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Nov 6, 2011 04:38 AM

Only in Boston or Best in Boston

Besides food from Cape Verde, what is available in Boston that I can't get anywhere else in the US/Canada. OR, what is done very well there and should not be missed? Local or international. Snack, meal, dessert- whatever.

I do not eat clams or other shellfish/mussels.


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  1. A shame you don't eat clams, I'd send you up to Ipswich to The Clam Box, Oh well! Maybe a lobster roll at Neptune, nope that's shell fish.. How about some steak tips at The New Bridge Cafe?

    1. There are few local foods that don't get exported somewhere, so finding things unique to this area is a challenge. For instance, plenty of locally-caught fish gets shipped elsewhere: haddock, cod, tautog, wild striped bass, golden tilefish, monkfish, bluefish. (The way local shellfish and crustaceans are prepared offers some uniqueness, but you're not interested.)

      Colonial-era and native foods are a possibility: Indian pudding, jonnycakes, sweet cornbread.

      Our regional variant of the roast beef sandwich is called the North Shore roast beef sandwich. It originated in a local beachside shack called Kelly's, though there are many imitators. It's marinated and slow-roasted rare beef round, sliced thin and served on a buttered, griddled sesame-seed kaiser-type roll (usually called a bulkie here) with American cheese, mayo, and a sweet barbecue sauce. (I like sliced white onions on mine, too.)

      If you cast your net to include RI, there's some local weirdness there, like NY system wieners, coffee cabinets and coffee milk, dynamites (a spicy ground-beef mixture in a sub), pizza strips, and frozen lemonade.

      Southeastern Mass is the home of the chow mein sandwich, 1950s-vintage Chinese-American chow mein (crispy noodles soaked in a gluey sauce) served on a hamburger bun. Not gourmet, exactly, but certainly local.

      We have some local idiosyncrasies of terminology: in some neighborhoods, the traditional submarine sandwich is called a spuckie. In others, a sub refers to a cold sandwich on a long roll; a grinder is an oven-toasted sub. Likewise, in some localities, what most people call a milkshake, we call a frappe; a milkshake is just milk and flavored syrup, no ice cream. You might see a "tonic" aisle in some supermarkets, which is where you'll find sodas of all kinds, not just the traditional gin mixer. A Hoodsie is an ice cream specialty made by local dairy Hood: vanilla and chocolate ice cream served in a cardboard cup (and once, a wooden spoon, but that might have been retired). But the foods themselves are nothing unique.

      I'm sure I'm missing some important ones.

      4 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        What about baked beans????? (Kidding.)

        While ours isn't the only American city with a strong Lusophone presence, we have one of the largest. Brazilian barbecue is mainstream these days, but the fish stews at a place like Muqueca still seem pretty unique. The only city where I've seen a comparable number of Portuguese and Brazilian restaurants is Newark. Casa Portugal is another good option, though perhaps less rare than Muqueca.

        1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

        1. re: hckybg

          I lived in Newark for four years. The neighborhood is called "Ironbound" and it is very Portuguese.

        2. re: MC Slim JB

          Sounds like I have to visit RI soon. They also keep showing up on searches for Portuguese and Cape Verdean food....

          1. re: t19103

            The New York System wiener is interesting, to my mind not as good as the Cincinnati-style chili Cheese Coneys I grew up with, but definitely a close first cousin to that legendary dog. Grilled pizza is another Providence specialty, and there is lots about it on the Southern New England board.

        3. 1. speed's is a well regarded hot dog stand; I do not know where you would find equivalent dogs
          2. local fish can be had at fish in the tank chinese restaurants and Island Creek and Neptune. I had great chinese fish at CK Shanghai last night though no one else seems to get fed well there.
          3. some well respected local high end dining such as Clio, Craigie on Main, as well as some good Italian such as Erbaluce and Rialto.

          Craigie on Main
          853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

          69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

          1. Though vietnamese food seems to be spreading, we may still be unusual in our Cambodian and Laotian offerings. I know mostly those in Lowell, though I think others can steer you elsewhere.
            Phien's Kitchen- Laotian
            Simply Khmer, Tepthida Khmer, Sonmonorom, and Red Rose- Cambodian

            Phien's Kitchen
            586 Westford St, Lowell, MA 01851

            Tepthida Khmer
            115 Chelmsford St, Lowell, MA 01851

            Red Rose Restaurant
            716 Middlesex St, Lowell, MA 01851

            1 Reply
            1. re: justbeingpolite

              That's a good suggestion. Floating Rock (Cambodian) in Cambridge is also quite good, and a lot easier to reach.

            2. Local beers. Ipswich, Pretty Things, Clown Shoes, Wachusett and recently Mystic, Slumbrew, Backlash, and Blatant. Harpoon IPA is a local icon, but pretty widely distributed.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LStaff

                I'd add Cambridge Brewing Company to that list. Jack's Abby seems to be promising as well. And no doubt the list is still incomplete.

                Cambridge Brewing Company
                1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02139