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With Hilltop almost gone, what is now the most Iconic Boston Area Restaurant?

Not saying Hilltop was the most Iconic, but we are losing the old stalwarts.

I expect Kowloon or Union Oyster House or Parker House will be the most popular answer, but with Hilltop and Locke-Ober and Pier 4 gone what do you consider to be the most Iconic restaurant around?

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    1. Maybe Ken's Steakhouse, No Name, The Continental or
      Prince Pizza, not necessarily good.

      1. I'd say either Durgin-Park or Legals.

        97 Replies
        1. re: Boston_Otter

          The thing about Legal Seafood is that the name is "iconic Boston" but the original location is long gone. To me, at least, there's no current Legal's location that really fits the bill.

          I'd nominate Durgin-Park, Union Oyster House, or the Thacher Street Regina Pizzeria.

          1. re: Allstonian

            I totally agree. It's like the old "fishcakes and baked beans" problem. Everyone from out of town thinks of Legal Seafood as the iconic Boston restaurant, but then they get here and realize oh, it's a chain, huh. And oh, I can't actually get fishcakes, baked beans, and brown bread anywhere?

              1. re: Boston_Otter

                What Boston area do you eat in? There are TONS of places where one can order fish cakes and beans (cod cakes usually). That said, I can't name anywhere that serves that iconic dish that itself qualifies as such.

                1. re: CapeCodGuy

                  I miss the disgusting gordon's cod cakes in a can. we would slice them in four and brown them in butter in a cast iron skillet and eat them on a Thomas' english muffin with Hellman's mayo.

                  1. re: CapeCodGuy

                    I'm in Camberville vicinity. I just remember a thread from last year where people were trying to actually find the classic dish of fishcakes/beans/brown bread and were having an extremely hard time finding it on the menu anywhere. I've only seen it at one restaurant myself, out on the Cape (Spanky's Clam Shack in Hyannis).

                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                      Yep - that's the issue. There are plenty of diners etc. that offer just about any combination of 2 out of the 3 - fish cakes + baked beans + brown bread. But there is hardly any place (and no place in the GBA) that has a plate with all 3 items.

                      (BTW, Boston_Otter - I think it was you who mentioned that Mandy & Joe's in Brighton Center has a liverwurst sandwich on the menu. Jenny Ondioline & I found ourselves lunching at the Agawam Diner up in Rowley this past weekend, and I was pleased to see that they, too, offer a liverwurst sandwich.)

                      1. re: Allstonian

                        actually it was me, im always looking for the triple (fishcakes/beans/brown bread) and its a rare bird,

                        It seems to be the brown bread that brings it down as i would take Pearl hot dog/beans/brown bread as a sub

                        More a tribute to The Big Guy, my father, who would live on this combo if he could, but hell, call me Ishmael.

                  2. re: Boston_Otter

                    That's right, say it often enough and perha's you'll convince everyone else and maybe they'll disappear. As a proud Bostonian, I have no difficulty finding them

                    1. re: sawxfan

                      Where? And what does your being "a proud Bostonian" have to do with your ability to find this legendary combination?

                      1. re: Allstonian

                        I too am skeptical that you have NO difficulty finding a fishcake/baked bean/brown bread plate in the Boston area.
                        Where?
                        Where?
                        Were?

                        Just tell me where and they get my business.

                        CapeCodGuy, that find is remarkable and truly a old school find. nice work.

                      2. re: sawxfan

                        Just name the places so everyone can indulge

                        1. re: ac106

                          For starters
                          The Thirsty Whale in Newburyport has a fine rendition

                          1. re: sawxfan

                            not exactly Boston, but ill take it!

                            1. re: sawxfan

                              Well, that's only 40 miles or so outside of Boston, so it's closer than many of the others. Thanks!

                              The complaint has always been that it's next to impossible to find these three items together in Boston itself. There are plenty of places on the North Shore or the Cape or wherever, but that's not Boston. At this point, I'd be willing to find them someplace inside 128.

                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                Almost forgot- Cabots in Newton has it too. Since I only go there for Ice Cream, I don't know if its homemade, I'd be surprised if it is.

                                1. re: sawxfan

                                  Cabot's has a beans and franks plate with brown bread (I've had it, as a matter of fact, and there is no part of it that is house-made) - but no fish cakes.

                              2. re: sawxfan

                                Warren Tavern in Charlestown had it on the menu the last time I was there a year or two ago
                                Yankee Lobster has it on the Menu
                                Doyle's occasionally has it as a special.

                                I couldn't tell you if its homemade because I've never tried it at any of these places.

                                1. re: sawxfan

                                  I've eaten at Doyle's quite a few times, but I've never seen fish cakes/beans/brown bread as a special, although I'll take your word for it that it may occasionally appear.

                                  Yankee Lobster does have a cod cake plate on their menu, served with a remoulade, no beans or brown bread.

                                  There are "Maine crab cakes" but no fish cakes, with or without beans and brown bread, anywhere that I can find on the current menu at Warren Tavern:
                                  http://www.warrentavern.com/dinner-menu/
                                  http://www.warrentavern.com/lunch-menu/
                                  http://www.warrentavern.com/brunch-menu/

                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                    Summer Shack serves Cod Cakes and Baked Beans but you have to ask for the brown bread because that only is included with the cranks and beans.

                                    1. re: Infomaniac

                                      And, of course, then you have to eat at Summer Shack.

                                      1. re: Science Chick

                                        I must say, though, that I've made Jasper's recipes for brown bread and baked beans and they are really good, so that might not be a bad way to go if you're eating there.

                                        1. re: bear

                                          I make brown bread at home too....it takes 2 minutes of mixing and 2 hours of steaming. Honestly, it is the easiest possible thing to make. If I'm going out, that won't be something I would go out for.

                                          1. re: Science Chick

                                            I hear you. I've only eaten at SS a couple of times and thought the fish and chips were pretty heavy and greasy and the lobster roll wasn't bad but I could do without the cucumbers.

                                            Now, completely off topic, what kind of pan do you use for your brown bread?

                                            1. re: bear

                                              This is a very cool use of a slow cooker for brown bread:

                                              http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

                                              but add raisins, they are essential

                                              1. re: hyde

                                                Hey, hyde, thanks for that. I bought a couple of steamed pudding pans with a flute in the middle because it was hard to consistently find cans that would work. I'm not in love with them, though, and have avoided making the brown bread until I can figure how to steam them in a convenient water bath.

                                                http://www.amazon.com/Steam-Pudding-C...

                                                I never thought of using canning jars. That should solve everything!

                                                1. re: bear

                                                  I have two old Chock-Full-Of-Nuts coffee cans that keep around to make mine. Grease, fill, cover with foil/elastic bands, place in water bath in dutch oven and steam x 2 hrs. Voila!

                                            2. re: Science Chick

                                              Yah but, finding that darn can with those ridges to steam it in.

                                          2. re: Science Chick

                                            What's wrong with eating at Summer Shack? The Cambridge location puts out some of the freshest oysters in the area, expertly shucked every time. They also have fried chicken that is among the best in Boston, and excellent lobster preparations. I'll eat at the Summer Shack and be quite happy.

                                            1. re: black_lab

                                              I forgot about the fried chicken. I've been meaning to give it a try since it's been mentioned a few times on the board.

                                              1. re: black_lab

                                                I work 1/2 a mile a way, and have had so many mediocre meals there I don't even bother any more.

                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                  the pan roasted lobster is one of my favorite dishes in Boston; i will try to go back again. I also think that the fried clams are respectable.

                                                  That said, most of the menu is mediocre; i agree.

                                                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                    I've had nearly inedible limp oily fried clams there as well…

                                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                                    I still can't wrap my head around a well respected chef, who actually wrote a chowder cookbook and was bff's with Julia, can serve mediocre tourist chowder.

                                                    1. re: Bellachefa

                                                      it's all about the benjamins and not having to be cooking in an actual kitchen anymore.

                                                      jasper is no longer young.

                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                        bs - he sold out to crappy chowder after writing a chowder cookbook. at least his special lobster still gets rave reviews. I admired him many years ago. Now he is a sellout. No reason for mediocre chowder when you were once a chowder expert.

                                                        1. re: Bellachefa

                                                          hate chowder so can't say either way.

                                                          his restaurants take in millions and he doesn't even have to be there. call it selling out, but maybe he views it as providing a comfortable retirement in his dotage and an inheritance for his kids.

                                                          he's pushing 70 ffs and can comfortably rest on his laurels as one of the first great chefs to drag boston out of the culinary dark ages. ya know, lol, where a special meal involved brown bread and baked beans. blech.

                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                            millions? millions????????

                                                            why you desire to give him absolution for introducing great food at Jaspers and then selling out is beyond me.

                                                            resting on his laurels has nothing to do with quality control in his restaurants that are not taking in millions for him. he sold out. the fried chicken is pretty good

                                                            summershack has been around for quite a few years. he sold out and took excellence and dumbed it down.

                                                            1. re: Bellachefa

                                                              i said the restaurants take in millions. you're looking at 4 high-volume properties with 300-400 seats. why does this figure make you so incredulous?

                                                              it has nothing to do with absolution. he's more of a businessman than a chef now and is succeeding very well.

                                                              when he closed jasper's he swore he wanted nothing to do with fine dining ever again. he signed a $1-million/1-year consulting contract with legal's while he was writing a book and formulating summer shack. he engineered the concept, got in bed with the lyons group for money and off he went.

                                                              you may hate the chowder, but his places are busy all the time.

                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                from my matchbook collection. these gotta be 30 years old?

                                                                Jasper's was one of my all time favorite's

                                                                 
                                                        2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                          i read an article by a cook at Jean-Georges who said that the chef/owner never touched any food in the kitchen during her tenure save a bagel that he ate himself. Yet the restaurant remains great; the chef does not have to cook to maintain standards.

                                                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                            And do you think these standards are the same at Summer Shack as they are at Jean-George's.

                                                              1. re: Infomaniac

                                                                i was just making the point that chefs do not need to actually be on the line to guarantee a consistent, high-quality product.

                                                      2. re: black_lab

                                                        We went there, against my better judgement, last month. Lobster roll flavorless with paltry amount of overchopped lobster. DH fish tacos were lacking in flavor/substance. Server completely lacking in knowledge in response to menu questions. It was horribly mediocre and we shelled out ~$60.

                                                        Regarding "iconic" however, I think a place should be around for quite some time and be a destination restaurant that really represents the essence of a city's offerings before it earns that title. Summer Shack certainly does not in any respect.

                                                        1. re: Science Chick

                                                          I too have found it over-priced for just fair food, but then I could never really afford the Shire/White/Lynch level establishments to eat at them enough to form a consistent picture.

                                                          1. re: Science Chick

                                                            A while back, I got their lobster roll and it had lots of chopped cucumber that appeared to be lobster until you looked more closely and tasted it. It sure did make the roll look stuffed. I sent it back. On another note, this past weekend, I went to the one at the Mohegan Sun before a concert. I got the tuna poke appetizer and it was delicious!

                                                    2. re: Allstonian

                                                      Cabots Does have Fish Cakes on the menu
                                                      http://cabots.com/seafood.html

                                                      Yankee Lobster certainly does have baked beans and brown bread- It's called the Cod Cake Platter if you go you'll see that they have it (the description of what's included unfortunately is not on the menu) but they do have it.

                                                      Warren Tavern may have changed over to a summer menu but this was their menu when I was there last. Its under the New England Cod Cake Platter

                                                      http://www.allmenus.com/ma/boston/150...

                                                      1. re: sawxfan

                                                        Okay, we have confirmation of one place. Although that photo doesn't bode well. Thanks for the tip!

                                                        1. re: sawxfan

                                                          Jenny Ondioline and I had lunch at Cabot's today. I searched the printed menu through and through, and fish cakes do not appear there at all. BUT - a fish cake plate with baked beans and brown bread was one of the daily specials. So there you go.

                                                        2. re: Allstonian

                                                          been to the warren tavern occasionally over many years and I've never seen fish cakes, brown bread,or baked beans.

                                                          1. re: Madrid

                                                            i lived right up the street from the tavern for about a decade and had oh, approximately, a million cocktails there. i ate there exactly once.

                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                              we go with the kid. to say we are not impressed with the adult food is an understatement.

                                                            2. re: Madrid

                                                              Sometimes you can't see the forest through the trees or you have to pretend "it's just not there"

                                                              I've been there many times and had it at least a few times

                                                              http://www.allmenus.com/ma/boston/150...

                                                              1. re: sawxfan

                                                                Not on the menu now according to the website

                                                                1. re: cambridgeMike

                                                                  Not all menu items have a web presence. I believe they nowhave their summer menu out.i I was just there a little over a year ago and it was on the menu.

                                                                  1. re: sawxfan

                                                                    I was there three months ago and it was not on the menu.

                                                                    1. re: Madrid

                                                                      I just called and was told it will be back on their rotating menu in a few months.

                                                                      1. re: sawxfan

                                                                        I will concede that some places (usually seafood) will pull them off the menu until the cooler months. we will need to re-visit this whole argument come october 1st.

                                                                        1. re: hyde

                                                                          curious fixation on horrible puritan food. my hardscrabble italian ancestors made a bit of flour and oil delicious. the english who settled here must have thought food was punishment.

                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                            It's the Yankee way. Those bits of coffee can shrapnel in the brown bread remind us that life is suffering.

                                                    3. re: sawxfan

                                                      So we have gone from:

                                                      "Just go to any Tavern or Diner in Southie or any diner that dots Route 1 up to Gloucester "

                                                      To:

                                                      One place in Newburyport

                                                      One place where it *might* be an occasional special

                                                      One place that you have to order off menu to get it

                                                      2 places that you recommend but haven't tried

                                                      1. re: ac106

                                                        Keep pretending it doesn't exist and hope that it disappears altogether, yes?

                                                        It's a shame you are so ashamed of your culinary heritage. I, on the other hand am prou of it

                                                        1. re: sawxfan

                                                          Yes. I am part of the vast conspiracy to eliminate the ubiquitous delicacy of cod cakes. Because I am ashamed of them

                                                          Now I am off to my illuminati meeting!

                                                          1. re: ac106

                                                            I'm just amazed at the "rage" and "anger" if someone mentions cod cakes, baked beans, brown bread and Boston in one sentence.

                                                            I haven't been to Southie in a few years but there were several diners and taverns that had it as a friday special. You'll never find it on line because none these places have websites or facebook pages..

                                                            1. re: sawxfan

                                                              Where is this rage of which you speak? We'd love to hear more of these many, many places that have this trio. In fact, found one in York Beach, Maine this afternoon, the Goldenrod. But the idea that every diner in New England serves fishcakes, baked beans and brown bread? Don't matter if you're proud of this dish or not: not enough places serve it. Anyway: not my monkeys, not my circus.

                                                              1. re: sawxfan

                                                                I don't understand how you get "'rage' and 'anger'" and shame about our culinary heritage from people saying that it's become difficult, if not impossible, to find this formerly classic combination in Boston proper.

                                                                I also don't understand your obsession with this meal since you don't appear to care for it yourself - you've seen it on the menu here and there, it's in diners and taverns all over Southie but you can't name the places and they're not on the web, oh, and you can't vouch for the quality of any of these renditions BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T ACTUALLY TRIED IT ANYPLACE. A proud culinary heritage is a fine thing - please tell us about a restaurant that serves this combination and lives up to that proud heritage. That's all we're asking.

                                                                1. re: Allstonian

                                                                  I've mentioned the places that have it. Everyone seems to go out of their way to prove me wrong. I can't help it if it's not on the "web menu". Unfortunately I can't remember the name of every diner and dive I went to in Southie, it's probably been at least 2 years since I've been there. And I'm not responsible for the fact that probably 50% of the restaurants in the Boston area (most likely much more than that) do not have a web presence.

                                                                  1. re: sawxfan

                                                                    We're not trying to prove you wrong, we're trying to collect leads about places that serve this trio, because not enough do. (One more, far north, discovered this weekend: The Goldenrod in York Beach, ME.) I'm not sure why this comes off as adversarial to you, although it clearly does for some reason.

                                                                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                      I agree...we don't want to prove you wrong, we just want verified sightings. We want to eat the stuff and want to know where to reliably find it. Nice to know there are lots of places in Southie that serve it, but we can't go there if we don't know the names. Not your fault if you don't remember, and certainly not your fault about lack of web presence, but we are not trying to fight you or prove you wrong, we are trying to work with you to find the dish! thanks for calling Warren Tavern, sounds like it might come back in the fall.

                                                                      1. re: Madrid

                                                                        Today, at Whole Foods on River St near Memorial Drive, I saw brown bread from Pain d'Avignon. It was cylinder shaped with a flat bottom and puffy top. I've never seen it there before.

                                                                2. re: sawxfan

                                                                  no rage. I'd actually like to see it available more widely.

                                                              2. re: sawxfan

                                                                My family didn't arrive here till relatively recently, so Ye Olde New England cuisine isn't my culinary heritage. But outside of historical curiosity, I don't see much to celebrate there: it's mostly a poverty cuisine originating in an England notorious for its bland and overcooked, mostly boiled food.

                                                                I think we've managed to save most of the good bits. The porridge and brown bread and oversweetened beans, I can live without.

                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                  You should have a look at a delightful little book entitled "The Trancendental New England Boiled Dinner." I've forgotten the author's name but it is a charming piece that rates The Perfect Dinner on a scale represented by Benjamin Franklin on the low end and Jonathan Edwards on the top. There is a screed against incorporating onion which is decried as a tool of The Devil.

                                                                  1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                    For $1.20 plus shipping, I might just have to spring for a copy of that! Looks very entertaining: http://www.amazon.com/Transcendental-...

                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                      You won't regret it. Please be sure to let us have a review.

                                                          1. re: Allstonian

                                                            I would still say Legals...even if they aren't in their original location. Oldies but goodies remember the original place, and visitors and locals go there seeking old fashioned New England seafood.

                                                            1. re: uman

                                                              legals and cheers are boston for out-of-towners. For natives, that has to be settled be someone born and raised here.

                                                              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                I wasn't born and raised here, and I lived here 1973-77 and then 1989 on, so I guess I don't qualify to vote.

                                                                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                  erm, doesn't iconic mean something that represents boston universally? especially to those from elsewhere?

                                                                  we on this board may disparage cheers and legals but throngs of tourists bust down their doors.

                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                    "Especially to those from elsewhere?" I don't think that connotation is broadly accepted, so locals are justified in wanting better icons of Boston restaurants than the godforsaken, godawful Cheers bar or the now chain-y, soulless Legal.

                                                                    As I said before here, the traditional bygone icons (e.g., Anthony's, The Hilltop) represent a benighted time in Boston's restaurant scene, one best left mostly unrecalled. Potential new icons, restaurants whose appearance marked a watershed between the bad old days and our now much more interesting scene -- let's say, for argument's sake, Hamersley's, No. 9, Eastern Standard -- aren't quite old enough to rate as iconic yet.

                                                                    On balance, I'd say losing the old icons isn't the worst problem we could have. Won't be long before you can awe the kids with tales of Barbara Lynch as a young tyro.

                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                      at its most simple, an icon is a person or a thing regarded as a symbol of a belief, nation, community, or cultural movement.

                                                                      i'd say 90% of tourists searching this board ask which night of their itinerary should include dinner at legals. like it or not, we can't wish that something become iconic.

                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                        So maybe there's a useful distinction to be made between tourist icons and icons as identified by locals who know better. Smart gastro-tourists like Bourdain recognize the folly of best-of's anointed by tourist guidebooks: he generally seeks the advice of Chowhound types instead.

                                                                        (Though to be fair, the current Fodor's Boston highlights the following as its "Fodor's Choice": All Star Sandwich Bar, Area Four, Clio, Hungry Mother, L'Espalier, Neptune, o ya, Orinoco, Rialto, Sycamore, Uni, Antico Forno, Atlantic Fish, Eastern Standard, ICOB, Lumiere, No. 9, Oleana, Posto, Sweet Cheeks, Troquet, West Bridge. Pretty trap-free list, not bad at all.)

                                                                        Tourist icons are easy to identify. Sure, let's include two dozen Legal chain outlets and the idiotic Cheers bar on that list, and say, screw those places. The harder, worthier question remains: what is iconic to locals who have dined out here obsessively for decades?

                                                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                          Mei Sum, with some of the same ladies working there as when I moved to Boston in '88.

                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                            so, lol, how does mug n' muffin, mentioned up-thread fit in there?

                                                                          2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                            Legal *is* soulless and corporate, I'll agree with that, especially since I remember the original location so fondly. However we adopted a special needs child and he is a very picky eater. One place he likes is Legal, for the rolls and the kids hot dog, which comes on a nicely toasted bun. i"ll admit a liking for their tuna burger, chowder, and seasonally, gazpacho......one of the best versions I've had in the city.

                                                                            The blackened raw tuna, fried oysters, and calamari are also good, as are the salads. The tuna burger is only on the lunch menu, but you can ask for the lunch menu and order from it at any time. I haven't ordered the higher priced items in decades, if ever.

                                                                            So, if you get caught there, as I do from time to time, it is possible to find something good to eat. And it beats the 99, where my son also likes to eat.

                                                                          3. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                            I don't get the hate of Legals to the point of calling it 'soulless" To me it is what it is. It's serviceable. It's simple, predictable and a safe bet. It doesn't pretend nor promise to jump thru culinary hoops. It simply is what it is.

                                                                            I've NEVER had a bad meal at any of their outlets. That is why they called themselves "Legal" Their quality control of seafood has an impeccable track record. I have never sent a dish back. Sure some dishes are pedestrian. When I am on vacation, this type of establishment wouldn't be my first choice, nor my first recommendation. However it is a safe choice. Even more so for those visiting from land lock lands that aren't so comfortable with fish and shellfish. There's nothing wrong with a safe bet.

                                                                            1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                              I've had bad meals at Legal Seafoods: oily yucky fry jobs, limp flavorless lobster rolls. I really try to avoid them.

                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                I've had bad meals there too, but they always seem to be at the same locations...Copley Place(not the one at the Prudential), Braintree(the old location haven't been since they moved) and Natick/Framingham. On the other end of the spectrum, I've always had really good meals at the one in Chestnut Hill and the one in the Prudential Center. They have one of my 2 favorite baked stuffed lobsters.

                                                                                1. re: catsmeow

                                                                                  I've had several bad meals at Copley as well, but good luck at Kendall, which is closest to our house.

                                                                              2. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                It's not hate, but indifference, and the fact that Legal is no longer even a local chain, with a dozen locations all the way down the East Coast to Georgia.

                                                                                I too have experienced consistency issues, with mediocre to poor experiences at the Pru, Copley Place, The Street, and the current and former Park Plaza locations. I think the rooftop bar at Legal Harborside is cool, if you can ever get in anymore. Tourist icon, sure; local icon, not in my book.

                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                  i have had more bad food than good at numerous locations to the point of never wanting to go to another ever. sure, they start with excellent product and sandy block does a bang-up job on the wine program, but the cooks and shuckers simply cannot execute and the service is often painfully and embarrasingly bad. oysters full of shell bits, fish cooked to death, limp, lifeless veggie sides, brown lettuce in the salads. ugh. i could go on, but my point is it is far from a safe bet and more often -- for me-- a total waste of money and a frustrating exercise in holding my temper which is not my idea of even a decent meal.

                                                                                  we often wound up at the kendall location (and pissed off) because of its proximity to the theater, but thank the gods that area has exploded with much better options.

                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                    My SO is similarly tired of the Kendall location, near her work, but we've been enjoying Legal Harborside (1st floor). The service seems a bit more attentive (and expert) than the typical Legal outpost. The menu is certainly more interesting. We are addicted to the tuna crudo and maple-cured salmon bruschetti, and others that rotate. In a dozen or more visits I can't recall any missteps by the kitchen. Have only been to the 2nd floor once, and can't draw any deep conclusions, but I was impressed by some unique specials (a swordfish bone-in "tomahawk" steak - only one per fish - a sight to behold).

                                                                                  2. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                    I had one of the worst restaurant experiences of my entire life at the Legal's near the aquarium many years ago, swore never to go back and never have.

                                                                      2. I have more questions than answers.

                                                                        Does iconic have to mean so-so, unevolved food?

                                                                        How old does a place have to be to rate iconic?

                                                                        If iconic, as in representative of Boston, is that Boston back when or Boston today?

                                                                        And, is that the Boston of Chowhounds or the Boston of the average Joe who just wants to go out to dinner?

                                                                        Penny
                                                                        http://www.bostonzest.com/

                                                                        1. Even though local, legals has turned into a mass producing chain which I wouldn't consider iconic.
                                                                          I think the Chart House has to be considered. It's been on a prime piece of real-estate for years and survived the big dig

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: libertywharf

                                                                            The Chart House is a chain as well, with nearly 30 locations.

                                                                            1. re: Gabatta

                                                                              Ok, then I guess the chart house is out. But I still think of it when the way back conversation comes up and there's just the one in Boston.

                                                                            2. re: libertywharf

                                                                              I don't think a national chain makes the cut as an iconic Boston restaurant finalist.