Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Apr 8, 2012 01:24 PM

Are my picks okay?

I will be in Boston this week, Wed noon until Friday around 3 pm.

I am very sad that I have not had time to do my usual obessive-compulsive Chowhound review. Based on a brief review of several threads, I am thinking of these dinner spots:
**Neptune Oyster for seafood. Questions ---Can I get wine or a cocktail there? And they do NOT take reservations, correct? If that is the case, we will get there as soon as we can, give our names and cell number, then wander around in the North End until they call us.
**For Italian, I am thinking Carmen or Vinoteca di Monica. Anyone feel I am making a mistake? I need to make reservations for one of these places, so I hope there is still availability for Wed or Thurs eve for four of us.

**One of Joanne Chang's Flour Bakeries. I love, love, love her cookbook and I want to make a pilgrimage to one of the bakeries.
**any other ideas? I'm not much interested in bacon-eggs-toast places, but rather places with terrific coffee and some delicious baked goods.

**Myers and Chang
**I will bring my computer along so I can review more Chowhound threads to get some lunch ideas. I think I read about a lamb and eggplant sandwich somewhere in the North End that sounded heavenly. Also, I think I read about some arancini that sounded heavenly.

I love every kind of food except sushi. I like getting good value so I don't want super expensive places. We are staying right by Faneuil Hall. I am a world class walker and we love public transportation. (No car on this trip.)

If anyone has any great lunch ideas, I'd love to hear them. Sorry for such a sketchy description of what I'm looking for.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm a fan of Neptune and I'm thinking that may be a good lunch stop especially if you go around 2 or 2:30. I've had good luck getting a seat around that time without waiting. Both Carmen and Monica's are solid choices. For bakeries in the North End I lean towards Maria's. Myers andChang gets a lot of love on this board but I just didn't care for it the few times I went. I will say they had delicious tea smoked ribs though. Oh, and yes you can get wine at Neptune.

    1. Carmen or Monica's are both good choices. Flip a coin or look at their online menus to see if 1 or the other has a dish you crave.

      Artu makes the roast lamb/eggplant sub. I sometimes ask them to add roasted peppers. Prince St..North End

      The arancini is at Galleria Umberto on Hanover St. They also sell square pizza, panzarotti ( deep fried mashed potato with a mozzarella stuffing), calzones and a few other items. Think bare bones decor..stand in line. They open at 10:45 or so and start running out of things about 2. Can be long lines so I recommend getting there early.

      8 Replies
      1. re: 9lives

        thanks so much for this info, Pegmeister and Galleria.

        Peg--Do you think Neptune would not be a good choice for dinner? Is it too noisy to have a conversation? If Neptune isn't good for dinner, then is there a restaurant in the South End area or in Cambridge that you could recommend? No steak houses. Bistro food would be great. Is there any place in Boston that does a good job with foods of the Southern United States?

        Galleria-Bare bones decor and standing in line works for me :0) Any other lunch spots you like? They don't have to be in the North End. I'd like to venture into Cambridge, the South End, and other parts of Boston. As long as walking and/or the T can get me there, I'm game. I'm looking for absolutely wonderful food. I could care less about decor for the lunches. For the dinners, we will be with another couple who may not share my sense of excitement about terrific food in sketchy surroundings :0)

        1. re: soccermom13

          For Southern (inspired), consider Hungry Mother and Tupelo, both in Cambridge. I've never had a problem with the sound levels at Neptune. You would be fine for dinner there.

          1. re: tartandfit

            I would go to Erbaluce, , over anywhere in the North End for a great Italian meal. Everything Chef Draghi prepares is thoughtful Italian dishes inspired by local ingredients. North End is great for walking around, but save for Neptune not the best area to eat a full meal.

            1. re: iloveporkbelly

              Erbaluce does not have their menu on line. There is a note that the menu changes nightly. What are some dishes you have enjoyed there? DH LOVES pasta. Do they offer a few good pasta dishes? How are the prices?

              Aquitaine's menu looks good.......

              So does Grotto's....

              1. re: soccermom13

                There pasta is great and for the most part completely made in house. The duck yolk pasta with white truffles and raw duck yolk is a once a year splurge. Apps usually run just under $10 with pastas and entrees from 16-24. The value is much higher than the North End. The chef almost always sends out a few little extras. I have always had good luck ordering half orders of the pasta to try more. The razor clams are always great. Here is a sample menu.

          2. re: soccermom13

            For bistro food go to Hamersley's or Bistro du Midi.

            1. re: soccermom13

              Neptune would definitely be good for dinner. My suggestion for lunch was only because it seems easier to get a table without a wait in the late afternoon. I haven't been spending much time in the South End these days. I've always liked Hammersleys, and my favorite spot (Pops) sadly has closed. Metropolis Cafe is wonderful for brunch, especially their monte christo with an added side of apple sausage. If you have time, you may also want to explore the Beacon Hill area, especially Charles St, where they have a number of restaurants, along with shops to poke in. My favorites in that area are 75 Chesnut and Lola Rokh which are both off of Charles. Beacon Hill Bistro is another good option.

            2. re: 9lives

              Monica's is quite good and one could be quite happy there with their pastas.

              Carmen might be good but they have significant problems honoring reservations and treating you well while you wait for your reservation. That is, they seem entirely indifferent to the niceties of being in the service business.

            3. for lunch you might want to try Casa Razdora, downtown in the financial district. I've heard nothing but raves.

              1 Reply
              1. re: nightsky

                Boston Hounds,
                Thank you so very much for your help. I'll let you know where we end up eating.

              2. I'm also a Joanne Chang fan - did anyone see the geeky sticky bun Throwdown? - and endorse the Flour and M+C picks. For M+C, try to get the counter seats next to the kitchen. It's no louder than the rest of the place (a bustling funky diner feel) and so much fun to see them pump out so many dishes from such a small space.

                A rundown of the three Flour's... Get the oreos!

                1) Washington St. / South End - The original. I think the food is best here, but it's tiny. You'll likely end up at a community table drinking coffee elbow to elbow with locals and local workers.

                2) Farnsworth St / Fort Point - Closest to your hotel in Faneuil Hall. Bigger and more open space to sit and relax. Long lines at times, but a lot of people take food out. The food is fine at this one (many trips for me in the last year).

                3) Mass Ave / Cambridge - Near MIT, this one has a real campus center feel with plenty of seating and lots of open laptops. I don't think the food is as well prepared or served at this outpost. It's the first that feels like a chain.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Foodie_BBQ

                  Peg and Foodie,

                  THANK YOU SO MUCH.

                  Yes, DH is at a conference, so I will definitely explore Beacon Hill and other areas. I read good things about Lola Rokh in other threads so that might be a place I have to sample :0) I will look at Beacon Hill Bistro's menu. I already had Hammersley's on my list of possibilities.

                  Foodie---I LOVE Joanne Chang's cookbook and I really appreciate your suggestions. I will definitely get an oreo! And probably a sticky bun too. I made her Sticky Buns and they were terrific.

                  I made reservations for Myers and Chang. Now I just have to go back through the Chow threads to get a sense of what's best to order there.

                  Thanks again. I really appreciate your help.

                  1. re: soccermom13

                    I'm a fan of M & C. In the same general area, I really like Coppa.. stop in South End Formaggio for a look at 1 of the best cheese/charcuterie stores in the country.. maybe a little picnic in Union Park?

                    1. re: 9lives

                      You'll have a tough time picnicking in Union Park (it's a closed square or rather oval) but might head one block east to Waltham and sit in Ringold Park. This will be prettier and more shaded than Peters Park. Another picnic idea is to pick up sandwiches and other things from Bacco on St James and head to the Public Garden.

                      1. re: ebaba

                        Thx for the corrrection on Union. I think it's been open due to some event many times I've been by..and it's one of my scenic bike routes. so I need to amend my advice to walking around Union and picnicking in your suggestions..:)

                        1. re: 9lives

                          Another and even better: on tiny Bradford Street, behind Formaggio, there is an even tinier little courtyard park with a few tables and chairs and a bubbling wall fountain. It's a really nice place to eat lunch on a good day.

                2. Monica's is excellent but if you're going to hit Neptune you should explore another neighborhood rather than heading back to the North End. FYI- if it's nice there's a roofdeck at Fiore on Hanover (stick to beer/wine) while you're waiting for the phone call.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Beachowolfe

                    Hi Hounds,

                    Thanks for the additional tips. So far, this is the tentative plan:

                    **dinners at Monica and Myers and Chang (although I could easily be persuaded to go to Hungry Mother rather than M and C)

                    **lunches--that lamb and eggplant sandwich at Artu (I will ask them to add peppers too), Neptune lobster roll

                    **breakfast---Flour and ??? How early does Oleana open? I have read several references to their bread pudding, which, IMHO, would be a great breakfast :0 Edited to add: Just checked the Oleana menu---not open except for dinner and no bread pudding. I must not be remembering place for bread pudding correctly. I will keep looking.

                    Still a work in progress...... So many places to try, so little time...


                    1. re: soccermom13

                      Another Bakery/Cafe option near Oleana is Area Four in Kendall near MIT. Great baked goods and my favorite Breakfast sandwich in the area. Very good coffee as well.

                      I haven't been in a while but I remember Sportello in Fort Point having a Bread Pudding I enjoyed and they are open for breakfast. You may want to check if it is a regular item on the menu though.

                      1. re: Matt H

                        Ana Sortun, Oleana chef, has a middle eastern bakery/mezze shop on the Cambridge/Belmont line with a wide variety of baked goods, including an Egyptian bread pudding. It's called Sofra.

                      2. re: soccermom13

                        I wonder if the bread pudding you are thinking of was at Eastern Standard? I don't know if they serve it the morning, but they are open for breakfast. I've been there for brunch and thought it was great.