Boston Restaurant Recommendations

Old May 10th, 2010, 06:12 AM
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Boston Restaurant Recommendations

I’ll be spending a weekend in Boston in August, and will have time for two nice dinners (Friday and Saturday night) as well as two lunches (Friday and Saturday). While I’m familiar with the restaurant scene in New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, and Chicago, I know very little about restaurants in Boston. I like fine dining with eclectic food that uses unique ingredients and great presentations. I am also interested in seafood and Italian as well, since Boston seems to be well-known for those. I don’t mind splurging on meals since I don’t get to Boston very often (the last time was over 20 years ago). Any recommendations for lunch and dinner? I particularly enjoy tasting menus and chef’s tables because it allows me to try lots of dishes during the same meal. I’m also looking for a great Asian restaurant that serves dim sum for Sunday morning (I have to leave the city by 1:00 pm to catch a flight at Logan). I’ll be staying at the Intercontinental, so it would be preferable if I could walk to restaurants, although I don’t mind taking a cab if it means a fantastic dinner. I’m planning to do some touristy things like the Freedom Trail, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, so restaurants for lunches in those areas will work as well. All recommendations are appreciated! Thanks in advance.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 06:14 AM
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Forgot to say that in the little research that I've done, Radius and Mantra are at the top of my list for dinner. Comments?
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Old May 10th, 2010, 07:55 AM
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Radius has had the reputation of being one of the best restaurants in Boston, and I really like it, but some say its best days are behind it. It has been a few years since I went, so I'm not sure if that is true.

Currently the hottest restaurant in town is probably Craigie on Main, which is in Cambridge. The chef won the James Beard award for best chef in the northeast. It would be a cab ride, or a t ride from your hotel.

If you want to go WAY upscale, you could consider our newest fine restaurant, Menton. It's classic French, and the chef is Barbara Lynch who is best know for another Boston standout, #9 Park. Its just barely opened, so I haven't seen any reviews yet, but I understand its very expensive.

L'Espalier, also French, is one of my favorites, and might have the best Chef's tasting menu of all.

Yikes, these are all French...although seafood would be featured at all of them.

For Italian, I would consider Via Matta. It's run by the same owners as Radius, and I think is very high quality Italian. Of course, its not in the North End, and you might want to go there for your Italian fix. I will leave others to recommend a North End Italian restaurant since I don't know many.

And finally, a personal favorite, and a Boston standard, I have to recommend Hammersley's Bistro. It's been around for a long time, and the head chef has never branched out, or opened new places, or gone on Iron Chef. As a result I think its maintained quality better than most any other place. There is always a lobster preparation on the menu and I've loved it whenever I've tried it. Pan roasted lobster with leeks and truffles...YUM!
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Old May 10th, 2010, 10:11 AM
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I second many of china_cat's suggestions, though I haven't been to most of them, but they received great raves on various reviews and forums:

- Menton (only 2 prix-fixe tasting menus, no a la carte, close to your hotel)
- Cragie on Main
- L'Espalier

There's also the new Market (by Jean-Georges) restaurant at the W Hotel. They offer a very reasonably-priced tasting menu.
http://marketbyjgboston.com/

For $$$$$$, Japaneses, and uniqueness, you can go to O Ya (walking distance from your hotel) and go for the omakase.
http://www.oyarestaurantboston.com/

I think Miel right at your hotel is supposed to be decent. It has an outdoor patio, so it would be a nice option for lunch if it's a nice day.

For seafood, I'd recommend Neptune Oyster in North End (~10-min walk from the hotel). If you want something cheaper, the James Hook seafood "outlet" also offers freshly-made lobster roll ($12), clam chowder & lobster bisque. There are a couple of tables inside and picnic benches outside; or you can just get those to go and eat back at your hotel, as James Hook is literally right next door to the IC.
http://www.neptuneoyster.com/
http://www.jameshooklobster.com/

If you want something casual for lunch but still excellent, I highly recommend Flour Bakery in Fort Point Channel. I love their sandwiches. http://www.flourbakery.com/

For dim sum, I only go to Winsor Dim Sum cafe on Tyler Street. You order from a menu - they don't do carts - so every dish is freshly steamed or prepared. Go before 11am and you should not have to wait for a table.

For Italian, I really like Erbaluce in Bay Village. http://www.erbaluce-boston.com/

Lastly, while you're at the Gardner Museum, definitely go eat at their cafe. They use local products and while a small menu and small space, I've always had excellent food there.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 10:15 AM
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P.S., Winsor dim sum cafe opens at 9am, so you can go there early if you'd like.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 01:21 PM
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You've been getting good advice above. Definitely will second Neptune Oyster for seafood and O-Ya for a Cadillac level sushi experience.

Radius is indeed a good high-end restaurant, but if I could only eat in one place in Boston where food quality is the primary emphasis, price is no object, and dressing up a little is okay, I'd go with L'Espalier. Clio and No. 9 Park are two other fancy break-the-bank spots with first-rate food. All offer most worthy tasting menus.

For Northern Italian in the North End, I'd choose Prezza or maybe Mamma Maria. Both cost a bit but deliver on the food quality. Note that the Freedom Trail runs right through the heart of the North End.

Good cart-style Chinatown dim sum spots would include China Pearl, Emperor's (aka Empire) Garden, Hei La Moon, and Chau Chow City.

Mantra is a somewhat fancy Indian restaurant which in my limited experience seemed okay if a little trendy and pretentious.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 01:30 PM
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Miel is indeed right in your hotel, though I was very unimpressed the one time I tried them. Here's a report I did on Chowhound back a while ago:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/459232

The only good thing about them in my experience is that they're open 24/7.
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