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Toronto hound visiting Boston this weekend

crawfish May 8, 2013 08:00 AM

My family of 3 w/ 12 yr old son will be coming to Boston on Friday to see the Jays game. We're staying in Kendall Square so first need dinner before the game then lunch and dinner while sightseeing on Saturday. I have made note of the beer-focussed places around Kendall Square - we love craft beers.

Area 4
Cambridge Brewing Co

Any rec's for particular places that have good food, great beer, good value and comfortable vibe - not too hip. I know craft beer is hip but just not so overwhelmingly hip that we 50 yr olds will feel out of place. As background, we live in the middle of the hottest restaurant district in Toronto and I am really sick of"hipster" restaurants and would love to find more genuine, quirky, eccentric places with history. As an example, we went to the Union Oyster House last year. Now I know you are all groaning but for out of towners the UOH has lots of history, that fabulous worn zinc bar and is totally different than anything you would find in Toronto. That old school American thing is novel for us :) We have no clear plan for Saturday but generally we just like to walk/public transit around the city exploring so it would be nice to have a few options to wander between. Any ideas?

We're going to Battleship Cove on Sunday in Fall River if you have any rec's in that direction.

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    addiez RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 09:03 AM

    Genuine and quirky - I'd look into Puritan & Co and Westbridge in that area, in addition to Catalyst and Area 4. If you're ranging further, the South End also has some interesting spots. Kitchen makes very, very old-fashioned dishes. Could be an adventure!

    1 Reply
    1. re: addiez
      crawfish RE: addiez May 8, 2013 09:24 AM

      Checked out these recs and they look great but not really what I'm looking for this trip. And too pricey to waste on a 12 year old.

      So how about sandwich or take out spots, Mexican or other ethnic foods? We'll be wandering the city.

    2. L2k RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 09:30 AM

      can't help ya with that, but I am also taking a Torontonian to Fenway on Friday to see the Jays -- first time at Fenway for him.

      Have fun!

      10 Replies
      1. re: L2k
        crawfish RE: L2k May 8, 2013 11:58 AM

        We're in the right field bleachers. Are we taking our lives into our own hands? Last time I was at Fenway was many years ago and we had no problem at all but people keep warning me about Boston sports fans!
        Any places around Fenway for before or after the game? Food trucks, takeout or a bar?

        1. re: crawfish
          ebone RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 12:08 PM

          I like Tasty Burger near Fenway for fast-food style burger/fries and a solid canned beer selection.

          La Verdad on Landsdowne does a solid job on tacos and you can eat in the restaurant or grab to go from the takeout counter.

          1. re: crawfish
            Fly RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 12:27 PM

            Your life into your own hands? No, absolutely not.

            1. re: crawfish
              Science Chick RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 12:32 PM

              Are you planning on rooting for you team with fun and good spirit? Or are you planning on being obnoxious, drunk fools spewing epithets at local fans? If the former, no worries. If the latter, you might expect some pushback.

              1. re: Science Chick
                crawfish RE: Science Chick May 8, 2013 01:13 PM

                Of course not! I am actually descended from very avid Red Sox fans from Maine and New Hampshire. I cheer for the Red Sox once the Jays are out of the running.

                1. re: crawfish
                  Gabatta RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 01:34 PM

                  10 games back, it's almost safe to break out your Sox hat.

              2. re: crawfish
                teezeetoo RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 12:45 PM

                Audubon Circle up Beacon Street going away from the city and, a little further up, Beacon Street Grill, are reasonable, good food and bar and not quite as crazy as right in the Fenway. Also the Druid and East Coast Grill in Inman Square might be fun.

                1. re: crawfish
                  BostonKid RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 02:42 PM

                  The best beer selection in the Fenway area would be at the Yardhouse on Brookline Ave about one block from Fenway.

                  It is part of a chain so the food is not that spectacular, but certainly not awful either. The crowd tends to be a bit younger and it is always packed before/after a Sox game. But, if you like beer they have around 100 taps.

                  1. re: BostonKid
                    addiez RE: BostonKid May 9, 2013 08:47 AM

                    Lower Depths is a beer bar right in Kenmore that also has great beer selection, although it's not as extensive as Yardhouse.

                  2. re: crawfish
                    L2k RE: crawfish May 9, 2013 09:03 AM

                    as long as you leave your "Toronto Stronger" sign home, you'll be fine.

                    J/k, but the only stadium I've been in where I left because I feared for my safety was Rogers Centre, 3 years ago. And I've rooted for the Red Sox at 3 different NYC stadia.

                    building is unlikely to be sold out, so take a walk towards homeplate and look for better seats.

                2. b
                  Bluebell RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 09:47 AM

                  If you have your 12 year old with you, I'd suggest Area 4. Menu is good, and if rain holds off and you can sit outside, the Area 4 outdoor seating works well. Highland Kitchen also is a nice comfy place in Somerville that is not too hipster.
                  In Harvard Sq, Bartley's is touristy but fun. On Saturday you could walk around the seaport/Ft Point channel and see the Tea Party boat, and just eat at a food truck...

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Bluebell
                    crawfish RE: Bluebell May 8, 2013 11:36 AM

                    These all look like great suggestions. Any recommendations for authentic Mexican?

                    1. re: crawfish
                      Madrid RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 11:56 AM

                      Mexican is very poorly represented in Boston. Do a search and you'll see. There is almost nothing remotely authentic. On the other hand, we do have lots of guatemalan/central american holes in the walls that sell pupusas, but nothing I'd go out of the way for.

                      1. re: Madrid
                        gourmaniac RE: Madrid May 9, 2013 08:26 AM

                        It's all relative. Compared to Toronto (of which I'm a native son), Boston is OK for mexican but I would suggest going to East Boston on the Blue line MBTA. Taqueria Jalisco and Angelas. i would avoid any of the upscale 20-something artisanal tequila made margarita chains that have sprung up. Poor value and gringoed down flavors IMO. Also, while I wouldn't recommend BBQ for someone from the South but for Hogtowners, Soulfire (Allston) and Sweet Cheeks (get the biscuits) near Fenway would both hit the spot. Near Kenmore, Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster bar would be excellent though maybe a little hipster. They will be crowded on game nights. Craft beers seem to be everywhere these days but no place stands out to me.

                      2. re: crawfish
                        keith RE: crawfish May 9, 2013 08:40 AM

                        Not authentic, but Sol Azteca is a Boston-institution (been here 40 years at least) and is only a 5-10 minute walk from Fenway. Great sangria and better than the Mexican I've had in Toronto. There's also Taqueria La Verdad and El Pelon Taqueria both very close/in the shadow of Fenway which are tasty taquerias.

                        1. re: crawfish
                          cambridgedoctpr RE: crawfish May 13, 2013 04:06 PM

                          i like Tenoch that is located in Medford center, but it is simple straight forward home cooking. I eat there frequently, like the owners, but hardly think of it as destination dining.

                      3. l
                        LeoLioness RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 09:59 AM

                        How do you define a "hipster" restaurant and how are you defining "genuine" and quirky"? Union Oyster House has history, I will grant you that, but quirk? Good food? Well....

                        Pizzeria Regina will give you an old-school feel (and good pizza), if that's what you're looking for.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LeoLioness
                          crawfish RE: LeoLioness May 8, 2013 11:27 AM

                          No, the Union Oyster House may not be quirky but I don't know a lot of examples in Boston to choose from. And we just had oysters so it's hard to mess that up.

                          Here in Toronto, hipster bars/restaurants usually have bearded staff, serve snout-to-tail or tacos, complicated cocktails, they're really loud and literally all of the patrons and staff are 25-35 years old. There are "hipster" places that I still like but I'm just a little burned out by my neighbourhood right now so looking for a vacation.

                        2. gini RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 10:21 AM

                          Lord Hobo is up the road from where you're staying and has a fabulous beer list. Some may say it's hipster.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: gini
                            mkfisher RE: gini May 8, 2013 10:31 AM

                            Isn't Lord Hobo the definition of hipster? That said, I love the place. Fantastic beer list. Food is WAY better than it needs to be (had an awesome special of griddled corn bread with crab, watercress and potato chips the other night).

                          2. ebone RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 10:31 AM

                            Area 4 is probably the best of those with the 12 year old in tow. The food is good, it's not particularly expensive and they have a real nice local beer list.

                            1. g
                              Gordough RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 12:07 PM

                              You are going to miss Game 5 of the Leafs/Bruins to watch a last place baseball team play a regular season game? :-) Sorry, couldn't resist.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Gordough
                                crawfish RE: Gordough May 8, 2013 01:19 PM

                                I decided to jump back on the Blue Jays bandwagon this season after basically ignoring the MLB since the strike in 1995. The NHL will have to wait a lot longer.

                              2. Science Chick RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 12:26 PM

                                River Gods near Central Square in Cambridge should fit the "quirky, good value and good food" category. Some of the best hand cut fries in the city and the decor is funky-galore! Take the red line one stop from Kendall to Central and walk ~5 blocks down River Street.

                                1. a
                                  antimony RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 01:41 PM

                                  The Friendly Toast, in Kendall -- diner-y funky little place -- don't know about the beer but the cocktails are good.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: antimony
                                    crawfish RE: antimony May 8, 2013 04:23 PM

                                    This looks like fun. Have you ever been to Shopsin's on the lower east side? That's the sort of places we're looking for.

                                    1. re: crawfish
                                      addiez RE: crawfish May 9, 2013 06:47 AM

                                      I haven't been to Shopsin's but have heard much about it - check out Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe (South End), maybe Brookline Lunch (Central Square) and Friendly Toast is a more upscale version but highly recommended!

                                      1. re: crawfish
                                        Alcachofa RE: crawfish May 9, 2013 09:26 AM

                                        Friendly Toast is NOTHING like Shopsin's. Not nearly as good. Fine for breakfast since you're in the area, but not otherwise worth recommending.

                                        1. re: Alcachofa
                                          gini RE: Alcachofa May 9, 2013 10:16 AM

                                          Completely agree with this.

                                          Charlie's or even Mike and Patty's has more character for breakfast.

                                    2. r
                                      RoyRon RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 03:22 PM

                                      I would add the East Coast Grill too. It's not far from Kendall Sq and fits the "quirky" not too hip request. Interesting food and drink and a fun place too. After dinner you could stop at Toscanini's for what IMHO is the best Ice Cream in Boston. If they have the Butter Chocolate Chip don't miss it.

                                      If you are in the North End and it's mid afternoon you could try to get into Neptune Oyster on Salem St. It is one of the best seafood places in Boston but it is small and no reservations so it is best to try to go on off hours. If there is a wait (and there most likely will be) they will take your mobile number and call you when a table becomes available. While you are waiting you can stroll around the North End and check out some of the historical sites.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: RoyRon
                                        addiez RE: RoyRon May 9, 2013 08:45 AM

                                        If you go to East Coast Grill, I'd say go to Christina's after! They give Toscanini's a run for their money in terms of best ice cream around and it's right next door.

                                      2. opinionatedchef RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 05:51 PM

                                        welcome in advance! so far, we're having an uncommmonly dry and sunny Spring and loving it. This info might look overwhelming at first, but since this is your first visit and you'll be here a few days, i hope it will be helpful:

                                        Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:

                                        East Coast Grill, Cambr.- fun, loud, crazy; Latin, seafood, BBQ, oysters, Bloody Mary bar.........

                                        Mistral- french high end

                                        Aquitaine - french bistro

                                        Neptune Oyster
                                        EVOO incl lunch
                                        Regina's North End location only- lunch
                                        East by Northeast
                                        Craft Beers Scene:

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                                          crawfish RE: opinionatedchef May 9, 2013 05:49 AM

                                          Not my first visit but this is great. Thanks a lot!

                                        2. opinionatedchef RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 05:54 PM

                                          Fall River- best for you to do a 'search' on the Southern New Eng. Forum; Portuguese(Azorean) is the predominant ethnic group in FR.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: opinionatedchef
                                            crawfish RE: opinionatedchef May 9, 2013 05:50 AM

                                            Terrific! My neighbourhood was Portuguese before the condo dwellers arrived :)

                                            1. re: crawfish
                                              brieonwheat RE: crawfish May 9, 2013 09:19 AM

                                              Just go to Sagres and you'll be very happy. Get the littlenecks and pork, fresh goat cheese, and either of the shrimp apps and you will be very happy. I also love the passion fruit pudding. In general, I am very passionate about this place - it is one of my absolute faves.

                                          2. d
                                            dulce de leche RE: crawfish May 8, 2013 07:39 PM

                                            If I understand what you mean by not too hip, and what I imagine 12 year old boys might like, I'd say check out these places near Kendall:

                                            The Druid
                                            Emma's Pizza
                                            Courthouse Seafood
                                            All Star Sandwich Bar
                                            Miracle of Science

                                            Kendall is really a newly built neighborhood, so you won't find very much with history there, in fact, most of the places you'll get recommended will be less than five years old.

                                            1. m
                                              momoftwo RE: crawfish May 9, 2013 06:42 AM

                                              You want quirky, old school taverny, yummy food. Try Shay's in harvard square. They only serve beer and wine but have a great , well thought out selection of both. The menu is small but appealing, sandwiches, burgers, a couple daily specials. IF its nice out, they have an outdoor patio.

                                              1. l
                                                LeoLioness RE: crawfish May 9, 2013 10:21 AM

                                                It's a bit more off the beaten path, but you could take the Blue Line to Santarpio's for good pizza, very good grilled lamb tips and sausage, and a heaping dose of a certain variety of "old school Boston".

                                                1. c
                                                  crawfish RE: crawfish May 13, 2013 03:04 PM

                                                  We had a great weekend! Thanks so much to all of you for your suggestions and advice. However, I am embarassed with how little we ate. We arrived Friday afternoon and settled in our hotel (Kendal Hotel - highly recommended). We walked over to Area 4 and had a great Cambridge Brewing Co. IPA and I had a Wellfleet clam/chorizo/tomato concoction that was fabulous. This is one of my favourite dishes in the world so I was a very happy camper. The other two had pizzas which were very good. We were all stuffed. Then we strolled around MIT (your hipsters are much more interesting than our hipsters :) saw rabbits (how cool is THAT?) and picked up some CBC IPA at the brewery. We walked to the ballpark, the weather was fabulous, the sail boats were out, your city was sparkling. Fenway is more of a theme park than the last time I was there about 30 years ago but still a great park. The bleachers was a mistake because my less than enthusuastic about baseball family couldn't follow the game. Ate peanuts for dinner. Lots of Jays fans present and no evidence of the scary Red Sox fans I'd been warned about. Jays lost, Leafs won (we cheered very quietly). We walked home.
                                                  Next day we had breakfast at the hotel because it was included in the room. Not a bad hotel breakfast at all and it was served in the main floor restaurant which is a nice spot. Then we walked to the Aquarium area and took a ferry to the Naval Yards to see the Constitution, Bunker Hill, etc. Then we walked to the North End and had beer and Classico pizza at Regina's: great place, lots of character, good pizza. We were STUFFED. Took subway to the Common, walked around Beacon Hill, hit a liquor store for some more beer to take home then hopped subway back across to hotel. We drove to Fall River but we still weren't hungry so we skipped dinner! Breakfast at Holiday Inn Express you can imagine. Battleship Cove was great. Well, maybe not my first choice for a Mother's Day outing but then they sat through my baseball game. Lunch at Al Mac's Diner was much better. Must try breakfast some time.
                                                  Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse on the way home was even better than usual - skirt steak special with a1/4 rack of ribs!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: crawfish
                                                    bear RE: crawfish May 14, 2013 05:36 AM

                                                    Great report. Thanks for taking the time to write it up. You hit some classic spots and glad you had a good trip!

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