A Tasty Education in Boston Dining
By Kathy Lin
Kathy Lin ’05 shares some of her favorite local destinations in a five-part series this week. Part 4 of 5.
I love food, so I naturally love restaurant-hunting in any new city I go to. As you start your search for your new favorite restaurants, give these a try:
34 Oxford Street
Boston, MA 02111
Although Royal East and Mary Chung’s offer temptingly close Chinese food, the best is not surprisingly in Chinatown. Try out Taiwan Cafe, which is frequented by many MIT students. The food is authentic and cheap; I’ve spent $12 for a filling meal for two, tip included. Grab your nearest Chinese speaker before you go, though, as their English is not so good. (And if you look vaguely Asian, expect to be spoken to in Chinese.)
After your meal, head one block west on Beach Street and up the stairs at the corner to the juice bar, which makes fresh smoothie-like bubble tea.
Smile Thai Cafe
16-18 Eliot Street 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138617-497-8288
The Boston area has surprisingly many Thai restaurants, most of which are quite tasty and classy. My favorite is Smile Thai Cafe in Harvard Square, where the wait staff is exceptionally friendly. I always try dishes named after the restaurant, and the Smile Noodles lived up to all my hopes. Also try the Fried Ice Cream and the Thai Iced Coffee.
4 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02116617-542-0456
Maggiano’s serves the best restaurant pasta I’ve had (though nothing is quite the same as Mom’s), and it does so consistently at reasonable prices. The Garlic Shrimp and Shells and the Rigatoni D are my favs, along with the Stuffed Mushrooms. Believe the wait staff when they tell you that their portions are big, too; a “full-size” portion, generally about $15, is more than enough to stuff two people — quite a deal for a nice restaurant.
Au Bon Pain
Both Kendall Square and Central Square
For soups and sandwiches, the best place in the area is Au Bon Pain. Their sandwiches are simple but tasty; my favorite is Chicken Tarragon. Plus, there’s an ABP at almost every T stop, and more.
245 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA 02115617-236-4447
It’s a national chain, but I love it, and so should you! If you haven’t been to Boston Market before, imagine eating Thanksgiving dinner — but better — all year round. Plus, all the mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and cinnamon apples that you could wish for are just a 20-minute walk away, a little past Boylston Street on Mass. Ave.
137 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA 02115617-369-9087
The Wrap is a local chain that serves, well, wraps. They’re tasty and varied, making them a good option when you want warm food fast.
352 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115617-236-1666
Perhaps the most famous local ice cream store, J.P. Licks (short for Jamaica Plains) boasts dozens of fresh, delicious ice cream and frozen yogurt flavors and enormous cones; I eat there about once a week. My favorite flavor is coffee oreo, with the seasonal peach running a close second. Check your mailboxes for the Collegiate Coupon Book, which usually includes a $2-off coupon (making the rather large kiddie cone a mere $0.24).
Petit Robert Bistro
468 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215617-375-0699
A quaint new restaurant on Comm. Ave., Petit Robert Bistro has rapidly become my favorite fancy restaurant. The owner circulates, engaging in casual conversation, and the chef is the nephew of the chef at my former favorite restaurant, Maison Robert, which closed last year when he retired. Everything I’ve had there has been heavenly, particularly the dessert. Definitely save room for dessert.
Mike’s City Diner
1714 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118617-267-9393
Mike’s inspired a constant pancake craving in me, and it’s everything you could ask for from a diner. Just watch out for the meal called Emergency Room — you could end up there, but at least you’d die happy.