                            1. re: nicnaz

                                              Have they done anything about the noise level yet? Walked in and walked out due to to the din. Is it time to walk in again and check?

                                              Penny
                                              http://www.bostonzest.com/

                                              1. re: BostonZest

                                                The noise level at Tico is by design; I don't think they have any intention of fixing it.

                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                -----
                                                Tico
                                                222 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116

                                        2. re: teezeetoo

                                          Viga.

                                          1. re: bgavin

                                            thanks cbz and bg! I couldn't recall anything but V plus 3 letters!

                                            1. re: teezeetoo

                                              Viga is ok. Their sandwiches are fine but their meals are on par with SBarros and their pizza is mediocre. When I want pie I convince others to to go in on an order from Upper Crust (they deliver). For sandwiches, Croissant du Jour every time.

                                              Does anyone know if Vapiano in the Transportation building is good for pasta?

                                      2. re: C. Hamster

                                        I had one of my single-worst dining experiences at Towne. Lydia was even in the house that night, which made it that much more upsetting. Rubbery razor clams, poorly executed mains, terrible bartending (although, to be fair on that one, my friend tried to order a craft cocktail off menu; they tried, they just failed horribly, even though the ration was 1:1:1:1), and the service was only okay. I've heard they may have since revamped the entirely-too-large menu, but I'd have to have every CH'er tell me this place was the second coming before I gave them more money.

                                        Would agree with others that Coppa, Toro, Estragon, Butcher Shop / B&G, Masa, the Gallows are all good choices.

                                        -----
                                        Toro
                                        1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                                        Masa
                                        439 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                        Coppa
                                        253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                                      3. I don't eat anywhere in the Back Bay regularly either, so here are my most-visited in the South End and Bay Village:

                                        Anchovies
                                        Coda
                                        Coppa
                                        Darryl's
                                        Erbaluce
                                        The Gallows
                                        Mike & Patty's
                                        Myers + Chang
                                        El Triunfo
                                        Union

                                        I'm not saying there aren't better restaurants than some of these, I just don't visit them as often due to cost (Hamersley's, Oishii) or crowds (Toro).

                                        Also, I tried the new cafe Jaho the other day, and will definitely make it a regular stop for coffee and sandwiches.

                                        -----
                                        Erbaluce
                                        69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                        Coppa
                                        253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                                        1. Here's a Back Bay only list. It's a pretty crap neighborhood as far as Chow goes, but there are some good high end hot spots.

                                          1.L'Espalier (duh)
                                          2.Clio (also super high end)
                                          3.La Voile
                                          4.Mistral
                                          5.Casa Romero for good Mexican (for the area)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: tamerlanenj

                                            I'm surprised not to see Masa mentioned at all.

                                            i like the place both for brunch and for drinks at the bar with some tapas.

                                            -----
                                            Masa
                                            439 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116