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Visting Boston!

Hi all,

My boyfriend and I are visting Boston for a few days. We live in Portland, Oregon and have never been to the east coast, so we are very excited. We are on a budget, but would love some suggestions for food that we shouldn't miss in the area. We are staying at a hotel in Back Bay. We also are really into micro breweries, so any good suggestions in that realm would be amazing. I also am wanting to hit up a mom and pop italian restaurant, as I have heard the east coast has great italian food.


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  1. Hey there, prob just a mistake but you posted in the Los Angles board =)

    1 Reply
    1. re: MissBubbles

      apparently fixed, welcome!

      we have very good micro-brewed beers in New England but not so much on premises in Boston. I am not, e.g. a Cambridge Brewery fan but some people are. Many very good beers available on draught from Maine and Vermont.

      Do you and your boyfriend enjoy seafood? Seafood on the East coast is different and, in my not objective opinion, better, and Boston is an (the most?) awesome city in which to explore that.

      Mom and Popish Italian: Antico Forno, which is in the North End, a neighborhood which is a worthy scene in itself. Lot's of alternatives, you can do some searches here.

      Have fun!

    2. East Coast Italian food: As Rick said in Casablanca, " I came for the water." "But this is the desert." " I was misinformed."

      Italian food is ok,though there are a couple of good places in Manhattan. My friends who have been to Italy would beg to differ about my overly positive review.

      My recommendation is hit the Chinese and Thai food. I recommend Rod Dee and Sichuan Gourmet and East Ocean Seafood that is in Chinatown.

      The beer scene is Boston is good but not as good as in Portland.

      I recommend the clam shacks and the lobster rolls; I doubt that you can get them in Portland.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

        But, dear God, do not hit the Rod Dee in Washington Sq. Brookline!

        1. re: C. Hamster

          my recommendation is rod dee in porter square; i have not been to the one in Brookline.

      2. So it sounds that Italian is out. Other thoughts? Good neighborhoods to visit? Best thing to eat to boston?

        3 Replies
        1. re: srosing

          Welcome to Boston! Here's a link
          to a good thread for favorites here. For beer, maybe try Lord Hobo in Cambridge or Deep Ellum. Not all local but all good.
          Second the Antico Forno rec. Also see the recent Interesting/Obscure chinatown thread. Oleana is great for Mediterranean food. Good luck!

          1. re: srosing

            Don't automatically cross Italian off the list because of one man's (incorrect) opinion. If you're looking for authentic Italian fare like you get in Rome or Tuscany, or any other region of Italy, you'll be hard pressed to find it well prepared in Boston. If, however, you want to taste the Italian/American " red sauce" cuisine perfected by the immigrants who came here 100+ years ago, by all means, spend a night or day in Boston's North End. In addition to being a terrific neighborhood, IMO it far exceeds NYC's Little Italy in choice, quality, and ambiance. The are some terrific bakeries (Modern or Maria's) and some great restaurants. Do a search here. There's tons of posts and tons of restaurants, most independently owned. My fave "Mom and Pop red sauce joint is L'Osteria. You won't find a better Veal Parm and pasta than here.

            1. re: CapeCodGuy

              Cape Cod Guy nailed it. While Ital/American "red sauce" cuisine is not my personal favorite (having travelled extensively in Italy for 20+ years), that's exactly what the North End is all about. It's also a fun place to wonder around, and still pretty vibrant despite increasing gentrification--unlike NYC's Little Italy, which is now almost completely subsumed by Chinatown.

          2. Deep Ellum in Allston is our best beer bar. They usually have a number of MA and New England beers on, and a bunch from Europe that you don't see every day.

            1. In my opinion, the best beer bars are Publick House (Brookline), Deep Ellum (Allston), Lord Hobo (Cambridge) and Cambridge Brewing Company (Cambridge). Of those four, Cambridge Brewing is the only actual brewer. They do lots of fairly experimental stuff that beer nerds tend to find interesting. They're not going to win a beard medal for their food, but it's perfectly fine if you're there for the beer. Lord Hobo has the best food of that bunch.

              4 Replies
              1. re: mkfisher

                Cambridge Brewing Company will soon be offering a special beer - I think it will be called the Collier Stout beer. It's in honor of Officer Sean Collier who was killed by the marathon bombers. Anyway, if memory serves, one dollar of every beer sold will be donated to some sort of fund (not sure if it's One or a Collier specific one.)

                1. re: mkfisher

                  Just looked at Deep Ellum's draft list and got me wondering, does Boston have a website like this?


                2. I have to say, you are so lucky I saw this post. I just started reading CHOWHOUND and I am professional food writer in Boston. OK here we go.

                  Cheap and insane meals near the Back Bay do not have to be low end; places that sell small dishes like tapas rule this city and, wouldn't you know, two of most notable restaurants here are all about small plates. Here is a list of must-stop Boston food spots.

                  1) Myers and Chang
                  Hit this South End gem early. A $5.00 cab ride or 15 min walk from the Back Bay. I can not say enough about the quality of food here.

                  2)Flour Bakery / The Buttery
                  Both of these world-class bakery and lux food purveyors are right on the edge of the Back and South End. Go with the sticky buns or the banana bread at Flour and the Turkey Chili or fresh scones at The Buttery.

                  3)Tremont 647
                  This place is amazing for brunch (HOMEMADE POP TARTS) and dinner. They have a new pastry chef and he is like a god.

                  4) Uni (Midnight Ramen)
                  OK, so Uni is one of the most expensive and lauded restaurants in the city but that doesn't mean you can't eat their wildly good ramen served every Thurs, Fri, and Sat night after 11 p.m. Go with the pork buns.

                  5) Toro
                  Speaking of lauded restaurants, just go here. It is arguably the best food in the city and if you do not want to spend a ton of dough just get the house special corn and some great drinks.

                  6) La Verdad
                  When it comes to mexican food you can not beat this Fenway institution which is not pricy and was hailed as some of the world's best mexican by the NYTimes.

                  7) Tasty Burger
                  This is the best burger AND the best milkshake in the city. Do not be deterred by the line, it moves fast and it is worth it. Great cheap eats.

                  Honorable Mention: Sweet Cheeks Q
                  This place does serve absurdy amazing BBQ but is indeed overpriced as Yelp will tell you. However, if you like BBQ and are not on a budget you MUST get the buttermilk biscuits and pulled pork.

                  This is my list of heavenly Boston cheap(er) eats. Hope it helps.

                  18 Replies
                  1. re: HungryNihilist

                    I forgot to mention food trucks! Although I think Austin and NYC spank Boston, a number of publications believe that Boston is the best food truck city in America. When it comes to food trucks you can eat cheap and, honestly, get some of the best food anywhere. Here are my top 5:

                    1) Bon Me
                    Vietnamese food that is better than any Vietnamese restaurant I have ever eaten in my life.

                    2) Cookie Monstah
                    I know, desert and all that but really this place sells some of the best cookies on planet earth. Expanding quickly.

                    3) Lobstah Love
                    Pro Tip: This is where to buy the best Lobster Bisque in the city. Also, their "Asian" lobster rolls are AMAZING. be brave, well worth it.

                    4) Mei Mei Street Kitchen
                    If you don't mind eating fried food than this is where it is at big time. Go with the "Double Awesome," it is pretty awesome indeed.

                    5) MoMoGoose / Pasta Pot
                    You will not find either of these elusive trucks but both sell pretty amazing food.

                    1. re: HungryNihilist

                      Thanks for the Vietnamese tip! I love the food and for where we live we have to go into Philadelphia for anything good. There's nothing close to us in the burbs so any on this trip would be excellent.

                      1. re: littlecmad

                        I don't think Bon Me is particularly good or particularly Vietnamese. I think Xinh Xinh in Chinatown and most of the places in Dorchester are a far better bet.

                        1. re: maillard

                          Not to knock Bon Me too much, but if they are the best Vietnamese food you've eaten in your life, you are missing out on the incredible wealth of flavor and dishes that make up Vietnamese cuisine. Keeping in the Boston area, I would recommend hitting Dorchester stat.

                            1. re: mkfisher

                              Oh! Ha, yes, thanks. So much stuff got posted and deleted in these threads that I lost track. I was wondering why my post had been removed, but it was just in reply to a different Bon Me post

                              1. re: maillard

                                Klunco and maillard, of course you are both completely right. High end Vietnamese is all over Dorchester, Medford, etc. But feel free to ask the OP if they will be even remotely close to any of those places and I am guessing the answer is no. When you are just walking around town I personally think it would be insane not to go to Bon Me if you are craving Vietnamese. However, I am not gunna lie...if you don't mind waiting, Xinh Xinh (as another poster mentioned) is definitely better. Here is a great list I have used: http://www.zagat.com/buzz/6-best-viet...

                                1. re: HungryNihilist

                                  What's really good in Medford? When we're in Boston, we stay in Medford, because of the free parking in the Hyatt.

                                  1. re: HungryNihilist

                                    What is "high end Vietnamese" and where in Dorchester is it? Heck, where is there even Vietnamese food in Medford?

                                    That Zagat list is flawed in my opinion if it has the Harvard Square Le's among its top 6.

                                    1. re: Prav

                                      And Pho Hoa is ok but it's a nationwide chain.

                                      1. re: Prav

                                        There was Pho Yan in Medford on Salem and I think one of the incarnations of Tom Yum Koong on Forest was Vietnamese, but both are other types of food now ("organic sushi" and Thai). There are several options between Malden and Everett next door. Malden might be where HungryNihilist meant.

                                        1. re: Prav

                                          Don't know if I'd refer to it as "high end" but had a delicious meal from Xinh Xinh last night.

                                          Just follow that Zagat guide.:)

                                          1. re: 9lives

                                            I need to give them another shot. Went twice and didn't find anything to write home about. Went for relative classics (Bahn-Xeo, fresh rolls, sugar cane shrimp, Cahn Chua). Honestly, I've had good and bad meals at almost all of the Vietnamese restaurants in the area. Consistency seems to be an issue, so maybe I just had two misses with them.

                                            What do you recommend ordering at Xinh Xinh?

                                            1. re: Klunco

                                              We had grilled beef/vermicelli..bun bo nuong and a chicken/wonton soup with veggies.

                                              I don't eat a lot of Vietnamese food to have a strong opinion re which place s "best" but I usually go to Xinh Xinh or Pho Pasteur.

                                              I do like their bun rieu; a crab based broth with vermicelli..didn't get it this trip.

                                                1. re: Niblet

                                                  bump for their papaya salad. Niblet, try the insane papaya salad at Myers and Chang sometime too and tell me what you think

                                                  1. re: Niblet

                                                    Thanks for the rec, love a good papaya salad.

                              2. re: HungryNihilist

                                if you want pretty good italian, i would add Coppa near the Back Bay and Tratario Toscana that is located on Jersey Street.

                                Coppa is partly owned by the owner of Uni, Toro, and Verdad.

                                It is best to get there early and sit outside if the weather permits. Inside is a zoo.

                              3. Haha sorry I forgot to mention Italian. The guy posting above me is right, Coppa does have amazing pasta dishes but here are my top 3 Italian restaurants in Boston.

                                1) No. 9 Park
                                The prune-stuffed gnocchi and sweet pea ravioli are both wildly good.

                                2) Sorellina
                                A little stuffy but really this place beats everywhere in the North End.

                                3) Coppa
                                The pork ragu and the chicken pasta dish are both winners.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: HungryNihilist

                                  Wow! Thanks for all the recommendations! Also quick question for all you locals. We are staying in Back bay, and are not sure how easy it is to get around in the city. We are only in Boston for a few days, should we just plan on taking public transportation or would renting a car be smarter. Thoughts?

                                  1. re: srosing

                                    Boston is a very walkable city, depending where you are going public T or bus would work or a quick taxi ride will probably be less trouble than finding parking

                                    1. re: srosing

                                      Boston is definitely a walking city and the T (our subway system) is actually pretty darn good. I would personally not rent a car unless you want to go to the Cape while you are here.

                                      1. re: srosing


                                        First, a disclaimer. I am a Massachusetts native, but have only been to Boston 3 times in the last 15 years. So, my opinions/sugestions are dated. I did go to school (undergrad)in Cambridge in the 70's, and later, in the 80's, worked downtown in Boston's "financial district"-Federal Street.

                                        Based on my recollections, there are 2 uniquely Boston places you might want to try. They may not be the "best" of anything, but they have been around for many years.

                                        1. Durgin Park. Sometimes written off as too touristy, but I still enjoy it. It's been operating for more than 150 years. I've always found the oyster stew, prime rib, lobsters, crusty waitresses, and communal tables worth the trip. Even more so are the 2 signature New England desserts: the Indian Pudding and the fresh strawberry shortcake. The surrounding area (a Rouse development) is nice for wandering around. It's near the new government center, and what used to be Scollay Square. Can't seem to get the URL to work, but here's the site:


                                        2. Beer: Irish Pub. The Plough and Stars, in Cambridge, Central Square. It'd been serving pints for at least 40 years. I believe I first visited it around 1971. If you know McSorley's in NYC, this is (roughly) similar in terms of ambience. They serve food and have live entertainment several nights a week. Near MIT and the Central Square T station. Easy walk to/from Harvard Square as well. Here's the URL:


                                        Speaking of transportation, driving in Boston is a competitive sport. If you've never done it, you might want to try it, just to have said you did it. Try imagining a city in which every street is the rough equivalent of SF's Lombard Street, with 2 way traffic, and no quarter asked (or given) by other drivers. If you actually know how to get where you're going, it can be an interesting intellectual challenge. Other than that, I'd recommend the T, walking, and/or an occasional cab. Boston is actually not that big, geographically, so walking is practical. Walking also gives you a better chance to examine neighborhoods like the North End, just to name one.

                                        Sorry to be so long. Have a good trip

                                    2. Harpoon Brewery on the waterfront in South Boston and they have tours. Very close by is Yankee Lobster which is not expensive and features local seafood. They are known for Lobster Mac'n Cheese and homemade crab cakes.
                                      Don't know the dates you are planning to be here, but there is an American Craft Beer Festival May 31 and June 1 in the Seaport area.
                                      If you go to the Cambridge Brewery in Kendall Square, I wouldn't order food there. It is very close by Emma's Pizza which has excellent pizzas and salads and not too expensive for the area.
                                      If you can get to the East Boston section of town (near the airport) I think the best Mom and Pop Italian is Rino's. There is usually a line, but it is worth the wait!
                                      Check out our Italian neighborhood which is called the North End; ditto L'osterio and Antico Forno for fun choices. Also swing by Chinatown. Chowhounders rave about Peach Farm.
                                      Walking and subway is the way to go. If you want to rent a car for only a day trip, check out Zipcar. A good suggestion for a trip out of town would be Ipswich. Go to Crane Beach and hit the Choate Bridge Pub in Ipswich for great Lobster Rolls. Ipswich Ale is pretty good too.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: snowcone

                                        If you are going to Cranes beach you might also want to go to Cape Anne brewing Brewing company in Gloucester on the same trip

                                        1. re: snowcone

                                          I wish the American Craft Beer fest was this weekend!

                                        2. Thanks for posting Srosing! My husband are visiting Bean town for my first time (he went to college in RI but I'm sure its changed in 13 years). We also like micro breweries/brew pubs. My husband is a beer snob so we're going to need to know the best places to eat with craft beers on tap! Also, I like seafood but he does not. We're going to the Red Sox game tues so we'll probably go to Yard House before that but Saturday to Monday we don't have any grub selected yet. We'll be staying in Malden with friends and I know they will have some ideas but we'll be visiting the city some and I love to get others opinions and suggestions! And we're not committed to cheap eats but we value a good meal for the money. I'll start another thread for maybe we nice romantic meal. Thanks!

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: littlecmad

                                            If you want good micro brews and have a car and Saturday afternoon is free consider going to visit Idle Hands Brewery, then right next door Night Shift Brewery and five minutes drive away Mystic Brewery. You will not be disappointed, if he is crazy beer driven consider visiting Jack's Abby brewery in Framingham.

                                            1. re: Janeinma

                                              Jack's Abby makes unbelievably good beers at an incredible price point.

                                              1. re: phatchris

                                                Jack's Abby is worth the visit and I am a beer snob. Also my favorite beer bar is Atwoods in Cambridge. They have the freshest most interesting selection of local beers. Plus if it is a nice day, their patio is amazing!