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Brookline favorites?

Hello Boston Chowhounds!

My partner and are are going to be moving to Washington Square in Brookline later this month from the Midwest. We are terribly excited to eat our way through Boston.

I would love your recommendations for Brookline (and nearby) specifically. I know several of the favorites (Washington Square Tavern, The Abbey, Cognac Bistro,) but am looking for even more ideas. Particularly (but not limited to) these areas:

-Coffee Shops
-Breakfast spots (not just weekend brunch, but those are great, too. Have been to Zaftigs and Paris Creperie in Coolidge Corner)
-Best delivery (including, but definitely not limited to, pizza)
-Favorite places for take-out (proximity to the C green line a plus)
-Quick, healthy lunch places
-Great bars (both of the grab a beer and catch a game and of the nice cocktail varieties)
-Hidden neighborhood gems of various sorts.

Thanks so much to you help. I've gotten so many great recs from this board already that have led to many great meals in the city (Myers and Chang, Oishii, Coppa, Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe, and ICOB have all been standouts!)

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  1. Dorado Tacos & Cemitas (401 Harvard St. Midway between Beacon & Comm Ave, Brookline, MA 02446).

    Best fish tacos around.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ItalyFan

      oh god I love the pork milanase cemitas, it's an amazing sandwich. On thursdays my wife and I split a cemitas, then we each get 2 tacos (I like the steak one best, but people love the fish one), soooooooo good.

      1. re: ItalyFan

        I have to disagree, some of the worst tacos i've ever had, couldn't even finish the two we ordered between my friend and myself.

      2. strip t's is opening a place in brookline. i am not sure when it will open.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

          Yes! Ribelle will fortunately (for my happiness) and unfortunately (for my bank account) be right around the corner from my apartment.

          1. re: cambridgedoctpr

            went on the second unofficially open day with two friends, ordered two plates and an app, was really good, and the service was better than I expected for only day 2, not that it was bad in anyway, I just expected more chaos.

          2. Dok Bua for Thai. Suchaun Gourmet at St. Mary's. Lineage in CC. Shikki for Japanese small plates.

            1. I work in Brookline Village so my rec's are centered around there:

              - Brookline Family - Turkish
              - Cutty's - Sandwiches
              - Bottega Di Capri - Italian Deli
              - Sichuan Garden
              - Oriental Pearl - Pho
              - Brookline Spa - Pizza, Sandwiches, etc.
              - Orinoco - Venezuelan
              - Matt Murphy's - Irish Pub

              Also opening soon will be El Centro and Clover.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Matt H

                Cutty's cluckin chicken Sunday is not to be missed....the best fried chicken sandwich. Unfortunately, they aren't having another one until Sept. Except for when they have that special event, they're normally closed on Sundays.

                1. re: Matt H

                  The lamb shish kbab at Turkish Family is great when it's on, still good when a little tough on homwmade bread . Love the papaya salad at Oriental Pearl on a hot day.

                  1. re: Matt H

                    I had one of the worst dining experiences at Brookline Family that I could never recommend it. Granted, it was maybe three years ago but it left such a bad taste.

                    There were 6 or 7 of us, maybe they don't do well with large groups? Anyway, the waitresses (yes plural) got orders wrong, didn't seem to understand what people were ordering. It was like they didn't understand English and would just nod and smile. The food came out at different times so some were eating while others waiting for food. And total confusion with the menu. One person (picky eater) ordered fish & chips and she got a plate with fried fish and tomatoes. Yes, slices of tomatoes! No chips. When she asked about the chips she was told she had to order it separately. Really? It was such a nightmare. I believe my dish was tasty, some kind of stuffed zucchini, but the whole dining experience was just off putting. Maybe it's better now but I'd still never go back.

                      1. Cafe fixe and 4a for coffee
                        Zenna noodle for takeout
                        Otto pizza
                        Hops n scotch - beer & whiskey
                        Publick house - beer
                        Taberna de Haro - tapas
                        Audubon - Boston but close enough
                        Shanghai Garden

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: drewames03

                          A big, standing O, second for Otto Pizza. It is so good that I keep sending them possible locations for a spot near me. I envy you for being in their delivery zone.

                          You also have a great farmers' market in Coolidge Corner. About to move outside from the winter location in the Arcade building. Thursday's 1- dusk beginning June 13th.


                          Michael's Deli in CC is another great sandwich place. I hear the new owner is still doing it right.

                          And, for the experience you should have breakfast at the Busy Bee near the St. Mary's T-stop at least once. You'll step back 50 years in time to the old time coffee shop scene and have a basic diner breakfast. The staff will fight among themselves, kibitz with the regulars, call you "hon", and serve you quick.

                          Rami's on Harvard Street for Israeli/Middle Eastern.

                          Welcome to the Boston Chowhound scene. Please report back on what you are discovering!


                          1. re: BostonZest

                            Was the old owner doing it right at Michael's? I found the sandwiches totally average and way overpriced.

                            My favorite thing in Brookline is Clear Flour bakery. To me it's far and away the best bakery in the Boston area.

                            Oishii in Chestnut Hill Is one of the top sushi spots in the area. Their lunchbox deals are a particularly good value. They do a great job with take out as well. It would be accessible via the D line, and the Beaconsfield stop may not be too far from the OP.

                            1. re: Gabatta

                              Michael's was hit or miss at times, but they did get the Corned Beef more right than wrong.

                              Last week I stopped by for the first time since the ownership change and ordered a Chopped Liver and Tongue and it was excellent. So I think they will be back in my rotation for the time being.

                            2. re: BostonZest

                              Regarding Michaels...as good as many people thought it was(not me), it's so much better now. The new owners are even friendly!

                              1. re: catsmeow

                                I'll have to second this sentiment. Though, I was really taken aback by the friendliness at first.

                                1. re: rlee21

                                  FYI on MIchaels. I was there last Sunday for a whitefish salad and a bagel and they were preparing a huge catering order. It was for the Bruins for the post skate lunch. Very cool. It's a recent regular order so apparently a good luck charm. Need four more orders (even after last night).

                          2. Shanghai Gate and Cutty's

                            1. First, the bus that runs on Washington Street will take you to Brookline Village and the T of course will take you to Coolidge Corner if you are not a devoted walker. Fireplace Grill has stellar lunches, particularly their salads. Wash Sq has no real breakfast places, but Family in the Village has fine breakfasts (always get their homemade Turkish bread) as well as good food for lunch and dinner. Martin's on Harvard in Brookline Village is another good breakfast option. Take that bus into Brighton and you'll find another wide range of ethnic choices including the excellent Greek Esperia on Market and Washington. Shop at Bazaar for great Russian deli, jams, tea, well-priced fruits and vegetables, solid Russian bread, etc. Athans has some very good bakery options but it's coffee is a constant crapshoot: good to lousy, never great as Cafe Fixe always is. Oddly enough, Golden Temple has one of the best bars around in spite of the fuddy duddy Am/Chinese vibe - the martinis are stellar. Washington Square Tavern is very good all around and better than good for those who like wine. Public House is the best spot for beer lovers. Super Fusion has acceptable to good sushi. Szechuan Garden in the Village has excellent szechuan food (try the chili rabbit). Between the Village, Coolidge Corner, the Square, Brighton and Allston, you can go from excellent upscale (Lineage) to fabulous hole in the wall thai (S & I). Lots of other threads on here with Brookline advice. Enjoy and welcome to the hood.

                              1. Ditto for several previous mentioned locations - I used to live in Brookline (Washington Square, in fact!) and there are a few food places I truly miss... Cutty's, Dorado, and Otto are worth going to. The fish tacos at Dorado are amazing, Cutty's roasts their own roast beef and pork and makes really great sandwiches, and Otto has amazing (albeit non-traditional) pizza that would deliver to Wash Sq. Cleveland Circle has good pizza if you're looking for the more traditional variety.

                                Dorado actually has great breakfast if you enjoy the Mexican style breakfast option. For "so bad it's good" Chinese food, I did love Dragon Star which is right on Washington Street. Rod Dee for Thai takeout in Washington Square is pretty good too!

                                Barcelona recently opened. People (including me) are split on its food options, but it definitely has a great bar scene. I'm surprised Publick House hasn't gotten more love - one of the best Belgian beer selections in Boston, with great frites to boot.

                                1. La Morra - Italian near Brookline Village
                                  King Fun Gargen II - delivery
                                  Cognac Bistro - Coolidge Corner
                                  The Fireplace - not bad for brunch
                                  Brookline Family Restaurant - Turkish
                                  Martin's Coffee Shop - breakfast in Brookline Village
                                  Publick House - beer, fries, mussels
                                  Clear Flour - bakery, Coolidge Corner (ish)

                                  1. Don't think I saw New England Soup Factory mentioned. Just across from the train station. Excellent rotating selection of soups. The also have salads, etc that are good.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: catsmeow

                                      +1 on New England Soup Factory, my go to place for takeout soups. We've barely scratched the surface here! Bakeries: Clear Flour (certainly one of the best bakeries in the Boston area), When Pigs Fly, Tatte's (amazing if expensive nut cakes), Japonaise (best ahn donuts and croissants), Athans. Kupfels whose bagels have improved and Breuggers whose bagels are reasonably good. The Farmer's Market (currently indoors Sundays at the Coolidge Corner arcade) and opening outdoors at the Center Street parking lot on Thursdays (very good greens and the wonderful Cyndi the Fishlady from whom you order on-line in advance and whose fish is fresh and fabulous). Dok Bua for Thai, China Garden for Peking Duck, Lemon Grass for decent if not great Vietnamese, J.P Licks and Emack and Bolio for ice cream, Serenade in the Village for homemade chocolate and that's still not everything!!! Best Chinese restaurant (in my opinion) in Boston up Harvard Street (Shanghai Gate) and one of the best just a few blocks further (JoJo Taipei). Good barbecue up Harvard (Soul Fire). Darn, I could keep going. You'll find your rhythm and your favorites from among the myriad of good choices.

                                      1. re: teezeetoo

                                        Farmer's Market - the last Sunday session is this coming Sunday, June 8. (BTW, they have renewed with the Arcade Building management for next winter, 2013-14.)

                                        The summer season opens next week, as per BostonZest's post above. Thursdays 1:30 till dusk in the parking lot on Centre Street just off Beacon Street, starting June 13.

                                        Also, to sign up with Cyndi the Fish Lady so that you can pre-order, you can email her at fishlady19 at verizon dot net. (Punctuation written out to shield her from spammers.)

                                    2. Temptations is a coffee shop in Coolidge Corner that has actual food made by actual people on the premises. Uses George Howell Coffee.

                                      4A Coffee - down Harvard toward Allston - is purely local and roasts its own but has seating issues (like none officially, I think, because there's no restroom for the public).

                                      I see that Michael's Deli has applied to expand seating to 24 (from 12), which is a good thing because that should improve the ambience and make it feel more like a restaurant. (Remember: Michael sold it to people who don't chase you out for sitting.)

                                      Washington Square has Cafe Fixe, where they take coffee seriously. Definitely a classier feeling place than the over-crowded Starbucks across Beacon.

                                      And Athans, which has both food and pastry and a large room. And there will be a new bakery cafe, I believe, on the outbound side.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: lergnom

                                        and for all things kosher there's the butcherie - best kosher chickens, capons, and best of all kosher pullets which make the best chicken soup ever - don't think anyone has mentioned Orinoco (Venezuelan, nice bar) or Pomodoro (cash only) in the Village.

                                      2. The Abbey. HANDS DOWN. for the buttery shaved brussels sprouts. the grilled Caesar salad. The warm, local, small, comforting, but still busy atmosphere, and the awesome service. LOVE The Abbey!

                                        Oh.. and The Beagle too! I have never been let down there.

                                        Kupel's for bagels btw ;)

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: ModernSarah

                                          The staff at The Beagle ignored me (during a slow time even) and served me cold food even after I specifically asked if the item was hot.

                                          1. re: l0b0SKI

                                            am at the coolidge corner theater a fair amount for matinees and want to like the beagle. i really do. meh. every time. i do find the bartenders mostly friendly though.

                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                              They just got a new chef, right?

                                              1. re: gini

                                                no idea, sorry. i just have a drink there now, or walk down to esk.

                                                1. re: gini

                                                  yea, haven't had a chance to try since, but fingers crossed!

                                          2. BTW, I read that something called Brown Butter Bakery will open later in 2013 in the space outbound on Beacon in Washington Sq. that has been the antiques/rug shop. Says will seat 25, will have both pastries and a seasonal food menu.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: lergnom

                                              Interesting. Is that the space next to the travel agency and the Bank of America on the corner of Washington?

                                            2. Any word on Mission Cantina yet?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: chuck s

                                                Tried it the other night. Pretty favorably impressed with the food for a mid-priced Mexican(-ish) place, notably some really good carnitas done on a spit. Decent list of reasonably priced tequila, fresh juice in the margaritas. Service was a fiasco, however, nobody trained on a new POS system. I'll go back anyway. Still got that nice patio.


                                              2. We've only been in town for a few days, but have already been working our way through your recommendations. Several standouts!

                                                Thursday dinner: Publick House. We knew this place was more regarded for its beer than food, but after several days of moving, we really didn't care. We tried several of their draft beers, and all were excellent Belgian imports. Did not keep track of the names, but they do what they're known for well. Duck confit spring rolls to start were greasy, but fine. I had a braised short rib sandwich for dinner with a runny egg, basil aioli, and several other components... Tasty. My boyfriends has steak frites. The frites were excellent, but the steak and side of kale were both under seasoned and pretty mediocre. We will return for the drinks, but probably not the food (if we do, though, we will try the mac and cheese)

                                                Friday lunch: Dorado Tacos and Cemitas. Yum! I got three tacos: the Dorado (beer-battered whitefish), the grilled fish (swordfish), and the steak. All were very tasty, although I fou d the two fish tacos to be a little heavy on cream for my taste. Boyfriend got the cemita made with house-made chorizo. It was phenomenal. Adding rice, beans, and a charred jalapeƱo brought the sandwich total to $7.50, which seemed like a great deal.

                                                Friday dinner: The Abbey. What a gem! The smells from their kitchen blow into the kitchen windows in our apartment, so we had to get there ASAP! I started with the Abbey Julep... A far cry from a traditional mint julep, but so, so good. We shared the crispy buffalo pork belly appetizer which was as indulgent and delicious as it promised. My entree was roasted cod with a potato scallion pancake and shallot cram sauce. Rich and wonderful... The pancake was the standout. Partner got the bison bolognese which was also wonderful.

                                                Saturday dinner: left Brookline for dinner... Gourmet Dumpling House in Chinatown.

                                                Sunday dinner: Otto Pizza. We expected to love this, but only liked it. We shared two small pizzas: one with roasted tomatoes, ricotta, and basil and one with genoa salami, tomato, and scallion. The crust was brown and bubbly and the red sauce was fresh and not-too-sweet, but the pizza seemed a bit wet to us and just didn't quite wow us. Next time, we'll order something with drier ingredients and maybe try their white sauce. Would be happy for your ordering recs, as we are in their delivery zone! Our next pizza to try is Pizzaria Dante.

                                                Thanks for your recs and keep them coming. Next up on our list include Cutty's, Sichuan Garden, Orinoco, Cognac, Clear Flour, and Wahdington Square Tavern. For the week though, now that the kitchen is unpacked, it's back to home-cooking!

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: marketpeach

                                                  Thanks for the report back and welcome to the neighborhood. I usually ask for well done on the slices at Otto and that helps. A block away from Otto is Shiki, which is interesting Japanese small plates and Rami's for Israeli Falafel (get it with mango pickles and hot sauce). Also, on Harvard ave south of beacon is Michaels which is the closest we have to a decent jewish deli. I like the whitefish salad on a bagel and corn beef or pastrami. I wish their rye bread were better.

                                                  1. re: gourmaniac

                                                    +1 on Shiki! I always enjoy that place.

                                                  2. re: marketpeach

                                                    I like the spicy pork and mango pizza at Otto, and especially the potato, scallion, and bacon.

                                                    1. re: marketpeach

                                                      Ditto the potato, bacon, scallion - I dream of that slice! The butternut squash, cranberry, and ricotta is great too. I too have found that when you have tomato on the pizza, the slices can be a bit wetter than I'd like. I prefer their white pizzas.

                                                      1. re: addiez

                                                        @addiez The butternut squash, cranberry and ricotta is a favorite for the end of the meal at Otto for me. It's my dessert pizza!

                                                      2. re: marketpeach

                                                        You might also try Ecco Pizza on Comm Ave between Harvard and the big turn where Brighton Ave splits off. The crust has more chew - was developed with Clear Flour.

                                                        1. re: lergnom

                                                          Nice to hear that Ecco is still there. I was an early patron until Otto's opened in my neighborhood. So didn't see the need to travel when I could walk, but the Ecco owner puts a lot of effort into his pizza.

                                                      3. Super 88 Market in Allston has a vietnamese stand with the best Pho I've probably ever had. We always get the chicken Pho though. Also they have a little of everything including dim sum in the back.

                                                        S&I thai delivers, pretty good Thai food, can be very spicy :)

                                                        I really like the Beagle's burger and fries, and they have great homestyle mac n cheese, although the kids portion is the only one worth buying.

                                                        Rami's in CC and Boston Kabob in Allston both have excellent falafel, sandwiches and dips.

                                                        I think Shanghai Gate, which also delivers, is my fav Chinese place in the area. But Shanghai Gourmet, just over the border in Boston, also has some excellent Chinese. These are both much better than anything I've had in Chinatown...except maybe the dim sum and bakeries.

                                                        You must get Bon Chon delivered.

                                                        Get the prosciutto and fresh mozz sandwich at the Italian place in CC.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: fara

                                                          There isn't a restaurant called Shanghai Gourmet in Boston: are you maybe thinking of Shanghai Social Club, which is on Comm Ave in Allston?

                                                          (If you really want to get technical, Shanghai Gate is in Allston, too: that stretch of Harvard doesn't become Brookline until you hit the TJ Maxx.)

                                                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                            The more important question here is, Does Shanghai Gate deliver? I didn't think they did. If so, I know what I'm eating some night soon!

                                                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                              I think they are referring to the former chef Chang's which is in Brookline.

                                                              In that area ill also offer up Busy Bee diner for breakfast and Taberna de Haro for excellent tapas.

                                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                Yeah, that's Sichuan Gourmet.

                                                                There's also Sichuan Garden in Brookline Village.

                                                              2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                Shanghai gate in Allston and Sichuan gourmet in Boston. Gate delivers

                                                              3. re: fara

                                                                Always found the pho at PhoViet grim, now their Bon Mi are an entirely different story as they are quite good and the beef chow foon at Kantin, in the back is a guilty pleasure.

                                                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                  still open as of last week when i had my usual wonderful dinner there. This is an underrated delight of a place and I like their fish better than Island Creek, however heretical that sounds. I'm going to sorely miss it.

                                                                    1. re: chuck s

                                                                      I had a chat with Nelson Cognac (the owner) last week. They'll be open until around the end of September. It has been sold, but he can't divulge to whom until all the papers are in order. One bit of good news is that the new owner is keeping the full liquor license, which means there's a good chance it'll be a real restaurant as opposed to the crappy burger joint it was before Cognac Bistro. From what Nelson said it sounds like the new guy is keeping the bar as is but doing some remodeling elsewhere.

                                                                      For you fans of Nelson's cuisine, his new venture will be called Big Jay Tavern, a restaurant in an old converted inn up near Jay Peak, a few miles from the Canadian border. The address is 3709 Mountain Rd., Montgomery, VT. He hopes to have it open some time in November.

                                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                                        As someone who frequently skis at Jay Peak, that is welcome news.

                                                                        1. re: BobB

                                                                          With due respect to Gabatta ,
                                                                          that sucks.

                                                                          Would love to have him closer to Boston.

                                                                          What's the story on why they closed?

                                                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                            His wife is retired and moved to Vermont a while ago. He's been spending part of the week up there and part in Boston. Then an old inn went into foreclosure and he got a great deal on it. He's going to run it as just a restaurant for now, but is keeping the rental rooms intact for possible future use.

                                                                            Oh, and Gabatta - he said the inn is located right at the end of one of the Jay trails, so he expects to get a lot of ski business.

                                                                    2. Breakfast: Martin's, Busy Bee, Cutty's

                                                                      Bars: Publick House, Matt Murphy's, Audubon Circle, Hops N Scotch, O'Leary's

                                                                      Pizza: Otto, Pino's

                                                                      Takeout: Rami's, Cutty's, Clover Food Lab, Jerusalem Pita

                                                                      Delivery: King Fung Garden II (Shandong / Beijing)

                                                                      Gems: Ribelle, The Abbey, Brookline Family (Turkish), Sichuan Garden, Washington Square Tavern, Sichuan Gourmet, Khao Sarn Cuisine (Thai, with some Northern dishes), Dok Bua (Thai), Taberna de Haro (Spanish), Dorado Tacos & Cemitas (casual Mexican), El Centro Dos (fancier Mexican), Orinoco (Venezuelan)


                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                        Great list.

                                                                        I will only take issue with one place : Jerusalem Pita. Meh to bad food and uniformly surly, disinterested , disorganized service .

                                                                        It's off our list.