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Jul 16, 2014 06:48 PM

Traditional Boston eatery? Need multiple recs

Dinner recommendations? Not expensive or dressy, but something that says this is what represents Boston. We are adventurous eaters but our dining companions are not. Preferably not Italian as I can get that here in NJ.

Also need rec for seafood shack for lunch. Do any serve chowder?

We will be arriving after 11pm on Friday night, (late night apps?), going to Spectacle Island Sat morning, so need the shack rec, then dinner. Sunday morning need breakfast before leaving.


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  1. I know I am asking for many things that have been discussed to death here, forgive me, but I've read all the "fun restaurant for dinner" or "what's the best restaurant right now" threads and am just overwhelmed by the choices.

    Please help.

    1. where will you be staying and what is your budget? will you have kids with you?

      are you arriving via logan? or driving?

      6 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Driving. Staying at the Kendall in Cambridge. 5 adults, no children. Seafood is fine as long as there is an option for one that doesn't eat fish. The Summer Shack in Cambridge might work for dinner but I was hoping for shack shack for lunch. We can drive to the shack shack. There is no parking for the ferry so we will have to get there via subway I guess, but that means subway to ferry, time on the island, ferry back, subway back to hotel, then lunch. What time do shacks usually close?

        The Union Oyster House is too expensive. I just want to come home after the weekend and say to myself, "So that is what Boston does best." Places that distinguish Boston/Mass from say NYC.

        1. re: Jerseygirl111

          if you want shack-shack, you might want yankee lobster. it's counter-service and paper plates and it is on the water. or you can drive north to essex -- clam box, etc. if you have time, that is the way to go. it's so pretty up there.

          union oyster house sucks.

          there is parking for your ferry, just not connected to the park service. the seaport area has lots. OR, you can take the red line (kendall) to the silver, which is not bad at all. and you can walk from there to yankee lobster. is it "bostons best"? no.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Yankee might be"on the water" but it's the back warehouse part of the building that borders the water and the self service takeout area with tables(both inside and outside tables) overlook the street and delivery trucks driving to and from the many area warehouses. No view whatsoever and I don't think the food is anything special.

            2. re: Jerseygirl111

              Do you mean the Shake Shack in Harvard Square?

              ETA: I'm guessing that's not what you meant. Nevermind!

              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                After you get off the ferry, you can walk south along the wharfs for 10 minutes or so and you'll be at James Hook Lobster Co. It's just a food truck of sorts, you eat outside, great lobster rolls. For a more upscale experience, walk the other direction into the north end and go to Neptune Oyster for similar seafood. Unfortunately the "this is what Boston does best" dishes are often seafood that isn't cheap.

                Another experience near your hotel that makes me think of Boston/Cambridge is the "piazza" of sorts at One Kendall Square. There's West Bridge (amazing cocktails, delicious seafood potage), Belly Wine Bar (if there are wine lovers in your group, this is the place for them. The blind flights are fun.) Cambridge Brewing Co. for beer lovers.

            3. Where are you staying?

              What do you think of when you think about a restaurant that represents Boston? What are you looking for?

              Most seafood places do serve chowder. Are you planning on eating right after your trip to Spectacle Island?

              We'll try to help.

              1. Hey Jgirl. For seafood "shack" (no actual shacks in Boston) and Boston-y try

                Dinner? Boston proper can be expensive. I really like Island Creek Oyster Bar and Prezza, both would require reservations.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Carty

                  prezza is italian AND spendy, which she doesn't want.

                  as for "shacks" both james hook and yankee lobster are pretty close to shacks.

                2. The few traditional Boston eateries still open (Durgin Park, Union Oyster House) don't serve very good food. Parker House in the hotel is an historic restaurant in a very "luxe" setting. I've never eaten there so I can't comment directly. I don't think they represent Boston anymore at all.

                  Search for "lobster rolls" and you will get lots of recs for seafood places. There aren't many that really qualify as shacks in the city. Most pubs, bars, and certainly all seafood places all serve chowder (for better or worse).

                  Where are you staying (would help with app recs on friday night, might be difficult) as well as with Sunday breakfast before leaving).

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Madrid

                    Durgin Park is really good. It's one of the oldest restaurants in Boston and still has some of the traditional dishes that you rarely find elsewhere like Indian Pudding. I have often taken visitors there and we've never been disappointed. It's conveniently located in Fanueil Hall and has reasonable prices.

                    1. re: catsmeow

                      It's been awhile but I always enjoyed the Indian pudding. Last time I was there I ordered coffee jello and boy did that bring back memories. My grandmother always made coffee jello but I've never seen it on a menu anywhere.

                      1. re: Pegmeister

                        Coffee jello was my dad's favorite dessert. I don't think I've ever seen it any other menu either.

                          1. re: Jerseygirl111

                            Unflavored gelatin made with coffee instead of water. Some folks put a bit of milk on it. It's a New England thing. My mom always made it when we were kids. Coffee in any form was a sacrament in my house growing up! I was drinking coffee by age 6, coffee black by age 16!

                            1. re: kimfair1

                              I also think JELLO makes or use to make it as well. I'm pretty sure my mother use to get it.

                        1. re: Madrid

                          Agree, if you want a fun place go to Durgin Park.

                          1. re: Madrid

                            I should add that my brother and his partner lunched at Union Oyster House last week and said they had a suprisingly wonderful meal (and no they didn't partake of the raw bar). The conventional wisdom on this board is to avoid Union like the plague except for the raw bar, but perhaps some new leadership is turning it around?