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LA Hounds with One Day in Boston - Where to Eat?

aching Jun 27, 2011 12:26 PM

My husband and I are coming to Boston for a wedding in July. We'll mostly be tied up with wedding festivities, but by my calculations we'll be free for exactly one day's worth of meals - one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner - and we want to make them count! I've read a lot of reviews but now my head is spinning - there is so much to try and so little time.

We are staying in the Back Bay Hotel and will have a car, although we would prefer not to spend too much time driving - and we love walking and taking public transportation. We don't have many food restrictions except that we don't eat shellfish (which I know is sacrilege in New England, but there it is). We're not interested in "historical" dining experiences - like the oldest Italian restaurant in America, or whatever - we just want to eat really great food! Price is not really an issue, but value is important - and we're not looking for anything formal. Service and ambiance are nice, but what we really care about is the food.

So...where should we go? Any and all advice would be much appreciated - TIA!

  1. David Kahn Jun 29, 2011 10:52 AM

    Moved here from LA recently, and don't have enough Boston chops yet to presume to recommend. That said, however, if you have a chance, and you don't mind getting up early, you should try to make the short hike over to Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe on Columbus for breakfast one day if you can. (They open at 6, or 6:30, I think and are reasonably calm until 8 or so.) It a really cool little joint with real history, great food, and a James Beard award. Nothing like it (at least that I was ever able to find) in Los Angeles. The tomato and cheese omlet is excellent, as are the pancakes. Also, they do this thing here with muffins (blueberry, corn, etc.) where they grill them on a flat top; it's absolutely awsome!

    Hope you have a great time in Boston. (It is a fabulous city!)

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: David Kahn
      k
      kimfair1 Jun 29, 2011 01:13 PM

      My mother once asked in an LA coffee shop for a blueberry muffin grilled and a coffee frappe. Never have I seen such confused servers!

    2. opinionatedchef Jun 27, 2011 03:34 PM

      As you are from L.A., I would never steer you to any Mexican or Mexican related SW food in Boston; forget Masa.

      If I understand you correctly and you want

      a) great food

      b) price not important

      c) not formal/stuffy

      I would urge you to eat from this list (which is distilled from reports of recent food-sophisticated visitors to Boston and recent local CH posts):

      OYa

      Craigie on Main

      Neptune Oyster

      Oleana

      ----

      Menton

      Erbaluce

      Clio

      The last three would have been joined w/ the top list except that they may be too formal for you; i'll leave relevant comments about this- to other CHs.

      If it were me , I would choose OYa and Oleana. Fair Warning: I would urge you to make reservations NOW (Opentable is helpful), and if you decide to change them, after you've done more research or your plans have changed, change them then. OYa is one of the city's most booked spots(you must phone for reservations .)

      In case you want more info, here are some links to other posts of mine- targeted to visitors. If you end up eating in the suburbs, let us know so we can help you there too. Welcome in advance.

      Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781155

      Also, some extra Boston food profile info for you:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781156

      shopping for Boston food souvenirs:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781171

       

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

      Masa
      439 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

      Oleana
      134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

      Craigie on Main
      853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

      Erbaluce
      69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

      Menton
      354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

      2 Replies
      1. re: opinionatedchef
        m
        Madrid Jun 27, 2011 03:46 PM

        I also love Oleana....it's in Cambridge, dinner only.....reservations essential. Not sure if you have time or interest in venturing to Cambridge, but look at the menu and it will either speak to you or not. The red line subway from Boston to Cambridge provides a fantastic above ground view of the Charles River...really, Boston without the Charles would be so very different. You can walk from Central Square or get a quick cab....or if you have time, stroll around Harvard Square if you have any interest there. Not sure if this is your first trip to Boston and if you need the car for the wedding.....or for trips further afield afterward...but if not, you may want to ditch the car entirely.

        Many others would say if you are going to Cambridge, Craigie on Main is essential (dinner and Sunday brunch). I've avoided it so far but there are lots of reviews here so dig in.

        would be helpful to know if you have other restrictions or preferences....not eating shellfish is a big one here!

        -----
        Craigie on Main
        853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

        1. re: opinionatedchef
          t
          trueblu Jun 30, 2011 07:10 AM

          OC..I've never been to O Ya (keep thinking I can't afford it): what would you recommend eating there? And is it particularly shellfish heavy given the OP's food preferences?

          I think Oleana, on a nice day, in the garden, with orders focusing on fresh, local produce, is simply divine. I'm not a great fan of the indoor space. Since the outdoors can't be booked, one does need to arrive just at (before) opening to guarantee entry (but you do need to book a regular table and hope for the terrace).

          I rate Toro highly: because it isn't regular tapas. It's an interesting take on tapas, and as such, never had anything exactly like it elsewhere. Parrish cafe is fun if one is in the general area, but the waits in summer are ridiculous, and frankly, it's not worth the wait. If one can do brunch (can't remember day in question), Craigie on Main does the best brunch I've personally tasted. Dinner is good, but less outstanding imo.

          I've not been to Clio or Menton, but the other french restaurants in Boston are not outstanding (that I've been to), and probably better is available in LA.

          tb

        2. m
          Madrid Jun 27, 2011 01:16 PM

          Neptune Oyster for either lunch or dinner (shorter wait if you get there right when they open at 11:30 or can go mid-afternoon)

          I love Toro...to my mind, much more interesting than Parish Cafe. Others can comment on Toro vs. Pico vs. Coppa...I can't...lots here about all of these.

          Masa is open for brunch only on Saturday and Sunday.

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

          Toro
          1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

          Masa
          439 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

          3 Replies
          1. re: Madrid
            m
            meeps2002 Jun 27, 2011 01:23 PM

            Neptune Oyster needs to take a backseat for a while... if everyone who gets told to go, goes.... the line will be to Medford.

            Expore the South End or head to Eastern Standard Kitchen in Kenmore... avoid the North End Tourist Traps

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

            Eastern Standard
            528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

            1. re: Madrid
              aching Jun 27, 2011 01:43 PM

              Is Neptune Oyster worth going to if you don't eat shellfish? I assumed (perhaps wrongly) from the name that that's what it was about...

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

              1. re: aching
                m
                Madrid Jun 27, 2011 01:56 PM

                If you don't eat shellfish, no reason to go. Even the burger has fried oysters on it! They have some great non shellfish offerings, esp. tuna, but no reason to think about it if you don't eat shellfish.

            2. m
              meeps2002 Jun 27, 2011 12:34 PM

              I am sitting at work - right across the street from the Back Bay Hotel. I can tell you, it might not be a bad thing to have breakfast right there, as I think they have some of the best eggs benedicts I've ever had.

              THat being said, working backwards...

              Dinner on Boylston Street at Abe & Louis or walk 5 minutes down towards the South End and try dinner at Myers & Chang which is just a great food experience. Though I would go on www.opentable.com and grab a reservations.

              Lunch:

              Definitely go to Parrish Cafe - they have tastes of many local chefs and a great outdoor seating area. If i had to pick one of the 3 meals for you...I would be here

              Breakfast: as I mentioned, Back Bay Hotel is fine as is....but other great options.... Stephie's on Tremont, Masa, or you could wait in the line that is The Paramount in Beacon Hill

              Hope this helps!

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

              Tremont Cafe
              418 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

              3 Replies
              1. re: meeps2002
                aching Jun 27, 2011 12:52 PM

                Thanks for the response! I should have noted - I had been considering Picco, Coppa, or Toro for our dinner - since you didn't mention any of these three, i assume they're not your favorites?

                Also, I'm coming up with two Parish Cafes - did you mean the one on Boylston?

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

                Coppa
                253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                1. re: aching
                  m
                  meeps2002 Jun 27, 2011 12:59 PM

                  False - trouble with that area is how amazing the food is....too many great options

                  Picco is probably my favorite spot in all of Boston - the Alsatian Pizza is addicting. Didnt know if you wanted t They also have rotating beer, a great caeser salad, and if still on the menu...fish tacos to die for.

                  Coppa and Toro ... love both...like Coppa more (and you can get a reservation) - and Id recommend Coppa sitting inside, just to get the local vibe.

                  Parrish (Boylston) - Mass Ave location isn't that appealing.

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

                  Coppa
                  253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                  1. re: meeps2002
                    aching Jun 27, 2011 01:01 PM

                    Oh geez - my head is starting to spin again! =)

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