Good restaurants and sightseeing in Providence and Boston
February 3, 2009 3:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for good places to eat in Providence, RI and Boston. Should be accessible by public transportation. Interested in Clam chowder, lobster, sushi, etc ...
Any must see places in Providence and Boston?
Any other tips to a traveler to these areas also welcome :-)
posted by WizKid to Food & Drink (35 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
In Providence, Haruki in Wayland Square is the best sushi I have been to. There is another place called Al Forno which is known around the country for its grilled flatbread pizzas and baked pasta dishes.
posted by hazyspring at 3:25 PM on February 3, 2009

When you go to Boston make sure you visit Harvard Square. If you're going for a bit longer there's always the South End and Newbury Street, etc. I grew up in Harvard Square, and there's a nice little Indian restaurant (I think it's called Bombay something, it's above the Staples) but if you're feeling more adventurous make a trip out to Belmont Center. It's accessible by bus (number 74 I believe) out of Harvard Square and it has a fantastic little pizza place called Greg's. You also might want to look into Davis, Porter and Central Square which are all on the red line train system. As far as tips for getting around, I'd say make sure you get a pass for the buses and trains, it's much cheaper. The MFA is by Northeastern which is on the Green Line Route E. You can get onto most trains via Park Street Station which is in the heart of downtown, and if it's a trip anytime soon you could ice skate at the Frog Pond-- situated in the heart of the park right above Park Street. Ooh, also, if you need some clothes while you're there then make sure to go by the Bargain Basement above the Government Center stop on the green and blue lines. It's right next to the Park street stop, so just ask someone how to find it. There's also the Faneuil Hall area (the Haymarket stop on Green Line).

MeFi mail me if you have any questions, and make sure to visit before you go.
posted by big open mouth at 3:41 PM on February 3, 2009

My favorite sushi restaurant in Boston is Fugakyu. It is right next to the green line in Brookline.

For swanky (moderately pricey) nightcaps, I'd recommend going to the Top of the Hub, on top of the Prudential Building. You get an almost 360 degree view of the city. This is also right near the subway.

Have a great trip.
posted by YFiB at 3:46 PM on February 3, 2009

The Top of the Hub is nice, but if you really want swanky nightcaps, I'd suggest Drink, Eastern Standard, or The Green Street Grill. Boston is going through a bit of cocktail nerd revolution and there are a ton of places out here reviving classic cocktails or coming up with fantastic new things that range beyond the standard territory of martinis and mojitos.

The Indian place that big open mouth is thinking about is "Bombay Club", which isn't bad but Tamarind Bay is also worthy of consideration if you're looking for something a little different from run-of-the-mill North Indian.

For seafood, Legal Sea Food is predictable but consistently good. I think their clam chowder is the best in the city. If you're looking for something a little more interesting than baked lobster, you can get your lobster stir-fried at Jasper White's Summer Shack.

I think big open mouth is also thinking about Filene's Basement by downtown. This is now closed after Filene's was bought out by Macy's. Boston is still a fantastic place to buy clothes since they don't charge sales tax for clothing here.

+1 on Fugakyu. If budget is no object, then also consider Oishii
posted by bl1nk at 4:30 PM on February 3, 2009

Oh man, where to start....Fugakyu is good, but the best sushii I've had was at Oishii (there's one in Boston and a non-public transportation friendly one in Chestnut Hill). Oishii is pricey, though. A place that I like a lot that's much easier on the wallet is Blue Fin in Porter Exchange, about 1 block up Mass Ave from the Porter Square Red line stop.

For casual seafood I like The Barking Crab, conveniently located by the Courthouse stop on the Silver Line.

As far as Indian, skip the 3 or so places in Harvard Square and instead get thee to Namaskar in Davis Square (also on the Red line). Garlic naan to die for is just one highlight of their extensive menu. YUM!

Are you full yet? Because if not, go the the North End and pick one of the many, many Italian restaurants therein. I've been to 3 or 4 different ones and I've never been disappointed.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 4:35 PM on February 3, 2009

I lived on the Red Line for 5 years (I mean, like, in close proximity, not on the train or anything), and all those squares recommended above are awesome. Particularly the Davis-Harvard-Central corridor.

For chowder, until some townie comes in to smack me around, I'm going to recommend Legal Seafoods. There's one in Kendall Square, one in some hotel at Harvard Square, but I would go to the one on the Harbor at the Aquarium stop (Blue Line - or walk through the North End from Park St.) Even if there's someplace "better," it's a damn Boston establishment and has been served at every presidential inauguration since...! Well, I forget when but they tell you on the menu.

Irish pubs: The Field in central square, PJ's in Teale square (walk from Davis), and the Brendan Behan in Jamaica Plain. All real authentic-like.
posted by rkent at 4:37 PM on February 3, 2009

Sorry, I just realized that I didn't say--but all the places I mentioned are in the Boston area. I can go on, if you want. I like food ;-)
posted by DiscourseMarker at 4:38 PM on February 3, 2009

I'm not a chowder afficionado, so I can't speak from personal experience, but I have also heard good things about Legal Seafoods' chowder. I would agree with bl1nk's assessment of "predictable but consistently good." They also have a cocktail menu. The Barking Crab is more of what I consider "traditional" seafood--fish & chips served in a basket, fisherman's platters, etc.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 4:42 PM on February 3, 2009

Oleana in Cambridge is my absolutely favorite restaurant ever, and I had the best meal of my life there. And I love to eat. Make of that what you will.
posted by The Michael The at 4:49 PM on February 3, 2009

[pardon the grammatical error; I was too busy drooling about Oleana to care.]
posted by The Michael The at 4:51 PM on February 3, 2009

oh, and other places that I would add (list too long for links, google what catches your eye):


Craigie Street Bistrot (French-influenced New England, + cocktails)
L'Espalier (French)
Harvest (high-end New England)
Radius (very New American)
No. 9 Park (New American, also good cocktails)
Olive's (New American Italian)
Oishii (sushi)
Oleana (near eastern inspired)

Moderate to Slightly Pricey
Metropolis (French)
Sel De La Terre (French)
Legal Sea Food (New England seafood)
Jasper White's Summer Shack (New England seafood)
Dali (spanish tapas)
Eastern Standard (French + cocktails)
Green Street (New American + cocktails)
Rendezvous (New American + cocktails)
Hungry Mother (Appalachian French +awesome)
East Coast Grill (New American grill)
Helmand (afghan)
Cafa Baraka (tunisian)
Addis Red Sea (ethiopian)
Fugakyu (japanese)
Elephant Walk (indochinese)
Diva (new indian)
Bombay Club (north indian)
Tamarind Bay (south indian)
Ole Cantina (mexican)

Matt Murphy's (best pub food. ever)
The Druid (pub food + seissun + rugby on the telly)
Publick House (beer + beer cuisine)
Brown Sugar Cafe (thai)
Bangkok City (thai)
S&S Deli (jewish deli)
Zaftig's (jewish deli)
Namaskar (south indian)

Sound Bites (brunch nazi awesomeness)
Mr. Bartley's Burgers (burger)
Pinocchios (harvard square pizza)
Moody's Falafel Palace (near eastern)
Chacarero (Chilean sandwich lunch shop)
The Paramount (cafeteria brunch, crowded weekends)
The Delux (dive bar)
Viet's and/or Pho Pasteur (pho)

Foodie Shopping
Formaggio Kitchen (cheese + charcuterie)
Savenor's (game meat)
LA Burdick's (chocolate)
Clear Flour (bakery)

... that's all that I can think of for now. I need to get dinner.
posted by bl1nk at 5:00 PM on February 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

oh, forgot some worthy South/Central American spots:

Midwest Grill (Brazilian churrascaria)
Tango (Argentine steakhouse)

Tacos Lupita (burritos, new king of the hill since El Pelon burned down)
posted by bl1nk at 5:04 PM on February 3, 2009

Response by poster: Any recommendations on Union Oyster House ?
posted by WizKid at 5:06 PM on February 3, 2009

--Federal Hill, the traditional Italian district, has loads of restaurants that are amazing and is a must-see when you're in Providence. Atwells is also a lovely and historical street to stroll along.

--The East Side, near Brown and RISD (bonus! RISD museum! Don't miss it!), also has a ton of great restaurants. Haruki East for Sushi (already mentioned), Andreas for Greek, Kabob n Curry for Indian, Sawadee for Thai, etc. They're all pretty much in the same vicinity - Thayer Street, Wickendon, and Wayland Square.

--Downtown, there's Trinity Brew House (great local beer), a few great moderately-priced and centrally-located lunch establishments (like Tazza), and a few super high-priced, fancy restaurants near the river. The mall is also gigantic (if you're into that kind of thing), right downtown, and home to several more great restaurants.

I would say that all three neighborhoods are worth the visit so long as you have time.

Unfortunately, public transportation in Providence is terrible. There are buses that go to each respective neighborhood, however, and they all leave from a central hub downtown at Kennedy Plaza. The East Side has trolleys for extra tourist bonus points.

Good luck!
posted by lunit at 5:11 PM on February 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

If you are in the Park Street area of Boston, take a few minutes to walk around The Granary Burying Ground Warning: Self-link, lies.

If you're in to beer, there are a bunch of bewpubs in both Providence (Trinity*, Union) and Boston (John Harvard, Beerworks, Rock Bottom, Cambridge Brewing*) as well as beer bars (Lower Depths, Sunset, Bukowskis, Deep Ellum, Publick House*). Also, Sam Adams does a good tour and Harpoon does a good tasting.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:14 PM on February 3, 2009

I was just coming in to recommend The Union Oyster House, WizKid. It's downtown-ish (near Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market), the food is tasty, and the atmosphere is great. It has some "been around for a long time distinction", something like the oldest continuously open restaurant in the U.S., so that's kind of cool, too.

Boston is small, so if you're in the mood to walk around, you can get from Boston Common to Faneuil Hall and the Oyster House to the North End for gelato/dessert on foot. Yum.
posted by cider at 5:39 PM on February 3, 2009

Check out the Boston board of Chowhound, which reflects a lot of the recommendations here.
posted by galaksit at 5:43 PM on February 3, 2009

Why have no Boston dwellers mentioned Durgin Park???

It is a total MUST for Boston ---- cheap, delicious, and was established before you were born.
posted by zizzle at 6:02 PM on February 3, 2009

Here are my standard Providence restaurant recommendations:
Nick's on Broadway. Go here for breakfast as often as possible.
Julian's (also on Broadway). Go here for dinner at least once. Sit at one of the tables on the left (as you face the restaurant from the street) because they look the coolest.
Spike's Junkyard Dogs on Thayer. There are three of these in the Boston area (Allston, Back Bay, and Davis Sq.) but this is the original.
posted by mkb at 6:45 PM on February 3, 2009

Italian - Mama Maria in the North End.

Sushi - 3 great ones along the C line:


Fugakyu (mentioned previously)

and my newly opened favorite


For breakfast it's absolutely a two horse race and has been since the Boston Tea Party (practically):

S & S about a mile walk straight up Cambridge Street from Harvard Square, but you can also take the bus from either Harvard Square or Lechemere.


Zaftigs in Coolidge corner (about two blocks from Fugakyu right on the C Green Line.

If you want to eat at either of these great breakfast spots on the weekend, you'll probably get seated quickly at 9am, have to wait 45 minutes at 10am and perhaps an hour or more at 11am.
posted by Rafaelloello at 7:05 PM on February 3, 2009

In Boston, check out Hei La Moon for dim sum. It's just outside the Chinatown gates, sorry I can't provide transportation info since I've only been to Boston twice so far... but I definitely remember the food.

In Providence, there's a lot of spots near Brown University, mixed in with sightseeing and general walking and wandering opportunities. I work at Brown and go to Phonatic (a pho restaurant, but they have other Vietnamese food too) regularly. There was also a recent question about where to get seafood in/near Providence that might be of interest to you... Where is the best place to eat affordable seafood in Rhode Island that is accessible from Providence on public transit?
posted by illenion at 7:15 PM on February 3, 2009

Spike's Junkyard Dogs on Thayer. There are three of these in the Boston area (Allston, Back Bay, and Davis Sq.) but this is the original.

Sadly, they closed up shop a few months back.

And I'd argue Julian's is better for brunch than dinner. Specifically, their bloody marys are awesome.
posted by lunit at 7:15 PM on February 3, 2009

And for the best bargain on an historical experience in Boston, take the Red Line to Quincy Center, the city of Presidents. Walk out of the station and go directly across the street to this little mall. In that mall you will find a National Park Service Office where for like 5 bucks you get a guided tour by trolley and get to tour the Adams' birthplaces, Old House, and Stone Library. Info Here
posted by Rafaelloello at 7:19 PM on February 3, 2009

Whoops, cancel that last suggestion (Adams birthplace tour), unless you're not coming to Boston until April. The tour is only given April-Nov.
posted by Rafaelloello at 7:24 PM on February 3, 2009

zizzle -- the reason why no Boston dwellers have mentioned Durgin Park is that few Boston dwellers ever actually eat there

(... well, except for those entertaining out-of-town friends who insist on eating there, then washing their dinner down with a beer at the Cheers bar on Beacon Hill ...)

I ate at Durgin Park when I was a prospective freshman visiting the city. It was alright, but there are other, better places to get prime rib that aren't simultaneously hosting hordes of Freedom Trail walkers. Also, if you're interested in eating at other restaurants that are older than your grandparents, consider Jacob Wirth's.

For dimsum, I would also add China Pearl for consideration; though you have to get there rather early on a Sunday if you don't want to wait for a table as it gets pretty crowded, pretty quickly. Wisteria House in Cambridge is also a good pick if you want Taiwanese.

Oh, one more place to add for the lobster/seafood tip ... Alive & Kicking Lobsters in Cambridgeport, aka Louie the Lobster Guy, has the best lobster sandwiches in the city, always worth going to if you just want something to go or don't mind the outdoor seating and lack of ambiance. (a not insignificant factor if on a winter trip)
posted by bl1nk at 7:34 PM on February 3, 2009

My two cents here. I have been to Taranta twice in the North End and it has been incredible both times.

Also, if you venture a bit outside Boston and are in Davis Square, Somerville (On the Red line) I have had two great dining experiences at Gargoyles on the Square.
posted by genefinder at 7:46 PM on February 3, 2009

For hard-to-find authentic Mexican food, including grasshopper tacos, try Tu y Yo in Powderhouse Square. For best value brunch/breakfast, try Neighborhood Restaurant & Bakery in Somerville (Union Square) -- if you go in the summer they have outside seating. And Red Bones cannot be beat in Boston for ribs, bbq, and beer selection (Davis Square).

Have fun!
posted by AwkwardPause at 7:49 PM on February 3, 2009

Ok, well if people are going to mention dim sum I will plug my favorite place: Empire/Emperor's Garden (they seem to have two signs, one with each name). This place is an old theater, and it is HUGE. I've never had to wait, even at the busiest times. If you don't speak Cantonese it might be a little daunting, but their English is good enough for main ingredients. Awesome dumplings!

The don't have a website, but they're only a couple of blocks from the Chinatown stop in the Orange line (690 Washington St).
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:48 PM on February 3, 2009

I lived there before the big restaurant explosion, but Dali in Somerville (tapas, cozy romantic atmosphere) was always my fave.
You are, however, required to go to Legal for the chowdah and one of the ancient places downtown for the experience.
Surprised no one has mentioned Locke Ober, possibly the most famous place in town.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:24 AM on February 4, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. If you have anymore suggestions keep em coming.
posted by WizKid at 7:31 AM on February 4, 2009

For Providence, lunit's suggestions were very good. I'd add Geoff's Sandwiches on either Benefit St. or Thayer St. Their sandwiches are legendary and there are so many to choose from.

For Boston, I can't believe nobody mentioned Modern Pastry (Mike's Pastry is for tourists) on Hanover St. in the North End. They have a plethora of Italian pastry that is out of this world!
posted by LouMac at 8:30 AM on February 4, 2009

If you eat dinner in Providence, go to Pastiche ( on Federal Hill for dessert. The strawberry shortcake is divine, and they serve local stars New Harvest Coffee (
posted by wenestvedt at 8:33 AM on February 4, 2009

Throw in some suggestions for Providence as well. And forget public transit, consider a cab.

-La Laterie in Wayland Square. Good little bistro. Great beers great food, heavy focus on cheeses. Lots of local fresh seasonal ingredients. Can be cheap if you just grab a burger and a beer, or you can go all out and have multiple courses. My favorite.

-Ivy Tavern. Decent pub food. Think they are known for their fish and chips. Fairly good beer selection.

-New Rivers. Really good bistro, on the middle higher scale price wise.

-Broadway Bistro on Broadway on the West Side. Opened about a year ago. Good food. Good service, good atmosphere.

-Olneyville New York System. Home of the 'weiner all the way'. I am a transplant here and don't understand why hot dogs joints are so popular in this state, but a late night trip to Olneyville NY System is so worth it. The place is just awesome. Always filled with characters. Super cheap, not good for you but it's good none the less. Don't forget a glass of the state drink coffee milk.

-Classic Cafe. Super cheap diner on the West side.

-The Red Fez. Kind of a hipster bar with some good food.

-Sightseeing the RISD (Rhode Island School of Design)Museum is a good take.

Outside of the city
-Red Bridge Tavern in East Providence. Just a good neighborhood restaurant with a small bar. Can be hit or miss but when it's a hit it's worth it. Not talking high end stuff here just standard New England area food, with the usual Portuguese bent but a little bit better.

-Newport is worth the drive if you can get down here. Do the cliff walk, and see how the other half lives(ed). The downtown has some good restaurants but I REALLY recommend Scales and Shells.
posted by WickedPissah at 8:36 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh! One more Providence recommendation: Mi Guatamala and Chilangos in Olneyville are really fantastic, and fairly inexpensive. You'll want to take a cab to those, though - there isn't much else around.
posted by lunit at 11:44 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sorry WickedPissah but I must un-recommend Scales and Shells in Newport! I went there very recently, and the food was way too expensive for the quality, which was only average to mediocre.
posted by illenion at 5:21 PM on February 5, 2009

« Older Validity of speeding ticket filled with errors?   |   Otoliths R Us? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.