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Need some advice: First time in Boston, one dinner and one lunch.

Hi everybody,

I'm visiting from Berlin in May and will spend a day and a half in Boston.
besides taking in the sites and exploring a museum or too i plan to have one nice dinner and one nice lunch but i might have to settle with just one meal and a snack.

Have already done a bit of research and here's what i came up with.
Will be happy for any feedback and comments on my selection.

Neptune: most people seem to love it.
What to get: Lobster roll, chowder, blue crab salad, johnny cake, scallops.
Questions: is it possible to reserve a table for dinner or lunch? all posts seem to involve waiting in line.
How big is the difference between lunch and dinner in terms of waiting and atmosphere?
Any recs for dessert?

Giacomo's: also highly rated and looks interesting.
What to get: butternut squash ravioli, pumpkin ravioli, lobster shrimp fusilli, spicy lobster sauce.
Questions: reservation vs wait again.
Between Giacomo's and Neptune which one offers the tastier or more unique experience?

Sam Lagrassa's sandwiches: who doesn't love a great sandwich.
What to get: a great sandwich or two.
Questions: recs for unique and delicious sandwiches at this place?

Cheers
Ron

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  1. Neptune would work for a very early or late lunch (no reservations). Given you're from a major city in Europe, I wouldn't recommend any of our Italian places and the strength of Sam Lagrassa's is it's pastrami and cured meats in Germany are so good that you may not be impressed with it. Instead, I would suggest trying things that aren't as available (or much pricier) in Berlin. e.g. Winsor dim sum cafe or one of Chinatown's Taiwanese restaurants (Taiwan Cafe, Gourmet Dumpling House or Dumpling Cafe). Near the MFA is Flames, a Jamaican restaurant that isn't our best, but not bad and not a cuisine that is common in Europe. For a taste of historic Boston, Yankee Fare at Durgin Park will be near the Freedom Trail and offer prime rib and Indian pudding unchanged for a hundred years (except the price of course).

    1 Reply
    1. re: gourmaniac

      I agree with the sandwich comments. However, if you are visiting Boston during the week, rather than the weekend, review the notes on this thread - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/832955
      Also, consider a lunch from Cafe Latino for Puerto Rican food - again, only available on weekdays, closed weekends.

      Neptune over Giacomo's hands down.

    2. As far as Neptune, I wasn't a fan of their chowder, even though it is my preferred style of milky rather then thick. Agree if you are in the hood, check it out late afternoon, early dinner. It is a great lobster roll and great boardwalk fries. We either dine their New England style and share a roll and some fried clams, or go for the more sophisticated items on the menu.

      We love Giacomo's in the southend, it is a regular haunt for us. The northend spot is a tourist trap and a lot of hype. Flying from Europe, neither would hit me as a must go to but southend would meet my needs for a great oil laden fra diavlo or fusilli or parm dish.

      And I agree that Sam Lagrassa's is good but not the ultimate sandwich. Flour bakery does some kickass sandwiches. I love the BLT and the Egg Sandwich. Artu's lamb sandwich or eggplant sandwich on Charles St still knocks my socks off.

      While I like both of your choices, I think you could find something more memorable. What museums are you considering? What neighborhoods?

      1. as others have said, if you get to Neptune right when it opens at 11:30 am (every day), or after peak lunch hours (mid to late afternoon) you should get in fine. Even if you have to wait, they will take your cell phone number and call you and you can roam the interesting neighborhood. The prices seem high but both the quality of food and quantity are amazing. The hot lobster roll is huge and comes with excellent fries (in my opinion). If you have a fridge where you are staying you can save leftovers. The scallops and other more expensive and sophisticated dishes are amazing, but also very large.

        as someone else asked, where are you staying and where are you exploring? It is a very small city by most standards (esp. Berlin) and the public transportation is good, even though we all complain about it all the time.

        1. ron, welcome in advance! so far, we're having an uncommonly early Spring and we're loving it! May is a great time to visit here. I hope this might be helpful:

          Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:

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

          1. Thank you all for your help and input.

            I will be in your city on the 7th and 8th of May and hope it's as nice and cosy as this forum.

            Still not sure what i will see in Boston, i will be traveling with a friend who's on a business trip there so it depends a lot on what time he finishes business.
            Freedom trail looks nice as do the art and natural science museums so i'm sure i'll find something to do.

            Will also be in NYC and New Orleans this trip so i will concentrate on the fresh coastal seafood Boston has to offer which means i will probably hit Neptune for oysters and a lobster roll in the early evening.
            I'm a big fan of chowder (only had it a couple of times, the best was at oyster bar in Grand Central) so it's a shame the one at Neptune isn't so great, perhaps i can find a great one for lunch on the 8th, i understand legal seafood is good.

            Thanks for all the help!
            Ron

            4 Replies
            1. re: lriemann

              Some people really like Neptune's chowder. I'm just not one of them.

              1. re: Bellachefa

                i agree with you, bella.but then that leaves room for so many of their excellent things!

              2. re: lriemann

                Ron, it might be really cold and rainy when you are here, or might be warm or even too hot. If you are interested in art, the MFA Americas wing will give you things you can't see in Berlin. The ICA on the waterfront is in a spectacular location, but you can see better contemporary art in Berlin.

                Legal Seafood is a local chain that expanded to other locations on the east coast. Lots of detractors here on this board, but the chowder is good in my opinion as is the tuna burger. The bread served there is also good (hot rolls). You can get great cheese in Berlin but if you like cheese, Formaggio Kitchen in the South End and in Cambridge are great places to browse. If you are interested in really American food, you might want to check out Sweet Cheeks in the Fenway area of the city. I haven't been but I'm from the south and if you check it out on this board, you'll see it has had lots of reaction, mostly positive. Not sure if the Red Sox are playing when you are here; that would have a huge impact on crowds.

                Opinonatedchef sent you her great outline of the city. If you are interested in seeing Harvard Square, it is only a short subway ride on the Red Line across the River.

                Sounds like a great but short trip. New Orleans is an amazing corner of this country. I spent a week in Berlin in 1983 before the wall came down and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I hope you have a good experience here! Let us know how we can help more.

                1. re: Madrid

                  Second the MFA Americas wing rec but whatever you do, don't eat at the MFA.

              3. Jacob Wirth's for lunch, Carmen Trattoria(if you want to check out the italian food in the North End...it's my favorite spot, I'm sure many have differing opinions) or Hungry Mother in Kendall Square in Cambridge

                2 Replies
                1. re: AngerHeSmiles

                  Why would someone from Germany want to go to Jacob Wirth? I have a sneaking suspiscion there's better stuff in Berlin

                  1. re: mkfisher

                    They once had award winning chowder. Don't know what it is like these days, but back in the day, the very thick style chowder was delicious by the cup, but a bowl would hurt you.

                2. My suggestion would be to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum (new wing by Renzo Piano)--a Venetian palazzo stuffed with art ransacked from Europe around the turn of the century. http://www.gardnermuseum.org/ Small, elegant and manageable. Follow it with a dim sum lunch in China Town.

                  1. Thank you all for the help and tips.
                    I think i now have enough leads on Boston to get the most out of my brief visit.

                    All the best and Bon Appetit !