I'll be returning to Boston for five days in mid-May to attend a conference. I've been to Boston a half-dozen times and this is my third trip to this particular event, held in the Back Bay Sheraton. I'd like to hear your suggestions based on my past experiences and preferences.
Here's some background:
I'm a southerner who's been in Minneapolis for a while and to be honest, I don't have many good things to say about dining in the Twin Cities. In short, I prefer good solid cooking to trendy. I'm much more interested in the taste of the food rather than it's ability to be described as infused, scented, foamed or deconstructed.
I won't have a car, but will have a T-pass and I'm willing to explore any places accessible by transit. More than likely, I'll be dining alone (it seems most attendees have dinner at the Cheesecake Factory or Legal Seafood in the Prudential Center that's attached to the hotel) and the solo-dining vibe is an important part of the experience. In general, I much prefer funky to formal. I don't have a big budget - only about $70 a day, but almost all of that can be allocated to dinner. (Not a big breakfast person and lunch is provided, although I usually get out a couple of times for something more interesting.)
The last couple of years, I've been searching Chowhound's Boston Board before the trip and found some wonderful restaurants and had some fantastic meals. However, I feel that I'm missing some great places - so I'm looking for your suggestions.
East Coast Grill - My favorite by far! Perfect for dining at the bar, good food, great bartender. Went twice during my visit in 2008, and then last year I sat down at the bar and was greeted with "Minneapolis, right?" How can you not love a place that has a bartender like Brian?
India Quality - Visited in 2008 & 2009. Enjoyed the food both times, but looking to try something different this year.
Busy Bee (Brookline) - Like I said, I'm not much of a breakfast person, but this place was great for the experience. I sat at the counter and spent well over an hour chatting with the locals and the staff.
Galleria Umberto - I love down to earth places like this - they don't seem to exist in Minneapolis. Had a super cheap and interesting lunch, while poking around North End.
Neptune Oyster - I know it is a favorite, but it didn't work for me. I don't care that much for raw oysters, but the Lobster Roll came highly recommended. I was given a seat at the bar and the experience here was totally opposite my experience at ECG. The bartender pushed the raw bar and was miffed when I didn't order anything - from that point on, service was haughty. Of course, they were out of the lobster roll, so I ordered clam chowder and the lobster spaghettini. After I got my chowder and my $17 glass of wine that he insisted would be a perfect match for the lobster, I was informed that they were all out. I don't even remember what I finished with, but the service left a bad taste in my mouth.
Cafe Polonia - I lived in Eastern Europe for four years, so I was excited to read good things about this place. However, I arrived after a long T ride to find the place closed at 8PM, even though I'd called earlier to confirm that they were open until 9. Anyone have any thoughts about whether I should try again this year?
Lobster Rolls - Should I give up? In addition to the Neptune Oyster attempt, I've had them at Summer Shack and Charlie's Kitchen (that's where I ended up after my failed Cafe Polonia trip) and neither were wonderful. in the past, I've had a few on the New England coast that were fantastic. Is there a great lobster roll that I'm missing?
If anyone has any tips based on my likes and dislikes, they would be much appreciated. Also, I have a couple specific requests/questions:
- Does anyone have a dinner suggestion for me in Brookline? I'll arrive late afternoon and would like to pick up some supplies at Trader Joe's. Thought I might as well eat around Coolidge Corner.
- Clam shacks sound like my kind of place. Are there any decent ones reachable by public transit?
Thanks for reading this long post. I'm really looking forward to visiting your city again.
63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113
East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139
611 Dorchester Ave, Boston, MA 02127
1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476
310 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210
10 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138
India Quality Restaurant
484 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215
Busy Bee Restaurant
1046 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446