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Boston - requesting help with itinerary/restaurants

Boston - requesting help with itinerary/restaurants

Old Sep 9th, 2013, 06:37 AM
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Boston - requesting help with itinerary/restaurants

I'm meeting an old friend from DC in Boston. He hasn't spent much time there, I live in NH and have been there enough times to have general familiarity with getting around and what the sights are.
My SO and I arrive in Boston around noon on Friday. All of us are staying at Park Plaza, we'll meet up and head out for lunch. Any suggestions? we want quick but not "fast food", so we can get out and starting sightseeing.
I was thinking we head over to the waterfront, walk around, go to the Aquarium, walk through North End/do some of the Freedom Trail, and have dinner in North End. A co-worker recommended Tresca's. Any thoughts on this choice? I'd be looking for a place that isn't too noisy, so maybe small-ish, with some atmosphere, and really good food (not necessarily fancy combinations -- we don't need crystallized nasturtiums on our salad).
Saturday morning, maybe breakfast at Charlie's or Mike & Patty's, was thinking walk around Beacon Hill, see Louisburg Square.
Looking for lunch spot.
Isabella Stewart Gardner opens at 11, their website indicates they have a cafe in the new addition that looks nice, but kind of limited and kind of pricey. Would be interested in small lunch spot that has interesting/ethnic/decent food that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
Dinner at Legal Seafood (SO's sole request for the weekend -- must accommodate to keep the peace).
Boston Globe has huge ad for free ballet performance Saturday night on the Common. If isn't too cold, we'll go to that.
Sunday morning, maybe dim sum in Chinatown.
SO: based on where we're staying the things we'd like to do, does any Fodorite have any suggestions for Friday afternoon or Saturday or Sunday mornings, activities or lunch spots, and Friday dinner?
Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.
Gail
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 07:44 AM
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In the North End, we like Nico Ristorante. Ask for a table upstairs, as it's mostly cramped seating downstairs.
http://www.yelp.com/biz/nico-ristorante-boston

Just sent my sister and her DH there, and they said it was excellent.
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 08:12 AM
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Some thoughts...

Friday Lunch - I would maybe cut through Downtown and hit up one of the following: Chacarero, Pedro's Tacos, or Sam LaGrassa's. Chinatown would also be a good option, but sounds like you are doing that on Sunday.

http://www.chacarero.com/
http://www.pedrostacos.com/boston.html
http://www.samlagrassas.com/home.php

Friday dinner - I can't help with the North End, as I think the most of the restaurants there are not very good. My personal choice for Italian would be to make a reservation at Erbaluce, which is conveniently right behind the Park Plaza.

http://www.erbaluce-boston.com/

Saturday Breakfast - Mike & Patty's will be 30-45 minutes to get your sandwiches and they only have 4 seats inside, so you will be waiting on the sidewalk and likely eating there too. You can call ahead, which cuts the waiting, but still leaves you eating on the sidewalk or in one of the pocket parks. The sandwiches are very good.

Alternatively, you could try the Paramount on Beacon Hill. Good food. A bit of an odd system. It is setup cafeteria style and you take a seat only after getting your food (this is enforced). It shouldn't work, but it does, and you will almost certainly get a table to sit at.

http://www.paramountboston.com/beaconhill

Saturday Lunch - Can't help with anything near the Gardner. Sorry.

Saturday Dinner - If your SO agrees to it, I would consider getting a table at Legal Harborside (1st floor). I think it offers a better menu than the others. The one near the Park Plaza is fine, though, but just "normal" Legal.

Sunday Dim Sum - I like Chau Chow City for dim sum. Hei La Moon is also a decent option, but I prefer Chau Chow City.
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 08:34 AM
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Thanks, Tabernash and Travelgourmet - I'm going to check out the websites for the restaurants you suggested and look at the menus.
Travel: thanx for the tip about Legal Harborside - I'd have thought all the menus were the same. What is it about Chau Chow City that makes you prefer it? I've only been to dim sum a couple of times but it was chaotic and kind of hard to get any food - we had to practically highjack the waiters to get them to come over to our table. Any tips?
I've never been to Mike & Patty's, just read a small piece about it in a Globe article about breakfast spots. It would definitely not be appropriate for these friends (or me, either, for that matter) if it resulted in sitting on the curb to eat after a half hour or more wait.
Stay tuned!
Thanks again.
gail
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 08:40 AM
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The restaurant at the Gardner is excellent, though not cheap. Otherwise you have to cross the Fenway to Beacon or Longwood Avenue. The closer restaurants in the Medical area and near Northeastern are pretty horrible.

I hope I am wrong and someone will tell us about fab places in Roxbury Crossing.
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 08:47 AM
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What is it about Chau Chow City that makes you prefer it?

Hard to pinpoint. It is a little less chaotic than Hei La Moon. I also think they do a slightly better job with some of my favorites (lotus leaf rice, dumplings). And I think the service a little better. Like all of Chinatown, the place is kind of dumpy (I'm frightened to even consider what the bathroom looks like, for example), but it has its charms.

I've only been to dim sum a couple of times but it was chaotic and kind of hard to get any food - we had to practically highjack the waiters to get them to come over to our table.

We find that some of the carts will self-select and will not stop at a table filled with white people if they have something like chicken feet or congee that they assume you won't like. You will have to flag these down.

In general, though, remember that Chinese etiquette is not American etiquette. It is perfectly acceptable to actively wave the cart over if you want to take a look (though I find the carts at both Chau Chow City and Hei La Moon make pretty regular rounds). Ditto for getting the check. Embrace the chaos and enjoy it.
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 08:49 AM
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yup, Ack, I looked at the sample Gardner cafe menu online: $15 for what amounts to a ham and cheese sandwich. Better be good... I remember once, years ago, walking inbound along Huntington Ave after going to the MFA and we found a tiny Middle Eastern sandwich shop where they were baking their own pita on a stone inside a wood-fired oven. It was an incredible find, and I was kind of hoping someone on the board might know of something like that. We'll be heading back toward downtown after the ISG, so maybe someone here will have a Hot Tip.
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 08:55 AM
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thanx for the tip about Legal Harborside - I'd have thought all the menus were the same.

Most of them do have the same menu. It is really just Harborside, which is their flagship. There are 3 floors, the first is the one I've been to most and it is kind of a back-to-basics menu compared to the other Legal outlets. I've taken a lot of out-of-town colleagues there and it always gets great reviews from them. The second floor is a fancified version of the regular Legal menu and the third is a bar/small plates venue.

The only downside to Legal Harborside is that the first floor can be loud. The Park Square outlet will be quieter and calmer.
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 09:13 AM
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I've been to the Park Sq Legal many times, and it hasn't disappointed. Nothing spectacular or chowhound-worthy, just good fish. At Legal, the simpler the preparation, the better the outcome. Only caveat for that branch is that it can get very crowded when there are shows at multiple theatres (which are around the corner).
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 09:28 AM
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Travel: thanks for additional info on Chau Chow -- that is exactly what I was looking for. and yes, I can and do embrace the chaos but I've lived in the country for so long, I've lost some of my more aggressive skills like flagging down the waiters, so if we could go to a place where it's somewhat muted, that would be preferable.
I checked out the Paramount for Saturday breakfast and that looks like just what we'd want for price/location/menu.
I think we'll revert to the Legal in Park Square, based on proximity to hotel rooms and quiet factor. We've eaten at that one, (also the Prudential, the one connected by a bridge over to Copley Square, and the one at Logan, and maybe that waterfront branch too). I've always been well satisfied with Park Square and we usually go for the most basic preparations anyway, letting the fish shine. I'll try to remember to make a reservation there as early in the day as I can get it together (i.e., making the reservation, rather than the eating) - thanks for advice about pre-show rush.
You've all been really helpful and I appreciate your advice.
Gail
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 01:23 PM
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For Friday night dinner, you can take a look at Via Matta, right across the street from the Park Plaza. No Bostonian will ever agree on restaurants in the North End. But Taranta, Prezza, La Summa, and Mamma Maria, are often mentioned in the top tier.

For the museum lunch, Moby Dick's is still on Huntington and may be the middle eastern restaurant you remember from a previous visit. Lucy's Ethiopian Cafe is diagonally across from Symphony Hall, and Pho Basil (Thai and Vietnamese) is on Mass. Ave. between Huntington and Boylston.

Have a great trip.
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 03:43 PM
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Mike and Patty's is still a gem. They inherited it from Rachel's Kitchen, (Rachel and Alon moved across the river to open successful Hungry Mother in Cambridge. They moved on and a new couple took over the helm. Not sure if Jen and Steph are still involved, but they kept the name and the concept of sandwiches made slowly with care.

If it's a nice morning for a picnic, go for it. Otherwise my very first thought was also The Paramount. Just follow the rules of seating. It is amazing that it works. I have never gotten my breakfast and not had a place to sit. They are efficient and they do great breakfast.

I actually like dining downstairs at Legal's Prk street location. It's a bit cave like and often overlooked.
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Old Sep 9th, 2013, 05:54 PM
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I like Mike and Patty's more than the next guy, but I don't think the sandwiches are so good that it outweighs the annoyance of the long waits and lack of seating. If I didn't live in the neighborhood, such that I can call in and then take it home to eat, I don't think I would bother to go there.

If you do go, you should definitely always call ahead.

As an aside, when you go to Mike and Patty's, keep the noise down, don't sit on stoops, and don't park in resident or no-parking spots.
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 08:02 AM
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cw on Sep 9, 13 at 3:23pm
For Friday night dinner, you can take a look at Via Matta, right across the street from the Park Plaza.

Yes-- we ate there awhile ago, when we stayed at the Park Plaza. It was an excellent dinner in a cool environment. Pricey, though, as I recall.
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 10:03 AM
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oh boy, a bunch of new suggestions since I last checked! I'll start looking at menus. Thanks for the advice.
As far as Mike & Patty's: there's no sandwich good enough to justify waiting 30 minutes and sitting on the sidewalk, sorry.
LG: thanks for reminding me of the Paramount "rules" -- I'll try to keep it in mind, in case there's no signage.

cw: a Middle EAstern restaurant called Moby Dick's????

thanks, all.
gail
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Old Sep 14th, 2013, 04:13 PM
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I would skip the dim sum and opt for Gourmet Dumpling House in Chinatown. Cheap and wonderful eats. Very crowded, always a line but well worth it for their incredible soups and scrumptious dumplings.

I agree with Tabernash2 that Nico in the North End is a must. The arincini appetizer is out of this world and lobster ravioli are to die for. A second favorite in the North End is Carmen; small, romantic restaurant with wonderful atmosphere.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 04:50 AM
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I would skip the dim sum and opt for Gourmet Dumpling House in Chinatown.

I like GDH too, but they aren't open until 11am IIRC. If you are looking to do something in the morning, dim sum is it.
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