e a t. h e r e.

becoming a bit unwieldy, so evergenerous person that i am, i have grouped restaurants, leaving out the ones i don't really think are worth returning to. bonus: the font is bigger.
here, by price.

and by cuisine.

the newly revised next-on-the-list:
l'espalier, o cantinho, sepal, pizzeria regina, santarpio's, 57, tangierino, aspasia, the locke-ober, sagla, blue ribbon bbq, macondo, perdix, tea-tray in the sky, aquitaine, cafe fleuri, lucca, icarus, taberna de haro, prezza, sage, b-side lounge, henrietta's table, truc, grill 23, bricco, biba, claremont cafe, east coast grill, rialto, ajanta, cafe louis, anago, trattoria a scalinatella, the independent.

the complete listing.

okay, note that all dollar amounts refer to approx. price of the main course. so, expect to pay a little more when you actually go (anywhere from $5-20 more, depending on how many courses, wine, etc.).

tacos lupita
elm st., somerville.
great little salvadoran joint with a pretty dive-y feel (and boy, do we like that). thumbs up: huaraches de lengua, pupusas de cerdo, tamales de pollo. oooh, especially the tamale, with its gravity-defying masa in each unctuously delectable bite. horchata could only elevate all these to further reaches of ethno-gastro ecstasy. lupita also does tortas and the usual burritos (making it completely justifiable to bypass anna's for a meal here -- and you'd be food not to. ahem, ryan.). none of that cal-mex nonsense here. gus is also a fan. $4.

4 avery st. downtown crossing/ladder dist.
delectable take on the nouveau cuisine (and some twists on the classical). beautiful, clear flavors, lovely presentation. the clientele tends towards the chi-chi/fou-fou, what with the health club on the premises and the modern/hipster decor, but service is warm and friendly and capable. $28.
get the run-down here.

el pelon
fenway, next to rod dee II.
plantains are the standout here, in all their slightly salty, downright greasy goodness. muy grande enchiladas, ohsotender carne asada, and fresh fresh fresh. can't really go wrong with any of the menu choices here. wash it all down with a tall plastic cup of the refreshing horchata and take a nice long nap after you reach maximum capacity (and oh, you will). i dig the t-shirts. $4.

franklin cafe
south end. shawmut, i believe.
i can see now why there's consistently a 2+ hr wait to eat here. cozy and low-key and ohsotasty. the kitchen is tiny and cramped-looking, but they turn out some wonderful dishes. the seared local scallops in a truffled beurre blanc (with celery root puree) were sweet and tender. the garlic grilled calamari was less spectacular, the charred flavor obscuring much of the basil pesto. great baby white beans though. main courses: osso buco was the best of the lot, the unctuous richness of the marrow and meat cut and tempered by the orange gremolata. nice complexity and well-matched by the creamy polenta that came alongside. both the turkey meatloaf and the braised lamb shepherd's pie were less interesting but definitely well-excuted -- the meatloaf a good idea, except tending to be overly sweet. really great prices, not too scene-y. i'll go again and again. $15.

inman sq.
a new moroccan restaurant from the marrakech guys. our waiter's name was mustafa. yeah, mustafa. i rather liked that. starters are all very good: mazza consists of pita w/ hummus, a baba ghanouj-like substance called zalook (sp?), a falafel-like patty whose name i forget (but i thought the texture was finer and the color more yellow than normal falafel -- could be turmeric, i guess), some marinated tomatoes, roasted peppers. i also ordered the goat cheese tart, the chicken bistilla, crab cakes, and this amazing cheese brioules (a mixture of three cheeses inside a flaky phyllo crust dusted with spices). i think i mostly detected goat cheese. i'd read that the lamb bourek isn't so hot, so i dispensed with that. main courses. the couscous at this place is okay -- not nearly so wonderful as tizi melloul's version, the moroccan place connie & i went to in chicago in december, which i almost consider definitive. just lacked the heady aromas and almost-moist texture i like. ehhh, in other words. connie had the couscous argana, which comes with skewered grilled lamb and merguez sausage. mark got a really great cornish game hen tagine: lovely fragrance and was pretty tender as far as chicken goes. i'd never really imagined that olives would go all that well with chicken, but they do -- and i guess it's a pretty traditional moroccan combo. i had the mrouzia: lamb shanks braised in a tagine with an almost caramel-like fig-based sauce. definitely the best. the lamb retains a really rich, pleasantly unctuous texture and takes well to the sauce. i probably won't go back, but it's worth a visit. a bit pricey for what it is. $20.

sultan's kitchen
72 broad st. financial district.
holy shit -- i am in loooove. after some strong recommendations, i schlepped all the way out here to see what all the fuss was about. it is well deserved indeed. to whet my appetite, i downed some of the very excellent rice pudding (and i don't even like the stuff usually!). nearly a convert, i managed to frighten the dude behind the counter with my sizeable order. "is this all for you," he asked. "it's waaaaay too much." he kindly offered to put together a plate of tarama salata and saksuka (suksa? was too busy devouring the stuff to take proper notes), to accompany a sizeable round of pita, along with a lamb shish kebab sandwich. the first is a roe dip that might be a bit salty/fish for some, while the second is a very tasty rendition of ratatouille. oh, and for dessert: milk pudding and yes, another rice pudding. the kebabwich was a pretty generous portion -- about the length of my forearm, stuffed with chunks of marinated & grilled lamb, a mix of greens and tomatoes. tasty, but i imagine it must be transcendental eaten on the premises (rather than having to endure the commute back to campus in 90-degree heat). the milk pudding a sort of creamy custardy layered with phyllo. connie thought it was overly sweet, but i think the stuff totally rocks. i'm sure to go back very very soon to satisfy this sudden constant rice pudding craving. best middle eastern in boston. AND cambridge. $8.

johnny's luncheonette
mass ave., towards harvard sq., past bowl & board.
after strong-arming one of our fellow diners who'd been previously disappointed into giving this place another shot (it'd been two years since his last visit), we found much to praise (and eat). alas, no blueberry pancakes, but they did have an apple pancake special: three really superior flapjacks, covering warm, smallish cubes of diced apple (not mushy at all, not overly sweet). the edges were crisp and crunchy, the interior light and not too fluffy or dense -- nearly perfect, i'd say. katie's crunchy challah french toast (after the egg bath, the bread is coated in cereal and nut bits before cooking) was also quite good, and the turkey sausage got the thumbs-up. the homefries looked slightly more dessiccated than one normally likes (but thankfully taste better than they look), but generally, everything was prety good. $7.

mike's city diner
washington st., south end.
as hole-in-the-wall as the old sam's luncheonette, but only so-so on the food. the blueberry pancakes were respectable, but by no means worthy of a return trip. and i wish i'd gotten the tasty-looking belgian waffle the people at the next table ordered. mostly unmemorable. i would pass it up and walk on down to flour for a hot cross bun.$7.

boston banh mi
sadly, no longer.
i'd just discovered this place midway through february 2002 when the nice ladies behind the counter informed me that they'd be closing down due to rent increases at the end of the month. managed to squeeze in three visits before their demise, however. always pleased with #1, the boston banh mi special: pork pate, slices of ham and some unidentifiable lunch meats, julienned veg (carrots, cukes and daikon) that'd been lightly dressed with vinegar (rice, most likely), generous amounts of cilantro, and maybe a good dab of nuoc mam. ohsotasty. i've also tried the bbq pork, the beef, and the spicy tofu (which garnered quite a following but i personally think comes in second to #1 by a good distance). they do decent spring rolls as well. everything's (or was, i mean) $2. am in the process of searching out another source for my beloved vietnamese sandwich.

le gamin
550 tremont
(back bay/south end T, walk down dartmouth & take a left on tremont)
formerly one of my favoritest places to eat in boston. in the last couple of visits, i think service and food have slipped a bit. crepes of all kinds. build-your-own or pick any of their tasty selections. my personal favorites are the goat cheese & leek, the gamin choix de trois w/ fromage, ratatouille and champignons; the butter & sugar w/ ice cream, the lemon & sugar. bonus: they have nutella! that shit's good. update: the mussels (one of the specials during the fall) are a fantastic appetizer for two. $7-11.

alley off clarendon near columbus ave
later at night, the bar area gets packed with would-be hipsters and yupsters and noisy gaggles of black booty-pants-wearing girls. this place tries to marry brazilian and french cuisines with extremely large doses of garlic -- a good and bad thing. as much as i love garlic, my gastro-intestinal system can only handle so much. the first courses here are quite inventive and very tasty; we were especially pleased with the tuna ceviche over black beans (a tad undercooked) and the pork mini-empanadas. the mushroom raviolo and baby greens were also good but less remarkable. they really need to work on their main courses, however; both the mahi-mahi and the sea bass, while cooked well, were letdowns after the bold flavors featured in the appetizers -- a bit bland and not very exciting at all. the feijoada, on the other hand, was ohsotasty but definitely overshadowed by the cassoulet at cafe loup (in nyc): a hearty concoction of lovely broad beans (cooked just right), chunks of braised pork, a link of [very] garlic[ky] sausage and a piece of ham. came with some shredded greens (kale? swiss chard?) barely covering whole roasted cloves of garlic and some perfunctory rice that looked turmeric-colored but tasted of nothing. the halo-halo is a disgusting-sounding but refreshing and toothsome dessert of lemongrass soup with coconut milk, bits of mango, tapioca, and nut-encrusted corn (yes, CORN) ice cream. the ice cream is pleasantly perfume-y, subtle and delicate. chocolate souffle is executed well-enough, as are the chocolate-filled bunuelos, but nothing to write home about. $22-26.

neighborhood bakery & cafe
bow street in union sq, somerville
most people have heard me spout off about how much i detest gargantuan portions (a la cheesecake factory) -- all too common at american eating establishments. while neighborhood is certainly more generous than some portion-wise, i think they go about it in all the right ways. instead of giving you too much of any one thing, they give you a little bit of everything. i had a most excellent belgian waffle here, smothered in whipped cream (which seemed to have been whipped on the premises) and topped with fresh blue-, black-, straw-, and raspberries. it came with a large plate of 2 eggs (i prefer scrambled; these were a bit bland, but serviceable), ham, seasoned home fries (cumin maybe? delicious, in any case), a separate plate of bacon, and yet another plate crammed with different portuguese breads (an almost creamy-textured eggy roll, corn bread, a muffin). i desperately wanted to try their linguica, but alas, my stomach had already been filled over capacity. after staggering out in near-food coma, i decided this is my new favorite place for breakfast. $6-12.

wang's fast food
magoun sq. i think? near powderhouse sq., sort of, in somerville.
really wonderful northern chinese cuisine. dumplings to rival my mom's (and that's no easy feat).
review in the phoenix.

back bay, just up mass ave
i can see the reasons behind the claims of greatness now; after a superlative meal in every sense of the word (see the pictures), i am now a convert. every dish of my 11-course degustation was exquisite. the standouts: foie gras and warm chocolate pudding. that osetra caviar creme sauce is not to be missed either. the chef, ken oringer, is a genuinely nice guy who pays extremely close attention to detail. truly talented and remarkably creative: a real culinary force in boston. the staff is accomodating, and the wine list is quite good as well. i don't think i could gush overmuch about this place. $35.

porter sq.
casual brasserie with a not very well-trained staff (though a friendly lot). hearty rustic french standards (with some francophone-ethnic twists). some hits, some misses. pass on the pate, but do not, i repeat, do NOT skip on the seven-hour lamb. revelatory piece of meat: chef amanda lydon (formerly of truc) really knows her gigot. i thought the chocolate profiteroles were the best of the desserts, but their creme brulee seems serviceable enough. not too impressed with the wine selection, but some decent deals to be had. $20.

central kitchen
mass ave, central sq.
i was fairly impressed by my grilled octopus first course here. very tender; the perfect textural counterpoint to the salty and savory nicoise preparation offered. the brook trout with three sauces (of which i could really only discern one, tasty as it was with the lovely mashed potatoes) was nicely done, but probably won't prove too memorable other than the fact that there were more than a few bones still in the trout salad in the center of the plate. haricots-verts were perfunctory. the salade giezer (ahem, geezer salad to you) is a good winter offering, warm and substantial, though the bits of duck confit are altogether unremarkable. vinaigrette was subtle but i thought the greens in general were slightly overdressed. steak-frites is a pretty classic and well-executed version here. huge slab of butter on the beef. the frites have an interesting, unplaceable taste somewhat reminiscent of potato chips. very generous portions. cheesecake is light and fluffy (though i'm a fan of the dense variety, this was yummy), covered with a kumquat compote, surrounded by a pool of passionfruit sauce (lent an appropriate tartness, as did the citrus on top). the pinot gris is a good choice for white. $20.

sunny's diner
what was formerly sam's lunceonette
near star off mass ave
cheap, fast and friendly. i appreciate the thoughtful garnish of green onions on the home fries and the grilled cheese. home fries themselves were cooked just fine but a bit bland. (and how could they screw up the grilled cheese?) blueberry pancakes were light (light on the blueberries as well, unfortunately) and tender, not too dense or cake-y. all in all, dependable if you're looking for something close to campus and your wallet's emptier than your stomach. my sister's a regular. $2-7.

beacon hill, charles st.
perfunctory breakfast and brunch. my frittata was okay, perhaps a bit too dry for my taste. true to its name, however, this place wins on its baked yummies. i especially dig the cinnamon sticks and had to tear my eyes away from the tasty-looking cookies in the display case. they also sell loaves for the beacon hill yuppies to take home. mark says the pancakes are pretty good. $10.

yowza: nearly all my favorite kinds of japanese street food, all housed under one roof. nothing beats the yakitori when you're in the mood for a grilled-chicken-skin-on-a-stick fix. also tried the scallion (eh), shiitake, beef tongue (excellent), chicken bone (possibly even better), and the plain ol' chicken yakitori. all of these are about $1.50-$2 a couple skewers. the hiroshamayaki is a version of the famed osakan specialty, okonomiyaki. noodles, fried into a big crispy pancake, held together by the yummy batter, sprinkled with parsley and green onion. and accompanied, as always, with mayonnaise. good, if standard, agedofu. skip on the sushi and get more of the chicken skin. spare interior with a dive-y feel. chuck berry tunes playing the background; this place is perfect for a cheap date. $6.

sound bites
somerville, past evoo.
challah french toast is gargantuan and just loaded with strawberries, grapes, pineapple, canteloupe, bananas, and mango (ripe mango in december in boston?!). four thick slices with big dollops of whipped cream. comes with maple syrup. otherwise, lots of standard breakfast stuff with cutesy menu editing (NoPlaceLikeHomefries?). small, clean, bright space. i've got to try the pancakes next. $6.

delux cafe
chandler st., south end (near clarendon).
very kitschy (lots of wall space devoted to the King, a mini xmas tree on the bar, our very authentic-looking 70's punk-inspired waitress), filled with lots of south-end trendy types. imaginative offerings that go well with what's on tap. had a tomato & spinach quesadilla, grilled so the torillas have lovely crunchy, golden exterior. comes with a dollop of sour creamp and some kind of vinegary relish/salsa. the tuscan meatloaf was okay, studded with lots of mushrooms and onions, all atop a sizeable mound of buttery mashed potatoes. the grilled cheese changes weekly; this one was olives and brie on slice of a pullman loaf. i wasn't a fan -- a little too pungent. it comes with some great slaw, though. $15.

taiwan cafe
chinatown, sort of near peach farm.
they have xiaolongbao here! that, alone, will bring me back, again and again. their version of the dumpling is ginormous, scalding but delectably savory, just the way i like it. skins could be a little more tender, but hey, who am i to quibble? the only other places i can find these things are in the PROC. the oyster pancakes aren't like my mom's, but they're [almost] as good. more oysters, less rice flour please. everyone seems to order these cast iron pots full of some tasty-looking broth with assorted bits floating about within. is it a noodle dish? guess the only way i'll know is if i go back and see for myself. don't bother with the taiwanese-style noodles; they're on the greasy side. $8.

rod dee II
peterborough st, fenway (next to el pelon)
cheap and tasty thai. jeff is the bestest for introducing me to this great little place. the pan-fried rice noodles with duck (N6 is wide & flat & N7 are stick noodles) is greasy as all hell but with this sweet-salty-almost-caramelly goodness that you just can't stop eating. very pleased with the green curry (i ordered it with chicken). aromatic and subtle, fresh vegetables are still nice and crisp. the thai lo mein is middling, typical of any crap chinese place. golden triangles are addicting little pillows of curried potatoes and peas in eggroll skins. will be back often to try it all. $6.

zaftigs delicatessen
harvard st, brookline
holy shit. their banana-stuffed challah french toast'll knock you on your ass. and if not, there's always the excellent potato pancakes (served with sour cream and applesauce). the lox & onion scrambled eggs were cooked just right, but lost out in the fight for stomach space. they're not so great when they get cold, but hey, it's our fault for not shoveling it all in fast enough (though we did try admirably). the corned beef hash & eggs, as well as the cheese blintzes, have been saved for a return trip. oh yes, there will be many. homey and comfortable, with a certain degree of electicism and artsiness as well. very brookline. we managed to avoid the crowds by eating at 9:30am, but i can testify that it's well worth any wait. well, almost any. $7.

greenhouse coffeehouse
harvard sq., opposite curious george bookshop.
best blueberry pancakes i've ever had in boston & surroundings. slightly crisp, nutty exterior, shitloads of blueberries that are not overly sweet, but just tangy & juicy enough. french toast wasn't so great -- a bit dry. they have the most ginormous cakes i've ever seen in my life here. about 8 inches tall. no joke. full of middle-aged & old folks & pretty packed for breakfast on a sunday morning at 8am. $6-8.

temple place, ladder district (between downtown crossing & the common).
my tech review.

8 high st., financial district.
a review i wrote for the tech but sadly went unpublished. be forewarned: it is LOOOOONNNG.

200 boylston, next to the commons & on the 2nd fl inside the four seasons (yes. very posh)
we've decided that this is the best restaurant in boston (er, keeping in mind that we haven't yet garnered sufficient funds for a dining experience at l'espalier). this was definitely the highlight of restaurant week for us. the staff is knowledgeable, well-trained & really very nice (sadly enough, a rare quality in restaurant service these days; snottiness and surliness seems to be the norm). service is absolutely impeccable. the room itself is, as dan surmised upon arrival, "opulent". but ohsocomfortable. and the food? executed perfectly. yes, PERFECTLY. the regular menus come rolled up in scrolls, secured by a ribbon. nice touch, i'll have to say. the bread basket comes chock full of toasted asiago cheese bagel slices (nice & crisp bubbly surface), cinnamon raison rolls, a soft pretzel-like roll, and rosemary foccacia. all quite good. & much, much better than the sad, boring little rolls at no. 9 or maison robert. ech. we tried heirloom tomtato & mozzarella salad (doused with a bit o' vinaigrette & sort of ensconced in a little fort of escarole. though skeptical about this whole "heirloom" thing at first, dan says they're the best tomatoes he's ever had in his life. they're pretty good. i had a smoked salmon, potato & leek grilled pizza to start -- probably the best of the lot -- and the portobella carpaccio with shallot relish, arugula, & shaved parm is a nice blend of textures & subtle flavors. main courses: lightly baked salmon w/ steamed lobster wontons, asian vegetables, lemon & soy vinaigrette; grilled mahi mahi w/ herb couscous, long beans, melon relish; roast breat of chicken w/ corn mashed potatoes; smoked beef tenderloin w/ grilled asparagus, sweet potatoes, and pearl onion chutney. i could wax ecstatic here about each one (and at great length), but i won't. it was bloody unbelievably good. i mean, the salmon & beef could have used a bit more pepper, but the couscous was fluffy and tender & the mashed potatoes were divine. for dessert: pineapple upside-down cake with kiwi coulis, a fruit tart, creme brulee, crispy chocolate cake, & the vanilla panna cotta with espresso anglaise. after the sad spectacle of maison robert's refrigerated, soggy pastry, the tender flaky crust of the fruit tart was a nice contrast. and the cream complimented the berries & kiwi perfectly: not too rich or too cloying. the chocolate cake was intense: creamy layers of an incredible, rich fondant interspersed with layers of a silky mousse. they weren't unmatched by the others, however. you best believe i'll be coming back here for their $30 prix fixe business lunch. or maybe for an elaborate $80 degustation (as soon as i find another job). $30.

cuchi cuchi
main st., opposite salts & royal east.
check out my tech review.

tremont 647
name should be obvious enough, no?
a very excellent meal here. had 1999 guenoc cabernet sauvignon (CA). bread is excellent: onion facaccia, chewy potato bread, crispy baked poppyseed flatbread. lobster mac'n'cheese is the ultimate comfort food, crunch ritz cracker crumbs. lobster adds nice texture and depth to the pasta. the pan seared sugar crusted giant scallops (homemade bacon + tabasco soaked cherries in a maple sauce) were the best, nice balance of savory with smoky sweetness. the bruschetta with olive tapenade, basil aioli & greens was ho-hum. grilled skirt steak (with truffle scented fontina-stuffed tatertots, ratatouille and dried tomatoes) was very tasty, very buttery (big dab of caper butter on top) and smooth. huge portion. tots were not so great; one was undercooked. not enough cheese, no sign of truffle oil & just overly ambitious. chilean sea bass wrapped in banana leaf, accompanied by coconut jasmin rice was light, but the fish has a great substantial meatiness. hoisin and sesame glaze emphasize delicate flavors well. shrimp pizza is not so good. don't even bother. szechwan pepper crusted grilled tuna steak is alright, very asian-y. latin spice crusted grilled veal sirloin is flavorful (not as tender as my skirt steak, however). the corna salsa that came alongside was delicious: sweet, crunch, compliments the avocado nicely. desserts, all excellent: poached pears with creme anglaise, banana cream pie (with nut brittle), frozen chocolate peanut butter mousse with raspberry and strawberry sauce -- very rich and dense, pistachio napoleon. server was a bitch, really surly. chefs seem like nice guys though. $25.

somewhere near kendall & inman. 134 hampshire. where daddy-o's used to be, i've been told.
chef ana sortun's new digs (after a very successful stint at casablanca) & ohsolovely. a really beautiful little dining room; lots of warm dark wood. & the food is just incredible (unsurprisingly). i forgot to record what i had there, but i'll be returning shortly to remind myself. probably one of the best restaurants in cambridge. $20-25.

punjabi dhaba
225 hampshire st., inman sq.
hear it's one of the most authentic indian places around. cheap, too. vegetable korma ($5) has a smoky deep tang (from the chili peppers, i think); i prefer bombay cafe's, but it's not bad. saag paneer ($5) is standard but good. mark had the vegetarian combo (for $8), which has a bit of everything, the korma and saag panner, a samosa, and biryani. all dishes come on charmingly low-budget stainless steel cafeteria trays with a big ol' pile of basmati rice, chutney and a large pool of raita. i like this place alot. will return often. $5.

mass ave, next to middle east in central sq.
middle eastern. served pita bread with a spiced olive oil -- smoky taste that did strange things to the oil's taste. not sure if i liked it or not. appetizers looked so good, we ordered 15 of them. the best of the lot (don't remember any of the names): eggplant over ground lamb, kebabs (chicken and lamb were moist and tender), spinach dumpling things (so good, wish we'd had more), and these little eggroll-looking things with lamb inside. yum. really vile steamed veggie dish (was it the eggplant salad? not sure.). olive pate was really pungent; i wasn't a fan, though i usually like olives. salmon was a bit bland. lemon mousse for dessert was excellent. puckery sourness. semolina cake was dry and spongy but would have liked it were it not for the, er, unique taste. decor is very SF bistro -- reminds me of delfina, actually, with its pale mustard walls, big mirrors. cool paintings. $20.

emma's pizzeria
hampshire st maybe, across the street from kendall square (& cinema).
i never thought i'd find better pizza than figs', but here it is. the smells coming from the kitchen make one salivate upon stepping through the door. The crust is light & not too chewy or doughy, while the rosemary sauce is fantastic -- a touch sweet, complimenting the tangy goat cheese perfectly. one of the last ones on the menu was kinda ehhh (#8 or 10, i forget which), but all are better than your average pie. lots of garlic, lots of flavors. damn good pizza. $10-15.

sam's luncheonette
mass ave, next to the gas station by star market, just a few blocks away from mit.
my new favorite place for breakfast. friendly rocco mans the stoves, serving up a sizeable blueberry pancake ($1.75 & more than enough for a meal), omelets (tomato & cheese was pretty good), and the like. get your own drink from the fridge, & grab a stool at the counter or at the rickety table in the back. yessiree, it's a greasy spoon, but it's open at 4am & a favorite with truckers. can't beat that. $5.

no. 9 park
park st
for boston restaurant week, i tried the chilled corn soup to start (pretty tasty, but much better to look at, with its dollops of olive oil sitting atop the creamy pale yellow surface, sprigs of purslane & floating chanterelles), while linda had the liver pate. the pate came with some toasted bread, a dollop of heavily seeded mustard, a fresh fig, and some highly acidic gherkins. but very velvety & smooth. pretty big portions, considering how much griping there's been about meager repasts other diners have had. i had the roast pork for my main course; linda, the roast chicken. both were excellent -- the pork had an especially savory, crackly skin, & the chicken was quite succulent -- but i was disappointed by the remarkable similarity between the piles of braised vegetables we both had under our slabs of meat. dessert was a flourless chocolate cake. i keep hoping this trend will die, but clearly, it's still going strong. ah well. while good, it was nothing particularly special.

flour bakery + cafe
washington st., 3 blocks east of mass ave; south end.
how can i not gush about this place? the heirloom tomato gazpacho was creamy, refreshing, with just the right amount of garlic. i had one of the specials: a portobella melt with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, & pesto. nate had this fantastic roast chicken with brie & roasted red peppers. both on olive oil & rosemary foccacia. joyce's sandwich was on some dense french -- tuna with an olive tapenade, tomatoes (or peppers, maybe). all quite tasty. not as good as darwin's in the sandwich department, but joanne chang's desserts win it all, hands down. connie loved the raspberry bars & bread pudding, & i've only tried the apple spice cake, but believe you me, i'll be back for much, much more. $10.

davis sq., somerville
wow. one of the best indian places in the metropolitan area -- vying with tanjore (see below) for first place. the interior and the exceptional service, however, both give this establishment a slight edge over the latter. we had both naan and poori with some chicken and mushrooms, chicken korma, saag paneer, and chicken dosas. yes, lots and lots of chicken. everything was tasty, but surprisingly, despite our requests for the contrary, the first two main courses weren't all that spicy at all. the dosas, on the other hand, had some sort of unidentifiably spicy kick to them. i wish more places served these things too; i've never had dosas before, but i'll be having them again, i'm sure. the saag paneer was good, but not exceptionally so. the same could be said about the korma -- while more complex than, perhaps, bombay cafe's version, i wasn't particularly blown away by it. and yet, overall, the dishes were very, very good, and the waitstaff was quite attentive. i give em two thumbs up, and i'll be back soon. $16 will fill you up.

the helmand
143 first street, by the cambridgeside galleria
there's definitely good reason for the 24 (out of 30) zagat awarded to this establishment. (that's a really, REALLY good score, by the way.) after the slew of expensive restaurants we've recently visited (and especially expensive on the student budget), this was refreshingly reasonable and the food was not only comparable, but outshone some of the pricier places which will go unnamed (er, ahem, casa romero). this is an afghani (afghanistani?) place -- there's a bit of an indian feel to some of the dishes, particularly the chicken curry dish that rachel ordered and the vegetable dish that mark got. i've had better bread, but it was a nice change from the usual yeasty and altogether too filling concoctions at some other area restaurants. i started off with a fantastic soup (i seem to be on a liquid meal kick), the mashawna: mung beans, lentils, lamb -- all heavily spiced with garlic, pepper and other tasty stuff. the dumpling appetizer (first menu item) and the roasted eggplant atop a puree of pumpkin and a yogurt sauce (reminiscent of salts' presentation) were excellent. the dumplings (the motowna? i forget) i got for my main course were excellent and heavily laden with garlic, which is fine by me. i'm sure that, the day after my dinner here, everyone within a 20 foot radius knew i'd had a little garlic. no room for dessert. mark's vegetable thing, while good, wasn't altogether memorable, and rachel lost again with her chicken. it was a bit dry and not even that tasty. that aside, i love this place, and i'll most certainly be returning -- mostly because i haven't had a chance to try dessert yet. 3 people, $60 with tip. (good, yes?)

hidden somewhere on mt. auburn in harvard sq.
incredible sandwich place. thank you, dave, for introducing me to this cute little place. i had the story on this very good 7-grain bread chock-full of raisins: just the perfect amount of excellent prosciutto, huge and meaty chunks of fresh mozzarella, tomato, not too much lettuce, pesto and an herb vinaigrette. fantastic. also like the ash: boursin & roast beef. very substantial. the mount auburn is the best turkey sandwich: smoked turkey, avocado, lettuce & tomato. their club is also very good but all that special. hubbard park is the best vegetarian option. very sweet, with a honey-like glaze over crisp carrot slices & apples, hummus and sprouts. all breads are made by nashoba brook bakery. all cookies by lakota bakery. they have sandwich-making perfected to an art. $7.

798 main st. a few blocks down from kendall t, next to royal east.
wow, this place impressed me (and my sister & rachel as well). it has a very san francisco trendy restaurant feel, what w/ the mustard walls & tastefully selected wall hangings, but the food was better than much of what i had in SF. i'm not sure if this is particular to the fall menu, but there was a heavy emphasis on butternut squash on our visit. which is fine by me, cos they sure know how to cook the stuff. i had some delicious soup made from said squash, adorned with a little airy crustless quiche/egg thingie (i'm sure there's some technical term for it, but i'm not about to go look it up right now). one of the best soups i've had as of late. we also sampled the pierogi and the gypsy bundles. the former consists of two substantial dumplings on a bed of tasty sauteed onions & a combination of two wonderful sauces -- the more prominent one being a puree of that beloved squash. for main courses, we had the lamb and the roast duckling. the former came with a timpale of, yes, more ssquash in the center on a bed of some sort of bitter greens and accompanied with "heirloom" (the waiter's word, not mine) black barley. the lamb itself had been marinated with tea and was cooked to medium rare perfection, but the balance of flavors overall bordered on the strange. the duckling on the otherhand was just amazing in every way. okay, well except for the strangely textured (and very large) beans (fava?) that came alongside. i must add here that every dish that came to the table was beautifully presented and executed. desserts were also good, though not outstanding: i had the sour lemon curd tart (with added sourness from the garnish of cherries), and rachel had a white chocolate pudding covered with berries. overall, one of the best dining experiences to date here.

brown sugar cafe
good date place. we had the tofu triangles for an appetizer (and while i prefer the agedofu at takeshima, this wasn't bad -- just a bit bland) & "the green lady" and country-style pad thai for main courses. it's served family style (which i quite prefer myself). both of those were really good. the former is a substantial salmon filet wrapped in a cabbage leaf, accompanied by some blanched vegetables, all under this really tasty red curry sauce. the latter wasn't all the spicy, but it was pretty damn good nevertheless. fairly standard. the whole thing cost about $30 for two.

inman sq, kinda, sorta.
good portuguese here -- especially the tapas selections. the marinated octopus salad is unusually tender, and the briny, vinegar-y broth it's in really compliments the flavors of the sea. one of the small plates, toasted white cornbread with queso, came with this amazing pate. the littleneck clams were tasty -- more of the broth with an extra bit of garlic. i'm sure we could've gone with any of the shellfish or seafood and have been satisfied. we had the paella-like main dish, and it probably wasn't as filling as the pork loin medallions seemed (we eyed our neighbors'). and, while the authenticity of our european servers was charming at first, i was less than amused by their inattention. the old dude was nice and all, but i spent a great deal of the meal waiting for him to appear (in vain). the interior of this place has its own charm, what with the warm yellow paint on the walls and the various knick-knacks adorning the walls. haven't tried dessert yet, but i'll definitely be returning here. $40 for two.

harvard sq, on brattle, 2 doors down from HMV
they've got these wonderfully huge murals from the eponymous film. this place has a pretty romantic feel; dim lighting & the whole bit. first, i can't forget to mention the amazing olive oil on the tables -- perhaps the best i've ever had; really very fruity and flavorful. i would've drunk it straight from the bottle if the thought weren't just, well, kinda gross. we started off with a chicken appetizer (i forget the name exactly -- cassavia maybe -- but it consisted of a grape salad & shreded chicken on toasted pita). it was quite good. i won with my main course: the mixed grill, squid & quail with fig sausage stuffing on creamed corn. it beat out connie's cod and rachel's venison (which, while substantially meaty, was a bit over-peppered and i wasn't all that impressed with the apple pumpkin crepe that came alongside (esp after my numerous visits to the aforementioned favorite). this probably isn't a good place to go if you're vegetarian; there's a heavy emphasis on protein. anyhow, my dessert was a real let-down. little did i realize that the chocolate cardamom tartlet was in fact one of those ubiquitous low-flour-melty-in-the-middle chocolate souffle/pudding cakes. one of the only times i didn't finish my dessert. the apricot bread pudding and the poached pear/huckleberry were both much better. $20 (ended up being about $92 for the 3 of us, sans tip.)

casa romero
on gloucester, between comm ave & newbury (entrance in the alley around the corner from L'Espalier)
this place is a real charmer. the interior has a really warm feel to it: all tile and wood and not too dimly lit. i think perhaps, that i came with rather overwrought expectations. i wasn't all that impressed with the food per se, but it's a really nice place to go if you're on a date perhaps or with a group & you want mexican but not of the taco bell variety. my stuffed squid was good. nothing compared to that i had at casablanca (see above), but i think it beat out connie's orange sauce glazed pork tenderloin. rachel's chicken tenderloin was also quite good -- romero's version of chicken parm, we decided. for dessert, the mexican mocha pie definitely won out over the flan. $17-20.

brookline, near coolidge corner theatre
decent sushi & sashimi. not particularly inventive and i was a little saddened by the not very vinegary rice they use, but not expensive and doesn't have the ridiculous wait of fugakyu (perhaps for good reason). $15-20.

pho pasteur
various locations; my favorite one's in harvard sq. in the garage, next to john harvard's.
so you're low on cash but you need a good meal -- here's where to get it. it's a perennial favorite of mine. you can get a ginormous, piping-hot bowl of pho for under $7, replete with all sorts of tasty morsels. i haven't even had the pho, the last 20 times i've gone -- too busy trying all the other yummy dishes. connie's a big fan of 31 (with the wide, flat noodles, not the yellow thin ones).

the blue room
1 kendall sq (by the movie theatre)
one of the best places in cambridge. nouveau americain; excellent salmon, good desserts. grand, open & dimly-lit space. $20

elephant walk
(porter sq T, walk towards davis sq on mass ave, it's on the right)
cambodian/french. they've actually split the menu in half. cool vibe, good food, but i think pricey for what you get. i'm a bit more impressed w/ pho pasteur, actually. $15

john harvard's
harvard sq in the garage (next to pho pasteur)
decent pub staples. i hear the shepherd's pie is tasty, but last i checked, it wasn't on the menu. i had the meatloaf. it was alright. not the first place i'd eat at in harvard sq though. $12-15

various locations (charles/mgh T, walk down charles; it's on the right about 4 blocks from the T station)
damn good pizza. famousfamousfamous boston restaurant propietor todd english makes really good cracker-y thin gourmet pizza. $10-18. he also owns olives, located in charlestown (there's a figs next door there.)

les zygomates
129 south street (b/w chinatown & the leather district, wherever that is) french. they have a prix fixe menu weekdays ($20 for 3 courses!) and the place has a really nice interior -- very bistro. $13-20.

east ocean city
chinatown. somewhere on beach st. (maybe 57? i dunno.)
one of a very short list of good chinese restaurants i know of in boston. great for large groups. heavy on the protein. tasty tasty seafood. try to go with someone who can read the real-chinese-food menu (read: no english!). $20

victoria seafood
kenmore, by the BU stops
another one of the good chinese places. and also specializing in seafood. $15.

linwood grill
81 kilmarnock st (fenway i think)
super tasty, mostly southern comfort food, a little caribbean, & the phoenix says they've got "good fried things". haha. don't go if you're on a diet. or if you're a vegetarian. $8-17.

north end on that street where everything else is
zagat and citysearch give this place props for their excellent sauces and pasta, but you know -- it was just too damn crowded. and talk about your hole-in-the-wall. still, it was pretty tasty. $20

columbus ave i think. in the south end, but reachable from the theatre district (boylston T or park st T).
supertrendy french-influenced nouveau americain. everyone wears black. heavy on the protein. and not the tofu kind. one of the best meals of my life there. very very very good desserts. $25-30. unless you get a pizza, but that's just wussy. worth every penny (and believe me, it'll be alot of em).

ole mexican grill
11 springfield st (inman sq -- just about 6+ blocks from 77 mass ave maybe) pretty good tex-mex, with a little oaxacan thrown in for authenticity. yummy chile rellenos. $9-17. on the same block as

jae's cafe
americanized and trendified korean food (w/ some sushi of course). usually pretty busy. not as good as wu chan house (see below). $15.

wu chon house
somerville (somewhere in the square, i believe)
really good, really authentic korean food (as confirmed by linus). just thinking about the bulgogi & bulkalbi makes me salivate. not to mention the kimchi. a must: the spicy tofu soup. mmmm... $16 (but after your 3rd order of bbq, it starts to add up.)

18 eliot st. (harvard)
excellent indian. my favorite. nice uncheesy eating environment. there's one particular specialty curry they have that is just divine, but i can't remember the name right now. does it start with the letter "M"? dunno. $9-13.

anna's taqueria
porter sq, right by the T
nothing beats this place if you're in mood for a big ol burrito. nothing all that special, but satisfying & great when all you've got is the spare change you found under the couch cushions. okay, granted, it's still alot of change, but it's not going to break the bank. $6.

central sq.
along the same lines as the aforementioned AT, but a little more inventive and a little more authentic & less dive-y feel. they do some fantastic salsa (always, always, i repeat, get the spiciest one. i don't know what happened to the green one, but i miss it) & you might try something with the mole sauce if you're feeling a bit feisty. $7.

west-side lounge
b/w harvard & porter sq on mass ave. kind of a schlep.
my sister really digs this place. says their garlic mashed potatoes are fabulous. a little yuppified, but they're pretty inventive with their take on american food. i went last year while studying for finals but was really ill so couldn't enjoy my meal. austin & dave really liked it, though. $15-20.

26 charles st.
good, well-prepared food, pretty small portions (esp dessert. thbbpppt.) waiting staff tends to be a little snotty i had the monkfish on the white bean ragout. a nice, simple treatment and melding of flavors. a rather small (i suppose intimate would be the preferred euphemism) space, but the interior is inviting -- if a bit cozy. $16-22.

the paddock
okay, despite the weird, pastoral name, my family enjoyed an incredible meal here. i had some delectable fish (too bad i forget what it was exactly); connie had this great pasta with ginormous scallops; and both parents had 2 lb lobsters. they do shellfish to perfection, i must add. those lobsters were way too big though. reminded me of a julia child episode...well, nevermind. i highly recommend this place if you're out on the cape. $25-30.

places i was less than excited about:
fire & ice, brew moon, sidney's grill, lala rokh (yes, ignore all the hype), legal seafood

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