Visiting from Los Angeles
A *very* last-minute post (things have been a bit lately), but I've got 6 hours to kill tomorrow from 9AM to around 3PM in Boston (will be arriving at the airport at 9AM and then leaving from south station at 3:30PM or so to catch a train out to Providence to visit my partner).
Any ideas on what I should eat during that time (esp for lunch)? Prefer it to be under $20, casual (I'll be dressed in shirt, shorts, and sneakers), and solo-diner friendly. And close to public transport (although my understanding is that pretty much everything in Boston is close to public transport?). And if it's something I can't find in Los Angeles (or can't find a good example of in LA), that's even better.
I'm quite open to any type of food, and I've only been to Boston once b/f many years ago (and it was only for a day or so).
On a somewhat related note, my partner will be returning to Boston for a day-and-a-half Saturday-Sunday and have reservations for Toscano on Saturday night, if you have any suggestions and what we should order when we're there....
Will be more than happy to provide LA recs and to write up a brief report of what I eat while I'm in Boston!
Thanks to everyone who posted a reply; it was much appreciated!
Yes, it was hot that day. Actually, the heat was fine; it was the humidity (esp coming from LA, where it's hot but dry) that nearly killed me. Would've been much worse off, however, w/ the recs!
A summary of events/restaurants:
First dropped off my duffel bag at the baggage check at the bus station, since I didn't think traveling w/ heavy bag in that kind of weather was a good idea. Made my way through the Friday street market near the Haymarket stop. At the risk of sounding (self-)racist, the smells were not at all foreign to me, since I'm Chinese and, truth be told, Chinese supermarkets in LA smell a lot like the street market did. Of course, the ethnic make-up of the sellers was new to me. Wonder if any of the falafel places were any good....
Got to Neptune's Oyster. Walking through the North End was indeed something very new and usual (and would've been a lot more enjoyable, had it been a bit cooler). We actually *do* have lobster rolls in LA; we just don't have a lot of them. I had one (minced lobster meat and cold w/ mayo) last year. Haven't had the energy to track down the "lobsta" truck in the area and haven't tried the other one at the Hungry Cat. I thought Neptune's Oyster was very tasty, although the $25 price tag was a bit steep. Interestingly enough, the waitress suggested I get mine hot w/ butter, while she gave the people behind the choice of hot or cold. ::shrug:: Good place if you're dining alone (sat at the bar and watched the surly shucker going about her business). And the recomendation that I get there before 11:30AM was absolute gold (it was VERY crowded by 11:45). Then wandered about, looking for something cool to eat. Stopped at Gigi (I think?) Gelato. Ordered the stracciatella; the person helping me suggested I try it first, which I thought was unusual. Turns out it was a good call. Not particularly rich, w/ very little chocolate chip flavor. She recommended the coconut, which I thought was great. Think the gelato there was a bit more gummy than I'm used to, but I appreciated how densely the person packed my cup. =)
Spent the evening and the next morning in Providence, Bristol, and then in Newport.
Dinner the next night at Toscano was absolutely wonderful and was made even better by our sassy waitress from TX. ;) Partner and I had the speck pizza (delicious, w/ large pieces of prosciutto; the version I had in LA had pieces of speck so tiny that I could barely see them!) and a wonderfully crispy crust. We also shared the mussels. The broth was fantastic (it's a shame there wasn't more of it in the bowl). The mussels themselves, though, were somewhat inconsistent (w/ some tasting fresh and some tasting, well, not-so-fresh). Partner had the lobster tagliatelle, while I had the duck gnocci. Both were absolutely fantastic. Partner was worried that the lobster would be drowning in a marinara sauce, which wasn't the case at all. There were stewed tomatoes in the dish, but they didn't detract at all from the perfectly cooked lobster. Duck ragu for the gnocchi was wonderfully rich and strong. Ordered an apricot tart for dessert w/ vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was good; the tart was inoffensive, but nothing particularly special. At the end of the meal, I lament that fact that LA has lots of Italian restaurants but probably few that are as good as this. ::sigh::
Tried to convince my partner the next morning to go to Billy's (in the South End?) for breakfast, but I don't think he was in the mood for a diner. Then tried Mike and Patty's. Is there really just the one table in the whole place? Don't recall reading that in previous Chowhound reviews. Then tried Paramount (line was too long). Ended up across the street at Cafe Bella Vita.... which doesn't serve breakfast. Whoops. Still, my partner's tuna melt was above average, and I very much enjoyed my Capicola (sp?). How much we can't get Italian ham like that at a neighborhood cafe in LA? Rrr....
After the aquarium (which wasn't that impressive), we wandered over to the North End for a late lunch. Randomly stopped at Gennaro's, not realizing that there was a sit-down restaurant next to the bar. Whoops. Enjoyed interacting w/ the bartender (Joe?), who was friendly and seeme to know that partner and I weren't locals. ;) Partner had the North End panini (sopressata w/ bell peppers and, um, other stuff) and I had the margherita pizza. We thought the olive oil served w/ the complimentary bread was better than the stuff we had a Toscano, although the bread itself wasn't anything particularly interesting. Partner's panini was delicious, and I loved the pizza. Not normally a fan of tomato sauce, but it wasn't overpowering on this pizza. The thin, crispy crust was exemplary, as were the tomatos and the cheese. I again lament that fact that you can't find pizza this good easily in LA. ::sigh::
I don't think this is the right place for it, but Local 121 in Providence was OUTSTANDING (the bacon wrapped scallops were amazing, and I loved the flatiron steak + frites). One of the best meals I've had in a long time. And Beehive Cafe (I think that's what it's called) in Bristol is a great place for breakfast (esp their flaxseed toast)
121 Washington St, Providence, RI 02903
Cafe Bella Vita
30 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114
We saw this thread and went to Neptune's on that day as well (and yes, we were also visiting from Los Angeles...) I think we might have been sitting really close to you, we showed up at around 11:40 and got seated right in front of the person shucking oysters (the last two seats by the door)...
Yes, they asked me if I wanted my lobster roll hot or cold, but like you, I opted to get it hot with butter...really liked it. We also got the fried clams as an appetizer, and my fiancee ordered the Cioppino, which she really enjoyed.
Thanks for starting this thread (and thanks to everyone who replied)!
Probably too late for you, but given your situation I would NOT go all the way to Neptune Oyster, I don't know why that always has to be the go-to suggestion on this board. It is too frickin' hot on a day like this, and invariably a sweaty walk or ride on the blue and/or green line then to the red line, esp. for a tiny space that is always jam-packed.
I'd consider looking at options right from South Station, specifically the Silver Line bus to the Seaport waterfront near the World Trade Center, you'd have your pick of restaurants right on the water: Temezcal for Mex, Del Frisco's, or Legal Seafoods are all open on the harbor side to catch the breeze....if you order the oysters and apps at Legals it's very good in my opinion.
Bearing in mind it's going to be brutally hot and humid here tomorrow.... the first place that came to mind is Neptune Oyster. It's about midway between the airport and South Station. Here's a link:
It meets all your criteria except the price point but the food is really exceptional.
You'd take the Blue Line from the airport to Government Center. From there you can either walk 7-8 minutes into the North End or pick up the Green line and go one stop to Haymarket and walk for three. If you walk from Government Center you will have to walk through the usual Friday fruit/fish/vegetable market which can get quite smelly on a hot summer day. But is also a unique Bostonian experience. Secure your wallet if you do - it's a pickpocket hangout. Going back you'd take the Green Line from Haymarket to Park St. - 2 stops - transfer to the Red Line and then it's about ten minutes to South Station.
Neptune is small and gets crowded fast so if you decide to go I'd recco getting there about 11:3 for lunch so you don't have a long wait.
South Station has a decent book stall and a lot of food stalls so you could hang out there if it's too hot to do anything else. If you have time tad the energy the North End is a very interesting neighborhood - lots of small food stores plus the Old North Church and Paul Revere's house.
63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113
Blackstone St, Boston, MA
Neptune Oyster is a good suggestion. They don't take reservations, but you can put your name in and they will call you on your cell. It is very small. The hot-buttered lobster roll (about $25) is not quite traditional, but is something you would never get in LA. Lots of other choices, too. Before or after lunch you could wonder around the North End. If you get too hot, stop somewhere for a drink or in a cafe for coffee and pastry or gelato. The Cafe Vittoria on Hanover has a great atmosphere, almost like being in Italy.
63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113
Neptune is not between Logan and south station. For future directions to this place, get off at the aquarium stop and walk.
Take the silver line from the terminal and get off at the first stop once thru the tunnel. A five minute walk will get you to Yankee Lobster. Any attire goes and the chowder is the best. From here you can get back on the silverline to south station or it is a 15 minute walk.
300 Northern Ave, Boston, MA