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Spring Break in Boston

Coming for the entire week of Spring Break (March 12-16) with wife.
We are looking for seafood suggestions...
We're staying across the river at Marriott MIT...and we're very familiar with the subway system, so no problem traveling to wherever you suggest.
A bit about us...hopefully this helps.

1) No chains (unless regional)...for instance we've heard of Legal Seafood and know it's a chain, but there's no way I can have it in DFW.
2) Money...if we can't wear jeans/sweater...not interested. Money not that big of a deal, but we have more fun in chill places with an energetic atmosphere more than a quiet place with formal feel.
3) Trying to eat at INSTITUTIONS...places you wouldn't let your buddy leave Boston without eating. Even if it's a MAJOR hole in the wall, no big deal.
4) Wife doesn't care about...OR LIKE oysters, so if that helps eliminate certain places perhaps that will narrow the recommendation list.
5) We're in lower 30's...so the "feel" of a place is more important than it will be in say 20 years for us.

Thanks for your help...if you need more questions answered, glad to repost any details.

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  1. Island Creek Oyster Bar, Neptune Oyster, East Coast Grill, Courthouse Seafood (cheap/hole in the wall/fry up stuff from the adjacent fishmarket place). Lobster sandwich from Alive n Kickin'. Fried clams from Fresh Pond Fish if you want to schlep out there on the 77 bus.

    There are of course plenty of places that don't have a seafood focus yet serve excellent seafood.

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

    East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
    1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

    Courthouse Fish Market
    484 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

    Alive And Kicking Lobsters
    269 Putnam Avenue, Cambridge, MA

    Island Creek Oyster Bar
    500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

    Fresh Pond Seafood
    75 Summer St, Arlington, MA 02474

    1 Reply
    1. re: emannths

      Make your way to Rincon Limeno in East Boston for ceviche and as good a fried fish combo as you will find.

      In Cambridge, try the clams and chorizo-style stews at Casa Portugal, or one of the other Portuguese places.

      Also note that there are plenty of non-oyster options at Island Creek and Neptune.

    2. I am so glad you will be able to visit Boston and I am sure you will get some great suggestions here.
      Mine is Artu in the North End. Very affordable as well as innovative. At lunch they do a lamb sandwich with eggplant that is amazing.

      I couldn't help but notice that you asked similar questions on the relevant boards for your prevous trips to San Francisco and to Washington. I also noticed that you received some great ideas and what I would consider excellent guidance. But you never reported back, you never thanked anyone or shared where you ultimately chose to eat. A lot of people put a fair amount of thought into thinking about your situation to come up with ideas. Would you let us know how you make out, where you eat and how our recommendations worked out?

      1 Reply
      1. re: bgavin

        Hey there...I appreciate your suggestions. My trip to Washington did not end up happening, but the San Francisco is this Summer, I will make sure I put replies.
        But it never hurts to be reminded...I really do appreciate it.

      2. I second the suggestions that emannth gave and add...

        Over in the MIT/Kendall area I would suggest Cambridge Brewing Company for the beer and Hungry Mother for southern inspired food. I would head down to Central Square for ice cream at Toscanini's (or over to Christina's in Inman).





        Also in the Inman area there is Muqueca for Brazilian seafood


        In Kenmore there is Eastern Standard Kitchen


        And if you want to do a search for the Kendall Square area you might find some more suggestions for restaurants near your hotel.

        And for the best hot dog in the area: http://www.bostonspeeddog.com/

        1. For what it's worth, my friend from Dallas was in town over the Summer and declared his dinner at Craigie on Main the best meal of his life. He said they didn't have anything like that back home. He also enjoyed getting cocktails at Drink. Since then we've added a couple of other fabulous cocktail bars (Hawthorne, Brick & Mortar)

          6 Replies
          1. re: mkfisher

            Then again, Craigie probably doesn't meet your jeans & sweater criteria. You wouldn't feel out of place in the bar area dressed like that, but probably not exactly the vibe you want.

            1. re: mkfisher

              I've always worn jeans every time I've eaten at Craigie, and never felt weird about it. I do usually go with the button down shirt and not a sweater, and we usually eat on the bar side, or at the bar itself, but I've sat at the chef's table with jeans on, and no one batted an eye. As for my suggestion, I'd recommend Craigie on Main, Island Creek, and Neptune.

              1. re: kimfair1

                I was speaking more towards the money aspect. The OP sounded concerned with a price point as opposed to a dress code. As Bob points out, you can drop some serious cash at Craigie while wearing a jeans and a sweater.

              2. re: mkfisher

                Yeah, point is that there are only a few places where you cannot get away with wearing nice jeans and a sweater - at the same time, there are a few places where you can drop $$$$ while wearing jeans and a sweater, Craigie's bar being one of them.

                1. re: mkfisher

                  Jeans and a sweater are fine for all of Craigie.

                  1. re: mkfisher

                    craigie is a bistro; it is not a coat and tie place. Though the way things are going, there won't be any coat and tie places left on the East Coast. People eat at 3 star Michellin guide restaruants in NYC in a sweater and t-shirt.

                2. I've noticed a lot of places that look really good.
                  Many look as if they are nice places to dine...
                  There is rumor of one spot that is where the fisherman go themselves and it is a really dumpy kind of place. I heard you walk along a seawall and down stairs, up stairs, etc...then you get there.
                  Any idea what this place is...and if so, is it worth it?!?

                  Also, one day will obviously be spent doing the Freedom Trail...we heard the Quincy Market area is a good joint to stop for a few drinks...with a lot of pubs and bars. Any suggestions there for that afternoon/evening?!?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: drano21

                    No Name is not worth it - maybe 30 years ago - but not now, nor is the Union Oyster House except for the raw bar & avoid the Barking Crab.

                    1. re: Taralli

                      No Name isnt anywhere near QM but I agree that it is a place to avoid.

                    2. re: drano21

                      Yes, stay away from the places at Quincy Market - it is a tourist trap, plain and simple.

                      1. re: drano21

                        The Freedom Trail goes through the North End. So I would recommend stopping there if you want food. If you do a search for the North End you will get some recommendations (And couple detailed tourist threads by opininatedchef). If you are in the North End and want dessert/pastries there are three main places to go (Mikes, Marias and Modern). All have their fans, but Mikes seems to have the most detractors.

                        For drinks there are a lot of bars in the Faniuel (sp?) Hall/Quincy Market area. Though frequented by tourists and college students, they aren't bad per se as places to get a drink. Just not where Chowhounds choose to drink or eat.

                        I would suggest heading to the Kenmore area for drinks if you are into cocktails. Island Creek Oyster Bar, Hawhorne, and Eastern Standard are neighbors. Or if you are into beer I would suggest staying in Cambridge and going to Cambridge Brewing Company, Meadhall, and Lord Hobo.

                        This is one of the opinionatedchef threads that I mentioned:

                        1. re: drano21

                          Quincy Market does indeed have a lot of pubs and bars....and most of them are horrible if you aren't a drunk 20-something in town from the suburbs, at least on a weekend night.

                        2. Greetings, fellow Texan. No trip to Boston is complete without a stop at Galleria Umberto, on Hanover Street in the North End. Open Monday-Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to when the food runs out, which is usually about 1:30 p.m. Highlights include the arancini (balls of rice stuffed with a meat and cheese ragu, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried), the calzones, and the squares of sicilian-style cheese pizza. You can order one of everything on the menu for under $20, and it would be more food than two people can eat. Fair warning: there will be a line.

                          Also fair warning: even though we're having a shockingly mild winter so far, mid-March weather in Boston is usually cold, wet, windy and raw. Be prepared.

                          1. East Coast Grill in Inman Square has really great seafood. Also they do a Bloody Mary Bar on Sunday Brunch. FUN

                            1. Okay, No Name is a No-Go!!!!!
                              Got that part down!!
                              Does Boston have a MUST EAT joint…for instance, if you came to DFW, there are 2-3 places that are iconic in the city and everyone goes. When there are friends in town…that's where you go.
                              I have noticed a lot of people talking bars/beer halls…and ones to stay away from also, what are the ones that people go to to watch sports/hang with their buddies. One mentioned Harvard Square area…is that worth our time considering the March Madness will be underway?!?!
                              Not talking tourist traps, but the ones that have been around and just have the name value/ambiance that oozes Boston?!?

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: drano21

                                harvard square has a number of good places: I am not sure that March Madness has penetrated HU.
                                1. Rialto for high end Italian
                                2. Mrs. Bartley's for burgers
                                3. Tamarind Bay for distinctive Indian food.

                                You are also close to Central Square and Porter Square that have some good options.

                                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                  Enough with Rialto! FEH!

                                  And unless there's been a Chastity Bono-type event, the place is Mr. Bartley's. ;-) Definitely on the "must do" list for most people.

                                  Bartley's Burger Cottage
                                  1246 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                2. re: drano21

                                  There's no connection between Harvard Square and March Madness. Bars in and around the square don't have a particularly sporty vibe.

                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                    No one cares about March Madness here, anyway.

                                    1. re: C. Hamster

                                      And if they do they are going to be at one of the large bars w/multiple tvs and questionable food. Not really places that would be good recommendations for OP.

                                      1. re: C. Hamster

                                        Is that a joke? March madness may not make it on your radar, but it is very popular

                                        1. re: libertywharf

                                          March Madness is very much on my radar, having attended a college that is often the only one left at the end.

                                          But seriously, its just not that popular here. Compared to other parts of the world.

                                          When they had the regionals at the Garden it wasnt even full. I was there, though! I was forced to watch Purdue, even

                                      1. re: drano21

                                        For places you MUST stop at I like the prior suggestions of Galleria Umberto, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Drink(for cocktails), Cambridge Brewing Company(for their beer), Coppa and Craigie on Main.

                                        Are you interested in a great beer selection or just a good place to hang and watch some sports?
                                        For beer selection: Both Cambridge Brewing Company and Lord Hobo are amazing places for beer and they are right down the street from your hotel.

                                        For watching sports(I'll stick to downtown/back bay): The Kinsale, Rattlesnake, Remy's are decent options. Theres a dozen bars in Faneiul Hall that are fine for this and it is a fun area, just don't expect stellar food or drink.

                                        1. re: Kinopio

                                          The Hawthorne is on the short list for cocktails these days too, right?

                                          CBC and LH are great. CBC is almost TV-free (there's big TV by the bar, that's it). Lord Hobo (good cocktails too) has maybe four TVs, which actually makes it pretty easy to keep track of a game (esp if it's a Boston game or big national one) because the place is small. It's decidedly not a sports bar though.

                                          Cambridge Brewing Company
                                          1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                          Lord Hobo
                                          92 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                                          The Hawthorne
                                          500 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                                          1. re: emannths

                                            The Hawthorne should definitely be on the short list for cocktails now. I've yet to have a drink I didn't love there, have had great times with all the bartenders, and I don't have to get back to Brighton from Fort Point Channel after having a few, I need only stumble across the street to the bus! A win for me!

                                            Also, I also agree that Gallaria Umberto, Craigie on Main, and Island Creek Oyster Bar are musts for visitors to our fair city.

                                            1. re: emannths

                                              Yes I do think The Hawthorne belongs on my list as well. Its only been open a couple months and I've almost been there as many times as I've been to Drink in however many years its been open.

                                              1. re: Kinopio

                                                Mostly because of geography, my Hawthorne trips have greatly exceeded my Drink trips to date. It's so much easier to stumble across the street to a bus than to take a walk and two trains after a few (too many) cocktails.

                                          2. re: drano21

                                            Your premise is the problem - the "iconic" Boston places with name recognition and oozing Boston tend to have ultra-sucky food.

                                            But if the Boston experience is what you want, I can think of no finer example of Santarpio's in East Boston - do a search on the board and take all stories and advice to heart.

                                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                              In general, the more I thought about it, you are right Bob. There is an inherent problem and when I faced the facts, the ones in DFW don't have the best chow either, but they are iconic.
                                              Thanks for the suggestion though…in essence, we will likely do one iconic mixed with the other fab-o suggestions I have received.

                                          3. Given how you described yourselves, Craigie is a must-do. Get a tasting menu, and tell the hostess you are from out of town and are looking forward to the meal. The service at Craigie is on point.
                                            Skip Legals- It's become pretty boring, and has been eclipsed by many more progressive spots. If you NEEDED to eat there, go to Legal's Harborside or LTK in the seaport.

                                            Surprised no one has mentioned any of the KO/JB joints- Toro is in my top 3 Boston spots, and Coppa is great. While you're in the South End, get a drink at The Beehive.

                                            For seafood, I would check out Lineage in Brookline- I think they have the best in quality, well executed New England rooted fare. A brief cab/subway from downtown. Also in Brookline is La Morra, my favorite Italian spot in the area.

                                            All I mentioned will take you in jeans and a sweater. Most of these spots aren't institutions. Toro, I would argue, is. Chef/partner Ken Oringer is mostly responsible for the renaissance in the Boston food scene, and Chef/partner Jamie Bissonette of Toro and Coppa has become his deputy. You can't come to Boston and not eat at a KO spot. Clio won't accomodate jeans and a sweater, and uni is great, but too small. In short, be sure to go to Craigie, a Ken Oringer spot, and either La Morra or Lineage- these are a bit out of the box, but I am sure they will satisfy your "feel" criteria.
                                            Good luck.

                                            1. The original Pizzeria Regina in the North End is an institution, with the best pizza in Boston. Lots of kitchy, old-school character and Boston-accented waitresses. This and Bartley's Burgers are your best bets for casual Boston institutions. If you do decide to splurge, The Oak Room or Mamma Maria would be great.

                                              No neighborhood oozes Boston more than Beacon Hill, so I'd recommend Figs, a cozy, lively place with very good pizza and pasta.

                                              The Hawthorne is new but seems destined to become an institution (and one I'd like to be committed to). If you're into craft cocktails don't miss it. I think it has a quintessential Boston feel: understated elegance and gracious service. I'd leave your mom jeans at home, but stylish ones are fine.

                                              J.J. Foley's is a good Irish pub in the South End--can't get much more Boston than that.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: pollystyrene

                                                These are all good suggestions except the mom jeans should always be left at home or brought to Goodwill (altho the OP is a male).

                                                Some other institutions that might work is a drink at the bar of Top of the Hub, breakfast at Charlie's, maybe roast chicken at Hamersley's.

                                                1. re: total13

                                                  When it comes to mom jeans, I think men are the more frequent offenders.