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New York-Boston...where else??

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My partner has to be in Boston for work from the 18-21, and I'm going to tag along (hey, her company pays for the hotel!). We decided that we'd leave NYC early in the morning on Saturday, the 15th, and take a little roadtrip, and plan on arriving in Boston at some point on the 17th.

I'm trying to find an area/city that is easy enough for us to get to from NYC (maybe 5 hour drive max), and close enough to get to Boston within 2-2.5 hours. Above all...great food! A couple of years back we did a roadtrip to Montreal and drove through Maine and Vermont. We ate so, so well. I'm not even talking about "fancy" food, just little dives, truck stops, diners, etc. Found great food all along the way (and gained 10 pounds, ah, but it was worth it!). I know it's the middle of winter and I'm not sure what's open, etc. We're not skiers, if that helps, though we would go tubing or snowboarding. But, like I said...food first! :-)

any suggestions on a destination would be great! Thanks

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  1. Since this question is not about Boston, you might want to also post it on the Southern New England board for the most up-to date recommendations.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/83

    That said, you might want to stop in Providence if food is important on this trip. Great food community from top to bottom.

    Penny
    http://www.bostonzest.com/

    1. I'd also suggest New Haven CT, home of great pizza and Louis Lunch (inventors of the hamburger). My favorite German restaurant, East Side, is not far away in New Britain.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Boston_Otter

        Also enroute (by car) between New York and Boston is BT's Smokehouse in Sturbridge, another chow-worthy stop-off. Arguably the best barbecue in the region.

      2. Take the pretty drive from New York on the Taconic and then visit the Berkshires. There is good food to be found around Great Barrington and Lenox, a few nice museums to visit, and I'm pretty sure there are places where you could go tubing. there's been quite a bit of snow of late.

        1. The Providence suggestion is a good one. You could also combine Providence with Fall River/New Bedford/Taunton for a little Azorean and Continental Portuguese food crawl. Not sure if you get to Newark often, but if not the area mentioned above has some of the best Portuguese options in the country.

          Another good food town in Lowell, MA. Tons of great Khmer options as well, more than enough to keep you well fed and happy.

          1. A New Haven and Providence route would definitely be a good food-oriented route. Some suggestions, mostly focusing on New Haven which I know much better:

            Mentioned below, New Haven, has a unique, super thin crust style pizza, that is popular at a few places. While the real New Haven pie is a white sauce whole clam pie, even if you're not into that other pizza varieties are worth doing. Here's my take on the more popular joints (after spending my undergrad years in New Haven):

            Pepe's: this is the original spot, and without a doubt does the best rendition of the clam pie. Their crust is a bit thicker and chewier than other spots around. The lines are almost always long, though once you are inside it moves quickly.

            Sally's: next most well known after Pepe's, some people swear by it, but I think the pizzas are quite similar. More importantly, Sally's is deceptive in that not only are the lines horrendous, but you can spend an incredibly long time waiting inside; i'd rank this lowest.

            Modern: In a different part of town, even by New Haven standards, modern's crust is extra thin. Because it's not in nh's little italy, lines tend to be much shorter here, and they're also open for lunch, where there's next to no wait. The margherita here is excellent, they do a clams casino with bacon, which, while lacking the huge fresh clams of Pepe's, is a great flavor combo. Also, they do an *amazing* fried eggplant topping.

            BAR pizza: also new haven style, but most of the pizzas aren't as top notch as pepe/modern. the reason to go here is if you want a mashed potato based pizza. Throw on some bacon, mozz, and basil, and it's a pretty great pie.

            Louis lunch: yes, the inventor of the burger, this place is wildly inconsistent. White bread, cheez spread, tomato, onion, patty, there burger works, and is pretty amazing, when they manage to cook it medium rare, as it is a super meaty, melty burger. but it's impossible to know when that'll happen. Burgers are small though, so I would suggest doing a late run trip here after dinner somewhere else if you feel hungry (/have been drinking, if you really want to do it right)
            ---

            New Haven has a few other interesting spots beyond Pizza and burgers:

            Caseus- cheese shop and restaurant, this place excels in farm-to-table, high end comfort food (their menu reads 'local local, not low cal). Mac and cheese, grilled cheese, and poutine are all upscale staples of the menu, but the specials are always a treat and run more on the gourmet side, and I'd order anything they throw duck in.

            Miya's sushi: one of the most sustainable sushi places in the country (they have an entire invasive species section of the menu), Miya's is a riot, but, as you might expect, not at all traditional. The crazy combos (rolls with say, berbere, or goat cheese and catfish) can be hit or miss, but the vibe is fun, and there's more to like than not. They also do a bunch of home infused sakes that are a lot fun, and after 10pm most nights they have incredible deals where you get a 5$ plate of ~10 pieces of whatever they feel they have extra of.

            Roia- i haven't been here (its new), and the menu reads fairly standard, but friends love it and it was worth the Times CT section giving their highest restaurant rating.

            116 Crown, for drinks: at this point almost 8 years old, this was a craft cocktail spot well ahead of its time, and would have easily fit in amongst the better places in NYC. these days, it's still solid, worth the price, and if you like cocktails you'll enjoy it, but it's not as destination worthy as it was back in 2008.

            le petite cafe: a few miles north of NH, this is mostly a fairly straightforward french menu, but the puff pastry escargot, cassoulet, duck confit, and miso glazed seabass are all some of the best i've had of their sort. at 53 bucks for four courses, it's a steal.

            Thali: some of the best Indian I've had, and if you're there on sunday, they do an amazing buffet (made to order dosa station, multiple types of fish dishes, waaay more than the standard)

            And Providence, which i have less experience with:

            North is sort of the obvious 'must hit'- alums of David Chang's doing cooking in the vein of ssam, asian food reimagined, there's a lot of funk and char laced through the menu. If you're a fan of ssam, it's different enough (and, imho, at this point more interesting) that you should definitely go.

            Other places I haven't been but are well regarded are Birch (who Contra in NYC just hosted to much acclaim) and Matt Jennings' Farmstead.

            3 Replies
            1. re: valcfield

              Some good choices listed but I guess you have not been to Le Petit Cafe in a long time. The prix fixe hasn't been $53 in many years.

              I find Miya's really unappetizing. I like sushi that tastes like fish. Not "inventive" rolls covered in sauces so that the flavors get mushed together. Not a fan. Much prefer Yooki Yama in Branford.

              You didn't list any of the clam shack places in the area like Lenny's.

              1. re: Bkeats

                miya's is definitely a divisive restaurant! I more put it out as a recommendation of... something that is unique to the area, especially coming from ny and going to boston. but i agree its no surefire bet.

                as for le petite cafe- i haven't been in a year, but their website (which i've stalked, and updates food on at least a monthly basis) still pegs the price at 52.50, except for vday which has a substantial surcharge- http://www.lepetitcafe.net/menu/

                not familiar with the clam shacks! i was mostly carless in NH, but for my own edification for when i pass by next would love to know of surrounding spots!

                1. re: valcfield

                  Hm. I go to LPC 1-3 times a year. Its always felt more expensive than that to me. Maybe its because of all the wine I order.I do wish that Roy would change the menu more often. Most of the items have been on the menu for 10 years. I would go more if there were more updates.

                  My favorite clam place is Clam Castle in Madison. I go to Lenny's in Branford a lot too. The Lobster Shack in Branford also does a nice lobster roll. Its seasonal and is closed now. Not a fan of Fishtails which has multiple locations including NH now.

                  I live in NYC most of the time. There are plenty of places doing the same thing that Miya's does so its not all that unique for someone coming from NYC. At the same time, NYC has some great traditional sushi places.

            2. Portland is a fabulous food destination. Even in the winter. Every time we go we're bummed out because there are so many great restaurants, and we have so little time.
              Probably not quite as close as you'd like --- but if you managed Montreal you should be able to manage Portland.

              1. Newport, Rhode Island for a day trip or overnight. Boston is about an hour north.

                A short jaunt off Route 95 North in Rhode Island, over the bridge that spans the waters of Narragansett Bay, and you’re there.

                There is so much to see, do, eat and drink.

                Restaurants of every price range, cuisine, and level of formality: breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner.
                Fabulous funky bars. Fabulous elegant bars
                Strolls along the shops on Thames Street and the wharves.
                A self-guided walking tour of the harbor.
                Visits to the mansions. My favorite is Vanderbilt family’s The Breakers. Marble House, another Vanderbilt “cottage” is also worth a visit. http://www.newportmansions.org
                The 10- mile Ocean Drive takes you along the surf-whipped Atlantic Ocean, weaving among gorgeous waterfront homes. If you are on Ocean Drive at sunset, stop at the luxurious Inn at Castle Hill for a drink and watch the sun go down. Glorious.

                The website Discover Newport (http://www.discovernewport.org) is a good resource for places to stay, eat, things to do, historic sites to visit..

                Check Chowhound threads for very helpful guidance on restaurants and bars.

                Being winter, Newport slows down a bit but not much. Best to check for seasonal hours.

                And, there is more in neighboring Middletown, Portsmouth and Jamestown but save them for another time.

                1. Stay in Providence, get a (very reasonably prices) room at the dean, and go to birch or north for dinner. Either one is going to run you far under $100 per person depending on how you drink. Maybe go to the eddy for a after dinner cocktail, or bodega malasana for a great glass of wine you never heard of. Walk back to the hotel, get a great cup of coffee from bolt in the morning or maybe some breakfast from nicks on broadway or kitchen, then be in Boston in less than 2 hours.

                  1. As folks here have already given you some great recs for foodie destinations that I won't repeat, let me just point out that the drive from NYC to Boston is usually under 5 hours max total unless you hit horrible traffic.

                    1. Wonderful food and rooms in the Berkshires with a wide array of sightseeing opportunities: The Old Inn on the Green in New Marlborough, MA.

                      1. I think Southern New England is one of best! check out the site jfoodeats.com and get many more local recommendations in our wonderful state! Good Eating!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: temilove

                          I agree with Shutterbug. If you have never been to Newport, now is the time to go. Very cozy and romantic in the winter (especially Valentine's weekend), and you miss all the tourists that invade the area from April - December. Plenty to do there, and you can probably snag a decent room with off-season rates. Wonderful restaurants and smaller eateries as well. Great suggestion, shutterbug!

                        2. Another route could be head north, cut in CT into Litchfield County, up to Mass into Lenox/Lee area, head east on the Mass pike and hit Northhampton/Amherst area, then head north to RT 2 and head East to Boston. Lots of restaurants along the way.
                          Another was is you can head north, pick up 84 and head into CT to stop at the Blue Colony Diner, Hartford at the Chowder Pot for Hot lobster Rolls, Reins in Vernon for NYC Style Deli for comparison, the Public House in Sturbridge, MA, then head East to Boston. You have Weintraubs in Worcester for a real Kosher deli, lots of places along the way. You can use Rt 20 instead of the Mass pike for more choices, but is stop and go.
                          If you find yourself in VT, I recommend Simon Pearce for a truly wonderful meal. In Grafton, the Grafton Cheese shop. If you go along the Mass Pike, Springfield has a couple of gems with the Big Mamou's for Cajun, Student Prince for German and Theodores for BBQ

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: awm922

                            Great ideas..but I would NEVER send someone from NYC to Reins. It's decent road food along the I-84 corridor to Boston, but by no means a destination.

                            1. re: Science Chick

                              I've been to many NYC deli's. Rein's might not compare to Carnegie, Stage or Katz's, but it's better than some others like Lindy's.

                              1. re: awm922

                                Reins sucks. To tell a NYer to go there is like telling a Chicagoan to go to Sizzler for steak or Pizza Hut for pizza.

                                1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                  Totally agree re Rein's. Not even close to the delis in NY. Also, would not recommend Chowder Pot.

                          2. Thanks all for the great responses!! We decided to head north, to New Hampshire. We're going to stay in Keene, and want to go snow tubing at Okemo. We'll stay from Saturday-Tuesday, and then on Tuesday head to Boston. Going to stop in New Haven on the way there, and probably stop there on the way back, too, since there is a lot of delicious things there! thanks again.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: italianyc84

                              look forward to hearing your report!

                            2. How'd the trip turn out?