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Toronto hound visiting Boston this weekend

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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  1. 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

      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. 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

        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

          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

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

            1. re: crawfish

              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

                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

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

              2. re: crawfish

                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

                  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

                    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

                    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. 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

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

                    1. re: crawfish

                      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

                        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

                        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

                          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. 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

                          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. 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

                            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. 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. 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

                                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. 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. 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

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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

                                          Completely agree with this.

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

                                    2. 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

                                        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. 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

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

                                        2. 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

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

                                            1. re: crawfish

                                              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. 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. 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. 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. 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

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