“Basta, basta!” The words may as well be a mantra at Midwest Grill. The term, meaning “enough” in Portuguese, is the perfect finish to the churrascaria’s all-you-can-eat cavalcade of grilled meats and hearty seafood dishes. Passadores—the Brazilian word for waiters—rotate around tables, slicing fresh-grilled skewers of beef sirloin, Brazilian-style ribs, and succulent lamb and pork loin on to plates at the feaster’s demand. This dining style is known as rodízio, and it doesn't just apply to churrasco meats; patrons can also opt for seafood options, such as Brazilian fish stew and sautéed shrimp, or engage a server in a duel with a carving fork. The all-you-can-eat meal is served at a fixed price at both lunch and dinner, and includes unlimited helpings from the salad bar and hot-food buffet. Each of Midwest Grill's locations also houses a TV-lined bar, where mixologists concoct cocktails and pop open bottles of Brazilian beer and wine.
At the end of March in 2013, chef Barry Maiden won his third-straight Madness title. This wasn’t March Madness, though; it was Munch Madness, a Boston.com competition that pitted 64 local restaurants against each other to find the city’s favorite. It seems that Bostonians have an unwavering dedication to Maiden’s restaurant, Hungry Mother, which serves up hearty, southern-style dinner fare. One glance at the menu and it's easy to see why. Smoked-cheddar pimiento cheese dip and sea-salt sprinkled boiled Virginia peanuts ready palates for hearty plates of crawfish and grits, cast-iron chicken, and catfish and shrimp served with scallion hushpuppies. The after-dinner menu is just as thoughtfully curated––bartenders mix a quartet of after-dinner drinks meant to end things on a sweet note, similar to Beethoven’s intentions when he replaced all of his piano keys with Fun Dip sticks. Of course, there’s traditional dessert, too, including a decidedly southern buttermilk chess pie topped with blueberry-mint preserves and whipped crème fraiche.
With two locations situated in the heart of Harvard Square and Natick, Dolphin Seafood Restaurant reflects the unique maritime flavors of Boston and the Atlantic coast, receiving daily shipments of fresh seafood such as Chesapeake Bay oysters and Maine clams. Cooks stir fresh pots of New England clam chowder and broil filets of Bluefish, Idaho rainbow trout, and swordfish swathed in butter and garlic over their breadcrumb-flavored scales. At each restaurant, patrons can unwind in the evenings in a lounge with beers on tap, sports on the TV, and martini glasses filled with specialty cocktails.
One of South Shore Living's "10 Influential People You Should Know" in 2010, Jimmy Liang evenly divides his time among his five Boston-area restaurants. At Fuji 1546 Restaurant & Bar, his culinary crew whips up contemporary Japanese dishes with a focus on maki, sushi, and sashimi. The sushi selection ranges from eel-filled caterpillar rolls to sweet-potato maki to the BLT roll, which guests must order without using any vowels. The menu also includes traditional eats such as gyoza, sweet-and-sour crab-meat balls, and filet mignon cooked in a housemade lime-soy marinade. For entertainment, Fuji 1546 Restaurant & Bar has a live DJ that spins every Friday and Saturday night.
When Harvard and M.I.T. students need a study break, the glowing neon signs of Charlie’s Kitchen guide them to salvation. Usually, that salvation lies in the double cheeseburger—a Charlie’s staple—served with a choice of classic, beer-battered, waffle, or sweet potato fries, or fried green beans. The towering stack of meat is but one favorite from the '50s-style diner's menu. Burgers come in 11 other forms, including the ever-popular double lobster roll, while an entire section devoted to meat-free dishes sates vegetarians. Diners can even pick a live lobster from the tank for an opulent seafood feast. Whether hungry or not, guests can always grab a beer and head upstairs to the lounge, where a jukebox, weekly live music, karaoke, and trivia keeps crowds entertained. They can also savor 18 draft brews in the beer garden, which, like an exhibitionist oyster, stays open year-round.
Charlie’s Kitchen not only invites guests to enjoy nature all year, but also does its part to protect it. Three of its cars run on veggie oil, its dishwasher is solar powered, and it recycles or composts much of its trash.
Harvest: User's Guide
Modern New England Cuisine | Date-Night Romance | Nationally Praised
Where to sit: The secluded garden patio is so idyllic it “provokes daydreams,” according to Boston magazine.
While You’re Waiting: Count the number of famous chefs Harvest has nurtured over the last four decades: Lydia Shire, Chris Schlesinger, Barbara Lynch, and Frank McClelland, to name a few.
Inside Tips: Be sure to save room for what the Improper Bostonian deemed the city's best desserts. They're dreamt up by Brian Mercury, one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Pastry Chefs of 2013.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Lose yourself in Harvard Book Store’s (1256 Massachusetts Avenue) smartly curated selection—you might even witness a reading from a literary celeb.
After: Tuck in for a concert at Club Passim (47 Palmer Street); on any given night, the nonprofit venue is a grab bag of Americana, singer-songwriters, and world music.
If You Can’t Make It, Try: Grill 23 & Bar (161 Berkeley Street) or Post 390 (406 Stuart Street), both high-end Boston eateries managed by Harvest’s operator: Himmel Hospitality Group.