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Recommendations for excited out of towners?

hi all. Ill be visiting boston during the first weekend in august anid was hoping to get your help. I trust CH-ers recommendations more than Google :-)
Anyways we are looking for places to eat in the mid-hig price range. Around 150 max for dinner and a bottle of wine would be preferable. To make it easier we both looove seafood and one of the big reasons we want to visit boston is to stuff our faces with seafood! We will likely stay downtown. Any help would be apprciated.

Also if anyone has any good recommendations for nigtlife in boston itd be appreciated as well. Nothing too fancy, even if someone could point me to an area where theres a good cluster of bars and pubs thatd help.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Hi and welcome to our fair city. If you do a few searches you will quickly locate some of this board's favorites but as far as seafood goes the two that are at the top of the list are Island Creek Oyster Bar and Neptune Oyster. Both are excellent and very different from each other. Island Creek is a large restaurant in Kenmore Sq. that has an excellent raw bar and a varied menu with specials based on what is available. Their lobster roe noodles with baraised short ribs is a signature dish. The key advantage is they take reservations and offer valet parking if you have a car while you are here. Neptune Oyster is in the North End (italian section). They also have an excellent raw bar and serve some of the best lobster rolls in the city. They offer their rolls either cold with a light mayo dressing or hot with melted butter. I especially like thier Fried Clams and their daily specials. The problem is they do not take reservations and the place is very small. You can put your name in and they will take your cell phone number and call you. While you wait you can stroll around the area. If you go on off hours you will have a better chnace of getting in. For a different type seafood experience I would suggest Belle Isle Seafood in Winthrop (East Boston). This place is in the "dive category" but it is very traditional New England fried seafood place. Some say they have the best lobster rolls that is only about $18.00 for at least 1 1/2 lbs of fresh lobster meat. The problem is that it is mostly a take out place although they do have a few stools and small counter where you can eat. There is no bar. A lot of people park ouit back and eat in their cars while watching planes take off and land at Logan Airport. I think they do great fish and chips and I like their "Stuffies" (Stuffed quahog clams) too. Hope this helps you enjoy Boston

    1. Royron is right on the money with his response.

      If you're here for a Sunday, i would highly recommend the brunch at East Coast Grill in Camb. Terrific lively atmosphere and great food. In Boston,there's South End Buttery, Aquitaine, and Mistral (from lesser to more expensive).

      For one of your lunches, I think the famous Regina's Pizzeria in the North End (our most praised pizza) would give you a really memorable experience. Lively, fun, original 50's decor and saltoftheearth waitresses! And you could walk around the North End and the harbor afterward. Also for lunch in the North End: Neptune Oyster(see below) and Galleria Umberto Rosticceria (followed by dessert at Modern Pastry !)


      'Bistro' like Dinner Spots that I would recommend :

      Oleana- Cambridge; really unusual Turkish/Mediterranean menu; farm-to-table;charming patio

      Strip T's (in a 'suburb', 10 min cab from harvard square) for serious foodies; Momofuku chef; great inventive Asian inspired but also best fried chicken and burger in Boston (imo!)

      EVOO, Cambr.- International, very farm to table

      Rendezvous, Camb.- Mediterranean/Turkish, French; very farm to table

      Grotto- No. Italian, Beacon Hill

      Aquitaine- french, South End

      Myers+ Chang - Pan Asian, great food and service, a real 'happenin' place!, near South End

      Higher End Dinner restaurants(all in Boston except Craigie):

      Erbaluce- unusual inventive No.Italian

      Craigie on Main-Cambr., famous for creativity and offal but also seafood

      OYa- v.v.expensive Japanese American inventive

      Neptune Oyster- crowded tiny always a line (no reservations), top quality inventive seafood along w/ trad.

      Island Creek Oyster Bar- the BEST service, large room but intimate, more trad but some inventive

      Deuxave: elegant, inventive

      Menton: v v expensive french influenced, impeccable service

      Troquet: French, known for 'best wine list in city'


      Hope this is helpful as well:

      Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:



      and for websites/phone numbers and brief descriptions:

      Boston Magazine 11/11 issue: 50 Best Boston Restnts.:


      Welcome in advance and look forward to reading your reports!

      1. You may get better responses if you can tell us where you are from, and your favorite (seafood) restaurants and nightlife in your own town. Some Boston hounds may be familiar with those, and will have the context to give you the best advice. For example, they may say:

        "If you like abc in your neck of the woods, you will love xyz in Boston."


        "I hate to say it, there is nothing in Boston that can even come close to abc in your neck of the woods."

        1. Hi all. Royron and opinionatedchef, thanks for all your suggestions so far, it's really helpful. I've already started looking at the menu/websites for some of the restaurants that have been mentioned and I have some on my radar already (Neptune, Island Creek, particularly). Since I'm only there for a couple days I'd like to minimize travel so I'm trying to focus on places within 15-20 minutes subway ride from downtown Boston max.

          eatnell, I'll be coming from Toronto, Ontario. I'm not sure how many people on the board have been there before but I'd be happy to suggest some of the places I enjoy here if someone is familiar with Toronto. Else, my last trip down to the states was last Fall and I went to Chicago, which might be more helpful as a point of reference if people have been there. Again, I was only there over a weekend but I recall one of the highlights there being a restaurant called Piccolo Sogno (Italian resto). Great ambience (They had the back patio open and it was beautiful and a perfect setting for a date), great service, and best of all great food (the seafood pasta was off the charts good). As well, we also really enjoyed the Publican. Good atmosphere and great food. We didn't have much seafood in Chicago but we did eat at Shaw's Crag House downtown because we had some time to kill before our flight back. They had an oyster special on that week and the oysters were fresh, good, and the price was right :)

          At night, we enjoyed places like Violet Hour and Bluebird. I hope this helps give an idea of the places we'd enjoy. At best, it may give an idea of the price range and atmosphere we're looking for.

          7 Replies
          1. re: onehaehyuk

            When you say "downtown", what exactly do you mean? Are you talking financial district (how I'd think of downtown), or just in the city. If you're just thinking in the city (Back Bay, South End, Beacon Hill etc), a 15-20 minute subway ride isn't going to get you very far. Boston is a small city compared to Toronto. You can walk the whole thing fairly easily. That being said, going from what I'd consider downtown (the financial district) to Island Creek (Kenmore) is a 30 minute trip on the T (subway).

            1. re: onehaehyuk

              Lots of people on this board are familiar with TO, including at least a couple of folks who are originally from there. Feel free to reference Toronto restaurants that you like.

              (mkfisher: if it takes you 30 minutes to get from the financial district to Kenmore by T, you may possibly be doing it wrong. Barring serious delays it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to get from Government Center to Kenmore.)

              1. re: Allstonian

                I do my office (next to south station) to Kenmore 40 times per year for Red Sox games. It's a 30 minute trip. Short of the invention of a jetpack or flying car, I'm not sure it can be done that much faster.

                1. re: mkfisher

                  Fair enough. Perhaps the geographical location of "financial district" has shifted in the 30 years since I worked there. At that time the finaincial district was all within a few blocks of Government Center, and didn't require a change of trains to get to Kenmore.

                  In any case, we still have no idea where onehaehyuk is actually staying, so the point is moot.

                2. re: Allstonian

                  mkfisher - sorry for the vague description of the locale. I didn't specify because I haven't booked my hotel yet. I've narrowed it down to either the Theatre District or Back Bay as my top choices for places to stay. Based on your description, I guess this is more "in the city" than "downtown."

                  Allstonian, thanks for your reply. My top three restaurants in Toronto (at least ones I find myself frequenting most often) are the Black Hoof, Guu, and Enoteca Sociale.

                  1. re: onehaehyuk

                    No worries on the vague description. Just trying to work within your guidelines. As several others mentioned above, Island Creek Oyster Bar is going to be a great option (and a nice walk from the Back Bay or Theater District). Also in the Kenmore/Fenway area are Eastern Standard and Trattoria Toscana, two of my favorites.

                    1. re: onehaehyuk

                      I would second the recommendations of Neptune Oyster and Island Creek Oyster Bar along with the $1 Oyster HH at Marliave as Gourmaniac mentioned.

                      Also based on where you like to eat in TO, I would also add Coppa, Toro and Craigie on Main. O Ya also would have been perfect based on your tastes, but is very $$$$.

                      As far as cocktail bars are concerned, check out: Drink, Brick and Mortar and The Hawthorne.

                3. You might like Marliave in Downtown Boston. Not a destination but $1 oysters til 6PM, old Boston, decent bar.

                  1. If you liked Violet Hour, definitely have cocktails at Drink. Like Violet Hour, it can be a better experience at a more "off" hour.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: LeoLioness

                      I think The Hawthorne is more similar to Violet Hour than Drink is. Drink is small, loud and cramped. Hawthorne and VH are more chill and spacious. Both make excellent cocktails but I prefer the ambiance of The Hawthorne and if the OP is going to Island Creek already, nothing could be easier than going right next door to The Hawthorne.

                      As for the OP's question of area with lots of bars: Around Fenway Park there are some good ones(Citizen, Eastern Standard, Lower Depths). Boylston Street in the Back Bay has a couple I like(Bukowski Tavern and The Rattlesnake). If you are into craft beer I would recommend Kendall Square. Cambridge Brewing Company is an amazing brewpub. Lord Hobo and Meadhall are a 5 minute walk from there and have great tap lists.

                      1. re: Kinopio

                        You're right. I thought about that after the fact and meant to edit my post. Thanks for bringing that up.

                    2. A local magazine, The Improper Bostonian, recently published an article on the city's top seafood dishes. www.improper.com
                      Also, something different would be an outdoor clambake on one of the Boston Harbor Islands. Google "spectacle island sunset clambake" and it will direct you to the site. They are offered on Thursday and Friday evenings in August, you take a ferry to Spectacle Island, with georgeous views of the city, have wine and beer and traditional clambake with steamers, lobster and corn, all in a beautiful setting.
                      I would also ditto the recomendations for Island Creek Oyster Bar. Given its proximity to Fenway, you can always do a tour of Fenway Park before your dinner.
                      I am not up on the nightlife, but friends of mine took some relatives from out-of-town to "Howl at the Moon" which is a bar with singing and entertainment very close to the Fanueil Hall area.

                      1. Thanks for the suggestions gourmaniac and Leolioness. Both sound like great choices and are in line with what I'm looking for.

                        And snowcone, just doing a quick perusal, the Improper Bostonian website is really great, thanks for the suggestion! As for the sunset clambake island visit, I just checked their website and unfortunately, I'm not in Boston on the days they're offering the trip :( But it sounds like a very cool idea.

                        1. Hi all, wow so many great suggestions. Thanks for recommending me places based on my tastes/preferences. So after checking out the websites for the suggested restaurants/bars, I think I've decided that we'll have one one night where we eat something a bit pricier and another night where we'll eat on the cheaper side. I've come to realize after looking at different restos and hotels that Boston is a decently expensive city and I probably can't afford two nights of dropping a couple hundred bucks on dinner. So, I think my gf and I are going to go to Island Creek Oyster Bar for a "fancier" dinner and then the Hawthorne for drinks afterwards (thanks for the reco Matt H and Kinopio), Regina's Pizza for a lunch one day, Marliave for cheap oysters one day (probably will go elsewhere for dinner though once happy hour is over), possibly Cambridge Brewing Company/Kendall Square for "bar hopping" one night.

                          I still need a slightly "cheaper" place to eat on one of the nights. My friend who visited Boston recently said Giacomo's is a pretty good, affordable bet. I noticed there's one on Hanover st. which is walking distance from Marliave (could do oysters then walk there for dinner). Would you guys recommend this place?

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: onehaehyuk

                            If you are thinking Italian for your cheaper night, I'd recommend Trattoria Toscano, in the Fenway/Kenmore neighborhood, or Grotto, on Beacon Hill, instead of Giacomo's. Another idea is EVOO, in Kendall Square, which does a $35ish prix fixe menu and is ideally located as a place to start your night of bar hopping in Kendall.

                            1. re: greenzebra

                              Actually to start a Bar hop in Kendall for dinner Grotto is a great idea. Grotto isnt our best by any means, but its solid and an easy walk to the Red Line to head one stop into Kendall Square. Grotto btw is a very nice walk through the Common from Marliave, especially since you get to pass by the State House and great architecture in Beacon Hill on the way there.

                              As far as bar hopping in Kendall is concerned CBC, Lord Hobo, Meadhall ending with maybe a cocktail at Brick n Mortar in Central sounds like a fun evening. If you were interested in dancing afterwards Central is a good place to do that as well.

                              1. re: Matt H

                                That Lord Hobo > CBC > Meadhall is indeed a nice beer crawl path.

                            2. re: onehaehyuk

                              Other than CBC, did you have places you wanted to go in Kendall? It's not the first area that comes to mind when I think of a bar crawl. In my opinion, relatively close by Inman or Central Squares would be better for that.

                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                you can eat well for cheap in boston's chinatown which isnt that big but has some nice food, but as you are from toronto you may be used to great chinese (last time i was there) but there may be a region or two underepresented in your town.