Locating lunch clam chowder
November 5, 2012 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Help me find the best place for clam chowder for lunch in Boston/Cambridge/Somerville tomorrow, given my conditions!

I am visiting Boston and will be working remotely at my friend's place tomorrow in Cambridge. I'd like to eat clam chowder for lunch, as I have to leave straight for the airport* to head back to Chicago after work.

- Convenient walk from my current location (Western Ave & Memorial Drive in Cambridge) or convenient by the Red Line. I have no objection to going downtown: in fact, perhaps a very slight preference as I haven't had the chance to go downtown this trip and might like to for nostalgia's sake.
- Ability for me to pick up the food to eat at home.
- Cost: less than $15 and even better less than $10 for a single lunch portion.
- Chains are totally OK, but not one present in Chicago or Los Angeles. (I live in one, and visit the other frequently -- don't want to do something I can get there.)

I realize that these constraints mean I'm not getting the best quality or best value in the city, and I'm fine with that. I'd just like to get the best given my parameters. Thanks!

*Bonus Question: I am taking the Red to Silver lines tomorrow and would like to get to Logan by 6:15 pm. When would you get on the T at Central Square?
posted by andrewesque to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Durgin Park, probably (site autoplays music like it's 1999). Historic local restaurant, get off the Red Line either at MGH or Park St., and walk to Faneuil Hall.

Bowl of clam chowder is $7.50.

I'd leave an hour to get to Logan from Central, but I'm risk averse.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:32 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Legal's in Kendall Square is right off the red line.
posted by mozhet at 7:34 PM on November 5, 2012

Neptune Oyster in the North End. $11 for a bowl.

Take the Red line over to Downtown crossing, switch to the Orange line and then get off at Haymarket. It's a totally worth it five minute walk.
posted by Tha Race Card at 7:35 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Legal Seafood in Kendall Square. Also, if you go to Durgin Park have the indian pudding.
posted by zippy at 7:38 PM on November 5, 2012

I was going to suggest Legal or Durgin. Legal is delicious. Durgin is a little out of your way, but will give you all of the downtown Bostony goodness you are looking for.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:41 PM on November 5, 2012

I'm a longtime Boston/Cambridge resident and more or less a food snob, and I think Legal Sea Foods has the best clam chowder around. You could go to any of the several locations in the city -- Harvard Square and Kendall Square are the closest to your stated location, but there are other choices if you want to work in some other tourism or something. Legal is a Boston institution and famous for their chowder.

On preview, Neptune Oyster is really great, but not at all a quick/convenient choice.

Bonus: probably 5:15 is about right? Central -> South Station is 15 minutes and they run every 5 minutes at that time of day; South Station -> Logan is like 20 minutes and runs every 10 although I'd be scared at rush hour.
posted by Perplexity at 7:44 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

My parents are STILL talking about the clam chowder at the Sail Loft. I never got a chance to try the Sail Loft, although I've had the chowder at Legal Sea Foods at Kendall. It was okay, but not earth-shattering. The bread is good.
posted by smirkette at 7:45 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers so far! Just to double-check, all of these places would be OK for me to order the food to go?

(I'd love to have a pleasant, relaxed sit-down experience, but given that I'm doing this on work time and I'm already leaving a little bit early by Central time for my flight, I don't have the time to eat at the restaurant.)
posted by andrewesque at 7:46 PM on November 5, 2012

One other thing you should know/consider is that Legal has some pretty pleasant restaurants inside Logan - full restaurants in terminals B and C and offshoots (but still with the famous chowder) in A and B. (listing). So you might consider leaving a little earlier, checking in for your flight, and having a nice dinner at the airport. Kind of an unusual/nice option in Boston that I haven't seen other places.
posted by Perplexity at 7:55 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Regarding your travel time, it might normally be about 40-45 minutes, but the Romney campaign will be taking over the Seaport District tomorrow and since the Silver Line travels through that area, there may be heavier than normal ridership. You may want to give yourself extra time for the Red Line to Silver Line transfer.
posted by FreezBoy at 4:58 AM on November 6, 2012

The Legal at Terminal C used to sell their deliciously spicy red chowder with bits of sausage in it. I think they were the only restaurant in Boston that sold that type of chowder. I used to take a quart with me on my flights to the West Coast.
posted by travellingincognito at 5:15 AM on November 6, 2012

Dolphin Seafood restaurant in Harvard Square. Seriously, please avoid Legals.
posted by Gungho at 5:38 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree 45 minutes to get to the airport, but it could take longer. Is 6:15 a hard limit or a preferred time of arrival (i.e. you could get there at 6:45 and it would be stressful and sucky but you would still be able to catch your flight)? Because there is a very good chance it will take 45 minutes or less, but there is a nonzero chance that it will take longer.

I'm not sure if Durgin Park sells their (excellent) chowder to go. Also part of their reputation is that the staff will yell at you for no reason. So if you call and ask if they have chowder to go, they will probably yell at you, and maybe not tell you whether they have chowder to go. It is part of Durgin Park's charm.
posted by mskyle at 5:58 AM on November 6, 2012

Legal seafoods is rather mediocre and overpriced but their chowder is some of the best around. I would never in a million years recommend Legal Seafoods unless someone was only looking for chowder.

Damn, they have good chowder.
posted by bondcliff at 6:14 AM on November 6, 2012

If you're amenable to hitting up the Haymarket/Faneuil Hall area, skip Durgin Park (I never saw the attraction to that place) and go to the Union Oyster House instead. It's half a block away, swanky in an old-colonial way, and you can say you ate lunch at one of JFK's favorite haunts and one of the oldest restaurants in the country. Also, it's where I took an international friend for chowder in 2007 and he still raves about it.
posted by AthenaPolias at 6:16 AM on November 6, 2012

Response by poster: My flight is at 7:45, so 6:15 is the desired time of arrival but not a hard stop.
posted by andrewesque at 6:19 AM on November 6, 2012

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