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DC Hound Visiting: Need Recommendations

Coming up for a few days in early November.

Staying in the seaport area. Need some suggestions for solo dining. Not a big deal for me to dine alone when traveling, so no fuss needed.

Looking for low-to-mid-price options, say up to $50 for dinner, $25 for lunch. Won't have a car, but will get in a cab for an amazing meal.

Love burgers, Italian, breakfast, seafood, but really looking for exceptional Boston must-eats of any kind. Also great coffee or ice cream is good too!

No chains please (although local chains ok).

Have a list started, based on initial research (are these good choices?):

Neptune Oyster
Eastern Standard
Yankee Lobster

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  1. I know there is a great food truck culture in DC; Boston has a lot of good trucks as well. A good resource for you, if you have a smartphone, is the city's Food Truck Schedule, which will tell you which food trucks are where, when (there's even a map):


    Board favorites are Clover, M&M, Mei Mei, and Staff Meal. The Seaport has great access; you can walk to the Financial District, Downtown (City Hall Plaza), Rose Kennedy Greenway, and the Innovation District.

    1. And hey, you should check out the thread for YumeWoKatare, especially if you are dining solo and will have some time to kill. Some of the board's biggest experts have absolutely raved about this brand-new ramen joint.

      1. Two locations in the Seaport area good for solo dining would be Flour for a breakfast pastry or a creative lunch sandwich and Sportello (italian) for lunch or dinner because it has counter seating. Downstairs from Sportello is Drink which is widely praised for cocktails and has small bites. Also would not discount the Legal Seafoods in the Seaport.

        1. biscuit, welcome in advance! In D.C. you certainly have a much bigger dining scene than we do, and a much bigger ethnic diversity, as in every ethnic group in the whole wide world. We don't have that here, but Italian and 'Farm/sea-to-table artisinal inventive' we do have. And quintessential New England.

          Your list has some good spots> Neptune Oyster and Oleana for sure; Yankee Lobster if you want a lobstah roll by the harbor and you think you might go for the more inventive fare (or the fried clams) at Neptune.

          Otherwise, particularly if you are only here a few days, and it's your first visit, my 'must go' list would def not include Taranta or Salvatore's or Eastern Standard/ES (unless just drinks at the latter.) It WOULD include Island Creek Oyster Bar (same owner as the next door ES) and Pizzeria Regina (North End ONLY, not other sites). Also in the North End is a unique spot- Galleria Umberto Rosticceria , only open til 3, where you stand in line and get big suppli/arancini or calzone or square Mario's style pizza slices(Mario's is better) cafeteria style. And also on Hanover St. is Modern Pastry for some unusual Italian sweets- esp. Sfogliattel and almond biscotti and torrone. If you are a big fan of Zaitinya, you might like Toro, a very loud happenin' trad and inventive Tapas place on the edge of the South End(our Adams Morgan).

          A Boston institution that has a 100 year-plus history, is Durgin Park, down in a 19th c. warehouse now part of the Quincy Market tourist scene. While I and most posting CHs have not been here in years, some foodie visitors have really enjoyed themselves there, esp (iirc)if you just go for lunch, and order the chowder or bisque and the Indian Pudding (Puritan times dessert, like a cornmeal pudding that tastes like gingerbread.) Do a search and you will likely fiind the recent threads on it. Along historic restnt lines, you might enjoy Marliave for a drink and some oysters (but being from the Chesapeake area, you may have decided preferences on your oysters. my mom sure did.)

          I agree that the new ramen place may be a very special experience for you; but fyi, its location would likely require some time on transit. Hope your visit is terrif.

          5 Replies
          1. re: opinionatedchef

            Thanks for the detailed reply! Just what I am looking for. I'm rearranging my list based on everyone's comments, so it's much appreciated. I'm looking for casual or more low-key spots, not to mean it can't be nice, but looking to avoid places that are too much of a scene, simple but superlative. Your suggestions sound good from here, so I will check those out.

            Quincy sounds good as well. Certainly looking to visit a couple of interesting sites, although my time will be limited. I've been a couple of times, but it's always nice to explore a bit. A chowish destination would be high on my list, touristy or not.

            1. re: biscuit

              Happy to be helpful. unless the Adams Historical Site is important to you, i would guide you away from Quincy w/ regards to a food focus. Aside from Boston proper, Cambridge might interest you more as a discover/walk around place. Both MIT and Harvard have interestiing campuses and Cambridge is the location for the majority of the best chef-owned restaurants that are not in Boston proper (think San Francisco and Berkeley or D.C. and Arlington,Chevy Chase,Alexandria etc.) You could combine Cambridge/Harvard Square/Brattle St.(historic area) w/ that ramen place. (Harv Sq and Georgetown have alot in common.)

              Casual is the operative word for restnts in Boston and environs. Jackets, ties etc-if you see them at one table, there will be 4 tables in sneakers and shirts. None of the restnts mentioned on this thread, so far, are dress-up places. But some are more exp than others. We love Oleana, Neptune, ICOB- but they are on the more expensive end of the 'bistro' category. But pull up the website menus, as i know you will, and see what food wows you, w/ prices you're comfortable with.
              btw, if you haven't seen it, i hope this might be helpful:

              boston historic areas and their restnts (one hound's guide):

              1. re: biscuit

                not sure if there is confusion here: Quincy Market is a developed tourist area, kind of between the North End and Government Center. Totally different than Quincy, a town in and of itself that is south of Boston.
                Durgin Park near Quincy Market is an experience; second the rec for Indian Pudding. Also, should you venture to Cambridge, Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage in Harvard Sq. is a local classic.

              2. re: opinionatedchef

                The arancini is worth it at Galleria Umberto, but not the pizza, which is terrible in my opinion. It looks and tastes like something out of a middle school cafeteria.

                1. re: FinnFPM

                  i do agree w/ you. I actually find the arancini/suppli far better at places like Il Casale (the best imo) and La Morra, but GU is a very unique experience and the suppli are good to very good.

              3. Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far! Revising my list.

                2 Replies
                1. re: biscuit

                  Seeing Toro suggested reminded me of Coppa in the South End, which features incredible cured meats and a funghi pizza that is absolutely out of this world. Good wine list and inventive cocktails all made with wines and amari/liqeurs (Coppa doesn't have a license for hard spirits). Busy but usually possible to get a single at the bar without too much of a wait. I find Toro rather overwhelming in terms of bustle and noise; perhaps because it's much smaller, Coppa feels lively but not crazed.

                  1. re: historikerstreit

                    Coppa makes my favorite pizza in Boston though i admit that i have not made a systematic search. The food is very good without attempting a high end experience;

                    But Coppa does get noisy; if the weather permits and you get there early, you can sit outside which is a much nicer experience.

                2. coppa is a great rec- a bit akin to dc's graffiato (small plates italian, and some of the pizzas are similar in flavor profile) but a bigger emphasis on salumi/offal/meat in general. i'd highly rec.

                  on burgers, i always recommend JM Curley- great burger, great inventive bar-type food (flash fried octpus, squash hushpuppies with turkey gravy, etc.) and a good cocktail program as well with drinks at 9/12. of course any boston burger reference requires mentioning craigie on main in cambridge- they do 20 a night (i think that's still the case), also very good cocktails. if you want to stay sub 50 though, you'd probably have to do burger, a drink, and not much else. still, well worth the money.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: valcfield

                    JM Curley is just a great place to stop by in general. That, and Drink, are probably the two bars in walking distance from the Seaport that are slam dunks.

                    1. re: FinnFPM

                      Marliave is great for the $1 oysters, followed by their burger
                      Neptunes - their hot lobster roll is the best and I would say order that and skip Yankee Lobster
                      The other night we went to pulcinella mozzarella bar in the North End and made up our own antipasto plate - it was very good, but on the expensive side (I thought)
                      South End Buttery is my husbands favorite brunch place, need reservations
                      In the seaport I haven't been crazy about anything - but if you don't want to go far..
                      Some people may think I am crazy, but I didn't love Sportello, especially for the price
                      Strega was good and the few times I have been to Sam's it has been good and if it is nice out, great patio.

                      1. re: elwaystreat

                        I have liked the Daily Catch at the Seaport, particularly their sicilian-style seafood and squid ink pasta. There isn't any place I love there but there's nothing wrong with a water view and some very good squid ink pasta!

                    2. re: valcfield

                      v, were you a fan of zaitinya(sp). ?does oleana give you a bit of that experience?it does me, incl unusual desserts. ( I remember being so disappointed to see, years ago, the Z chef on Top Chef or whatever- being a major attitude. Fortunately, Ana and her main chef are not that way.)

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        tbh, didn't make it to Zaytinya, though I do enjoy Andres' Mexican equivalent, oyamel, quite a bit for post work bites and drinks (the grasshopper tacos are distressingly addictive). Given the vibe their though I would not be surprised to find that Zaytinya proves analogous to Oleana (or maybe even Sofra if it had a real space for dinner?) i'll be back in dc soon though and its on the list to check out, so I'll be sure to check in when I do!

                        1. re: valcfield

                          v,look forw to hearing about it. i STILL think about some lovely lovely honey ice cream dessert and a lamb small plate and eggplant small plate.....( fyi, as far as i know, Andres does not own Zaytinya.) Really like that room too.

                          1. re: valcfield

                            My wife and I ate at Oyamel, and really loved it, especially after a rather disappointing experience up here in Boston at La Verdad (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8137... Queso Fundido was outstanding, and all the little plates and tacos were superb, chef Andres has really got a good thong going at Oyamel

                      2. Since you are staying in the Seaport area, I recommend stopping by for a cup/bowl of chowder at The No Name. I go a couple of times a year and ONLY order chowder and an iced tea. They fail on many fronts, but somehow nail their chowder that isn't the gloppy tourisy binded crap that tastes like flour and potatoes and chewy pieces of something that's either bits of clam shrapnel or bacon rind.

                        I am a big fan of Flour's BLT and Egg sandwich.

                        I find Neptune's Lobster Roll over rated.

                        I love Paramount on Charles St for bfast. As a solo, you can watch the locals give stink eye to any tourist that tries to save a table while waiting to order. The system works and the bfast is great.

                        If you like mussels, Eastern Standard knocks it out of the ballpark. I use a shell as a spoon to drink the wonderful broth.

                        1. I suggest you try at least one what I believe are two of the best ice cream places on the planet (!), both in Cambridge: Christina's and Toscanini's.