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The Best of the Best: An Ongoing Thread

I was thinking it'd be nice to have an ongoing thread devoted to the superlative version of any dish you choose. Simply name a dish and name the local restaurant that does it best, in your humble and well-chowed opinion. I shall begin:

Crabmeat pie: Grassfields, Andover

Mussels in spicy marinara: Daily Catch, No. End

Greasy drunk Mexican hangover food: Border Cafe, Cambridge

Beef with tomato sauce over rice: Winsor Dim Sum

Breakfast sandwich of any stripe: Sofra

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  1. Area Four has a pretty good argument for breakfast sandwich.

    Moody's for best pastrami sandwich

    Kirkland Tap & Trotter for best meat in tube form

    7 Replies
      1. re: mkfisher

        Roast beef sandwich (non North Shore style) - Flour

        Brazilian fish stew - fish moqueca at Muqueca

        1. re: mkfisher

          I think Flour is a contender for best breakfast sandwich!

          1. re: dori_pm

            Sorry but the flour egg is just weird.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              has a lot of cream mixed in, weird but delicious.

        2. Steak Frites - Aquitaine Boston

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bellachefa

            I have ordered this every Aquitaine visit over a number of years; totally enamored of the truffle vinaigrette. But our last visit, maybe 6 mo's ago, the beef was ridiculously tough (first time ever). Have you had it more recently and was it as tender as always?

          2. Creme Brulee, Keon's Haverhill MA
            not cold, vanilla bean and maybe a few berries with fresh cream.

              1. re: enhF94

                Oh you're just being cheeky aren't you? :-)

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  I knew I was firing across the bow of HMS Naples, but I’m prepared to defend it against anything I’ve had in Boston except my homemade neapolitan-style pizza. Did I just double down? Or triple down? I think I did. :)

                  The crust is crunchy from edge to center, chewy enough to last through the bite, and flavorful. It’s the only example I’ve found in Boston of the Old Forge, PA style “fried” pizza which Myhrvold et al. highlighed in Modernist Cuisine @ Home. The technique is easy to screw up and tricky to get right - and done right, the crust isn't greasy despite the oil. It’s made from scratch on site. Toppings are unnecessary but both classic toppings and modern standards (mushroom gorgonzola) are available.

                  1. re: enhF94

                    We're big fans although the living across the street helps. We almost never get delivery pizza because we almost always would rather CS and there's no delivery fee involved :) however when we want to be less lazy we walk down to A4

                    Not sure I'd call it the best of the best but I'd certainly say it's the best takeout/delivery oriented pizza around. In general I view them as a real step above the typical sub/pizza shop.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      I like the crust crunchiness, enhF94, but I find the excessive salt and greasiness intolerable. Oh well. It's been a few years for me, so please let me know if these things have changed.

                      1. re: jajjguy

                        You say "excessive salt and greasiness", I say "delicious" :)

                        Kidding aside - I've been eating their pizza for years and never find it particularly salty. Greasy, sometimes depending on what it is.

                        But we probably have different thresholds of what constitutes salty.

                        1. re: jajjguy

                          my understanding is that one's experience of saltiness can vary (over time) based on one's personal standard salt level, so I respect this complaint.

                          As for the oil, I can understand your point. I like high flavor and don't mind oil. This comment is also my excuse to link to this WSJ article which recommends using more oil to prevent greasiness (in case anyone else reading the thread had the idea to ask for a low-oil pizza):


                          specifically for the "too oily" crowd, I will note that I always, only order the small size pizza because the smaller size slightly improves the crustiness of the crust. If I were really overreaching, I might point to the above article and say that a higher oil-to-crust ratio in the small improves the product.

                2. Lobster sandwich: Alive and Kicking, Cambridge
                  Espresso: Three Little Figs, Somerville
                  Razor clams: Erbaluce
                  Whole fish: Erbaluce (frequent special)
                  Fish filet, creative: Bergamot, Somerville
                  Housemade ketchup: Kirkland T&T, Somerville
                  Mystifying desserts: Bergamot, Somerville
                  Eggplant parm sub: Bob's, Medford
                  Sushi: Cafe Sushi, Cambridge (dinner omakase)
                  Eggplant Chinese style: Shanghai Gate, Allston
                  Deep, old wine cellar: Prezza, Troquet (tie)
                  Seafood stew: Central Kitchen, Cambridge

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jajjguy

                    Agree on 3LF - best espresso/cappuccino

                    1. re: jajjguy

                      I don’t generally pay attention to coffee since college, but I did notice and plotz when one day Three Little Figs had a special on Seattle’s Victrola coffee. I’m not a regular and in fact find the bakery options soporifically uninviting, but I was very lucky that day that a friend was thirsty.

                    2. Osso bucco anyone?

                      We make our own at home but love to try creative versions.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Ora Moose

                        It wasn't creative, but the Osso Bucco I had recently at Mamma Maria was perfect in every way.

                        1. re: rlh

                          My carnivorous DC's would back you up on that. Also, we asked the previous chef if it happened to be free range, and he assured us it was, but I don't know if it's still the case.

                      2. <<Greasy drunk Mexican hangover food>>

                        Never been a drunk Mexican, at the Border Cafe or anywhere else. Did eat there once and found it to be an alter to mediocre sauces and cheese. Such a disappointment when I moved back to Boston after years in Texas.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: smtucker

                          "Drunk food" is its own category. It is not "good food". It is good for a particular purpose, namely (when ingested late at night) converting alcohol into something that will not give you a hammering hangover the next day. There are many Chinese greasy spoons whose uninspiring-to-awful food can perform this same magic.

                          1. re: smtucker

                            while not good Mexican by any stretch, I do think Border has it's place in the world, just don't get your hopes up too high is all.....or come back from Texas and eat it, that's bound to disappoint!

                            1. re: smtucker

                              I'm having trouble with a post that has both "best" and "Border Cafe" in it. It's chain restaurant fare as far as I'm concerned.

                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                fair enough on that point LeoLioness, I was just saying it's not without it's, let's say uses

                            2. grassdfield's really? i stopped at the danvers one last year and the smell of rancid frying oil was so overpowering i walked right back out. i realize that location is now closed, but...

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                I think that location is gone, I thought I saw a sports bar/pub going in.

                                1. re: treb

                                  yup. i said it was closed. british beer company continues to expand its empire and is moving in there.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    I looked to see if that was the first one north of Boston, but I see they have a Portsmouth, NH location.

                                2. re: hotoynoodle

                                  Looking for a crab pie recipe (thanks to this thread) I saw that Jimmy's Steer House in Arlington has a popular one:



                                3. top salads: the frisee/sweetbreads/lardons/poached egg salad at esk


                                  area 4's arugula salad, which is the most perfectly dressed salad i have ever had.

                                  5 Replies
                                    1. re: phatchris

                                      Area 4 also has my favorite local clam pizza, and I agree that the breakfast sandwich is right up there.

                                      I agree on Neighborhood cream of wheat, too.

                                    2. re: hotoynoodle

                                      best kale salads: West Bridge and Cook. Both outstanding, And I'm not even a kale fan.

                                      1. re: MaxEntropy

                                        I have to add Kale (and Fennel) Salad with Pistachio Cream dressing at Alden & Harlow as my hands-down favorite-ever raw kale creation

                                        1. re: rlh

                                          This is the only kale salad I have wanted to (and have) ordered again. Truly outstanding.

                                    3. No. 9 Park’s foie and prune gnocchi

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: enhF94

                                        First thing I ever ate at No. 9, not long after it opened - and I can still remember how I felt eating it. G## D###.

                                        1. re: cjd260

                                          Best dish in Boston. No question.

                                          1. re: Duster17

                                            I think you mean your "favorite dish in Boston".

                                            (I like it a lot too.)

                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                              call me a heathen, but it really didn't wow me. now the lobster gnocchi - that was a dish we enjoyed many many times.

                                      2. Best Tater Tots: Grill 23 truffle tater tots

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Karl

                                          I just don't get the tater tots thing.

                                        2. hummus: 7 layer version at Sarma
                                          deviled eggs: with tuna, Oleana

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Madrid

                                            Deviled Eggs i vote for Bon Me - Tea Smoked

                                          2. Fiery Szechuan food: Sichuan Gourmet (either Framingham or Brookline locations)
                                            Torta: El Pelon (Fenway)
                                            Creative sandwiches: All Star Sandwich Bar
                                            Thin-crust Naples-style pizza: Gran Gusto (Cambridge)
                                            Cream of wheat: Neighborhood Restaurant (Somerville)

                                            1. Baked Alaska: Oleana

                                              Profiteroles: Oleana (creative) / Brasserie Jo (classic)

                                              Moules Frites: Central Kitchen

                                              Secret Burger: Alden & Harlow

                                              Veggie Burger: Christopher's

                                              Oyster Slider: Island Creek Oyster House

                                              Raw Bar: Neptune Oyster

                                              Fries: Drink

                                              Osso Bucco: Mamma Maria

                                              Pork Chop w Vinegar Peppers: Prezza

                                              Crusty Bread: Iggy's (the factory) Francese Roll Wheel
                                              and French Epi

                                              Beef with Longhorn Green Chilies: Taiwan Cafe

                                              Chilean Sandwich (original chicken): Chacarero

                                              Cumin Lamb / Lamb (teriyaki?) Skewers: Golden

                                              Tomago Nigiri Sushi and Agedashi Tofu: Toraya

                                              Hamachi Kama: Sono Sushi

                                              Clam Chowder and English Style Fried Haddock: Dry Dock Cafe

                                              Onion Rings: Lobster Pool

                                              Florentine Cookies: Lakota Bakery

                                              Iceberg Salad: Za

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: rlh

                                                oooooh, i think "best fries" might require its own thread. ;)

                                                  1. re: rlh

                                                    The chowder at Dry Dock always gives me (and some of my friends) "stomache issues" but I gladly take the hit. It's delicious.

                                                      1. re: treb

                                                        Nope. No lactose issues.

                                                        Happens every time and not just to me.

                                                        But we still eat it happily!

                                                        1. re: C. Hamster

                                                          Might be a volume of heavy cream issue.

                                                  2. Fried clams, Greater Boston Area: Park Lunch

                                                    1. I want to propose that you don't get to nominate anything that Boston has only one of. Best pizza? Sure. Best banh mi? Works. Best sandwich? Makes sense. Best free-range gluten-free artisanal narwhal brochettes? Makes no sense at all.

                                                      1. Best Steak sandwich: River Gods.
                                                        Best Fries (debatable or honorable mention): River Gods.

                                                        (this opinion is sadly a year out of date, though)

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: enhF94

                                                          It's been ages since I've been to river gods but I immediately had warm fuzzies when I remembered heir steak sandwich

                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                            Me too. I gotta get back there. I only go at opening, though - the crowds and noise are way too much for me once they get going. Their vegan options are good enough they don't feel like compromising, too.

                                                        2. Best one-two punch:
                                                          a large meatball sub and a side of fried eggplant ( to layer into the sandwich, thank you,Lindsay Crudele) at Emilo's Homemade Italian subs& dinners in Coolidge Square (6 Biegelow ave.) while waiting for Nick at Coolidge Variety next door to box up your order of fresh lamb from Mennonite farmers in western Mass.


                                                          1. Best Artichoke Dish: Carciofe Euno (grilled artichoke stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto) - Euno north end

                                                            Best Chicken Parm - Delfinos

                                                            Best Tartar Sauce - Neptune Oyster

                                                            Best Italian Sandwich - Bob's

                                                            Best Clam Chowder - Kelly's

                                                            i'll post more as they come to me. The tartar sauce one is odd but it really is unbelievably good.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Karl

                                                              I'm a Kelly's Tartar sauce fan.

                                                            2. Runner up: One-Two punch

                                                              Climb into car, climb on the Pike, westbound and listen to last weeks NPR "Wait, Wait, Dont tell Me" off your phone.

                                                              Climb off at the Sturbridge exit, (if all is right, the show will be ending). Pull into the parking lot at B.T. Smokehouse.

                                                              Go inside and order the Brisket Reuben and some potato salad, and then walk down to Yankee Spirits and buy a case of Dogfish Head 90 minutes for 50 dollars. (or any of the Jacks Abby's six packs for 8), by the time you get back your sandwich will be ready.

                                                              Sit and consume one of the best sandwiches in Massachusetts and drink several cold Dogfish Heads.

                                                              Get someone else to drive, and on the way back listen to last weeks "The Moth" or the last few installments of "99% invisible" with your eyes closed and the windows open.


                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: hyde

                                                                Posts like this make me wish that I enjoyed beer.

                                                                1. re: hyde

                                                                  I like the cut of your jib, hyde.

                                                                  1. re: hyde

                                                                    I would call BT's if you are show up during lunch or dinner time; the first time i was there; the line was out into the parking lot.

                                                                    1. re: hyde

                                                                      Lol! I just turned to my husband and asked if he joined CH. We just made that exact trip!

                                                                      1. re: hyde

                                                                        Man I love that Dogfish 90 Minute IPA. Amtrak actually sells it on their Acela service between Boston, NYC and Washington!

                                                                      2. Ma Po Tofu: Chilli Garden, Medford
                                                                        Big Mac Cookie: Lakota Bakery, Arlington
                                                                        Kaddo: Helmand, Cambridge
                                                                        Chicken Shawerma: Garlic 'n Lemons, Allston
                                                                        Xi'an Hand Pulled Noodle: Gene's Chinese Flatbread, Woburn (soon)
                                                                        Fried Haddock: Courthouse Seafood, Cambridge

                                                                          1. re: mkfisher

                                                                            Chilli Dog - State Park (it's back on the menu)

                                                                          2. This reply got away from me a little bit. I started typing and I couldn’t stop.

                                                                            Pizza – Regina’s North End location
                                                                            Fries (Large and fluffy) – Drink
                                                                            Fries (Thinner and crispy) - Aquitaine Boston
                                                                            Onion Rings – Rowes Wharf Bar
                                                                            Fried Pickles – jm Curley
                                                                            Asparagus – Figs, Asparagus Frites
                                                                            Italian Eggplant Dish – Via Matta, Crunchy Eggplant
                                                                            Osso Bucco – Mamma Maria
                                                                            Kale Salad – Ribelle
                                                                            Green Salad – Catalyst
                                                                            Sushi – Oishi in Chestnut Hill
                                                                            Fish Tacos - Dorado
                                                                            Best BBQ Sandwich – Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge (Saturdays only April-October)
                                                                            Burger – Back Bay Social Club
                                                                            No longer available burger #1 – All Star Sandwich Bar, PB&J Burger. Sounds gross, but it had a peanut butter bbq sauce and guava jam, and it was awesome.
                                                                            No longer available burger #2 – Blue GInger. They used to have a burger with braised red cabbage, wasabi yogurt, and a parmesan shitake crisp. It should never have been removed from the menu.
                                                                            Beef hash - Craigie on Main
                                                                            Brunch dish – Toro, Chilaquiles

                                                                            Dessert Menu – Troquet
                                                                            Baked Alaska - Catalyst
                                                                            Profiteroles – Craigie on Main
                                                                            Ice Cream – Christina’s
                                                                            Doughnut – Mistral’s Boston Cream pie doughnut at brunch (when available)
                                                                            Almond Croissant – Flour
                                                                            Morning Bun – Clear Flour
                                                                            Chocolate Chip Cookie – Rosie’s
                                                                            Cupcake – Sportello, Salted Peanut Butter Cupcake

                                                                            Espresso – Café Fixe
                                                                            Local Brewery – Maine Beer Company (does Maine count as local?)

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Dan Boston

                                                                              Great list. fyi - my husband had the crispy eggplant at via matte a couple of weeks ago and said it was different and smaller, good but not the same. maybe an off night with a new member of the kitchen crew? also trader joes sells a killer Almond Croissant if you ever want a fresh out of the oven pretending you're actually baking treat. Just be sure to proof them overnight!