Another itinerary thread
My boyfriend and I are visiting Boston for about 2 weeks on Monday. We are coming from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. I wasn't planning on making a "please critique my itinerary" thread but I figured why not?
We are staying at the Inn at St. Botolph and we're not picky about food, with the exception that my boyfriend is allergic to finned fish (shellfish is OK) so obviously sushi is out . Here's what we have planned so far:
Monday: arrive 12:30 pm. Maybe try Toro for supper - is Monday a good night for getting a table?
Tuesday: no plans so far
Wednesday: Bruce Springsteen at Fenway - !!!
Thursday: no plans
Friday: dinner at Craigie on Main at 8:30pm
Saturday: brunch at Russell House Tavern 11am, dinner at Myers+Chang at 8:30 pm
Sunday we leave for Provincetown, return Wednesday (if anyone's interested we're staying at the Arie House and have dinner reservations at Victor's, Napi's, and the Red Inn)
Wednesday: dinner at Grill 23 at 8:30 pm (restaurant week, hope it's not too crazy)
Thursday: lunch at Sel de la Terre at 1pm, Red Sox game later on
Friday: Red Sox
Leave Saturday morning.
Other places we're planning on checking out are Pizzeria Regina, Aquitaine, Island Creek Oyster Bar and Neptune Oyster, probably for lunches. On Red Sox and concert days we'll probably just grab quick bites before the game and do dinner after, or just graze on hot dogs and popcorn at the park.
I'd appreciate any suggestions for changes or improvement you may have and any favorite dishes at the above mentioned restaurants. Also, if there are any cool things we should see or do that I might not read about in a travel guide, do tell!
hi meghann, welcome in advance! your plans so far look terrific, and I'm confident you will have some really memorable food here. a few thoughts:
Neptune has same menu all day (though each day has a daily special as well (Aquitaine is like that too)so your plan for going there for Lunch is an excellent one. I love their Vitello Tuna Tartare sandwich and do not rec their chowder. Isl Creek doesn't do wkday lunch; i think their entree strengths are dinner>> the lobster roe noodles are a fav,plus the biscuit, and their way w/ scallops and razor clams - is dependably excellent. At Aquitaine, I confess to being stuck on their Warm Beet Salad and their Steak Frites (because of the amazing Truffle Vinaigrette).
Myers and Chang will likely give you a great time. Smoked Ribs and Smoked Duck are favs, plus the Shiitake Oyster Sauce Omelet (so much better eating than its description) , the Udon and the Arctic Char Spring Roll. From the places you.ve mentioned, I only see Oleana and Strip T's as the glaring missing ones.
I have been re-writing a Guide to Boston by Historic Areas and Restaurants and I have included it below.It's not finished but i'm including it now , just for you,in case i don't finish it before you arrive. Hope you have a great time and that you encounter friendly helpful people and a respite from the sweltering weather we've had of late.
VISITING BOSTON? One Hound’s Guide to Historic Areas and Restaurants 8/2012
I have gone to school and lived here 40 years and I really like to steer few-day visitors who are food-oriented>> towards great dining in attractive and historic walking areas- so they can have the best of both worlds. Below is a very long detailed piece I put together for visitors. *This is not a consensus guide, just my suggestions.* As you narrow down the list of possible restaurants for your Boston visit, do take the time to do an individual CH 'search' for each spot, so that you can read the most recent CH experiences there. And equally important- pull up their web menus and see what wows you!
Planning and Mapping Your Visit:
If and when you are ready to preview/try out various daily scenarios, you may find Google Map to be very helpful. 'Get Directions' enables me to fill in the brief name of potential locations ('Neptune Oyster', 'Fenway Park', 'Copley Plaza Hotel') and then to get a macro map of the city so I can see where all the different options are located vis a vis each other. Then I can switch the schedule/order of locations , or substitute one location for another, to preview a map of alternate scenarios. When I am ready to print my maps, I zoom in enough to show the street names, and then I print them. This process can also give you approximate travel times for walking, driving, etc.
Help Us Chowhounds Help You:
When you post an inquiry about your trip, many other Boston CHs will jump in with their own thoughts. It helps us (help you) if you include the period of your visit (re:Sunday brunch info and vacation closure info), the area or place you're staying (re:breakfast and other spots close to you), your planned transportation modes (re:car, taxi, T and walking), and any other info you can.We all want you to have some great food while you’re here! Also, if you are visiting other areas for day trips or extended touring, let us know so we can offer info to your posts on other non-Boston boards (i.e. Southern or Northern New England, The Cape, etc.)
**One Chowhound's Guide to Boston's Historic Areas and Restaurants**:
For the best preserved/most attractive/historic parts of our city, I would direct you to:
-- the North End/Waterfront/Quincy Market
-- Beacon Hill/Charles Street
-- the Back Bay: the Public Garden and the bordering Arlington and Beacon Streets;
Comm.(onwealth) Ave. and Newbury Street from the Public Garden to Mass.(achusetts) Ave.; and Copley Sq.
-- the South End
*North End/ Waterfront/ Quincy Market*
If at all possible. one must visit the original Pizzeria Regina in the North End. This is many local aficionados' fav pizza place, period. It is the original(and ONLY worthwhile) location of what is now a chain; most importantly, its pizzas taste like no others , partly because of the WWII oven they use, which is more than 'seasoned' by now. Regina's has a special place in my love because this thin crust pizza (ask for 'well done') tastes just like it did when I lived in Rome as a teenager. It is also a tiny, jam-packed, loud, FUNKY space; unique, not decor-changed since the 50's maybe. Unless you have no other option, don't go on a Saturday, and go for early lunch or early dinner to avoid lines.
Regina’s is located on the outer edge of the compact North End, so after pizza, walk over to the Hanover St. (main drag) area and feel the history of this unique neighborhood. Its oldest extant buildings are from the early 19th c.,when wealthy ship owners wanted to live near their ships, Boston being a bustling harbor town. Through the centuries, the North End has been peopled successively, by tight knit communities of blacks , Jews, and Italians. It has been Italian since the early 20th c. While harbor-dwelling yuppies have been 'encroaching' of late, there is still a lot of sidewalk life, Italian being spoken, bocce being played.
For a filling snack, Galleria Umberto Rosticceria, only open til mid afternoon, is unique for its cheap and filling large arancini, calzone and thick crusted Sicilian pizza by the slice.Long lines and cafeteria service. There are some wonderful gelato/cafes on Hanover St. I particularly like the gelato at Café Sport. Modern Pastry is across the street, with wonderful almond biscotti ,torrone, and sfogliadel ( a very unusual 3 cornered hat of layered/crunchy pastry filled with a farmer's cheese/candied fruit mixture.)
Avoid Mike’s Pastry. For very upscale Italian dining, Prezza is highly touted. And the tiny jam- packed no-reservations Neptune Oyster is the temple of the freshest seafood, impeccably prepared for traditionalists and foodies alike and always in the Top 5 lists. For Italian food goods, Salumeria Italiana and Polcari's get raves. The North End is also home to the 18th c. Old North Church and 19th c. Seamen's Home . If you like to discover-by-walking, the end of Hanover St. away from downtown Boston- leads onto the waterfront area. This area is also architecturally and historically fascinating because it is very intact with its 19th c. granite and brick warehouses and wharves (now waterview condos).
With all I've described, you might find it worth your while to go to the North End/Harbor/Quincy Market area for early lunch, afternoon exploring and maybe dinner. You could incorporate the nearby Aquarium and IMAX, TD Garden and the Greenway. Both Regina's and Neptune Oyster are continually packed and no reservations. Best to hit them right when they open. You can also leave your name on a list and then stroll the fascinating area. The Boston Garden (now The TD Garden), home to the Boston Bruins and the Celtics, is a 5 minute walk from the North End.It houses a large shop and a small sports museum, and offers daily scheduled indoor tours.
(**Street parking is near impossible in the North End, where 99% of it is Resident Parking Only. Throughout the summer, religious festival weekends turn the North End into quite the zoo.)
Quincy Market is Boston's 18th and 19th c. historic warehouse and market area.As a model of historic preservation coupled with successful commercial viability, its adaptive reuse was the prototype for most of the other U.S. 'Commercial Historic Restoration/Tourist Attractions'. Its large handsome brick warehouse and market buildings are now full of endless shops, restaurants and vendor carts. Foodwise, it’s o.k. for sampling some finger food or ice cream but not much more. However, the famous historic Durgin Park is a Boston institution where, if you order correctly, you can have a memorable time (lobster, clams, baked beans, Indian Pudding). Nearby are CH lunch favs Zo, Sultan's Kitchen , Sam la Grassa's and Chacarero. The area around Quincy Market, Government Center, and the Greenway (a new walking park recently made possible when our overhead transit system was dismantled) - is also rich with Boston's new Food Trucks, offering a myriad of ethnic and American Regional foods to downtown workers and visitors alike. The trucks travel throughout the city and have location schedules that change by day and time of day. In the summer, outdoor Farmers Markets are found throughout the city and suburbs, offering the best of local produce and specialty foods. (Boston's long awaited year 'round indoor Market is scheduled to open near the Greenway in 2014.)
For a really memorable experience seeing 'Boston's Past and Present' simultaneously, head for the once-daily opening of the observation deck of the Customs House tower (with the bright blue clock face.) There you will have a 360 degree intimate overhead view of this oldest part of Boston adjoining the harbor.
Somewhat near Quincy Market, in the area of South Station(our major railway terminus), are two of Boston’s top rated and most expensive restaurants. OYa is perhaps the most creative Japanese influenced food in Boston, consistently listed in the top 3 local restaurants. Menton is a silk purse prix fixe paean to European luxe and service perfected. Casual bistros in the same area are Les Zygomates(oyster bar and traditional French food) and Blue Inc (innovative and playful with strong Asian and Latin ), both also open for lunch.
*Beacon Hill and Charles St.*
Heading inland from the North End and the Harbor, and skirting the Boston Common, is Beacon Hill, Boston’s well preserved elite neighborhood of 18th and 19th c. brick townhouses. Louisburg Sq. is a private square of mansions with its original cobblestone street surface and a Victorian- fenced resident-owned park oval in its center. Beacon Hill is also the location for our famous gold domed State House, various private men's and women's social clubs, and the headquarters for the Appalachian Mountain Club(AMC).
Running along one side of the base of Beacon Hill is historic Charles Street, an amazingly well preserved 19th c. brick streetscape full of antique shops, restaurants and boutiques. The no frills Paramount is a very popular neighborhood gem for breakfast and brunch, and Figs has good simple Italian pizzas, pastas etc. In a sea of Italian spots, Lala Rokh presents a calm intimate respite with Boston's best Persian food ( grilled and stewed lamb and eggplant taking the spotlight.) It's a quiet comfortable resting spot after a long day of walking. Its sister restaurant on Charles St. is Bin 26, for fine wines and Northern Italian. At the far end of Charles St., in the former 19th c. jail/now Liberty Hotel, is the new Italian hot spot, Scampo, from Lydia Shire, pioneer icon of Boston women chef/owners.
Away from Charles St., climbing up Beacon Hill near the State House, the intimate bohemian Grotto has excellent well priced and creative Northern Italian influenced food. Nearby and considerably more expensive is #9 Park, an arguably lesser version of its original self, a spare elegant Northern Italian spot , owned by local-girl-made-good and dining-empire builder, Barbara Lynch. On the back side of Beacon Hill, a 5 minute walk from the North End, is the impressively restored Harrison Grey Otis House museum, headquarters for Historic New England, which owns over 50 important New England 17th c. through 20th c. museum houses. Next to the Otis House is the Old West Meeting House. Both buildings were designed by famous architects and when built, were surrounded by rolling pastureland. Now they appear as two brick Federal era hold outs in a sea of 20th c. commercial and government buildings. Two other important Beacon Hill museums are the Museum of African American History and the Boston Athenaeum.
* The Back Bay: the Public Garden and the bordering Arlington and Beacon Streets;
Comm.(onwealth) Ave. and Newbury Street from the Public Garden to Mass.(achusetts) Ave.; and Copley Sq.*
At the foot of Beacon Hill and adjacent to the Boston Common, is the Public Garden. Originally used as a Rope Walk (an open space large enough to enable ship rigging ropes to be made in one continuous piece) the Public Garden became, in the Victorian era, a well ordered floriferous strolling park and the country's first arboretum. For elegant dining near the Public Garden, CH favs include Troquet (Boston's best wine list)and Bistro du Midi(which looks out on the Public Garden and also offers Lunch and Brunch.)
Make sure to experience one of Boston's most beautiful features: Comm(onwealth) Ave between Mass(achusetts) Ave and Arlington St.(adjacent to the Public Garden, the oldest arboretum/public park in the U.S. ) This part of Comm. Ave was designed after the Champs Elysees in Paris and is a 9 blocks long strip of tree, bench and statue- lined park with handsome 19th c. mansions and town houses lining both side and galleries , with many restaurants. Right around the corner from the Public Garden end of Newbury Street is Parish Cafe on Boylston St. with sandwiches designed by and named for many of Boston's best chefs . In Copley Sq., famous for Trinity Church, the Boston Public Library, and the mirror glass John Hancock tower, you can enjoy a very tranquil and lovely lunch or tea in the library's cafe. For one of the most CH raved high end artisinal and farm-to-table dinners in Boston,visit l'Espalier, especially lauded for their tasting menus and chef's table dinners. At the Mass. Ave. end of Newbury St. is Sonsie, a handsome swank late night spot with a broad menu and loud bar, which is popular with the Euro crowd. Also near that end of Newbury St. are Deuxave and Island Creek Oyster Bar, the first known for innovative high end dining and the latter for its extensive raw bar and both traditional and innovative seafood.
The South End is Boston’s amazingly well-preserved and very large Victorian district, chock-a-block w/ handsome brick and brownstone rowhouses often grouped around pocket parks in the middle of side street cul-de-sacs. There is a large gay population , more and more young families, beloved dogs everywhere, myriad restaurants(mostly bistro style) and an active sidewalk cafe and strolling culture. Aquitaine is a handsome lively French bistro with great Steak Frites and both traditional and contemporary fare (also an excellent duck confit sandwich w/ melted gruyere for Brunch!) and top notch service. Four blocks away is Tremont 647 , its strongpoint being their fun Pajama Brunch, when all their servers, chefs etc. wear their pjs to work. Mike and Patty’s is a beloved neighborhood gem for breakfast and lunch, but it is more of a take-out space.The South End Buttery is a popular full service breakfast spot and bakery.The Gallows and Coppa are two recent bistros with many fans, the latter known for its 'snout to tail' menu and in-house charcuterie. Masa is a comfy Southwestern bistro, and Mistral, a dramatic bustling elegant space with French emphasis, popular with the expense account set. Mistral's owners also manage Sorellina, like an Italian Mistral.
For any visitor calling themselves a serious chocolate fan, the adorable ChocoLee shop may provide you one of your best Boston memories. This tiny unassuming South End gem is the labor of love of famous Boston pastry chef, Lee Napoli, and there she produces a uniquely superior changing array of filled chocolates, truffles and barks.On weekends she also offers a small number of amazing croissants and fresh beignets.(* Her shop hours are limited, so call ahead.*)
On the southwestern edge of the South End is Toro, a deafeningly loud crowded Spanish tapas joint with possibly the best paella in town. Just outside the South End, in the new SoWa district of swank condos, art galleries and restaurants, is CH fav. Myers+Chang, with a casual hip 'new Chinese' menu of small and large plates, with a famous bar program and weekend dim sum. Like East Coast Grill in Cambridge, M+C is a hot spot for locals and a great place to people watch and feel like one of the neighborhood. Across the street is Oishii, with Boston's most expensive innovative sushi (not for traditionalists.)
Thanks for your response! I do appreciate the updated visitor's guide - I previously read and enjoyed the older one. Thanks for the suggestions on what to do and where to go.
I had Strip T's in mind when we thought we were going to have a car but since decided against driving, I had thought it would be too much trouble. How hard would it be for us to get there? I appreciate the Oleana suggestion and have looked at their menu but my boyfriend doesn't really like Greek food so I thought this was similar enough that he probably wouldn't be interested. I'll show him the menu and see what he thinks.
I also have a followup question. Do you (or any other readers!) know of anywhere in the general vicinity of our hotel where we can get good coffee? Drip, Americano - we aren't picky, as long as it's delicious :)
I wouldn't consider Oleana to be Greek food. The food there is amazing and you really shouldn't miss it. I had grilled scallops and polenta when I was there and I savoured every bite. Their small plates are delicious too.
You might also enjoy a brunch at East Coast Grill. Great place.
If you like Italian bakeries check out Modern for nougatine and almond biscotti, and Maria's for cannolis. They are close to Neptune.
If you like Ice Cream go to Toscanini's and also Christina's in Cambridge.
Have a good trip.
my pleasure, meghann,
strip t's- easiest would be a 10 min cab from harv sq., though there is a bus from harv sq as well that lets you off on mt auburn st, 5? blocks away. But reserva are needed or show up when they open at 5:30; it has become quite the rage since all the publicity they've rcvd.When you call, tell them where you've come from- i bet the friendly folks there would fit you in somehow!
There's good coffee on ev corner; just ask your concierge/inn mngr. Boston is a MAJOR coffee town!
p.s. provincetown has a large historic portuguese community- do check out their food!