Well, I can't any kind of banh mi but Sea Salt is a good place to eat. If you're in Berkeley and you're looking for good Japanese food, try Norikonoko. Very small, very much a two-person, home-style restaurant but waaaay more Japanese than most of the places you find in the U.S. (I lived in Japan for a year and have a pretty good idea of what's authentically Japanese.) It's near campus on Telegraph a block below Dwight.
Well, I was just going to say I went down to Faneuil Hall every night to eat at Cheers — what could be more Bostonian than that! — but, no, I didn't.
No dinner the first night except horrible Chinese at O'Hare. Got into Logan at 12:45 am.
The next day at lunch I went to Tapeo on Newbury (or is it Newb'ry?) since it was close to the conference center. Not bad, not great. The pulpo a feira was good, the duck breast with fois gras and red cabbage okay if a little, okay, more than a little, greasy. And salty. But I'm a sucker for salt.
Dinner was fabulous, however. Erbaluce — thanks for the recommendation — was a block from my hotel and I spent a lovely evening at the bar learning about Boston's "cordial" liquor license. (Thanks, Nick, for the lesson.) Razor clams steamed with fennel, very unlike the razor clams I grew up with on the West Coast but still delicious if a little sandy. The silver hake with greens and gigante beans was excellent.
The next night I took the T and walked in the rain to Casa Portugal. I would have a good recommendation just for the experience. People on Yelp have complained about the service but I thought the waitresses were efficient and personable given how busy the restaurant was. (I've worked in restaurants myself and have more sympathy for restaurant staff than other people I know.) The caldo verde could have used a bit more kale IMHO — mine does — but it was good. The pork with clams were delicious though I wish I had someone to split the dish with. I liked the idea of cooking the three components — pork, clams and potatoes — separately and then mixing them right before serving. Many of the customers knew each other making the restaurant feel more small town.
I stopped at Christina's for ice cream afterwards. A little disappointing. If you're ever in SF, be sure to hit Humphrey Slocombe or Ici in Berkeley. Worth the trip to the Mission or Elmwood.
Monday night I went to see Paul Revere's house and eat at Neptune Oyster, on your and Nick's recommendation. Despite what someone mentioned, there aren't really many oyster bars on the West Coast like the Neptune. There's one in SF and a bigger one in Portland (OR, not ME), both fairly old. Mostly the seafood bars that do exist are part of a larger restaurant (McCormick and Schmick's, e.g.). Yummy. And real tight. Even had a kumamoto from back home on Willapa Bay. (That's pronounced WILL-ah-pah, not wi-LAP-ah, for those of you not from there.)
Finally, I lunch yesterday at Jacob Wirth. Mostly because it's been around so long (and because I had/have a cold and it was close to the hotel). But I love sausages and sauerkraut, too, so I enjoyed it. The food wasn't absolutely fabulous but it had some integrity (that is, it wasn't trying to be something it wasn't) and tasted good, though I like my sauerkraut a little more cooked.
So, all in all, I had a good time and thanks, thanks, thanks for taking the time to give me your recommendations. (BTW, loved the dixie cup comment.)
Jacob Wirth Restaurant
Hi, I'm going to be in Boston (first time) for a conference at the Hynes Conference Center for 4 nights and am looking for reasonably priced but good dinners. (I have little hope for anything interesting at the conference itself but hope to have some nice meals at night...with your help.) I'm from the Bay Area — well, I live there but I'm from Washington State — and I'm not rich so I'm looking for something reasonable but good and, if possible, "regional". And by regional, I could mean Portuguese or Cape Verdean. I mean, the Tadich Grill is a SF institution but it was started by Croatians.
But really, I'd like something good that will make the trip and change in time zones worth it. Really, something amusing or with integrity would do just fine.
Oh, and I'm gluten-intolerant. Which sucks but what can you do?
Thanks for any and all suggestions.
My wife and I will be in SF Tuesday evening (downtown) and I'd like to take her out for a drink. Someplace along the classic cocktail line and relatively unpretentious. More interested in the drinks than the scene. I'd particularly am on the lookout for an Aviation since I don't feel like buying a whole bottle of Creme de Violette for (potentially) one drink.
The Hungarian double-smoked bacon is good, too. I did get a very reasonable bottle of Croatian wine (the true home of zinfandel, some say) there. I'm more skeptical of the Ukrainian and Bulgarian stuff.
The German who works there says you can get fresh sauerkraut sometimes or you can order it most of the time. (It comes from Saag's.) Someday I hope they'll have the cherry sausage.
I've never had a passable burrito in Walnut Creek but, like many of the other posters, I've good ones in Concord. (Though I can't eat them anymore since I seem to be gluten intolerant.) There really are some decent Mexican (and/or Salvadoran) restaurants (and/or taquerias) in Concord, especially along Monument and in downtown. My favorite right now (which I ate at this afternoon) is Los Rancheros (1099 Reganti Dr and across the parking lot from one of my favorite Korean restaurants, Korean BBQ Plus). Desayuno all day! And caldo de pollo most days. Homemade tortillas, too, if you get the tacos grandes. Bionicos and fresh juice, too. It's the only place in memory that actually fried and coated the tortillas in chili sauce in their enchiladas. (That's what enchilada means.)
El Rancho is in the same shopping center; I wasn't impressed but it's THE place for dancing on weekends - lot's of cowboy boots and hats and pick-up trucks and corridas. Mexican Burritos across Reganti is okay; much more of a guy place. It's close to Tortilleria El Molino which one of our janitor highly recommends.
Another nearby place no one has mentioned is Chivo's which next to the police substation at the NW corner of Oak Grove and Monument, near La Rosa Panaderia. Though it went downhill a little when they opened Chivo's #2 on Clayton. You can skip Los Toros. There's also a Mexican/Salvadoran place across from Chivo's that's decent. I was singularly unimpressed by El Faro near the Safeway on Monument.
Las Montanas and La Pinata and Memo's are all good (they're more restaurants, not taquerias). Memo's has the best food, imo, but the margaritas at La Pinata are nice...if you can stand the noise. El Torito is surprisingly good for a chain, and so is Chevy's (though it's in Pleasant Hill).
I was unimpressed with Los Dos Gallos; the taqueria down the street used to be better though bleak. I prefer Los Altos in the Park-n-Shop strip.
I was disappointed with El Balazo. Way too gringo.
If you like pupusas, check out the pupuseria on Clayton Road next to Mountain Mike's. It just changed names and I don't remember what it's called now. What's not to like? Deep-fried pork skin and cheese in masa with Salvadoran cole slaw. The chairs are authentically uncomfortable, too.
My two cents worth.