There’s More to Boston than Beans

This week we’ll spend some time in Boston. During the week well sample the sights, sounds, architecture, and flavors that await you.

I’ve toured Boston on foot twice now—late October 2009 and again exactly one year later.  Both trips were in conjunction with a repositioning cruise to New Orleans aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines’ NCL Spirit.  Alas, the Spirit no longer goes to Boston, and the NCL Dawn relocates to Tampa during the winter.  Too bad, because that old fifteen-day itinerary taking cruisers through the eastern Caribbean and the Lesser Antilles was a really good one.

Today we’ll sample some of the local restaurants, and in Boston there is much from which to sample.  Chinatown, Italian, seafood . . . these are just a hint of what Boston has to offer on the culinary scene, and probably the foods for which Boston is most famous.

First, we’ll get some Chinese for lunch.  Ursula and I fell in love with the dim sum concept on our trip to Hong Kong back in the mid ’90s.  So, it’s a great day when we find anything even approaching a good dim sum establishment here in the U.S.  The Empire Garden at 690 Washington Street us just such a place.  Situated inside an old, restored theater, the dining area is not only huge, it’s also extremely ornate.  Myriad dim sum carts are wheeled around the tables, their human propulsion ever on the lookout for a patron signalling them over.  These waiters are ever-patient, politely taking the time to explain the various offerings in the individual bamboo steam trays or beneath the smallish metallic domes.  Choose wisely, because you’ll fill up for too quickly while wishing you still had room as even more deletable looking delights waft on by.

Legal Sea Foods can be hit or miss, we’ve found.  Our first visit in October 2009 to a Legal Sea Fods left us looking forward to our next visit.  Our second, not so much.  That first experience was at the Legal Sea Foods in Prudential Center Mall, and it was exquisite.  Our second visit to the one located at 26 Park Place didn’t even make the memorable list—ordinary at best, unnecessarily greasy and heavy on the stomach.  There is a yet another known as Legal Harborside that I would like to try, as it appears to be rather unique.  It’s actually billed as two Legal restaurants at the same location, serving standard Legal fare on the lower floor and offering supposedly upscale cuisine on the upper.  On our next trip to Boston, this will definitely be on our list.

Maggiano’s Little Italy may be part of a chain, but the one at 4 Columbus Street certainly didn’t seem as one.  Despite it’s huge size there was quite a wait to get a table, but it was definitely worth the wait.  Everything we sampled was exquisite.  Do not miss this restaurant if you enjoy Italian cuisine.

Faneuil Hall and Quincy Marketplace are a smorgasbord of eateries and shops that is a lot of fun to visit.  Being from El Paso I rather got a kick out of seeing a sign there for the El Paso Enchilada Mexican Restaurant.  Another rather nifty place was a cookie and candy store that had a very colorful display of fruit jelly candies shaped and colored to look like slices of watermelon, grapefruit, lemons, and other tangy delights—all incredibly fresh, deliciously moist, and tantalizingly tasty.  Unfortunately, that shop was in the process of moving as their space was being renovated.  I don’t know if they ever returned.

So, with an emphasis on foods (and a few other images as well), here’s this week’s first installment of Boston sights:



Filed under Photography, travel, Wine & Food

6 responses to “There’s More to Boston than Beans

  1. I’ve been to Legal Sea Foods in DC, but not Boston. I’m partial to the cioppino they serve.

    Still, in Boston, I should think you could do better than corporate restaurants for seafood, and certainly for italian fare. I’ve been to Maggiano’s here in their corporate home of Texas, and I like them, but I certainly would go elsewhere if I was in Boston. Take a walk up Salem Street in the North End. If you can’t find better, more honest italian food than Maggiano’s, you’re not trying. After dinner, walk a block or two to Hanover Street, where Mike’s Pastry has cannolis the memory of which you’ll carry to your death bed.

    Similarly, and especially if you find yourself in the area around Quincy Marketplace, you simply must stop in at the Union Oyster House, which bills itself as America’s oldest restaurant. The food there will win you over, even if the decor is overly similar to the kitsch you’ll find at the corporate places.

    Those are just a couple of places I’ve been in Boston. Your best bet, most likely, is to get in a cab and ask the driver to take you to his/her favorite place. There’s where you’ll find the real deal.

    Don’t forget the Irish Bar scene, either. Near Faneuil Hall was our favorite spot for a Bass Ale, a Guinness, or a Jameson’s on the rocks: The Black Rose. It’s impossible not to make friends there.

  2. Thanks again for dropping by and leaving my readers even more dining tips, Elaine. You’re probably right about Maggiano’s, but neither Ursula nor I were familiar with the chain and we were rather impressed by what we had there. Perhaps they’re a bit more upscale in Boston because of the competition.

  3. My husband and I went to this great little Italian restaurant right next to Paul Revere’s house. This was many years ago, and I cannot remember the name, but I do remember the food (of course!). Fantastic homemade pasta. It was wonderful.

  4. Loved the fruit jelly picture! I don’t like candies in general, but I’m partial to fruit jellies 🙂

  5. Thanks for the opportunity, Doug. Boston is the place we’ve been that’s Number One in line for a return visit, just because there’s so much history there, and we just barely scratched the surface.

  6. Thanks for the tip, Karen.

    Glad you enjoyed that particular shot, Monica.

    Elaine—thanks for dropping by again. Yeah, Boston is certainly great for history . . . and book stores . . . and restaurants.