Boston’s Food Scene – Now that you’re a local…

by Katie Andrews

To welcome incoming Friedman students last year, the Sprout ran an article on the Boston Food Scene, highlighting some of the culinary delights students would experience upon arriving in town. Author Lesley Sykes gave us a thorough run-down of Boston’s food history, as well as recommending some key neighborhoods to check out.

As nutrition students, food is often a hot topic at Friedman. But rather than just tell you where to get some good grub, I thought it would be even better to provide some recommendations that will satisfy both your stomach and your conscience.

Below is a listing of Boston restaurants that source (almost all) their ingredients locally. The local movement has gained some serious traction in Boston this year (I reviewed the First Annual Boston Local Food Festival for the Sprout last October) and restaurants are getting on board, changing menus seasonally, monthly or even daily to provide customers with food from our city’s backyard. This list doesn’t cover it all, so please let me know if there are some local-sourcing favorites that I have missed. Bon Appétit!

Price Points are by $ sign – $-$$$. Menu pages is a great resource online to check out price points before heading out the door but these should provide a helpful reference.

* Note: the starred locations are those that come with my personal seal of approval!

South End

Coda * – $$ – Located on Columbus Ave in the South End, Coda is an unassuming neighborhood restaurant serving locally inspired soups and sandwiches at lunch and more complex entrees in the evening. The food is consistently good and Chef Charlie’s creative use of seasonal ingredients keeps the menu interesting.

Toro* – $$$ – Arguably the best tapas in Boston, Ken Oringer’s Toro delivers an eclectic array of small plates in a romantic, Spanish-inspired setting. No reservations here, so plan to saddle up at the bar for a tasty cocktail, hand-shaken by the highly skilled bartenders. If you can’t stand waiting during the dinner rush, pay a visit during brunch; you can get perfectly cooked scrambled eggs and dates stuffed with almonds and blue cheese then wrapped in Serrano ham all in one meal.

Back Bay

b.good (multiple locations)* – $ – With locations throughout Boston and the surrounding suburbs, this burger/salad joint boasts both local ingredients and local founders! Started right here in Boston, b.good has a variety of burgers (beef, turkey, veggie, chicken) that can be served with a variety of toppings (I recommend the Cousin Oliver and a side of sweet potato fries).

Post 390 – $$$ – A self-proclaimed “urban tavern,” Post 390 is more of a mega-restaurant, with two large bars, an exhibition kitchen and three cozy fireplaces. The menu is varied enough to please many palates, with lobster rolls that remain available throughout the winter and specialties from the smoker that change every evening.

Somerville

Journeyman* – $$$ – Journeyman is definitely a special occasion dinner; the menu is available only as a 3, 5, or 7 course tasting. But the unique qualities of the nightly changing menu may end up stealing the show away from any special occasion you choose to celebrate there. Offerings are based on the current season’s availability, but don’t be surprised to see gorgeous peaches from their well-stocked pantry gracing the menu in the desolate month of February.

Cambridge – Central Square

Craigie on Main* – $$$ – Two time James Beard nominee Tony Maws does not disappoint at Craigie on Main. Arguably the best burger in Boston, this spot can be heavy on the meat (entire pig’s head anyone?), but also delivers deliciously delicate local offerings based on “the very best the market has to offer that day.”

Four Burgers – $ – Another local burger spot, Four Burgers expands the traditional offerings with a salmon burger, to include our pescetarian friends. The menu also includes two hot dogs but doesn’t extend much beyond that, so come prepared for some two-handed, non-utensil eating. You can also order online!

Cambridge – Inman Square

Bondir – $$ – Started by the former chef of the Beacon Hill Bistro, the menu at Bondir represents “the bounty of New England.” Upon browsing this bounty on the daily changing menu, I must say I feel lucky to live in New England; Celery Bisque with Foraged Mushrooms, Spice-Poached Beets with Pumpkin Seeds, and Rosemary Risotto with Scituate Scallops. Maybe New England in the winter isn’t so bad…

Cambridge – Between Central and Harvard Square

Canteen* – $ – Canteen is a café style eatery located next to Garden at the Cellar (see below) offering breakfast classics all day, signature sandwiches on Cambridge’s own Iggy’s Bread, salads, soups and crepes. Yes, crepes, like you would find in France. Their vast menu of both sweet and savory crepes definitely sets this place apart from the other lunch spots focusing on traditional offerings.

Garden at The Cellar* – $$ – Located right next to Canteen (see above), Garden is a comfortable, neighborhood style restaurant that consistently puts out a unique offering of delicious foods. Quickly a favorite in my house, this is a place worth visiting as the seasons, and their menu, change. They don’t take reservations but will do you one better; the bar downstairs is also theirs, and provides a cozy atmosphere to enjoy some craft beer or flat bread pizza while waiting for your table.

Cambridge – Harvard Square

Henrietta’s Table* – $$$ – “Honest to goodness New England cooking” at the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square is what Henrietta’s Table delivers. Their chef, Peter Davis, was named Sustainer of the Year by Chef’s Collaborative for his emphasis on delicious, local, and seasonal foods. Even without the title, Henrietta’s is worth a visit, and was awarded “Best Brunch in Boston” by the Improper Bostonian for 8 years (before giving up the title to Garden at the Cellar in 2010!)

Ten Tables – $$ – Ten Tables views the role of a neighborhood restaurant as more than just choosing popular Boston areas to set up shop. A true neighborhood restaurant “supports the efforts of local partners” and “welcomes customers to feel as comfortable as they do in their own home.” If Hand Made Pappardelle with Delicata Squash and Pan Seared Artic Char with Brussels Sprouts were offered in my home, I wouldn’t need to go to Ten Tables. Unfortunately they are not, so to TT I shall go.

Cambridge – Porter Square

Rafiki Bistro – $ – They serve the “finest” coffee in Cambridge (self-proclaimed) made from fairly-traded, organic beans and target their menu offerings to “community members with conscientious consumption habits.” If you aren’t looking for a guilt-less cup of Joe, check out the dinner or brunch menus, boasting an array of burgers, pizza and vegan entrees.

Cambridge – Kendall Square

Think Tank* – $$ – Described as a bistrotheque aimed to feed your “mind, body and soul,” Think Tank offers an eclectic, global menu as well as the option to turn dinner into a dance party. The restaurant transforms itself into a club around 11pm, complete with retro disco ball. If dancing isn’t your thing, there are some vintage video games and even a photo booth (if the night is one you want to remember).

EVOO* – $$$ – Named Best Eclectic Restaurant by Zagat two years running, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) not only uses locally sourced products, but also lists the different farms they work with on their menu. They offer a daily 3-course menu in addition to the a la carte menu, but I recommend going a la carte and ordering the Chinese Box, a delicious concoction of mustard shrimp, sesame-hoisin beef and gingered brown rice. You’ve never seen something so good come out of a traditional Chinese take-out box.

Jamaica Plain

Ten Tables – $$ – See above – JP is the original!

Canary Square – $$ – The new sister restaurant to Coda (see above), Canary Square’s chef is a member of the Mayor’s Urban Agriculture Working Group which advises the city on green and sustainable practices. The menu is gauged toward comfort food; popcorn, deviled eggs, pulled chicken and chili are just a few of the tasty offerings. And don’t forget to save room for the Deep-Fried Twinkies – every nutrition student’s dream!

Whew! I’m hungry now. Damn it feels good to be a (Boston) local.

Katie Andrews is a 1st year Nutrition Communications student also pursuing the DPD credits for her dietetic internship. She loves writing about all things food and nutrition – if you’re looking for a more regular dose of her opinions on recent nutrition news or pictures of her adorable frenchie Hugo, check out her blog at theaspiringrd.com!

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