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I'm looking for cheaper places to eat while we're in Boston later this summer. I'd love to go to Neptune Oyster Company and others, but entrees in the high 20s/low 30s are beyond our price range. We're going to be staying in Cambridge 1 block from the Red Line, so we can travel to anywhere.

 

Also, is the North End like NYC's Little Italy, in that most or all of the restaurants are tourist traps? Or can one get a decent meal there?

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Yes. Mostly tourist traps, but I think there are a couple good old school Italian places (but I don't know what they are). Decent pastries at Modern and Mike's. Worth a work thorugh, definitely.

 

For a cheap and more authentic version of the Neptune Experience (ie. old school Boston lobster institutions) Yankee Lobster near the Harpoon Brewery is pretty awesome but a bit out there (though easy if you're taking the metor to the Convention Center). You can do a brewery tour after, which is pretty cool, if you're into that kind of thing. James Hook is a bit closer to the downtown and much the same. Both will get you the Boston lobster experience.

 

Otherwise, you can get a totally good cheap, if vegetarian meal at Clover near Harvard Square and Mr. Bartley's Burgers are a thing. Toscanini does some of the best ice cream out there. Anna's Taqueria is a guilty pleasure but also a pleasure. Cutty's for a sandiwch lunch if your'e in Brookline and Matt Murphy's pub does a traditional corned beef dinner which I recall being not too bad. Publick House is over there if you're into beer but also serves food.

 

Picco in the South End does pretty good pizza and you can split one for about $20-25. There's some okay pho in Brighton/Alston (Le's).

 

Some of this is probably out of date, but it should at least get you started.

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Avoid Durgin Park.

 

Confirming Adrian's recommendations:

- Matt Murphy's also does a great fish and chips. Not terribly convenient to Cambridge.

- Anna's Taqueria is good. I also like El Pelon over by Fenway Park

 

Used to eat pricey sandwiches at High Rise Bakery in Cambridge. Fluor bakery in the South End was also decent for lunch.

 

I like Toscanini for ice cream but Christina's is also worth a stop. Just down from East Coast Grill which might be on the edge of your price range but decent food if you order the simple stuff.

 

Delux Cafe in the South End can have good food. Pretty easy trip on the T.

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East Coast Grill does a good job. Good call, SL.

 

Also, you'll be pretty close to the Flour Bakery near MIT which does its thing well - kind of lime a less sweet, less trashy milk bar. The breton cake is a decent version of a kouign amann. Miracle of Science is a nice bar nearby that has mediocre food and a mediocre tap list but a really nice space with huge windows.

 

Also, if you sneak into Craigie on Main as it opens and sit at the bar, you can get your hands on one of the better burgers out there. Not sure of the current price but it's probably in range.

 

If you'll go into the low-mid $20s, Maws has a new(ish) casual place called Kirkland Tap and Trotter that is probably quite good and again seems to be on the edge of the price range ($24 for a 1/2 chicken, $35 pp for a mini-tasting menu, $16 for a burger).

 

Bronwyn, the new, slightly cheaper, TW Food spin-off may also be in range and should do a good job.

 

Again, can't speak to the last two, but they're both run by talented chefs whose more upscale restaurants are quite good.

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Actually, it has been a couple of years but there are still a couple of gems in the North End:

 

I always had decent Italian American meals at the Daily Catch in the North End (don't go to any of their other locations). I used to lunch on a small plate of squid ink pasta with garlic and oil and a side of broccoli. Wine in plastic cups is always fun.

 

Galleria Umberto had good Arancini to snack on. I never liked their pizza.

 

Good subs (grinders? hoagies?) at Dino's.

 

Ernesto's Pizza is good but your frame of reference is New York pizza so maybe not worth it.

 

Maria's pastry is better for cannoli, sfogliatelle, and biscotti than either Modern or Mike's. But Modern has much better plain torrone.

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I'll second Maria's pastry shop (46 Cross St.) for cannoli and their pasticciotti are worth a try as well, especially as a different take from the ones available at Gian Piero (in Astoria.)

 

For no-frills lobster sandwiches, I've had good luck with Alive & Kicking Lobsters in Cambridge (269 Putnam Ave.) A retail shop preparing them to order. Sandwich and bag of chips for $14 a couple years back. Apparently up to $15-17 these days, according to yelp.

 

If you're in Brookline and looking for a bakery, Clear Flour Bread (178 Thorndike St.) is a nice stop. Sweets and savories, both good.

 

Same for Flour Bakery, mentioned above, though their savories go beyond breads. Better than decent quiche at the South End location on a 2012 visit.

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This is all great stuff. I'll have to check them all out. I'm hoping we get good weather so that we can walk around a lot. I know N will like the North End so that's why I asked if there's anything decent to eat in the neighborhood.

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Boston also has a number of light rail and PCC car routes.

 

The Green Line out to Boston College is enjoyable, as is the ride out to Mattapan.The Blue line to Airport and Wonderland is also quite pleasant. A branch of the Green Line to Riverside was once the Riverside branch of the Boston & Albany railroad, rebuilt for light rail. Lovely old stone stations in quaint villages.

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  • 3 months later...

We had a fabulous time, and thanks to all for your recommendations. We did end up splurging at Neptune Oyster Company, but couldn't believe that at 2:45 PM on a Friday there was a 1 1/2-hour wait. Holiday weekend and all, but still. We used the time wisely and got a small snack nearby and walked around some. The lobster roll was fabulous and we had an octopus salad that was literally the best octopus I've ever tasted, and I live in a Greek neighborhood.

 

Maria's was amazing and looked and tasted like the real deal--Mike's and Modern both seemed very touristy, Mike's in particular. We took home biscuits and amaretti and these chocolate allspice cookies filled with figs & nuts.

 

Adrian, thanks for the tip about Yankee Lobster. We had a nice long walk out there and yet another long wait, but the plain steamed lobster was New England perfection. The funny part was the night before, we were watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and they happened to be featured on the show (for their cod cakes and lobster mac & cheese). We went to Flour Bakery by MIT twice for breakfast and stopped off at the Back Bay location on our way home. Everything we had there was really good--I especially liked the breakfast egg sandwich, sticky buns, and chocolate muffin. And of course we ventured to Toscanini, once for the ice cream and once on our way from one of the Flour Bakery breakfasts so that N could get their mocha made with chocolate ganache.

 

We were considering going to Citizen Public for dinner yesterday, but I came down with a small cold and didn't want anything but soup. Right outside the Central Square Red Line stop is an H Mart with a small food court, so we had ramen from the Sapporo Ramen stall.

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Any good recos for dinner tonight or tomorrow? Craigie on Main is really all I know in this city...I'm staying downtown at the Ames. Price is not a big deal- nothing splurgy necessary, though.

 

My usual:

 

Neptune, Craigie, Bondir, Oleana. Bondir would probably be my choice if I didn't want to wait at Neptune. Butcher Shop is good if you're staying closer to south end, Island Creek if you're near Kenmore. The original Toro could be a fun comparison piece, or Coppa.

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