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Boston Area

East Boston-Most overlooked foodie destination


Restaurants & Bars Boston Area

East Boston-Most overlooked foodie destination

jbowen1519 | | Oct 6, 2007 10:04 PM

The weekly publication "Stuff at night" just announced East Boston as their Most overlooked foodie destination of the year:

There has been a lot of talk here recently about Angela's Cafe on Lexington St., but I also wanted to highlight some other of my favorites and see if anyone has any other recommendations.

Latin American:
-Angela's (Mexican) - for obvious reasons, check out the series of posts on this place for more info
-Mi Pueblito on Border St.(Salvadoran/Mexican) - large portions, good prices, cool atmosphere, cheap beer
-Montecristo in Central Sq (Salvadoran/Mexican) - very good pupusas, open till 1AM!
-Pollo Doreno in Day Sq (Salvadoran, rotisserie chicken) - good chicken, easy take out
-Taqueria Cancun in Maverick Sq (Salvadoran/Mexican) - Quality food, frequently receives good reviews, serves beer & wine
-El Jardin in Central Sq (Colombian) - Good food, bright, engaging atmosphere
-Topasio on Bennington (Colombian) - My favorite for Colombian food. Good steaks, a little more upscale than other Colombian places
-El Buen Gusto in Day Sq (Salvadoran) - Nice take on upscale Salvadoran food. Interior is nicely designed. Good meat platters.
-Victors on Saratoga? (Peruvian) - Took over the name from well known Italian place. They have good Peruvian chicken. I heard a rumor they might be closing.
-El Limeno off Day Sq on the way to Orient Heights (Peruvian) - usually cited as the best Peruvian in Eastie
-Colombian Tamale "hole in the wall" on Chelsea off Maverick Sq - Just found this place the other day. They make huge Colombian Tamales with 4 kinds of meat for $6. They look like something you would get on the streets of Bogota...pretty cool. Also have a guava flan type dessert thing that was awesome.

-There is a Brazilian churascaria place on Chelsea between Maverick and Day Squares that is pretty good, but a tad but expensive. I don't really care for the place next to Spinellis. With all the Brazilians in the Boston area, I am really surprised we don't have a better churascaria like they have in Dallas and Chicago and other cities with less Brazilians.

-Another note on Latin food in Eastie. Most of the corner stores sell imported cheeses and sausages from El Salvador. I don't know how they are allowed to import farm cheese from outside the US, but I am not complaining! Also, there are two Colombian variety stores on Meridian St just off Maverick Sq that have amazing Colombian sausage that is made locally by some woman who is known for her sausages. I have seen some El Salvadoran fresh sausage every now and then at a few of the other stores that looks homemade as well.

-Rosticeria Cancun in Maverick Sq (Salvadoran/Mexican) - The enjoyably chaotic atmosphere is the closest I have come to a classic Mexican taqueria - loud music, cramped environment, high energy and quick, decent food. I like their taco de lengua and their Salvadoran-style quesadilla is good. Rotisserie chicken seems to be hit or miss - it is usually much better eaten there than for takeout. Their pupusas are very good.

-Taqueria Jalisco in Day Sq (Mexican) - One of the only Mexican owned and operated taquerias in Eastie. Their adobada and lengua tacos are superb. Torta de adobada is one of my wife's favorites. Nice owners.

-Taqueria Michocan in Orient Heights on Saratoga (Mexican) - The other Mexican-owned and operated taqueria in Eastie. Run by a family from Michocan. They did a great job in designing the restaurant. I heard it was going to close though.

There are already a lot of posts about these, so I will refrain from discussing Santarpios and give my few top favorites:
-Carmen's Kitchen in Orient Heights - High quality Italian food. Small, cozy restaurant. Pretty good espresso depending on who makes it. Kind of expensive, but worth it. They used to have a small deli, but closed it - too bad. Next to Carmen's is an old school gentleman's cigar bar that is pretty cool.

-Cafe Italia on Meridian St in Central Sq - Carmen's menu food might be a bit better, but Cafe Italia's specials are better IMO. The front seating section is very nice with the open kitchen. Lots of politicians and well known people in the Italian American community come fro the 'burbs to dine there. During the day there is a mix of about half Italian-speaking men who have espressos (usually with sambuca) and it is a pretty cool atmosphere, kind of like a Sunday morning at Cafe Graffitti in the North End. I have long felt that the daytime espresso guy, John, makes some of the best espresso in all of Boston. Only competition are a few of the best ones at Graffiti. The nighttime people make very average espresso, but the other woman who works on John's off days is pretty decent.

-Reno's Place on Saratoga - This place is really hard to get a table at. Real old school Italian where most everything is made from scratch. Definitely check this place out if you can get a table.

-I think Zafferanos is closed, but it was really excellent. This served real Italian (not Italian-American) cuisine with a nice wine list. Run by a family recently immigrated from Naples. I heard that they went back. I think Italian Express is also closed, but that was good the few times I went there in Orient Heights.

-I don't really care for Jevelli's or Mario's. They seem to be very standard Italian-American places. Kind of cool atmosphere and lots of history to both, but the food isn't that special when you compare it to the others above. Jevelli's does serve till 10PM which is nice, though. In another neighborhood these places would rank higher on my list.

Sub shops/Pizza:
-Dough near Maverick Gardens - The owners of this place are really nice guys and they make a pretty good pizza. I really like their subs though. They layer prosciutto with capicola and genoa salami in their Italian, which makes it extra good. They also have hot pepper relish if you ask for it, which is not that common in Eastie. They have some interesting specials too (they like to play around with creations involving buffalo sauce).

-Meridian Street Market - Always a lunch line out the door of cops, firefighters, construction workers, and local office workers. The Meridian St Special sandwich (roasted red peppers, broconccini, garlic, & chix cutlet) is excellent. Their Italian sub is very good. Nice to go dinners and arranchini. I occasionally get catering from them for parties and they have good prices for that.

-M&M Variety - I just like this place because it is 2 blocks away and has a decent Italian sub for around $4. It also was the convenience store owned by Sean Penn in the movie "Mystic River." For those two reasons, I kind of like going there.

-Spinelli's in Day Sq - They have good Sicilian style pizza and lots of fresh meals to bring home for dinner (the Eastie version of the TV dinner). They make fresh raviollis and fusilli that you can purchase. Also have good desserts and Italian pastries.

-There is a Vietnamese place on Meridian Street (corner with Lexington or Trenton) that makes excellent Pho and other typical dishes. I hear that it is well known among the Vietnamese community as being on par with the better known Pho places around town. Actually, Eastie used to be a large Vietnamese neighborhood and we still have the remnants of that through this restaurant and a Buddhist temple around the corner.

-Korean/Sushi place in Orient Heights - Haven't been there as frequently as I would like because it is a little far for me, but this place is great. I love Korean food and they do all the typical dishes. They also do decent, fresh sushi. My friends who live in Orient Heights go there all the time.

-Breakfast joints:
Donnas in Orient Heights, Dozzi's in Jeffries Point. Both neighborhood institutions. Used to be Lenny's Spa in Eagle Hill, but Angela's took that over and moved to Lexington St (they still serve the same breakfast plus Chilaquiles). Now we have Cafe 303 for an upscale yuppie breakfast that is probably my favorite menu compared to lunch and dinner there.

Other places I like:
-Right off Central Sq before you enter the tolls for the Sumner Tunnel, there is a place that is about to open as a seafood restaurant, which I think is our first in Eastie. They were running a fresh fish market (originally from the Cape, this was very important to me), but they didn't get consistent business and they had to close it down. Hopefully with the restaurant open, they will be able to start up the fish market again.

-Kelly's Sq Pub near Day Sq - This place doesn't look inviting from the outside (small windows), but inside it is a bright family restaurant. It is mostly locals, but very clean and the waitstaff is very friendly. The food is standard bar fare with very large portions. Wednesday is half price pizza day (pretty good pizza, especially the garlic pizza). We always take home half our meal and it is good for lunch the next day. It is probably the best, non-dive bar to watch the Sox game.

-Cafe 303 on Sumner St in Jeffries Point - I already started a post about this place, but I will mention it here. It is the first yuppie cafe/restaurant in Eastie and they are doing cool things with their international menu. I am there more and more often just hanging out because there is always someone I know stopping by. Really nice addition to the neighborhood.

-There are also a few old school bakeries that make fresh bread daily. The one I go to is on Sumner St (think its called AJ's). Everything in that place seems to cost just $0.25 cents. So cool.

That is all I can think of for now, but there are many more, especially in Orient Heights, that I forgot. Good thing I type fast. If anyone wants addresses, post your queries here.

What are the other chowhounder recommendations for Eastie? I would love to hear them. Anyone been to that place way up on Bennington St almost in Revere? It looks like an old school neighborhood place. What about Italian places in Winthrop? I hear there are some good ones, but I am not sure of any names. I also hear there is a famous old donut shop in Orient Heights, but I am on a strict no-donut diet according to my wife :)

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