If you’re looking for somewhere to eat well in Boston, here are some of my favorite places:
In high school, my friends and I would race to the Porter Square location during our lunch breaks. Now Anna’s has 6 locations throughout Boston: Porter Square, Davis Square, Coolidge Corner, Harvard Ave. MIT, and MGH. I’m not claiming this is authentic Mexican food, but it’s the best quesadilla in town. Fact. Skip the burrito and get the crispy quesadilla. I recommend steak, al pastor, carnitas or lengua quesadillas with salsa, guacamole, lettuce, hot sauce and jalapeños. Oh and wash it down with a fresh squeezed key-limeade :)
Oysters, littlenecks and vino with BLGruppo hospitality. Never better. Merci Jen the GM, Chef Stephen and staff for always taking good care of my friends and me.
Cones bigger than your face redefine summer nights. Love me some soft serve or a cup of Green Monster. Kiddie portions are bigger than your face. Be prepared for lacto-indulgence.
After some oysters at B&G around the corner, I’ll duck around the corner to Coppa for the best pizza in town. I always order the margherita pizza with blood sausage pepperoni. Small dishes and housemade pastas are dericious too. I’ll have what he [Jamie Bissonnette], is having.
Another BLGruppo entity of excellence. GM John Gertsen really knows how to take care of this chica. Can’t go wrong with his Sazerac. Other favorites: anything with Mezcal or Armagnac, French 75, Moscow Mule, and Pisco Sour, just to name a few…
Felipe’s offers similar “Mexican” fare as Anna’s, but I always prefer Felipe’s to Anna’s, especially if I’m in the Harvard area. For some reason, it just tastes better to me. Perhaps less greasy? You can’t go wrong with a steak or carnitas quesadilla here. With jalapeños and guac, of course :)
Oysters galore. Long bar and huge space in the heart of Kenmore Square. Must get the Island Creek oysters as well as Moonshoal, if they aren’t fresh out. Get the oyster slider, BUBBLES (exceptional wine list, thanks to GM Tom Schlesinger), and the infamous biscuit. Hands down the best biscuit ever made. Oh and lobster roe noodles? Yes, please.
For a special occasion or just a night on the town, take your honey for a tasting at Menton, where Top Chef and friend Kristen Kish is helming the kitchen. The service staff is knowledgeable, the food is comprehensive and the wine list is unrivaled in Boston. If they still have it, try the 2009 Cassis from Domaine de Bagnol. Don’t leave without touring the pristine kitchen and if you’re a chef, check out their Molteni. Remember to save room for exotic mini-macarons.
A Boston gem tucked away in the Italian quarters, formally known as The North End, though it’s not geographically the north end of the city. I can never have too many oysters. Chef Michael Serpa knows just what I like: awesome wine list with bubbles, txakolí, and excellent French selections (and half bottles!), east coast oysters, littlenecks, hamachi crudo and mussels in curry with cashews–ask for toasted bread and a spoon. Want more? Order like a chef: Johnny cakes and the famed warm lobster roll. Lobster + butter = never better.
Great sushi from a Japanese sushi chef, without breaking the bank [unless you want to]. Fresh and seasonal stuff, just ask Masaki-san. Better yet, just get his omakase. If uni is in season, you’re in luck. He gets the fresh urchins from Maine, so fresh he serves them straight out of their spiny shells. If hirame (fluke) is in season, get it. Chances are he went fishing yesterday.
Don’t miss this tiny shop in the hustle and bustle of Harvard Square. Arguably my favorite slice in town, Otto’s does pizza justice. Crisp crust, creative toppings (if that’s what you dig, they’re known to serve over 30 different kinds…but I’m a pepperoni girl through and through). Generous slices. Sprinkle with chili flakes. You’re set. This Portland, ME transplant also has locations in Coolidge Corner and Comm. Ave near BU.
Innovative, modern Japanese food with international flavors that pique your palate on multiple levels at various points throughout the meal. O Ya takes modern Japanese food to new heights. I hope you don’t have allergies or preconceived notions. Flavor progression is everything. Here’s my 15 course omakase [in a very specific order]: Kumamoto oyster with watermelon pearls, Hamachi with viet mignonette, Otoro with lotsa wasabi, Shima-aji and uni with ceviche vinaigrette, Hamachi with spicy banana pepper mousse, homemade potato chip with truffle aioli, Santa Barbara sea urchin with valencia orange, Amaebi with uni (if it’s in season), Chutoro with republic of Georgia sauce, Warm eel with thai basil, fried Kumamoto oyster with squid ink bubbles, Sashimi of shiitake and chanterelle mushrooms, Squid-ink soba, Onsen egg, Seared petit strip loin with potato confit (ask for no truffle oil), Foie gras with balsamic chocolate kabayaki and sip of aged sake. For sake, try the Shichi Hon Yari and the Yuki No Bosha Order. You won’t regret it. Skip dessert. Wicked detailed, I know, I used to work there.
With two locations in Dorchester and Chinatown, this franchise is as good as it gets when you’re craving a steaming hot bowl of pho on a wintry night. I get mine with all the fixings (#46 on the menu FYI): tripe, tendon, raw eye round, fatty flank, shank…Unless you have a Vietnamese grandma or a frequent flyer pass to Vietnam for the real deal, your best bet is to hit up Pho Hoa, specifically the Dorchester Ave. location. The broth is so good, so pure; hold the hoisin!
Neopolitan pizza from this venerable, hole-in-the-wall establishment. I love the crunchy, airy crust and the simple joy of their pepperoni pizza [with a flurry of red pepper flakes]. It’s been in the same hidden nook forever. Let’s keep it that way. Located in an alleyway in Harvard Square, but enjoy the view of the Pinocchio mural. Great, timeless piece of art.
Awaken your inner coffee nerd with a cuppa or three from Render. Great espresso too, if you’re a bit Euro at heart like myself. Chris and Chuck are serious about their coffee, in case you can’t tell by the scales, timers and other java nerdery. They make some of the best pour-over in town. The atrium in the back on a rainy day is priceless. And they have free wifi :)