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Boston Itinerary in October? Help for our researched trip appreciated!

Thank you in advance for help and feedback.

We are arriving in Boston late Thursday in October and will be going to Salem to visit PEM and stroll for a day on Friday.

Friday the 5 of us will have dinner in Boston. We are staying at the Taj Boston.

Saturday we plan to brunch and hit the Freedom Trail. My husband and I are doing a "date night". High on the list is No 9, Troquet, and Erbaluce. We did tasting at L'Esplier several visits ago.

Sunday our plan is for an early brunch at ICOB with a visit to the Isabella G. Museum and casual early family dinner.

Myers and Chang, Shojo, Toro and possible Prezza are all on our family dining list. Although I feel like we are short on Boston "Italian". We did Pizza Regina in NE for lunch our last visit and don't need to go back.

Again, I appreciate all feedback and help. h

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  1. Which weekend in October? October contains the Head of the Charles Regatta when Boston is flooded with rowers and their friends and family, and most weekends in October are visiting parent weekends for various colleges, giving particular areas of town to avoid depending on which college is up that weekend.

      1. La Morra in Brookline is family-friendly and has half-order pastas, so that is an option if you decide you want more Italian. The food is very good.

        1. Don't leave Salem before visiting Turtle Alley chocolates on Essex St. just down the block from the PEM.


          1. Salem and especially PEM are great destinations, but late October attracts huge tourist crowds to the city, mostly related to Halloween.

            I'm not discouraging the visit at all. Just make sure you factor this into your transportation plans. Traffic and parking can be tough. You might want to consider the commuter rail from Boston. The Salem station is just a few blocks from PEM. It is also very close to Federal and Chestnut Streets, which are beautiful.

            1. will chime in about about the HUGE crowds in salem for october and that weekend contains the columbus day holiday, so please be prepared. there is municipal garage parking right near the pem, but the commuter line is a snap to take up there.

              am not a booster for no. 9. do love troquet, but they are a wine restaurant that serves great food. is wine a big part of your meal? am also a lover of erbaluce, but it is not "italian" as many people think of it. he uses no red sauce, butter or cream for cooking, but it's food like i have not had elsewhere in boston and have found each dish wonderful and exquisitely plated. wine list is all-italian and they do not have a full bar.

              myers & chang is great, but i don't know that it needs to be a destination for anybody from out of town? prezza is terrific, but if you are looking for a casual family dinner, it's pretty spendy, as is toro. however, the latter is incredibly inventive and wholly satisfying every time i am there. tight fit for a group of 5, so make a reservation.

              4 Replies
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Columbus Day weekend is often peak leaf peeking time...mostly outside the city, but many start or end their trips in the city.

                1. re: Madrid

                  yup. i lived in salem for 7 years and that weekend is often busier than the one preceding halloween.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    I was there last year and was very disappointed by Myers and Chang. Food was just so so and there service was horrible.

                2. re: hotoynoodle

                  I love Erbaluce, but it is not "special occasion" dining to me, somehow. But an innovative menu, exceptionally well executed.

                3. Welcome in advance! Where are you coming from? i might suggest some switching up. Of the dinner places you have mentioned, I think ICOB is the most memorable, both visually and vibe-wise. Here's a recent experience of ours there:


                  I don't think ICOB is a good brunch place. Much better would be Mistral or Ribelle; each ~ 10 min by car to the Gardner.Myers and Chang ( a perennial CH fav, incl. me)also does brunch though i like their (bigger) dinner menu better. It's a blast.
                  We have lessened our love of Toro's tapas, but we are completely besotted by Toro's Paella-- perfecto!

                  Oleana and Ribelle are my other 'have to' restaurants in Boston, and, for a TRES CHER special dinner, OYa.
                  This is very long but may be of some use I hope:

                  Have a great visit!

                  Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:
                  Dinner Spots that I would highly recommend : (Dress is casual at all.Reservations a must unless single bar diner
                  )If Creative, unique one-of-a-kind food experiences are a priority for you, I would hop to Oleana and Ribelle in a heartbeat. And Asta and OYa for much higher tickets.

                  Oleana- predominantly Turkish, w/ a lot of creative riffs. One of the 3 or 4 Boston restnts where you will have truly unique food that you will not have elsewhere. Spices and grains. beans and greens, a world to discover and savor. Many feel the mezze are the strong point, but entrees can be unforgetable as well. As the menu is always changing, the only way to do it right-- is to go back often. If I were a visiting foodie who had 'been there, eaten that', I would happily allot 2 nights to Oleana during my Boston stay. Blazing winter hearth , and charming patio in season. Cambridge
                  Dinn daily

                  Ribelle- new outpost for Strip T's chef/owner. A very broad menu of small and large plates w/ two or three times more components than you would likely see on other menus. The preps of these dishes are more complex than anything I have seen.Vegetables . With dishes this inventive and full of surprises, the food is the focus for the night, and the starches, veggies and condiments can be extraordinary (easily as exciting as the meats and seafood.) *The menu descriptions are almost NEVER good, because so much more is going on than can be explained in a small space. Good bar program. Casual, vibrant. Brookline Dinn daily

                  Island Creek Oyster Bar- the BEST service, large room yet intimate, more trad but some inventive.
                  I cannot eat there w/o ordering honey glazed biscuit and Lobster Roe pasta with lobster, chanterelles, short rib and madeira glaze. Kenmore Sq.Dinn daily

                  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) Lu &Dinn daily

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

                  Erbaluce- unusual inventive No.Italian Piedmontese. edge of South End

                  Bistro du Midi- French , lovely, relaxing, on the Public Garden.

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

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

                  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 and always a line. Lu &Dinn daily

                  Aquitaine- THE spot in the So. End 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. Lu& dinn daily.

                  Myers and Chang- Modern takes on Asian. This friendly spot is always hoppin' and the food, service and very creative bar are super. A great place to people watch; the air is full of happy campers having fun. A counter seat gives you a wokside view and there is a sheltered patio that welcomes dogs. Edge of So. End. Lu and Bru also. Lu and Dinn daily

                  L'Espalier- Consistently glowing CH visitor reviews for, specifically, the Chef's Table. Farm to table; French inspired. Copley Sq.

                  Strip T's (in a 'suburb', 10 min cab from Harvard Square) Casual small treasure for serious foodies; Momofuku chef oversees both creative and comfort food, including an unusual terrific burger.Don't miss the Grilled Romaine with Oxtail, soft egg and sriracha! Watertown. Lu also. Cl Sun.

                  Alden and Harlow- Harvard Sq.,Cambr. dinn daily
                  Tavern Road- near the Children's Museum
                  Row 34- seafood in the new Seaport area (Island Creek owners)

                  Iconic Boston*:
                  Pizzeria Regina, No.End only.Original 50's decor, raucous waitresses, the best 'like in Rome' thin crust pizza. Always packed.Dly Lu&D
                  Durgin Park-roast beef,Boston baked beans, Indian Pudding. Quincy Market
                  Lobster Roll- Neptune Oyster,NoEnd; Lobster Shack, Seaport
                  Fried Clams- Best are Clam Box, Ipswich, 1 hr No.of Boston; In Boston- Neptune Oyster.
                  Italian Red Sauce in No.End- Daily Catch; Antico Forno;Artu; Taranta
                  Italian High End in No.End: Mamma Maria;Prezza;(and Sorellina near Symphony Hall)
                  Dim Sum in Chinatown- Winsor Dim Sum,Bubor Cha Cha; Great Taste
                  Chinese, Hong Kong & Szechuan- Fuloon, Malden(suburb)
                  Portuguese- Casa Portugal- Inman Sq,Camb.

                  * these are only IMO; many CHs will differ, esp. w/ pizza, seafood and Italian.Countless CH threads attest to this if you do a CH Search.

                  Sandwiches and Burgers:
                  --Sam la Grassa's- perpetually on the best deli sandwiches list. Downtown. Lu
                  --Chacarero- Peruvian grilled meats and sauces with green beans, Downtown,Lu
                  --Parish Café - includes sandwiches named after the local chefs that created them. Near Public Garden. Lu
                  --JM Curley's- a big CH fav for Boston's best burger. Downtown, near Boston Common. Lu,D /check hours
                  --Craigie on Main- Boston's most expensive burger w/ legions of fans. Cambridge, Central Sq. D
                  --Alden and Harlow- 'Secret Burger' changes weekly. Cambridge, Harvard Sq. D
                  --also Beacon Hill Bistro, The Gallows, Toro, Eastern Standard, Harvest. Detailed burger reviews:

                  Lovely quiet lunch spots:
                  --Bistro du Midi on the Public Garden
                  -- Courtyard Cafe and Map Room Cafe in the historic Boston Public Library, Copley Sq.
                  --Beacon Hill Bistro , Charles St.

                  For Brunch:
                  --Myers and Chang- Dim sum and more.Some trad, some innovative. Great fun for food and people watching. patio

                  --Ribelle- crazy menu full of surprises(hidden in the way- too- simple menu descriptions!). Brookline. Sat.& Sun.Patio

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

                  ** Also, if a restnt shows no availability for a time you wanted to dine, best to call that restnt because they always have more seats than show on OpenTable.

                  1. Thank you to all for the great input/info with.

                    On the basis of feedback we are going to have one dinner at ICOB and do our brunch at Ribelle. The day we wander the freedom trail we are going to hit Neptune for lunch.

                    For our date night dinner we are looking at Asta, Troquet and Erbaluce.
                    a special shout out to OC for the detailed reviews and remarks
                    That leaves with room for one more dinner with the family Sunday night (hopefully close to ou

                    r hotel the Raj Boston) before flying out Monday am.

                    We hail from the Midwest!Thanks again for all the help!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: shoprdoc

                      if you're hitting neptune for lunch, be forewarned there is a line before they even open.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        Although there is a line, you can walk around the North End while waiting and they will let you know when they are ready to seat you.

                      2. re: shoprdoc

                        I'm in the minority here, but my wife and I ate at Erbaluce about a year ago and didn't enjoy either the food or the service (especially the food). I'm not generally the picky type but it was a fail-fail dinner and I've never felt inclined to return - too bad as it was the first time I had tasted Charles Draghi's food since he cooked at Marcuccio's - which I absolutely adored!

                        You mentioned #9 Park early in the thread. I had a great meal last winter and would definitely add it to your consideration list.

                        More recently, I've had two excellent meals at Guilia (Cambridge) and Sarma (Somerville). Both are highly recommended (check the CH archives for discussion threads) and hard to get into!

                        1. re: stiv99

                          There are definitely other Hounds that don't like Erbaluce (myself included). I just don't get it.

                        2. re: shoprdoc

                          I can't imagine you won't enjoy your choices. Both Troquet and Erbaluce are close to your hotel so you might save one of them for Sunday. Asta is the most interesting new restaurant in Boston to open in the last year to me (I'd say Ribelle in Brookline and Alden and Harlow in Cambridge would be my choice for the other best new-comers). Troquet has an excellent wine list. Erbaluce is Draghi's take on Piemontese Northern Italian, cooked with a light and subtle hand, and definitely not everyone's cup of tea (it is one of my favorites but certainly not a universal one). Have a wonderful time, let us know how it goes, and enjoy our city.

                        3. Check on the Boston-Salem ferry if it's a good day. It typically runs through Halloween.

                          1. Thanks to all for the help....

                            Our current plans are (all with reservations made)
                            Friday evening ICOB
                            Saturday lunch at Harvest as we are touring Harvard
                            Date night dinner at Asta
                            Sunday brunch at Ribelle and dinner at Coppa

                            I will report back... We will try to take ferry to Salem and visit EPM and walk Chestnut Street and have lunch on Friday. Salem lunch reviews seem all over the map. Any favorite recommendations would be appreciated.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: shoprdoc

                              That sounds like an awesome plan. If you decide you're in the mood for something more casual while you're in Harvard Square, I highly recommend Kaju Tofu House for Korean. They specialize in soft tofu soup - it's amazing.

                              1. re: shoprdoc

                                I had a decent lunch last summer at Finz in Salem. It was a nice day and the restaurant has water views so it was quite pleasant. Food was very satisfactory ( I think I had the fried fish sandwich), but not earthshattering.

                                If you do go to the PEM in Salem, request tickets for the Yin Yu Tang House, a 200 year old Chinese house that was shipped from China and reconstructed in the courtyard of the PEM. Fascinating! You can buy them in advance online or see if there are any available when you get there.

                                1. re: Kat

                                  +1 on Finz, nothing earthshattering, but solid, and do not miss the Yin Yu House, an amazing exhibit!

                                2. re: shoprdoc

                                  Also in Salem- A Passage to India for very good Indian food; A & J King Artisan Bakers, breads, pastries and sandwiches, if they have the Concord grape danish be sure to try it; and a fancyish French bakery, Melita Fiore.

                                  1. re: shoprdoc

                                    + 1 on A & J King for sandwiches and baked good; also right on Essex St near the PEM is Life Alive for good sandwiches and salads.

                                    1. re: shoprdoc

                                      You might want to try Scratch (referring to a 'scratch' kitchen where evthng is made from scratch; often special meat blends and house cured bacon, sausages, etc. It has had many positive but brief reviews the last year.

                                      DEF don't miss Chestnut St! (there are more in that area; my fav after Chestnut is Federal St. This is easy: Rt 114 North, L on Federal st., down to L on Flint st. Go 2 blocks and L on Chestnut to stopsign


                                      The Chinese house at PEM is really neat and it's self guided, so you can go through quickly if you want. I love the history of the museum and the merchant group that started it with the things they brought back from their ocean voyages.

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                        I noticed in the thread you linked, from this past June, you said you'd never been to Scratch. Have you had a chance to try it yet? What did you like?