HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >

Discussion

Long post, short weekend in Boston

Hi there, Boston Hounds, and apologies in advance for this long, rambling post!

I would appreciate some help putting together an itinerary for our upcoming trip to the East Coast. We will be in Boston in early October for a short weekend (with a night in Salem for a wedding)…I’ve done quite a bit of poking around your board, and I’m having a terrible time making decisions! We are staying Saturday night only right near Copley Square, and we will have a rental car although I plan on parking it once we get into the city and relying on walking/cabs/public transport. The more walking, the better!

The husband and I like all types of food and don’t really have a budget, though we’d like to avoid Mexican food (have a ton of it here in Phoenix) and sushi (the husband could take it or leave it). We are in our late 20s/mid 30s. We like good food, good atmosphere, and good people watching. For a frame of reference, in our most recent trip we went to NYC and our highlights were Minetta Tavern and Locanda Verde. Here are the meals we are looking for, and any info that might be helpful:

Saturday Lunch – Driving into town from Maine and need lunch before our bike tour at 2PM—bike tour departs near the aquarium, so lunch near there would be great! Thinking Neptune Oyster…or are we going to wait so long that we’ll be late for the bike ride?

Saturday Dinner/Cocktails – Somewhere dressy, but not stuffy. Just somewhere I could wear a nice pair of heels to and not feel out of place. Would like to do dinner somewhere that is in walking distance to a bar or two. Doesn’t have to be bar-only, can be a bar inside of a restaurant. Thinking of dinner at either Eastern Standard Kitchen or Island Creek Oyster Bar and then visiting the other for a cocktail/snack and possibly The Hawthorne as well. Might also venture over to The Beehive later since it looks relatively close to our hotel. Do we need a reservation at The Beehive? I am PRO reservations in a big way, and will be making them for dinner if possible.

Sunday Breakfast – I think we may venture over to Cambridge this morning. I was intrigued by Flour Bakery & Café, but they open so darn late! The husband and I are early risers and will probably need breakfast at 7AM, 8AM at the latest. Any recommendations for Cambridge (preferably) or Back Bay?

Sunday Lunch – Sunday lunch might be more like Sunday brunch because Lucky’s Lounge and their Sinatra brunch sounds pretty intriguing (is it just one guy singing, or a whole band?), and it looks like there are a couple of spots to have a cocktail with a view nearby. If we do Lucky’s, would you recommend Sam’s, Legal Harborside, etc. for a quick stop? Or am I missing a better Sunday lunch elsewhere all together?

Monday Lunch – I think this is reserved for Radius, unfortunately, because it would fit better in our Saturday but I don’t think they are open for lunch. My boss, who used to live in Boston and visits frequently, knows that my husband is a burger aficionado (is that a thing?) and highly recommended this place. I read the rave reviews for Craigie’s and The Butcher Shop, but if we go somewhere for a burger it has to be Radius per The Boss’s recommendation.

So that’s it! I have a bunch of other restaurants that look great but can’t quite figure out where to fit them in…should I swap any of these out? Am I missing anything?

Coppa
The Butcher Shop
Craigie on Main
Hungry Mother
No 9 Park
Gaslight Brasserie du Coin
The Gallows
Jacob Wirth
B&G Oysters
Toro

Additionally, if anyone has a breakfast recommendation in Salem, I’m all ears!

Many thanks for your time and advice! Can’t wait to eat my way through your fantastic city!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. well, hello Phoenix, welcome in advance! Your very informative inquiry and your homework are most admirable!
    Just in case you haven't seen this:
    VISITING BOSTON? One Hound’s Guide to Historic Areas and Restaurants (Revised 8/2012):
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/864894

    Otherwise, my suggestions below :-

    }

    Saturday Lunch – Driving into town from Maine and need lunch before our bike tour at 2PM—bike tour departs near the aquarium, so lunch near there would be great! Thinking Neptune Oyster…or are we going to wait so long that we’ll be late for the bike ride?

    ** All North End suggestions:
    --Lunch at Neptune(SO terrific!)but only if you can get there a bit before 11am, when they open, so you can get in line.
    --Otherwise, our fantastic Regina's Pizzeria. If Regina's is too long a wait, you could get take out from them.

    --Thirdly, cafeteria style Galeria Umberto on Hanover St. for your pre-bike tour carbo fix : Arancini- softball sized fried risotto balls w/ filling, and thick square pizza slices, and calzone.
    --Or fourthly, exc. sandwiches from Volle Nolle on upper Hanover St.:
    http://boston.eater.com/archives/2012...

    ** You said you are early risers. IF you arrived in the North End way before 11am, you could get an almond biscotti (not like regular ones) or a (unique and not often found) sfogliadel from the much loved Modern Pastry on lower Hanover St., just a 3 minute walk from Neptune.

    Saturday Dinner/Cocktails – Somewhere dressy, but not stuffy. Just somewhere I could wear a nice pair of heels to and not feel out of place. Would like to do dinner somewhere that is in walking distance to a bar or two. Doesn’t have to be bar-only, can be a bar inside of a restaurant. Thinking of dinner at either Eastern Standard Kitchen or Island Creek Oyster Bar and then visiting the other for a cocktail/snack and possibly The Hawthorne as well. Might also venture over to The Beehive later since it looks relatively close to our hotel. Do we need a reservation at The Beehive? I am PRO reservations in a big way, and will be making them for dinner if possible.
    -- **Def. Island Creek IF you didn't do Neptune for lunch (unless an all -seafood day is fine w/ you!) Otherwise Aquitaine or maybe Mistral(both French) for upscale, lively and close to Beehive.
    Aquitaine prob has a younger crowd because Mistral is v. expensive.

    Sunday Breakfast – I think we may venture over to Cambridge this morning. I was intrigued by Flour Bakery & Café, but they open so darn late! The husband and I are early risers and will probably need breakfast at 7AM, 8AM at the latest. Any recommendations for Cambridge (preferably) or Back Bay?
    **-- South End Buttery has many CH fans.

    Sunday Lunch – Sunday lunch might be more like Sunday brunch because Lucky’s Lounge and their Sinatra brunch sounds pretty intriguing (is it just one guy singing, or a whole band?), and it looks like there are a couple of spots to have a cocktail with a view nearby. If we do Lucky’s, would you recommend Sam’s, Legal Harborside, etc. for a quick stop? Or am I missing a better Sunday lunch elsewhere all together?

    **-- For brunch I always recommend the loud and lively East Coast Grill in Cambridge>> such a great locals fun spot for raw bar, seafood, Bloody Mary Bar, and generous helpings of Latin, Caribbean, and Southern influences. Otherwise, you mentioned (the more reserved) Craigie, and it has lots of fans. Completely diff environments and menus- check their websites.

    **-- CHs aren't terribly enthusiastic for Legals Harborside except for the view from the top floor, though i had a decent meal there and some like it.

    Monday Lunch – I think this is reserved for Radius, unfortunately, because it would fit better in our Saturday but I don’t think they are open for lunch. My boss, who used to live in Boston and visits frequently, knows that my husband is a burger aficionado (is that a thing?) and highly recommended this place. I read the rave reviews for Craigie’s and The Butcher Shop, but if we go somewhere for a burger it has to be Radius per The Boss’s recommendation.

    **-- Radius- I def. do not rec for dinner, but their burger IS among the top rated on Rick Chudy's excellent Boston Burger Blog, so I bet it will be great.

    i see your list of extra spots but i think that ,except for Craigie, it's o.k. to miss them in favor of those above and yours.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Additionally, if anyone has a breakfast recommendation in Salem, I’m all ears!

    **-- Red's has Salem brkfst fans:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/851152

    5 Replies
    1. re: opinionatedchef

      If you are looking for upscale, dressy, where you can wear heels, I am thinking of either Sorellina or Mistral. Both are "sceney" places like Locanda Verde. Island Creek is a bit like that, but not really dressy. I've seen families with babies there on a Saturday night. Also, if The Beehive is near your hotel, so is Hamersley's Bistro. Maybe a bit of an older crowd, but the food is so good, especially the roast chicken. I do not think you would need a reservation to go to The Beehive just for drinks. Have you been to Balthazar in NYC? If so, maybe you can skip Gaslight. Toro is one of my favorite places; the tapas are great, the vibe is young and the place is always buzzing. I love their brunch, too. Can't reserve there, though, and it is always busy on weekend nights.

      1. re: Kat

        Thank you for the input, Kat! We have been to Balthazar, and so will probably skip Gaslight. Sounds like Toro gets pretty busy...would it be a good place to stop in for a pre-dinner snack/drink, assuming that we'll be trying to beat the Saturday dinner rush?

        I think between Beehive and Hamersley's, we'll give The Beehive a whirl. Good to know reso's aren't necessary for cocktails...some SF bars are impossible to get into without them, but it doesn't sound like that kind of place.

      2. re: opinionatedchef

        Thank you for your thoughtful response, opinionatedchef! I hope you don't mind...I'm going to copy and paste your 'Visiting' post into my Google docs to keep as a handy guide!

        I think you have a great idea with Neptune/Regina's...give Neptune a shot, but if it looks like we're going to be late for the bike tour, we'll call in a pie to Regina's.

        If we end up doing Neptune for lunch, we might forgo ICOB in favor of ESK...although, Aquitaine does look very enticing. I also read up on Bistro du Midi..any thoughts there?

        We'll try to squeeze either Craigie's or ECG in as both look promising. ECG looks...eclectic? What is the vibe like? A college pal of mine will probably be tagging along and I'd guess we'll pay for her--in that case, which would be easier on the wallet (assuming we will consume several Bloody Marys)?

        Thank you again--your post is extremely helpful!

        1. re: HerculesRockefeller

          oh wow, sf eh? boulangerie on pine is my pilgrimage place; genuflect,genuflect. nothing here to even touch the hem of its garment. and recchiutti...sigh. From my experience and what i mostly see on CH, ESK food is not the level of excellence/memorable/made our trip. Midi is oft lauded and i love many things about Aquitaine as you know. what a great time you're going to have!

        2. re: opinionatedchef

          Also, good to hear that not all locals hate Legal...the view attracted me, as well as the fact that I ate at a Legal Seafood in an airport once during a layover - the husband chided me for ordering oysters in an airport, but they were surprisingly fresh. I have fond memories.

        3. Your only bet for a 7am breakfast on a Sunday morning is a hotel- Henrietta's Table in the Charles Hotel in Cambridge does a very nice breakfast.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Berheenia

            yes,phoenix, HT has been recommended by a number of CHs in the past.

            1. re: Berheenia

              Thank you - will add Henrietta's to the list. Our early morning escapades typically limit our breakfast options, so it's good to have this one!

              1. re: HerculesRockefeller

                Just be aware that Henrietta's only offers a breakfast buffet on Sundays. I love their regular weekday/Saturday breakfast but haven't tried the buffet.

                I used to suggest Caffe Nuovo on Salem St. in the North End, but they have recently changed their name (same owners) to Ferrara's, and although the menu is similar I don't know if the food is still good. Italian-American options (carbonara, polenta and eggs, nutella and banan waffles) and they open at 7.

                1. re: bear

                  Appreciate the Caffe Nuovo/Ferrara's suggestion, but a bit out of the way for our purposes that morning. Thank you for the tip about Henrietta's...a breakfast buffet is something we have to be in the mood for. Good to know before we get there!

            2. If you're coming from Maine into Boston, I'd get fried clams at Bob's in Kittery or maybe stop in Portsmouth where there are many options. If you like clams, you can take Rt 1A to Rye NH for Petey's or Ray's, or once in Mass, it's not far off Rt. 1 to the Clam Box in Ipswich.

              The Sat. plan of the Hawthorne and ICOB is a good one. If you walk to/from your hotel, another good cocktail place in between is the bar at Clio. I agree tho that Sorellina has a fancier feel than Island Creek.

              Sun. breakfast is tough since lots of places are closed that day and you want to eat so early. Trident Cafe which is a short walk from your hotel on Newbury St. opens at 8AM, it's part bookstore. Coppa opens at 11:00 if you want to try them out but the ECG suggestion is a good one as is going to the waterfront, maybe visiting the ICA combined with lunch down there.

              5 Replies
              1. re: total13

                Thank you, total13! We will be leaving from Maine pretty early in the morning--are any of the places you recommended open early, or are they lunch spots?

                Glad that the Hawthorne/ICOB seems to be a good plan so far. Clio looks a little stuffy from the pictures, or am I off-base? Any love for ESK for dinner? If we do Neptune for lunch, I'm not sure I can convince the husband to do ICOB for dinner...maybe another round of oysters and drinks pre-dinner, though. Hawthorne looks like a good after-dinner spot.

                Trident Cafe looks like a good option--I wish we could sleep in, but we seem to get up even earlier than normal on vacation, for some odd reason. There is something great about walking around a city before the bustle starts, though.

                Is Coppa worth a visit? The menu looks amazing...

                1. re: HerculesRockefeller

                  Not sure when Bob's in Kittery opens, you may not want clams that early but perhaps as you approach the Ipswich area, a clam detour would be worth it.

                  The Clio restaurant is a bit prim but the bar isn't at all and the main bartender there is very interesting to talk to, one of the "craft" guys in town.

                  I have fun at Eastern Standard and think it's quite decent. You won't see stars but if you've had your fill of seafood at Neptune, ESK is good and fun.

                  If you do the South End crawl you mentioned below, you should definitely hit Coppa. And Toro isn't *that* far. There are so many things up and down Tremont and Washington St., it's a very interesting walk.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      I always stick a pair of flats in my purse! :)

                    2. re: total13

                      ESK is certainly tempting because the atmosphere seems like what we're looking for. It also looks like they have a huge bar - we prefer to sit there if possible. I've made resos at both ESK and Aquitaine for Saturday evening, so we'll see what sort of a mood we're in. Aquitaine seems to be near more places we'd like to try (Coppa and Toro, definitely), but the ESK/ICOB pairing is very tempting...

                2. Do try for a table at Neptunes Oysters as their warm lobster roll
                  will be a huge culinary highlight. I am a Hammersleys
                  fan not only would you enjoy your dress up dinner there
                  but it's in a good location to go elsewhere for drinks
                  after dinner. Per your list, I love Hungry Mother (pork
                  dishes killer), B & G oysters (fried oysters my fav ), and
                  agree that if you've done Balthazars in NY then skip
                  Gaslight. My FAVORITE cuisine lies in Cambridge at
                  the wonderful and unique Oleana. I cannot visit
                  my beloved Boston without one sometimes
                  two dinners there. The multicoursed vegetarian
                  option never disappoints. I also start with the French Feta
                  and pepper spread that's amazing! I encourage you to make
                  Reservation and try it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jinet12

                    Thanks, jinet12! Glad to hear another Balthazar/Gaslight comparison...since we've done one, we probably won't do the other.

                    Hungry Mother looks amazing, but it seems like they are only open for dinner, so we'll probably have to skip it this time around. Oleana looks very interesting, but alas, a little *too* interesting for the husband.

                  2. Skip Jacob Wirth's head to Best Little Restaurant in Chinatown....

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ipsofatso

                      I'm intrigued by your rec of Best Little Restaurant, ipsofatso, as it doesn't seem anything like Jacob Wirth (which we're skipping, based on feeback here) or frankly, anything on my list...is it a favorite of yours, or an old Boston standby? Do tell!

                      1. re: HerculesRockefeller

                        It is a Chowhound fave; try the lettuce wraps, the garlic spare ribs, three delight chow fon, salt-n-pepper soft-shell crab, the clams in black bean sauce, the pea stems, spicy eggplant, anything with XO sauce, the squab... it is one of those places you would walk right by otherwise. Plus they serve beer. Another Chinatown place is Great Taste which shares premises with a bakery and has a few table, no beer served though.