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Moving to Boston soon, where to go for first dinner?

Hey guys,

I'm moving to Boston from Chicago next weekend. My dad is helping me move and I want to take him out for dinner somewhere once we get there. Doesn't have to be a five-star restaurant or anything, we'll be pretty tired from driving for two days - just good food. He's a big fan of FRESH seafood, not really a fan of Asian food. I'm moving to Jamaica Plain and we'll have a car to get around, and this will probably be on a Saturday night.


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  1. Island Creek Oyster Bar is relatively convenient from JP and has great seafood. Definitely call for a reservation ASAP though.

    5 Replies
    1. re: black_lab

      Thanks, my only concern is that since we're driving to Boston, we might get stuck if there's a storm and get there late/not till the next day. So that might have to wait for another time...

      1. re: vpashkina

        OK, I misunderstood. I thought you were willing to venture outside of JP due to your comment regarding having a car to get around. While I don't know exactly where you will be located in JP, Island Creek Oyster Bar is only a 10 minute drive from many parts of that neighborhood. I hope you don't get stuck and settle into your new digs well.

        1. re: black_lab

          I think that vpashkina was trying to say that they are uncomfortable about committing to a reservation when they might be delayed on the road.

          1. re: Allstonian

            Yeah this is absolutely right - once we get to Boston/Jamaica Plain, I'm willing to go wherever. I'm concerned about getting stuck on the way from Chicago.

            1. re: vpashkina

              You could always just call and cancel if you get stuck on the way. Even if it's an hour before the reservation, the restaurant will be thankful for the heads up and still be able to seat the table. If you don't make a reservation for a Saturday night, your options are going to be greatly reduced and you will have a wait at most decent places.

    2. make a reservation at Ten Tables in JP - you can always cancel if you are delayed by snow. Bella Luna is a nice second option in JP. Jamesgate Tavern is a fine stop for good pub food and a warm neighborhood vibe.

      2 Replies
      1. re: teezeetoo

        James Gate looks really close to where I'll be living!

        1. re: teezeetoo

          tz, just curious- TTables had a bunch of negative CH comments recently about its going significantly south (comments from people who used to love itBut you've kept going and still like it?

          btw, v, welcome to boston! JP is such a special neighborhood; i hope you enjoy it. i think Tres Gatos is a charming intimate very low key house experience w/ really good food. think 'quiet pub' for atmosphere. very neighborhoody.

        2. Tres Gatos in JP? They have some nice seafood options, IIRC.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Swankalicious

            Thanks! I think I've seen this recommended elsewhere so I'll be sure to take a look.

          2. If you want to stay in JP, you could give Vee Vee a shot. They have a couple of seafood dishes on the menu and I've enjoyed the meals I've had there, although I haven't been recently.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bear

              Thanks! I'm not committed to staying in JP for dinner but I'll definitely check Vee Vee out.

              1. re: vpashkina

                Vee Vee is really excellent. You'll probably need a res, it's a small place. The food is local and they have local drinks like Bantam Cider and Boston made beers, which will be nice for your out-of-towner Dad. The service is very good though it's casual.

                I also recommend the Haven, I just went for the first time last week. It's heavy, wintery, Scottish food so check the menu before you go if you might not be into that. It's very cozy and filled with a true JP crowd.

              2. The Haven in JP is a cozy little Scottish pub with good food.

                1. If you need a stop along the way try BT's bbq just off the pike/rte 90 in Sturbridge, they are in my top 5 in Ma, they are bit over an hour from Boston.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: lc02139

                    We usually eat fast food on the road just to save time, but if this place is as good as you say it is I might have to make a trip once I'm settled in :)

                    1. re: vpashkina

                      BT's is fast food, and you can call ahead and order. It is much better than any Q that i have had in Chicago, and in general, I consider the Boston area a step down from Chicago though perhaps not better than what you go in Lubbock.

                      If you are going to have a car in Boston, expensive and not easy, you will need a GPS; the streets were not planned and are quite difficult to navigate. It took me years to figure my way around Boston.

                  2. Russell House Tavern in Harvard Sq is really good and has good shellfish. BF and I go there often on Saturday nights and never make a reservation, if we're there fairly early the wait is usually pretty quick.

                    Eastern Standard in Kenmore Sq might be a good bet too.

                    1. Neptune in the North End and ICOB get the most positive reviews. It is possible to drop into ICOB and eat at the bar; that is more difficult at ICOB. You can canel reservations if it is clear that you will be delayed.

                      Try to show up in Boston on any night other than Friday or Saturday.

                      It is a 2 day drive from chicago to Boston unless you guys are manical drivers. I was insane enough to drive from Palo Alto to Chicago and hit speeds over 120 MPH, but it still would take me two days to drive here from Chi-town.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                        We're doing the drive in two days, yeah, although in the past we've done a Chicago-Lubbock drive in one day. But with a fully loaded car and the possibility of snow we're going to take it easy. Unfortunately we have to arrive on Saturday, but I will definitely put all the recommended places on my list to try another time.

                        1. re: vpashkina

                          You may consider taking 80 out of Ohio instead of 90 if Buffalo/upstate NY gets a lot of snow. But if you do take 90, Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse is a pretty easy and very tasty stop.

                      2. i did this a few yrs ago and some things have changed, of course, but hope it still might be helpful:
                        Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:



                        Dinner Spots that I would highly recommend :

                        Oleana- really unusual Turkish/Mediterranean menu; (owner's farm)-to-table;charming patio. Aside from the food being delicious, this is a real 'foodie's delight' because the menu will be full of things you will not see elsewhere in the U.S. Cambridge

                        Erbaluce- unusual inventive No.Italian Piedmontese. South End

                        Deuxave- elegant, inventive. Back Bay.

                        Craigie on Main- famous for offal but also seafood. Cambridge

                        OYa- v.v.expensive Japanese American inventive. South Station

                        Neptune Oyster- crowded tiny, always a line, top quality raw bar; inventive seafood along w/ trad.Leave your name and stroll the fascinating North End. (no resvtns-NR
                        Island Creek Oyster Bar- the BEST service, large room yet intimate, more trad but some inventive.

                        Toro- possibly the loudest room in Boston, full-out Tapas (the inventive often more successful than the trad) yet their Paella is unbeatably unctuous .South End .NR

                        Aquitaine- THE spot when you're exhausted and you want to be taken care of. Classic French Bistro food beautifully done in a beautiful room, w/ gracious top notch service. South End.
                        Strip T's (in a 'suburb', 10 min cab from Harvard Square) Casual small treasure for serious foodies; Momofuku chef; great inventive Asian- inspired, but also exc.fried chicken and unusual terrific burger. Watertown.

                        Ribelle- new Brookline expansion for Strip T's owner/chef. A very broad menu w/ two or three times more components than you would likely see on other menus. With dishes this inventive and full of surprises, the food is the focus for the night, and the starches and veggies are as exciting as the meats and seafood.

                        Sycamore- 30 min car or train ride West to affluent Newton Centre and this welcoming veteran run spot with many unique twists (see the Daily Duck, Lamb or Pork board- with four mini entree ,starch and veg.medleys.)

                        For brunch, you cannot have more fun than at East Coast Grill in Cambridge. 25 yrs as a real locals' fav for all ages; latin, mexican,bbq and and seafood; Bloody Mary bar; great vibe.
                        Myers and Chang, near the South End, has all the pluses of East Coast Grill for brunch, but it is Asian. This place is always hoppin' and the food,service and bar are super. The air is full of happy campers having fun.

                        Another neighborhood hotspot is Highland Kitchen in Somerville,packed w/ 20's and young families.'Comfort food' plus daily specials ( but not consistently successful); great music. NR

                        Commonwealth- All Day Brunch til 7pm! Great Oysters deals and comfort food w/ Southern and Mexican leanings.Kendall Sq.,Cambridge

                        For more refined brunch, Aquitaine and Mistral ($French elegant) and Stella are popular. South End.

                        Ribelle- brunch food just as crazy adventurous and deeply satisfying as their dinners! Brookline, Washington Sq.


                        1. Might be too corporate for your liking, but Legal Seafood is pretty good.