Peanut butter and jelly, steak and potatoes, burgers and beer—the world’s most perfect pairings. What is it about a thick, juicy burger with all the fixin’s that screams to be washed down with an ice-cold brewski? The world may never know, but here’s a few Boston restaurants
that get this combo oh-so-right.
I personally enjoy the act of shopping almost as much as the satisfaction of finding a new item to purchase. If you’re like me - and enjoy the thrill of the hunt - then you’ll want to explore some of my favorite antique and thrift stores in the Boston area.
Chinatown can be a bit intimidating. The myriad of streets over lapping each other in a haphazard fashion, all lined with bustling restaurants adorned with colorful awnings decorated with their names, menus in the windows listing their fare in both English as well as Chinese, or Cantonese. But how do you tell which is good and which is better passed by? Even more so, once you’re seated, how do you know what to order?
Food trucks, baby, you’ve come a long way….Years ago “food trucks” in their original form roamed the streets, office building to office building providing the workers inside with a selection of greasy breakfast sandwiches and hash browns, or equally greasy burgers and fries at lunch. The food wasn’t fancy, the opposite really, it was standard fare, that was made cheaply and sold cheap. The trucks were able to drive between several office buildings a day, providing breakfast and lunch at set times. It was fast. It was convenient. It was just food.
Trade, a restaurant from Chef Jody Adams of Rialto fame, is my one of my favorite restaurants in Boston
, and a place I find myself again and again. Living in the Leather District, it is also luckily (and dangerously!) close to home, and when we get home to find the fridge bare we often take the short walk to Congress Street. Because we have tried the menu so many times, I’d like to share some of what I’ve found to be the best dishes on the menu.
The past few years, especially here in Boston, have seen the rise of the abnormal. Menus throughout the city are now featuring dishes designed outside the “box”, incorporating proteins from exotic animals and using every edible piece of those animals. The idea that is being utilized, to let nothing to go to waste, is not new. Countries all over the world have been making use of the “less desirable” cuts of meat (think tongue, brain, etc) for centuries, while the US remained largely mainstream. However, as we began to look more at the idea of farm to table, the imaginations of our chefs opened up and started incorporating more nose to tail dishes, and exotic, unexpected meats on their menus.
Lobster; simply say the word and almost immediately sighs of pleasure are audibly heard. There is something about the sweet meat of this crustacean that makes us all giddy with excitement. Served whole with a bib and shell crackers in a seaside village, or just the tail accompanying a perfect steak in the finest restaurant, or, perhaps best of all, casually tossed into a toasted hot dog bun for on the go meals- lobster is a much loved protein. Of course, lobster isn’t an everyday food. Lobster is a luxury, however, it wasn’t always that way. In the 18th and 19th centuries lobsters were so plentiful in the New England waters that they would wash ashore and form massive piles on the beaches. They were known as a poor man’s food, they were used as bait, as fertilizer, and routinely served to prisoners. It wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that people began to see the greatness of the lobster and began eating it as a delicacy. By World War II, lobster had become a hot commodity and prices skyrocketed.
Boston is steeped in history, and so are its restaurants. By way of example, consider Union Oyster House
. The seriously old-school eatery is located directly on the Freedom Trail, just minutes from Faneuil Hall. Not only is this tourist destination still serving fresh seafood, it offers several nationwide distinctions: it’s the oldest continually operating restaurant in the entire United States, and it’s the birthplace of the toothpick as a post-dinner teeth-cleaning tool. President John F. Kennedy himself was a long time regular, where he would linger over a bowl of lobster stew every Sunday evening as a state senator.
Winter in New England inherently means that the area is blasted with cold air, and that results in our residents looking for some creative ways to warm up. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that a good, strong cocktail will often brush the shivers away and warm me up from the inside out. Luckily, Boston bars and restaurants are creating all sorts of delicious concoctions to spread a little warmth and cheer.
The North End is Boston’s Little Italy, an area of sheer bliss for any Italian food lover. This is Boston’s oldest neighborhood, with buildings dating back to the 17th century. In the 1800’s, it was the first stop for many Italian immigrants; generations later, you can still hear Italian spoken in shops and on the streets.
Save for Love Story, movies that paint Boston in a romantic light are few and far between. It's a stunning notion, considering the city's Georgian architecture, cobblestone streets and intimate eateries. From the artistically presented French cuisine at L'Espalier to the cozy ambiance and shared tapas at Dali, you can literally taste the romance in this town.
We all had those days in college- the budget was stretched thin but another trip to the dining hall was enough to make our stomachs turn so we turned to that Styrofoam container of salty goodness: Ramen. Heated up in our dorm issued microwaves, it was fast, it was easy and it was cheap. Of course, now years out of college, when we hear the word Ramen, our mind immediately transports back to those days with just a little nostalgia….and a little disgust. However, more and more Ramen, the real stuff served in restaurants, is taking the world by storm as one of the biggest “fad” meals of the past year.
In an era of hip eateries with a focus on craft cocktails, celebrity chefs and complex, locally foraged dishes, there’s something so comforting about eating at a classic diner. Hopefully, there’s a neon sign outside, although it doesn’t have to work, and the worn-out banquettes and counter stools are never so full you can’t find a place to eat. At the very least, breakfast should be served all day, portions should be hearty and coffee should be refilled without having to ask.
Winter is definitely here. The icy temperatures and the snow filled sidewalks are here, and the residents of Boston are bundling up, flinging on scarves, lacing up boots and securing hats to ensure their outsides are warm and snug against the brutal temps. Sometimes though, just layering on those woolen pieces doesn’t quite do the trick and there is only one thing that will help shake that chill off: hot cocoa. There is just something about a big steaming mug of liquid chocolate that truly warms the body from the inside out. Of course, if you’re going to indulge in the delicious drink, you want the good stuff. You don’t want some powder from a pouch hastily stirred into hot water you can make that at home! You want something rich and decadent, something that lets you know that you’re getting something special.
Like any food, the best ice cream is all a matter of personal taste and preference. Luckily, Boston offers plenty of options to explore, which means lots of tasty trials to learn what flavors suit you best.
Snow flakes are starting to fly here in Boston and with chillier weather upon us I start craving anything that will warm me up from the inside out. Soup is my go to, and with so many restaurants serving up a variety of types it's easy to find a great big bowl of soup to push away those cold weather blues.
Wine remains a mystery to so many of us. Every time we walk into a wine store or peruse a wine list at a restaurant we're faced with a daunting task. What are we going to choose? What goes with what we're eating? What is perfect to just watch TV with? These are the pressing questions, especially as the weather gets colder and we start looking for big reds to pair with our stews and perfectly drinkable wines to ignore the snowstorms outside with. If you are in this predicament- I have a solution for you.
Everyone needs a little sweet indulgence from time to time. Or, overindulgence perhaps. Enter the Chocolate Bar at The Langham Boston Hotel, an annual display of decadence that Bostonians can practically set their watches by. The ten month-long event kicks into high gear in September, runs through the bitter winter and on through the earliest parts of summer.
Boston has its fair share of themed city tours, from costumed guides on the Freedom Trail to land and water excursions all over town. But some might argue that Boston’s best tours are also the tastiest ones. Italian food crawls, romps through Chinatown, chocolate-centric tours and insider food expeditions are among the most popular you’ll find in town.
With crisp air and leaves in shades of red and orange, there is no mistaking the arrival of autumn and the harvest season. While we often think of summer as the best time for fresh fruits and vegetables, the fall harvest has so much to offer. During the summer, there are more than 25 farmers markets across Boston, and while some have closed for the season, there are still several markets that will continue until the end of November.
I love the North End area in Boston. Sure, tourist flock there, the streets are always jammed, and it’s tough to find a table at the restaurants most nights, but the North End is special. It’s sometimes referred to as Little Italy, referencing the fact that it is inhabited largely by Italian Americans and the neighborhood is strongly influenced by their presence. However the beauty of the North End, to me, lies in its history. Birthed as a unique community in 1646, the North End has been welcoming residents since, housing the famed Paul Revere in its midst. Almost fittingly, in the 1800’s, the North End became the first home for waves of immigrants beginning with the Irish, and when they moved on, Eastern European Jews and then the Italians. The Italians stayed for the long haul, opening markets and restaurants, but if you look carefully, evidence of their predecessors still exist in former Temples and meeting spaces.
Did you know that Massachusetts is the only state in the Union to have a state bean? In the same rank as a state tree, or flower, Massachusetts has named the Baked Bean to be our state bean. That’s right folks, Boston actually gets it’s nickname of Beantown from the age old dish. Not surprisingly, baked beans were just another wonderful thing that were taught to the early settlers by the Native Americans who greeted us into the land. A rustic dish originally made by simmering pea beans with salt pork or bacon and spices over a low fire, or utilizing residual heat from a day’s worth of cooking. It was simple food that the Native Americans offered the early settlers with corn bread, creating a rich, hearty meal with ingredients from their land.
While we all lament the end of summer, it does have a pretty incredible silver lining- the start of “real” baseball time! All summer teams all over the US have been battling for top spots in their leagues and now its crunch time. September is notoriously the hottest time in baseball, when teams become great, or fall into oblivion. The Boston Red Sox have done both over the years- risen to extreme greatness, poised for excellence during the October playoffs, and they fallen to depths of their league, their dreams of championship play dashed. With it all on the line, the last two months of the season are critical, and here in Boston, that means our attendance to cheer on our boys is mandatory.
Whenever I walk through the streets of Boston I always feel as though at any given moment a horse drawn buggy might cross my path, or a colonial woman carrying baskets stuffed with goods from the market my wander into my path. There is something about Boston that has somehow maintained the incredible history when it was founded and the centuries that have passed since despite its current modern state. Of course, it helps that we’ve maintained much of our architecture, and even some of our founding businesses right here in the city. Paul Revere’s home sits as it always has in the North End. The original State House, now surrounded by the skyscrapers of the financial district, still sits where it always has, in the center of it all, with an eye to the harbor. Better still, we still have restaurants in business that have long beyond withstood the test of time.
One of the most fabulous parts of Boston is its sheer beauty. All over the city proper there are lovely spots to pull up a spot of grass, relax and watch time pass by. Of course, doing so with a lovely bite of food is ever more attractive. So, I’ve compiled my go to list of the best spots to sit, relax and enjoy a picnic in this great city!