Bon Appétit, Boston
I know, I know, it’s been a while. But believe me, I’ve been really busy. Between graduating (ah!), freelance copywriting (double ah!), and moving to San Francisco (AHHH!), it’s been a pretty overwhelming month. That said, I’m getting settled in my new city and my new job. But, more on all of that later. Since this move happened so quickly, I didn’t exactly get to take my time saying goodbye to Boston. I lived in Boston for four amazing years. It’s crazy to think that I was still a teenager when I moved cross-country, without any idea what would become of me. Since then, every year has been a learning experience; each one entirely different from the rest. But one thing remained constant: food. In my four years in Boston, I like to think I became somewhat of a restaurant expert. From dives to delivery to damn fancy places, I did a lot of culinary exploration.
So, as my last hurrah, I’ve put together a list of my favorite places to eat and drink in the Boston area. I hope you’ll add these places to your must-try lists because they really are the best of the best. Bon Appetit, Boston!
Avana – A tiny sushi bar hidden in a nondescript corner of Chinatown. I am not kidding when I say that they make the best spicy tuna roll I have ever eaten. Don’t mind the cell phone/Hello Kitty paraphernalia vendor that shares the space with them…just pretend it’s charming.
S&I To Go – When I first went to Allston (during daylight hours), I was wowed by the presence of international food. S&I is my favorite neighborhood joint, with the best Thai I’ve had in Boston. Opt for take-out or stake out a spot at one of the three 2-person tables inside. My personal favorite: Pad See Ew with Chicken or Beef.
Inaka – Also an Allston haunt, this ramen place is a hidden gem. With Wagamama ads as far as the eye can see in Boston, it’s easy to forget about the underdogs who started it all. Inaka’s noodles are chewy and their broth is seriously flavorful. Check out an article I wrote about Inaka & other ramen spots in Boston here.
Gourmet Dumpling House – If it’s hospitality you want, stay very far away from here. These guys run a tight ship and you’ll be rushed out fortune cookie-less faster than you can say Soup Dumpling. Speaking of which, get them. The steamed dumplings are filled with warm broth and tender pork. It may take a couple dumplings to master the art of the slurp, especially if you go post-bar, like the rest of the world.
Mei Mei – There was not a Wednesday that went by during my internship at Marlo Marketing where we did not all flock to Mei Mei, a Chinese-American street food truck that does seriously amazing things. My faves are the Magical Kale Salad (kale, garlic panko breadcrumbs, local feta, poached-then-fried egg, and rice vinegar dressing) and the Double Awesome (poached-then-fried egg and pesto wrapped inside a greasy scallion pancake). Are you drooling yet? They recently opened a brick and mortar near BU if you’re not into the whole eating on the sidewalk thing.
Paramount – Be warned, this is not a spot for a quick bite. Prepare to wait at least an hour before reaching the cafeteria-style line, if you head here on the weekend. It’s really just regular breakfast food, but it’s also really the best regular breakfast food around. Maybe it has something to do with being starving when you finally sit down. But, don’t ask questions. Just go. And make sure you get some fresh squeezed OJ while you’re at it!
Beat Hotel – Possibly the coolest place in Harvard Square, Beat Hotel is the Beehive’s little sister. Like a 1960 hippie’s psychedelic dream, this place is seriously trippy. Enjoy live jazz while you eat griddled banana coffee cake, shakshuka, etc. It’s all good. Just try it, man.
Root – Back to Allston! If it’s vegan food you’re after, Root is Boston’s #1 spot. I know I’m biased (because Matt helped create the menu), but these guys will make you forget that bacon ever existed. Get the waffle with whipped coconut cream or try the Root Burger. Actually, try it all. Every. Single. Thing.
Cinquecento – It’s like stepping into an Italian dream world, with Campari everywhere you look. Go for the Carbonara or the under $10 (!!!!) prix fixe brunch menu, complete with coffee, fresh juice, pastries, and an entre. Mama mia! (P.S. No on actually says Mama Mia in Italy)
Clio – Molecular Gastronomy at its finest. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed a more flavorful, satisfying, and elegant meal in my life. After a summer of interning at Clio’s PR agency and looking at certifiable food porn for days on end, this was a dream come true. Got a really special occasion? This will make it the special-est occasion.
The Blue Room – Another Marlo client. I had my first suckling pig experience here, and boy was it yummy. I also had the pleasure of enjoying their Snapper ceviche and I will never be the same. Never.
Barcelona – This may be a chain, but you won’t know it. Go for the tasting menu, at $35 a person, for seemingly endless tapas. My favorites were the squid ink rice, the whipped sheep’s milk cheese, and the eggplant tapenade. But, really, there wasn’t one dish we didn’t devour. Their house Sangria is also out of this world and by out of this world, I mean that there’s Amaretto in it. Holy yum.
Pomodoro – This place holds a special spot in my heart, and not just because of all the cholesterol I’ve consumed there. It was one of my first meals after moving to Boston. It’s a small understated restaurant in the North End with only a few tables and only the best service. Siobhan, the owner, and sole waitress, was, perhaps, an elephant in a past life. She remembers my family and me each time we dine, down to the nittiest grittiest little detail. The free calamari is a nice touch, too. Tell her you know me and prepare to be pampered. That sounds pretentious as hell, but it’s true.
Anna’s Taqueria – Okay, okay, last Marlo client, I swear! Boston may not be known for its Mexican food, especially if you’re from L.A. as I am. However, if it’s a non-Chipotle burrito you crave, Anna is your girl. I highly recommend the grilled veggies and agua fresca.
Sweetgreen – Hands down the best salad place in Boston. This eatery is a godsend, and now they have locations in Copley Square, Fort Point, and Chestnut Hill. All the ingredients are hyper fresh, local, and really friggin’ good. They have somehow managed to turn salad into a lifestyle…a really cool, self confident, delicious lifestyle. My favorite is the Guacamole Greens, but I’m also big on the Misoba, District Cobb, and Kale Cesar. Trust me, I’ve tried everything on the menu.
Tasty Burger – Salad not your thing? Fear not! Tasty Burger is a safe haven for all things red meat, French fries, milkshakes, and beer. In-N-Out Burger is obviously the OG burger joint, but Tasty Burger is a close second and is super fresh, too. I’m big on the Big Tasty and the Starvin’ Student, which gets you a burger, fries, and a Narragansett for $10. Gone are the days of fake ID’s (I mean, what?), but who can get me a fake school ID?
Clear Flour Bread – Tucked into a tiny nook in Brookline, this seat-less bakery is a hidden gem. Get there early (before the soccer moms) for a Chocolate Croissant or a baguette. They take baking very seriously, but you wouldn’t know it by their charming smiles. Pick up a treat and devour it in the park next door!
Damn Good Cocktails
Eastern Standard – Kenmore Square
Order any cocktail with egg white in it for serious street cred