This month we have already visited Boston once and we will be visiting next weekend again for Extreme Beer Fest! Since we moved down to New Jersey, we have been missing our favorite places in and around Boston. I have been wanting to compile a list to share with you all and I finally found the time to do it! It is a mix of food, beer, shopping and adventure.
We found Night Shift through some friends back in late 2012. Located just out of Boston, in Everett, they were just up and running and were making some really different and interesting beers. Of note were their Taza Stout, Trifecta, and variety of Berliner Weisses. Since then, they have grown and have moved into a much larger facility and have a much bigger taproom. They have also experimented with lots of different flavors and types of beer. Our personal favorites are their Ever Weisse, Cape Codder Weisse, Jester, Whirlpool, Bee Tea, Morph, Galaxy Nation IPA, Arnie (a kombucha and lemon zesty creation), Seaglass, and Holy Mole! Drop by for a flight and you will not be disappointed.
The first brewery in Boston proper, they are located in Fort Point, right by the Seaport. They have a small tasting room where they are currently only filling growlers and selling bottles. Unfortunately, due to a recent permit issue, they are not currently doing tastings. They do some amazing things with hops! Their IPA’s are pretty special. Pick up a bottle!
Located about 30 minutes out of Boston, in Framingham, these guys brew some special smoky beers. They only brew lager style beer here. My personal favorites are the Fire in the Ham (no ham or pig is used in the making of the beer) and Smoke and Dagger. Fire in the Ham is not always available but Smoke and Dagger might as well be one of their flagships. Thank god it is available all year round. Whenever we are in town we pick up a 6 pack. Their Framinghammer series is also pretty delicious. We love the Peanut Butter and Jelly Framinghammer and the Cocoa Nut Framinghammer best. The brewers are working diligently to distribute their beer as far out of Massachusetts as they can. Right now they are working on NYC. My hope is that New Jersey is next!
This is the gateway brewery tour… We have probably done this tour five or six times. It is free and comes with a free tasting glass and beer tasting. They do request donations as payment for the tour that they pass through to local charities. While the beer isn’t our favorite , they do give a really good description of the beer making process as well as a nice tour of their facility. The tasting lasts about 20-30 minutes and they pass around pitchers of three different beers. They start with their flagship, the Boston Lager, and then move into seasonal and brewery only beer. They renovated their tasting rooms so that they can now accommodate a much larger tour group. Bring a group of friends and you are sure to have a great time. Also, after the tour, hop on the trolley with Jason and head over to Doyle’s for a drink and some pub food. If you show them your Sam tour ticket and order a Sam Adams beer you get to keep the glass. Doyle’s was Sam Adams’ first account!
Harpoon also recently renovated and built out a Beer Hall. It is right in the Seaport district next to Yankee Lobster (must go if you like fish and chips or lobster rolls). Go for the Pilot Series, aka beers which are only served at the brewery, and for their homemade pretzels that come with a selection of sweet and savory dipping sauces. The pretzels are freaking awesome. The beer is good, not spectacular. This is a great place for groups and if you are craving an amazing view of the water.
Restaurants and Food Trucks
Mei Mei – Food Truck and Brick & Mortar (Brookline): Double Awesome. Get one. Thank me later.
Bon Me – Food Truck and Brick & Mortar (Fort Point): Rice bowls, noodle bowls, and sandwiches of all kinds. My personal favorite is the brown rice bowl with tofu. Tasty goodness. So filling and all of the ingredients are fresh!
Roxy’s Grilled Cheese – Food Truck and Brick & Mortar (Allston): E’s favorite is the Mighty Rib, available on the food truck and the restaurant, and mine is the Allston which, unfortunately, is only available at the restaurant. Their classic grilled cheese with tomato is also really tasty, as well as their Green Muenster, hold the bacon.
Union Square Donuts (Somerville): A girl and her donut. These donuts are some of my favorite donuts in the world. This is a pretty heavy statement considering my insane love of donuts. They have a wide variety of flavors including the Bourbon Sea Salt Caramel, Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Glazed and E’s fave, the Maple Bacon. They are large and fluffy and to be honest, they kick Dunkin’s arse. Don’t eat bad donuts. Only eat Union Square Donuts. It will be a good life choice.
Barbara Lynch’s Sportello & Drink (Fort Point): I always pair the two together because they are owned by the same person and I like to do both in succession. First dinner at Sportello and then cocktails at Drink. The menu at Sportello changes with the seasons and is always delicious. The bartenders at Drink can make you anything you want or can whip up something special for you based on flavors you are craving. Do it.
KO Pies (East Boston and Southie): These Aussies make awesome meat and veggie pies. Try them. Eat them with your hands. My favorite is the Curried Vegetable.
Rino’s (East Boston): We haven’t been in awhile but the food here is so delicious. They don’t take reservations but the owners just opened a bar across the street where you can patiently wait for a table. Memorable was the eggplant parmesan and fluffy gnocchi. I think Rino’s could beat some North End restaurants in a throw down.
Mehak (East Boston): Friends of ours introduced us to this little Indian restaurant in East Boston. The owner is also the chef and he carefully prepares every dish. The food, both meat and vegetarian, is delectable and is so very cheap!
Santarpio’s (East Boston): Cheap pizza and house wine. The atmosphere here is Boston in a nutshell. Everyone who works here lives in the area and has the accent to prove it. Love it!
Estragon (South End): Go for dollar tapas, stay for the red sangria with alcohol soaked fruit. The goat cheese toast, fried artichokes, patatas bravas, the spanish omelet and the brussels sprouts were my personal favorites. I could eat everything all day long. E loved their oxtail off the main menu. We were also HUGE fans of the ice cream that is made in house by one of the bartenders.
Toro (South End): So I am kind of obsessed with Jamie Bissonnette. It started with his appearance on Chopped and was cemented by the food we ate at Toro. Toro is a tapas joint. They don’t take reservations. To be honest, they don’t need to, it is ALWAYS PACKED. We have always eaten different things here, some seasonal, some not, but we have never been disappointed. Try something new. You will be surprised.
El Centro (South End): BEST FISH TACOS IN BOSTON. And guacamole. You’re welcome.
Oishii (South End): Fancy sushi which in my humble opinion rivals Nobu. The salmon on fire, the miso cod and the tuna tartare are outstanding. Go for a fancy night out with your significant other or make your parents take you when they come to town.
Gourmet Dumpling House aka GDH (Chinatown): Probably our favorite restaurant in all of Boston. They don’t take reservations and there is always a line. Stand in line for 30-45 minutes. It is worth it. There are so many options and everything is so cheap. Our personal favorites include the scallion pancakes, the vegetable steamed dumplings, the eggplant basil, and the kung pao chicken. The szechuan fish soup here is famous and a must try if you are in a group. It is pretty spicy!
These 3 Photos are by Brian Samuels Photography
101 Bakery (Chinatown): Taro Milk and Green Tea Milk Bubble Tea. Also so many delicious pastries. It is located on Beach Street in Chinatown, two doors down from Gourmet Dumpling House. Good for dessert to go or for a pre-dinner snack while in line for GDH!
JM Curley (Downtown Crossing): FRIED PICKLES. Awesome beer list which constantly changes. And it doesn’t hurt that a good friend of ours is the bar manager.
Masa (South End): This is a great weekend spot for brunch. Order their Fiesta Brunch, which is only $8.95 a person, and includes all you can drink coffee or tea, an appetizer (get the fried plantain – OMG), and a main course. They also bring some great house made cornbread to the table with house made spreads and jam. Oh lord is it good.
Jaho (South End): Cute cafe in the South End that serves some of the best slushy Taro Milk Bubble Tea I have ever had.
Panza (North End): E remembers Panza before it was Panza, then known as Cibo. This is by far our favorite place to eat Italian in the North End. It is right on Hanover Street in the thick of all of the excitement. They do take reservations so you should definitely call ahead or make a reservation on Opentable. The ambiance and the food are very authentic. Order the burrata if they have it on the menu. You will not regret it. Everything on the menu is delicious and made with love. The one thing I would say is that you should leave some room for dessert…Mike’s Pastry is down the block!
Mike’s Pastry (North End): A famous italian bakery located on Hanover Street. Order a cannoli, a lobster tail (a cream filled pastry) and a chocolate peanut butter brownie. I wish I could have one of each as I type this.
Christopher Columbus Park (North End): This is our favorite park in Boston. It is right on the water, steps from the New England Aquarium, where we would go watch the penguins. During the summer there is always someone strumming on a guitar. It is a nice place to have a picnic or to just hang out on a bench.
Haymarket (North End): I have written at length about Haymarket. It is a famers market held every Friday and Saturday which offers deeply discounted produce. I couldn’t live without a weekly visit to Haymarket. It inspired all of my cooking!
Rockport, MA – The Seacrest Manor: E and I went to Rockport, MA for a mini honeymoon right after our wedding in 2012. We picked the Seacrest Manor because of its glowing reviews on Trip Advisor. We have returned because it is charming, adorable, and Pat, the owner and operator, is amazing. We always feel at home there. The room rate includes breakfast. Pat is always accommodating of my vegetarianism. It is nice for a weekend away. Rockport, a fishing town right on the water, is adorable with lots of fun shops and restaurants. Go. You need a vacation.
Apple Picking at Honey Pot Hill Orchard in Stow, MA: I have also written at length about Honey Pot Hill Orchard. Every year in the early fall we went apple picking here. They have a wide variety of apples and, if you are lucky, pears and blueberries as well. The grounds are pretty large so you can get a workout just wandering around. Links to other posts on Honey Pot Hill Orchard can be found below.
SOWA (South End): Every Sunday through the Summer and Fall, the SOWA farmers market is open. There are three sections: the farmers market, the vintage market, and the food trucks. All of the local food trucks are represented here. You can try one thing from one truck and something else from another. So many options. The farmers market is also really nice for fresh produce, homemade pasta, wine, flavored popcorn, cheese etc.
New Balance Factory Store (Brighton). The address is 173 Market Street, Brighton, MA 02135. I am giving you an address here because they recently moved and I want to make sure you go to the right place. New Balance’s headquarters are in Massachusetts and their shoes are made in the USA. It is always good to support the local economy and the factory store always has AMAZING deals. Last weekend we happened to be in town for friends and family. Everything was an additional 40% off and these are already discounted prices. We walked out with five pair of shoes between the two of us. Happy dance.
**I am sure that I am missing places (or slowly losing my mind) so I reserve the right to post another list in the future.