Food & Drink

An editor's guide to eating around town

Published On 04/18/2013 Published On 04/18/2013
Boston's Dave Baldwin Eats Proper

Despite what you might've learned in history class, Paul Revere did not eat bone marrow gratin with a side of crispy onions and brioche every night before bed. He just didn't. Somebody made that up. But the Hub does have a lot to offer when it comes to good food, which is why Boston editor Dave Baldwin is here to fill you in on his favorite spots around town.
Favorite Dish: I would never try to name the Hub's 'best' dish, but my absolute, hands-down 'favorite' one is the steak tips at Silvertone. Ridiculous. And they're only $12! Add some mac & cheese and consider your evening made

Favorite Restaurant: Do I want seafood? Do I want BBQ? Oh wait, I can have both at Inman's East Coast Grill? And it's all delicious. I actually grew up down South, and the BBQ here is legit

Best Brunch: Tremont 647, Toro, and Gaslight all have pretty epic brunches. The Tremont crew wear their pajamas. Toro can get mad crowded, but their pressed bocadillo involves Marcona almond butter and bananas on grilled sourdough, and that's just silly good. In the 'bridge, Inman's Ryles brings a strong jazz game

Best Sandwich: No-brainer here: All Star Sandwich Bar's braised-pork Cubano. The Brothers Diamantopoulos are a force to be reckoned with. For a very close second on the Boston side, hit Parish Cafe (see below)

Best Burger: Every guide book is going to tell you not to miss Bartley's in Harvard Square. Fair enough. They're good burgers. And they've got fun names. But me, I'm skipping the lines and walking down the street to Tasty Burger for a Spicy Jalapeno

Best Italian: I've been hitting the same Italian joint in the North End since I moved to Boston years ago, and that's Panza (formerly Cibo). Not just because of the baby rigatoni w/ sausage and goat cheese, but because I'm loyal, and that's important to Italians. If you're on the other side of the rivaah, two spots that ring up rave reviews on Mass Ave are Giulia and L'Impasto

Best Mexican: Before the upscale-Mexican craze hit Boston, there was Ole. After the upscale-Mexican craze leaves Boston, there will be Ole. It's authentic, the skirt steak w/ chile de arbol sauce is delicious, and the margaritas rank among the best in the city

Most Gut-Busting Meal/Dish: Eagles Deli's Burger Challenge, no contest... other than the challenge, which is, of course, a contest. Sixty bucks gets you five pounds of burger, 20 pieces of bacon, 20 pieces of American cheese, five pounds of fries, a fountain soda, and, of course, a single deli pickle

Best Food Truck: Three years ago there were -- count 'em -- zero food trucks in the Hub. Now there are over 50. If I were quicker with math, I'd provide the percentage increase. Roxy's Grilled Cheese, Bon Me, Mei Mei Street Kitchen, Lobsta Love... you can't go wrong with any of them. Still, I'd have to cast my ballot for the San Diego-style fried tilapia tacos from Baja Taco Truck

Most Romantic: I used to call this place "Third-Date Dali". Then I got married. Which in no way changes the fact that this tapas restaurant off Inman Square remains dead sexy

Best Chinese: Shōjō for sure. Definitely not your grandfather's Chinese restaurant, this pan-Asian lounge's got an edgy industrial thing going on and rocks a cartoon wall mural of a mystical monkey in search of sake that alone is worth the price of admission

Best Lunch: I do not allow first-time guests to leave Boston without a mid-day visit to Parish Cafe, during which I oppressively push The Regal Regis steak sandwich on them

Weirdest Food: "Weird" is a subjective word, but if you're looking for a dish not described as "New American", then order yourself a heaping pile of crispy, deep-fried chicken hearts from DooWee & Rice in Powder House Square. Better yet, watch a video of them being made right here

Best Wings: And the winner is... the kids at Tufts, because the best chicken's at Ball Square's Eat at Jumbo's. They come in not one, not two, not 10, but 34 different flavors, including Ragin Cajun, creamy pesto, and spicy Thai peanut.

Best For Work: Because the boss doesn't bring you to the Tattoo Convention every year, take advantage and let him or her pick up the tab for some super fresh seafood at Boylston Street's iconic Atlantic Fish Company

Best Donuts: The donut craze has just arrived, and Union Square Donuts, with their church-bake-sale setup and delicious maple-bacon donuts, is off to an early, uncontested lead

Best Cheap Eats: Galleria Umberto in the North End. At least for lunch. Some of the best Sicilian slices in town, and they're just north of a buck fifty. Be prepared to wait though, 'cause the line gets long.

Best for Partying: Scampo, in the Liberty Hotel. The scene around the bar is lively, and the action once you finish dinner is right there at Clink, Alibi, and the always-happening lobby bar

Best Fine Dining: Two highly acclaimed, can't miss spots, one for each side of the river. In Back Bay, Deuxave. In Cambridge, Bondir. Click the links, check 'em out, then make your reservation early

Best Late-Night Eats: At Uni, the weekend-only menu includes ramen, deep-fried hot dogs, and pork belly buns.

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1. Silvertone 69 Bromfield St, Boston, MA 02108 (Downtown Crossing)

At Silvertone, enjoy mac & cheese topped with buttered breadcrumbs, Southern-style meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and steak tips that're soaked in a Long Island marinade.

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2. East Coast Grill 1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Inman Square)

East Coast Grill showcases chef Jason Heard's love for Southern food and BBQ, as well as cuisines from around the world. Enjoy a hearty selection of ribs and BBQ alongside bites like Asian-style Island Creek oysters, seared tuna tacos, and Creole-style BBQ shrimp.

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3. Tremont 647 647 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118 (South End)

This South End eatery serves up American grub, with flair -- fried chicken with rosemary biscuits, fontina-stuffed tater tots, and a .5lb "Burger Daddy". Don't miss their epic brunch, which the staff serves in their PJs.

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4. Gaslight Brasserie du Coin 560 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA 02118 (South End)

Parisian brasserie complete with cafe tables, communal booths, and an eclectic bar. Extensive wine list with over 20 French wines by the glass, and an impressive menu chock full o' Parisian delicacies.

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5. All Star Sandwich Bar 1245 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Inman Square)

Operating with the ethos that "a good sandwich is like an old friend", All Star serves up handheld bread-bombs like Beef on Weck, Cuban, BLT, various clubs, and more.

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6. Mr. Bartley's Gourmet Burgers 1246 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138 (Harvard Square)

A “Hahvahd” mainstay since 1960, Mr. Bartley's slings greasy, 7oz patties in its always-busy American diner. There are tons of photos cluttering the walls that boast celebrity visits, the tables are so close you’re practically sharing them, and you can’t go a minute without hearing a thick Boston accent yelling out burger orders. The highest stacked and most popular burger with locals and Guy Fieri alike is the Harvard Double: two fat beef patties each with molten cheese, crispy bacon, and thick barbecue sauce then piled with grilled red peppers and onions and stacked about as tall as your face. Soak up the juice with a mound of Mr. Bartley’s signature extra crispy, extra thin deep-fried onion rings.

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7. Tasty Burger 40 JFK St, Cambridge, MA 02138 (Harvard Square)

On the first level, you'll find the burger shop, complete with amazing smells and 1950s-style decor. Downstairs, discover the lounge area that features some billiards, a beer and wine bar and lively music filling the air, all of which is open til 4a.

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8. Panza 326 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113 (North End)

Panza's 45-seat space boasts beige brick, giant wooden cooking implements, and iron lamps. Feast on signature dishes like tarragon fettuccine and grilled lobster, a breaded/fried tomato caprese salad, and the namesake sun-dried tomato and balsamic marsala-smothered Veal Panza.

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9. Giulia 1682 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138 (Harvard Square)

This 70-seat trattoria in Cambridge is a diamond in the rough, forgotten stretch of Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter. Former Via Matta chef Michael Pagliarini spends hours each day rolling out his handmade doughs at the restaurant's centerpiece pasta table, and the resulting ravioli, fusilli, and pappardelle truly taste like they were made hours earlier. At night, the table transforms from a workspace to a communal dining table that serves family-style tasting meals.

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10. L'Impasto 2263 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140 (North Cambridge)

L'Impasto is an authentic-as-it-gets Italian eatery peddling fresh handmade pastas and breads in a quaint 20-seater that welcomes guests with an open kitchen, an intimate two-table sidewalk patio, and hung kitchenware.

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11. Olé 11 Springfield St, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Inman Square)

Although not much about Cambridge screams Mexican food, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the authentic eats coming out of this Inman Square joint's kitchen. They're serving up modern takes on traditional dishes, offering baja style fish tacos, tamales stuffed with mushrooms and cheese, and a chorizo-stuffed pork chop, among others. Without a doubt, the highlight is their tableside-made guac, which they've been doing since way before that became a super popular trend. So give them credit for that before giving them your credit card, too.

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12. Eagles Deli & Restaurant 1918 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02135 (Allston Brighton)

This classic deli is also home to the not-so-classic Burger Challenge: Sixty bucks gets you five pounds of burger, 20 pieces of bacon, 20 pieces of American cheese, five pounds of fries, a fountain soda, and, of course, a single deli pickle.

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13. Dali Restaurant & Tapas Bar 415 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143 (Somerville)

Pouring pitchers of sangria and Iberian cerveza like Estrella Daura & Alhambra, Dali also plates up beef short ribs in a Rioja wine sauce, salt cod croquettes w/ coriander aioli, and squid stuffed in its own ink.

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14. Parish Cafe and Bar Tremont 493 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02118 (South End)

A four-star American resto, this second edition of the Parish Cafe at Tremont builds delicious gourmet sammies and also serves up plenty of apps, comfort food and brews, in a space furnished with mahogany tables and a marble-top bar.

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15. DooWee & Rice 868 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144 (Somerville)

DooWee & Rice slings an eclectic mix of Asian dishes, like steak & rice w/ a Vietnamese chimichurri sauce, deep-fried whole anchovies, crispy chicken hearts, and a whole bunch of different baos.

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16. Eat At Jumbo's 688 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144 (Somerville)

Jumbo's does aggressively husky portions of comfort food classics in a yellow-walled 28-seat space featuring curated local art and elaborate liquid-chalk menu boards.

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17. Atlantic Fish Company 761 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116 (Back Bay)

Atlantic Fish Company serves up seafood classics (lobster, chowder, pot pie) on Boylston in Back Bay.

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18. Union Square Donuts 16 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143 (Union Square)

Union Square Donuts is a charming, unassuming counter-serve in Somerville that is well on its way to knocking Dunkin' off its throne with a variety of specialty doughnuts. Each doughnut is thick and fluffy while remaining airy and light. The fan favorite is Maple Bacon, a maple glazed donut topped with pieces of crispy, salty bacon. Rotating specials include the peanut butter cream-filled donut topped with Fluff glaze and peanuts, in honor of Somerville's annual Fluff Fest.

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19. Galleria Umberto 289 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113 (North End)

Galleria Umberto is worth the trek to the North End. The pizza cash-only spot has been a neighborhood staple for awhile, serving Sicilian-style pizza and other Italian eats. The Sicilian pizza, in particular, is great for three reasons: it's cheesy, the crust is thick, and it has the perfect amount of chew for those of you who are tired of thin crust. However, we suggest going earlier rather than later because the shop shuts down once all the pies are sold.

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20. Scampo 215 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114 (Beacon Hill)

Located in the Liberty Hotel, Scampo is an upscale Italian restaurant with Mediterranean influences.

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21. Deuxave 371 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02115 (Back Bay)

Deuxave rocks an upscale, locally sourced new American menu in an elegant 90-seat dining room replete w/ a giant framed vintage map of Boston in the 1800s, a slat stone fireplace, and a front bar and lounge area.

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22. Bondir 279A Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Inman Square)

His name is Bond. Jason Bond. And he's the seasoned-vet of a chef behind Bondir, which serves a menu of "Modern Farmhouse" fare that's constantly changing based on the availability of local ingredients, in an atmosphere that's warm, inviting, and full of country goodness.

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23. Clio 370A Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

Stop in for truffle pot pie with a soft poached egg; duck drummettes with cocoa pimente in an XO sauce; fried chicken w/ kimchee & ginger mustard, pork belly, and crispy yuba buns; and a late-night ramen menu (avail Thurs-Sun).

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