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SF Hound Arriving 4/27 - Would appreciate advice

Coming to town 4/27 for 3 nights to visit my son who moved there a few months ago (he lives in Allston and works at the Yard House by Fenway) and to celebrate my birthday. Staying at the Hyatt Regency downtown. Love all kinds of food particularly Italian (I'm half Italian - the bottom half :),
Live in north beach in SF. I consider myself a fairly adventurous eater although I don't think I will pull the trigger on the pig's head at Craigie on Main even though it would be a unique experience. Absolutely love food but like it more straight forward - not into foam, molecular gastronomy or 2 oz of protein for $60.

I';ve read a bunch of posts and would appreciate feedback/ advice.

Only reservation so far is Prezza in the north end for my B-Day din din.Not sure what other dinners should book. Considering Marliave. 10 BOSWORTH STREET and Yankee Fare at Durgin Park.Would appreciate recommendations. Open to anything.

List for Lunch/ Snackipoos - Oysters on half shell, Neptune Oyster, North End, Boston - best place for lobster roll?
Pizzeria Regina - love pizza!
(Mike's pastry - My Mom is from Dorechester. Moved to bay area 57 years ago but says I have to go here. I realize many CHs don't like this place. Café Sport, and Modern Pastry recommended).
Chacarero at Chacarero 101 Arch St. - Chilean sandwiches - fresh bread, meats. cheap
Union Oyster House - 41 union - Mom also says I have to go here since it's the oldest restaurant in the US
Sam Legrassa 44 province street 617-357-6861 sanwiches - pastrami, meat loaf
Chez Henri Cubano Harvad Square

I'm also really into live music/ bars. Both my son and I play.
Near him in Allston is live music at Harper's Farm, Wonder Bar has jazz, O'briens has live music.
Sunset Grill and Tap are just a bar, Deep Ellum - gastropub

McGann's Pub - 197 Portland - live music - near hotel
Bell in Hand - Oldest bar in america is near hotel
In case of emergency - Closest bar to hotel that I think I would like is JJ Foley's Bar and Grill
Craft drinks at high end restaurants:
Eastern Standard 528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA
Clio - 370 Commwealth Ave -
Deuxave - 371 commonwealth Ave
Friend recommended Top of the Hub Prudential building 800 Boylston for view and live jazz
Russell House Tavern14 JFK Street, Cambridge,
Drink - 348 Congress St. This is close to hotel. Right across bridge south.
Paradise Rock Club - live music - 967 Commonwealth Avenue,

Thanks in advance,

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  1. Johnny D's in Somerville, and Scullers in Cambridge for music. You seem to have the food in control!

    1. your list is pretty full already, I'd only point out that some of the touristy places will not give you any local flavor (Union Oyster House, Bell, even Regina). If your mom is from Dorchester you could go to DBar (same owners as Deuxave, which is good as well) or, 224 Boston or Ashmont Grill and tell her how much the neighborhood has changed.

      Your son must have some local ideas in Allston, BonChon Korean fried chicken for one, and the Super 88 food court for low brow but authentic. Have fun and be sure to tell us how it went.

      1. The Beehive has good music, as does Wally's & The Lilypad in Inman Sq. Cambridge--Good food to be had in Inman(East Coast Grill, The Druid + many others)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Trumpetguy

          RE: Music. Wonderbar no longer has jazz, but Beehive suggestion is good, as is Les Zygomates in the leather district and Darryl's Corner Bar on Columbus/South End. Union Oyster food is absolutely awful and overpriced. Top of the Hub does have decent jazz but be aware that there is a $24 minimum to sit down there after 8pm. You may want to explore a little in Cambridge...Middle Eastern and TT the Bear's for live music with great food options in Central Sq.

        2. i prefer the japanese food at Clio/Uni; Clio does have a molecular side to it. There are plenty of good Italian places in Boston; Oriental is good but not as good as in SF.

          1. Thanks for the info. My Mom went back about 10 years ago. Her best friend still lives there. Not renting a car so that seems like quite a trek,(does the T go that far?) although it would be fun to look up her old house. The Beehive looks cool and close. "Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade' will be playing on my B-Day. That looks like fun. My son is not much help when it comes to dining anyway. The boy doesn't have two quarters to rub together. I think he mostly eats at the restaurant or fast food. He doesn't even know his schedule yet. He's suppose to get off for the Sat night but who knows with these kids? Gotta stay flexible.

            It does seem like my laundry list contains too much touristy stuff. I would like more local flavor. What restaurants should we chose for the other two dinners? Is Yankee fare a good choice? Marliave? What restaurant/s is unique to Boston?

            Thanks again.

            1 Reply
            1. re: roofus

              The T Red Line has several stops in Dorchester and there is also good bus service. At mbta.com there are several rider tools that can tell you how to get to a certain destination from a certain destination. There really isn't "yankee fare" anymore but Durgin Park is the most historic (others chime in if I'm wrong). Neptune Oyster is a very special place, go early or late for lunch and be prepared to spend for quality and quantity but being from SF you aren't going to have much sticker shock. Top of the Hub, skip.

            2. I'm biased towards Cambridge, although I used to live in Allston many moons ago...What about Central Sq for both live music (Middle East, TT the Bear's, ZuZu) and food (as you already mentioned, Craigie; Moksa, fun Asian tapas; Veggie Galaxy, veggie/vegan diner vibe with beer and wine; Central Kitchen, steak and frites-ish; Green Street, cocktails; Rangzen for Tibetan, I think they have beer; Cafe Baraka, North African but no alcohol - they are Muslim; Life Alive, for crunchy, healthful food, beer and wine; Miracle of Science, burgers, small and tight beer list, periodic table menu - welcome to MIT; Four Burgers; Koreana; Plough and Stars, lovely little pub (or is that technically Harvard Sq?)...anyway...lots of options!)? I think Plough and Stars has live music, too, right?

              Toad, two T stops after Central Sq, in Porter Sq is great for live music and beer (no food and never a cover...it is truly TINY...the smallest stage you will ever see...and great), but Rod Dee Thai is right down the street. Christopher's is too, but I'm not a fan of either their food or service but they always have nice beer on tap. Cambridge Common is also close by for a pre-show meal (also not a fan, but it's adequate for soaking up beer) and good beers on tap. The Lizard Lounge downstairs has live shows.

              The Paradise is awesome for big-time live shows. If there is a show in which you and your kid are interested, you can literally walk right up to the stage and say "hi!" Right down the street from LA (Lower Allston) and tons of food options.

              Hope this helps, and doesn't confound. Have a great visit!

              5 Replies
              1. re: digga

                (Local nomenclature nitpick: the Paradise isn't anywhere near Lower Allston, which is the part of Allston north of the pike, centered around the intersection of Western Ave and North Harvard. It's lower in topography, not geography.)

                Both the Paradise and its baby cousin the Brighton Music Hall (what used to be Harpers Ferry), are pretty much the best live music venues in Boston, both in terms of acts and ambiance. And between them is pretty much the best eating stretch in the city right now.

                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                  I like the sound of 'best eating stretch.' So, which restaurant is your fav? Thanks

                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                    Uh...aren't parts of Lower Allston, such as N Harvard Street, like a mile away from the Paradise (believe me, I've done that walk MANY MANY times when I lived in Allston). To me, that qualifies as right down the street - a 15-20 min walk or a 5 min cab ride.

                    1. re: digga

                      To each his/her own. To me "right down the street" means right down the street, not a mile or more away.

                      In any case, what tons of food options are there in Lower Allston? I can't think of much in that neighborhood except for the Breakfast Club and Stone Hearth Pizza, both of which are on Western Avenue, more like a mile and a half from the Paradise. The stretch from Packard's Corner to Union Square is packed with restaurants, but that's not Lower Allston.

                      roofus: Some great options in Allston include the food court at the Hong Kong Market, corner of Brighton Avenue & Malvern Street - half a dozen food stalls with great cheap food, and a decent ramen shop across the corridor. My current favorites are One of the Kind and Kantin.

                      Further down Brighton Avenue, the block between Linden Street and Harvard Avenue offers Taiwanese at either Jo Jo Taipei or Blue Asia, the above-mentioned Korean fried chicken at Bon Chon, decent Afghani at Ariana, and decent Italian at Carlo's. Hang a left on Harvard Avenue, and there's great shawarma at Garlic 'n' Lemons, several Korean restaurants (Korean Garden, Hanmaru, and Color), and barbecue at Soulfire. Keep going across Commonwealth Avenue and there's Shanghai Gate, a terrific Chinese restaurant featuring specialties from (surprise!) Shanghai.

                      If you keep going straight on Brighton Avenue past Harvard, past the Brighton Music Hall, there's more good Middle Eastern food at Boston Kabob, sushi at Fish Market, and Thai (obviously) at S&I Thai. Keep going all the way up to Union Square (look for the fire station and Twin Donuts) and you'll find YoMa, a Burmese restaurant that's both an underrepresented cuisine and one of my very favorites in a neighborhood teeming with good food.

                      I know I've forgotten some good places, but that's a start!

                      1. re: Allstonian

                        Great, now at the very least I can tell my son where to go to get good cheap food. Seems like he has a lot good options close to him. Thanks!

                2. The Red Line goes right through Dorchester. There are 5 stops in Dot. 6 if you count Andrew which is actually in southie.

                  Do you know what street the house is on?

                  1. Thanks much. Great info. We'll have to do Cambridge one day/night. My mom grew up in - Letterfine Terrace - which is no longer there but the apartment she rented when she married my dad is still there - 14 Wayland St. You can see it clearly on Goggle maps. Gotta love those satelite photos. My Mom said it's been refurbished beautifully. They paid $30 per month rent back in 1953. Not sure if it's worth a trip out there to see or not. We only have 3 days and nights. Tough choices. Thanks again

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: roofus

                      I looked it up and it's not near any red line stops but there are busses on Blue Hill Ave and (I think) on Columbia Rd.

                      Have a great trip!

                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        Just tried to call my son to confirm he was able to get off work at least for my B-Day din din.... a girl answered and said, "oh yea, ah... some guy left his phone here...been trying to reach him on facebook for a couple days now..." Is it happy hour yet?

                        Thanks for additional input. Think we'll pass on the trip down memory lane in Dorchester and stumble around Cambridge - Central Sq, Inman Sq, Harvard Sq.

                        Thanks again

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          That's just not the best place to send an out of town female, especially on the bus down Blue Hill Ave.

                          There are a couple good bars around your hotel- JM Curley and Stoddard's in addition to Foley's which is sort of a dive but a great pub.

                          1. re: Beachowolfe

                            Youre right. That can be a sketchy neighborhood now.

                            1. re: Beachowolfe

                              Who you calling an out of town female? :) Love a good dive bar.

                                1. re: digga

                                  Sorry are you a guy... Snackipoos? Cause you're definitely from out of town, right?

                                  Here's a great way to see Boston like a local- Take the Orange Line out to Ruggles at sunset and hop on the 45 bus. It will take you through the beautiful areas southwest of our proper city limits. You can hop off by Grove Hall and then walk over to Columbia, where there's a great Roti place. Bring lots of cash, a map, and a camera. Have fun!

                                  1. re: Beachowolfe

                                    What? A dude can't like snackipoos :) Thanks for the rec. I'll have to check it out.

                        2. Harper's Ferry is now Brighton Music Hall, a little more corporate these days. Great Scott is another better music venue in Allston. The Model and Silhouette for music types at a bar in Allston. I agree that the Middle East is a fun venue with the four different rooms. All of these are convenient for you. Wally's on Mass Ave is a small place w/ jazz, been there forever and fairly easy to get to. Cafe 939 on Boylston St. also has different music often provided by Berklee students.

                          Your food and drink list is fun. A beer and oysters at the bar of the Union Oyster House then Piz Regina is a good plan. Maria's is a great bakery in the north end but only open til about 6 or 7PM. Tons of little cheap places in Allston if you want a quick snack or lunch. Have fun.

                          1. I love that you have an "In Case of Emergency" bar. Sure you're not from Boston? Since craft drinkipoos seem a priority, I wouldn't miss The Hawthorne. It's in the same building as both Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar, so you can stumble over to one or the other for dinner and then back again. The cocktails are as good as at Drink, but the atmosphere is plusher as opposed to Drink's brick, industrial feel--whatever you're in the mood for. Also, when you go to the bar at Chez Henri, get a periodista or two to go with your cubanos. The bar staff has changed since I last went, but they used to make a great one.

                            I'd keep Regina's on your list for excellent pizza but don't get more than one topping (I prefer none) or they'll sog out the crust. As for cannoli, I did a side-by-side test of Maria's, Modern and Mike's and preferred Mike's, so do it for mom, but I don't think it'll be too tough to take.

                            Yes, Neptune for the warm lobster roll is the consensus.

                            Marliave is good, but there are lots better. If you don't get your fill of Italian at Prezza, I'd recommend Coppa and Grotto, both on a par with Marliave pricewise I believe.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pollystyrene

                              My older sister was born in Boston. I very well could have been conceived in Boston. Does that count? Thanks for the Periodista recommendation in particular. I had never heard of a periodista though I like dark rum and Hemingway. Tales of the Periodista By devhahn is a good, quick read.

                            2. Personally I would avoid Union Oyster House and Bell in Hand. The former does have notable history but the food is atrocious; you would think oysters would be good but I received a chilled platter of preshucked oysters. As in, shucked, plated, and then stuck in the fridge until ordered; totally unacceptable. As for the Bell in Hand, other than being the oldest bar there's nothing that notable about it, tons of tourists/college kids.

                              For italian and a drink, consider Sportello and then Drink (same building/owner), both totally worth going to, and walkable from your hotel.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: psychoandy

                                fwiw- if you sit at the little curved oyster bar in the old part of the restaurant they shuck to order for you. A cold harpoon and a dozen half shells is a great experience there. If you can't get a seat at that bar, move on to greener pastures because as the previous poster mentioned, they are all preshucked and the rest of the food sucks.

                                1. re: joth68

                                  Exactly. The little bar at the front of the place where the guy is shucking is the ONLY place to eat there.

                                  That little part of town is very historic and interesting, though. Its a nice place to explore.

                                    1. re: roofus

                                      Whew! Back from a great whirlwind visit to Boston. Thanks Boston chow hounds for all your help making this a great trip. Appreciate your kindness. I really like Boston and Bostonians. Very nice and friendly. Got in very late Thursday night - actually early Friday morning I suppose. My Bethie Girl had to work from the hotel room on Friday so I started looking for Chacarero to bring back for lunch. A local saw me peering at my phone and map trying to get oriented and offered help. Didn't expect that in Boston. Happened once in Dublin too but that's another story. Don't forget that kind girl who found my son's iPhone in a taxi and returned it to him at the Yard House.

                                      The line at Chacarero was out the door and down the sidewalk so I called and ordered one large beef chacarero and the sweet potato baked fries to go. Saved a ton of time. The chacarero was delicious. Fresh bread, tender steak, slight spicy avocado spread with green beans. Should have passed on the fries. Soggy under the heat lamp.

                                      My son walked down from Allston and was hungry and wanted to try a chacarero. By this time, it's 2:30 ish there was no line whatsoever. He ate it there loved it as well. We walked over to Bell in Hand for a pop. Kind of cool just to sit in such an old bar. It's certainly worth a pop. It's right next to the Union Oyster House
                                      so we grabbed a seat at the old front bar as was recommended and ordered six oysters. The guy shucked them right in front of us. Real touristy but I liked it. The old worn wooden bar slants towards you so your food and drinks are in peril. We wandered around Faneuil Hall area until MBG was ready.

                                      I've been dealing with a health issue so the walking wore me out a bit. We cabbed it to the Prudential building - Top of the Hub. Turns our my son's roommate is a waiter there. We ran into another friend of his there. Drank at the bar for a while. MBG ordered a wonderful lobster soup with coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass and little hunks of lobster. She loved it. My son's roommate sent out an appetizer tray (large, white, 4 sectioned plater) with 3 Risotto balls in a tomato, green oil sauce, Tempura shrimp with black beans and pineapple, croque madam - Gruyère cheese, black forest ham, fried egg, and finally what looked like deep fried mac and cheese with a guacamole salsa. They said it wasn't on the menu. It was sweet of him to comp us the food. It was good but not great. Real nice people though and of course, great views.

                                      Liked Russell House Tavern. It was packed at 9:30. Jumpin. 80s music blaring. Noisy room. We shared bone marrow and toast points. Not much food there but real tasty. Pig three ways - confit, loin, can't remember 3rd way... looked beautiful though. Pile of arugula and mashed potatoes on the bottom. Wonderful pizza - carmelized brussel sprouts, pancetta and marscapone. I think it was the best pizza of the trip - certainly better than what we had the next day at Regina in the north end. I make a lot of pizza's at home. Tried a version of this when we got home. Came out great. Blended the marscapone with a little cream to make it
                                      more spreadable. Carmelized the brussel sprouts in bacon fat. Oh yea, baby, that's what I'm talking about.

                                      Another waiter friend of my son showed up and took us to his bar - Grendal's Den.Wanted to try the periodista at Chez Henri but was pulled along in their wake. Standing room only. More cocktails. Then, another friend of my son called and so we met them in Allston at White Horse Tavern. They were sweet enough to put the Giants on the big screen - go Orange and Black! We had a crew now and they started ordering shots of something called a Scooby Snack - midori and something - not sure what the hell they were. Not to my taste, too damn sweet, but they went down in one large gulp. This place was full of kids. I can't believe how many friends my son has made so quickly. Goes to show you how friendly Bostonians are and how incestous the restaurant biz is.

                                      Neptune Oyster was our first meal the next day. They told us it was an hour to an hour and a half wait and they would call us so we wandered over to Mike's Pastry. I was under strict orders from Momma to go there and get a Rum Babba. Truth be told I've never had a Rum Babba but gotta make Momma happy.
                                      I got one and MBG got an Italian Wedding Cookie. I didn't like the Babba. It was soaking wet and didn't taste that flavorful. MBG didn't like her cookie either.
                                      She prefers the Mexican Wedding Balls in SF. (sure enough, Mom calls later to wish me happy birthday and the first thing she ask is did I get a Rum Babba at Mike's. Of course Momma. Was it the best thing you ever ate? Of course Momma, It was delicious. You know people come from all around the world just to go to Mike's. I know Mamma). Neptune called after 45 minutes to say that they had 3 spots at the bar. My son met us there and we had the best meal of the trip. Selection of oysters, shrimp cocktail (I guess they fly them in from Indonesia - I don't care; they were huge and good) and lobster rolls. Heaven help me! That lobster roll was perfection! Best single dish of the trip. Fries sucked. Limp. Couple/ three glasses of white and we be rollin again. Went to the Irish bar on the corner, sat in the sun, they were playing cool acoustic music - reminded me of acoustic sunrise on kfog in sf. Bloody Mary.

                                      Since I couldn't walk much, we decided to jump one of those site seeing trolleys. I usually avoid those things like the plague but I enjoyed it. Good to get a sense for the city without moving my fat ass. Got off at the Green Monster. Cool little bar gave us a view of the ballpark. Don't remember the name. Showed us Yard House and met a ton of people my son works with. Of course we had to eat. Shared tower of onion rings with dipping sauces. Burger with caramelized onions, pepper crushed Gorgonzola, mushrooms and maple bacon sauce. Ahi seared with peanut vinaigrette. And an IPA. Simple good food.

                                      Dinner at Prezza was really good. Apps of duck confit with egg, arcini lobster balls, tuna tartare with fried oysters. Veal T-bone was good. Initially I thought it was tough but the other side of the bone was as tender as the night. Served with lobster risotto and broccoli rabe. MBG had scallops which were tasty. One of the boys had swordfish which I thought was delicious. They surprised me with a hunk of white chocolate bread pudding and home made vanilla bean ice cream with a caramel sauce on the bottom. Oh Yea! It was orgasmic! Happy Birthday to me!

                                      We stumbled over to Stanza dei sigari and the boys treated me to a cigar and cognacs. It was a great time.

                                      First meal the next day was at Regina Pizza.Line out the door but it moved fast. I was disappointed in the pizza. Ordered their normal pizza but with salami and pepperoni. Seemed greasy and a bit soggy. I realize the meat could make the pizza greasy but I've had a gazzillion pizzas with tons of different toppings and
                                      they weren't drippin wet like this one. Good flavor but it didn't remind me of pizza in Italy at all, although I've had some strange pizzas in Italy. Been there 5 times. Gotta to back. Not this year though. Spain in July.

                                      Modern Pastry had a line out the door. Met some nice locals waiting - Bostonians are really friendly. They drove in from the burbs to get dessert for their best friend. Sweet. This place is really inefficient but I thought it was good. They fill the cannolis to order. Delicious. Tried something called a Torrone - loved the peanut one.

                                      Couldn't find any place with the Giants on. so we ent to Champions a the Mariott to watch end of the game. Over to the Hawthorne for some great drinks. They make everything from scratch in there. Real craft cocktails. Had the Hemingway Daquiri and then the normal to taste test. Preferred the normal daiquiri. Place smelled of cleaning fluids walking in but it dissipated and we enjoyed hanging there for a couple pops.

                                      Coppa for dinner. Residential area. Small restaurant. Neighborhood feel. Tiny kitchen. Love small Italian plates to share. Burrata was just ok. Didn't seem as creamy as it should have been. Pigs tail was great. Crispy and flavorful. Shaved asparagus, fava bean, radish and pecorina cheese salad (I made this dish when we got home too - came out great). Squid ink lobster fava bean, olive pasta was great. Probably the 2nd best dish of the trip. It had a smoky, spicy flavor with black garlic, chili flakes and shallots. Flank steak with ciopolini was really good. Tender and flavorful. Pizza with ramps, garlic and one fried egg was pretty good. Not as good as the brussel sprout pizza at Russell House Tavern. Tried some different Italian red wines.

                                      We then stumbled a half block down the street to The Franklin. It's suppose to be a real good restaurant/ bar. Small neighborhood place. Dark and attractive. Tiny kitchen. Seemed like a small club. Had the final final of the trip.

                                      Overall, we had a great time. Seemed like we barely scratched the surface. I'm usually a prodigious walker and Boston is suppose to be a great walking town. Didn't walk the freedom trail. Didn't hear any live music. A bunch of stuff was missed but we really enjoyed what we did. Gotta come back and stay longer. Thanks again Bosto Chow Hounds!

                                      1. re: roofus

                                        thanks so much for sharing your trip experience. It's great to know you enjoyed our city. Come back soon. I love SF but our Italian food is better!

                                        1. re: roofus

                                          Wow! Great job (and great report).

                                          1. re: roofus

                                            Fantastic report. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it up. Loads of fun to read. Come back!

                                            1. re: roofus

                                              so glad you enjoyed our city and found the denizens friendly and helpful. You packed a lot into your visit! And yeah that Neptune lobster roll is amazing. Come back! Enjoy Spain. Love the mention of kfog...wow did that bring me back to my time in the SF area.