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Jun 13, 2012 09:21 AM

Leaving three kids behind to dine in Boston! Hallelujah!

My husband and I are heading to Boston JUly 4-8th. We will be staying at the Marriott Long Wharf. Having just read a thread regarding another couple, I have some ideas about where to eat but need suggestions that cater to our tastes a bit more. We are from New Orleans and love dining out. We have been bombarded with some outstanding new restaurants here that are reflecting the new trend of top notch chefs with local ingredients while keeping costs mid range. We are looking to spend up to $150 with wine but not every night. We do NOT have great Italian here, so that is a priority for me. I also love a good steak, but want to avoid the standard but top notch steak houses. My husband loves seafood. It looks like Neptune Oyster is the place to go for that. We also love Ethiopian or would be happy to try some other ethnic food for lunch.
We also love local’s only type places (dives are good!). Any recommendations for our stay would be much appreciated. It looks like opinionatedchef gave some great suggestions, so I am looking at those. My husband is the chow hounder, so it’s my first time. Hope I gave the right info to get the right info. Thanks!

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  1. Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square is a great spot. Also, many great Italian restaurants are outside of the North End. Might want to try Rino's in East Boston (258 Saratoga Street).

    1. There is lots of good italian. Prezza is probably my favorite, but you should probably let somebody with more recent expertise opine on that. DO NOT just walk around the north end and walk in somewhere, there is some awful italian in the north end.

      I can give you the scoop on ethiopian- there are really two options: Addis of the Red Sea in the South End and Habesha in Malden. If you search on here for the former I think you you will find some mixed reviews of the food at the former. The latter has excellent, excellent food, which you will also find with a search on this board.

      In terms of location, etc., the South End is a lot more interesting than Malden, and the space at Addis is more interesting than the space at Habesha. But I'd still recommend Habesha any day over Addis. The food is delicious and super authentic. It is also full of africans from africa every time we go in there. It is also very reasonable. You can get a sampler for like $12 or something which stuffs me, my wife, and our daughter.

      If you go to Habesha, you can very easily take the T (the subway). You just take the orange line north towards Oak Grove and get off at Malden Center- like a 15 minute ride. From there it is probably a quarter mile or so through a not-fancy but entirely safe neighborhood. The T in Boston is totally safe and not very complicated, and people are surprisingly nice to confused looking tourists. Round trip will be like 5 bucks for the two of you. You could also cab it and it would probably be 30 bucks each way.

      3 Replies
      1. re: drbangha

        For that matter, stop off at Fuloon in Malden for super-authentic Szechuan (avoid the typical American-Chinese dishes).

        1. re: drbangha

          You're missing a few options for Ethiopian!

          There's an Addis Red Sea in Cambridge, just outside of Harvard Square. They can definitely get lazy wrt the food, but if you go in asking specifically for things (spicy, kitfo, injera from teff) they step up the game. It can take a long time for the food to get served at either, FWIW. Another option is Asmara in Central Square; that is Eritrean food but it has most of the same dishes, tibs, doro wat, fit fit.

          Also recommended by people (though I haven't been myself) is Lucy's Ethiopian cafe, which does the coffee ceremony.

          Some things you might want to try that you don't really have in NOLA are

          Brazilian--I definitely recommend Muqueca in Cambridge. They do great seafood stews--I recommend the fish and shrimp muqueca, the seafood rice, with sides of couve and pirao, fried plantains, and rice and beans.

          Senegalese--at Teranga a in the South End.

          Portuguese--in Inman Square in Cambridge stretching to Kendall area there are a number of nicer (Casa Portugal) to more casual (O Senor Ramos) places.

          1. re: dulce de leche

            More good Ethiopian at Abiata, also in Malden Center. Very casual, more of a cafe.

        2. If opinionated chef posts, she'd say...Oleana...Cambridge...if Middle Eastern/Turkish etc. appeals to you. I'm always the second to suggest Oleana unless I beat her to it. The outdoor garden seating is lovely (you can make a reservation but not for garden). As some have said, you feel as if you are in a different city...kind of like how I feel that New Orleans is a different country. The public transportation to that section of Cambridge is a bit difficult but you can get a cab from Central Square subway stop in Cambridge.

          1. Thank you for all your input! We are still deciding but have some definites on our list!

            7 Replies
            1. re: shanefink

              I think my wife got us a little sidetracked. Ethiopian won’t be a priority, just maybe a lunch. We have 4 dinners and 3 lunches. Neptune Oyster and Island Creek Oyster Bar should probably be two of those meals. Two of the others would probably be Italian (I am desperate for a good marinara sauce- eggplant parmasan). One lunch would be ethnic, probably go with Addis to check out the South End neighborhood. For the last two meals, how bout one that would be cutting edge and would impress a New Orleanian. By saying this, I have to tell you that we went to Vegas last year and had 3 meals at top restaurants that didn’t compare to what we have down here. Come on Boston, impress us. The last meal would be maybe a good deli/burger joint. I’m not a huge po boy fan, but perhaps a place that makes killer sandwiches.

              1. re: shanefink

                I really like the eggplant parm at both the Saraceno and at Artu (with locations in Boston's North End and on lovely Charles St.) Solid red sauce. Solid, old-school and delicious, nothing fancy or earth-shaking. I believe you have to get pasta as a side, but the red sauce is good at both.

                1. re: shanefink

                  For sandwiches, I'd suggest the Parish Cafe or All Star Sandwich Bar. The Parish features sandwiches created by local chefs and All Star features their own creations, riffing on familiar themes. If you like spice, their meatloaf sandwich will fit the bill.

                  1. re: shanefink

                    Oh, ok, if you plan to be in Cambridge, have lunch at Gran Gusto. I see an eggplant parmagiana on the menu. The food is delicious, owned by two Neapolitan brothers, import many ingredients, perfectionist but not stuffy. It's atmosphere isn't exciting, but not too many red sauce restaurants will have inspiring ambiance anyway. You can sit outside near a great park for a walk after.

                    The only Italian food I've had in NOLA is at Domenica, which has a different kind of menu than Gran Gusto, but I was a little disappointed with Domenica. I wanted to like it more than I did.

                    I have to say I found Artu in the North End depressing inside and the service unfriendly. I can't remember the food.

                    The other place I really like for Italian is Trattoria Toscana, which as its name implies, serves Tuscan. Very small restaurant, cozy tables, delicious, all the cooking is done by the owner in a tiny kitchen. This is in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston.

                    I have eaten so well in your city, I really want you to have a good time here!

                    1. re: dulce de leche

                      Thanks. I like Domenica a lot, but that’s not really what we’re looking for in Boston. Just authentic American-Italian with a great eggplant parm, maybe a veal marsala and a nice bottle of chianti. New Orleans has a lot to offer, but we are missing a few things. One thing we don’t have that I would get in Boston if it was worth it is Greek food. Any outstanding moussaka, spanakopita, gyros, etc.?

                      1. re: shanefink

                        Gennaro's in the North End just got a great review in the Boston Phoenix. They've got the eggplant parm, veal marsala, etc., and, according to the review, do it better than most.

                    2. re: shanefink

                      We spent some time in New Orleans when our daughter went to school there for four years. There are many New Orleans restaurants that cannot be beat. New Orleans is known for its food. Based on my experience, I suggest that you never order shrimp in Boston. It will be good but it does not compare to New Orleans shrimp. You are much better off with New England specialties like lobster or haddock. Scallops and clams are also usually very good.

                      There is plenty of good Italian food in Boston. I would follow the advice of other CHer's regarding where to go. You also should be able to find good Greek food. I usually go to Lowell for Greek food but that will too far for you.

                  2. My go-to for italian in the North End is Loconte's, I am addicted to their gnocchi with veal. We also like Ristorante Fiori for their rooftop bar and dining room, though it can get busy on nice summer evenings. Lucky for us, we too have little ones at home and are usually leaving before the crowds start and the wait gets too long. Mama Maria is expensive for the North End, but we had a romantic dinner and I remember wanting to lick the plate!

                    Agree with a previous post not to just walk in anywhere. And do not leave the North end without a cannoli from Mike's or Modern Pastry...although I personally can't live without a lobster tail from Mike's pastries (cash only).

                    I also recommend checking out the 'ten best things to eat in Boston' thread on this board, there are some excellent recommendations there. Hammersly bistro, Craigie on Main, Ten Tables for local fine dining. We always bring out-of-towners to the Clam Box up in Ipswich, if you have a car. It's the only place my Florida-Keys-dad asks to revisit! Have a great trip.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JV72

                      Thanks for these tips JV72. What else is good at Loconte's? Haven't heard it discussed much.