Recommend standout restaurants within a day-trip of Boston.
April 18, 2014 10:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm a foodie, and I'd like to plan some short summer day trips. What are the absolute best restaurants within three hours' drive of Boston?

When I say best, I'm not necessarily talking about Michelin stars. This is what I mean: 97 reviews rating five stars, which is unusual for a small place in this area. I'm open to anything from upscale tasting menus to little neighborhood joints, but I want standout. I'm looking for places worth a long drive for the exceptional or unique experience.

I'm open to anybody's suggestions and I'll take them all. But I'm looking for the standouts. Not just five stars, but the places everybody rates at five stars.

Thanks in advance!
posted by cribcage to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Duckfat in Portland, Maine!!!
posted by carmel at 10:55 AM on April 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

Just on the edge of your 3 hour drive limitation, Up for Breakfast in Manchester, Vermont has the best pancakes I've ever had (the rest of the breakfast was also amazing, but the pancakes - oh. my. god.). On your drive back, swing by the Inn at Weathersfield (I visited under the previous chef, but it seems the new chef is also amazing).
posted by melissasaurus at 10:56 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Kittery Foreside has more amazing food in a single block than some cities I've been to. Following up on the excellent recommendation for The Black Birch, around the corner you'll find Lil's Cafe, home of the most incredible crullers I've ever encountered. They are art. In a few weeks, they guys behind Son-Mat kimchi are opening a noodle shop, which I fully anticipate will be amazing as well. You will not regret doing a day of eating there.
posted by amelioration at 11:45 AM on April 18, 2014

Craigie on Main is great and right in Cambridge.
posted by goggie at 11:51 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The driving range is ballpark and flexible. I'm thinking about places to go on days off, nothing overnight. Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by cribcage at 11:53 AM on April 18, 2014

Here are a few ideas that I can recommend based on my experiences. The locations they're in aren't necessarily anything special, so I would go if you are passing through/going to the area for some other reason rather than going just for the food.

Fisherman's Grill - Portland, ME (lobster rolls etc) or the Bite Into Maine food truck in nearby Cape Elizabeth
Joshua's - Wells, ME (Farm to table, fine dining)
Big Mamou - Springfield, MA (Cajun)
Heritage Farm - Sanbornton, NH (near Laconia. Farm to table, breakfast)
Modern Apizza - New Haven, CT (I have no idea how it only has 4 stars but trust me)
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:27 PM on April 18, 2014

East Side Pockets - Providence, RI (Mediterranean)
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:30 PM on April 18, 2014

I would also try Julians in Providence RI for brunch on the weekend. It is the best brunch I have ever had.

Ugh, no, they are hit-or-miss at best. You're better off with Nick's. For brunch or for dinner. (It's obviously a little pricier, but that's sortof expected with cuisine-specific day-trips, right?)
posted by likeatoaster at 12:59 PM on April 18, 2014

While I'm at it, you could make a day of it and head to Bristol, RI to try Persimmon for dinner. Plus, that's just an all around lovely area to day-trip in.

(No complaints from me about East Side Pockets -- they really are that good!)
posted by likeatoaster at 1:08 PM on April 18, 2014

Flan y Ajo in Providence. Not sit down dinner fancy (it's more hipster casual), but defintely stand out food, some of the best I've had.
posted by eviemath at 3:32 PM on April 18, 2014

Downtown Grocery in Ludlow VT. Ridiculously good.
posted by MattD at 5:22 PM on April 18, 2014

The People's Pint in Greenfield, MA is a fine stop on the way to or from MassMOCA. They brew, bake, deliver scraps to pigs at local farms, and claim to throw away only a single barrel of trash at the end of a night. The pub is family-friendly and cozy.

Focusing on the "unique experience" aspect of your question, consider enjoying a three-course hot lunch on a weekday in the Fife and Drum Restaurant at the Northeastern Correctional Center in Concord, MA. This is cafeteria-quality food cooked and served by inmates as part of a work training program. Three dollars got me one of the most memorable meals in the Boston area.
posted by George Malloy at 7:43 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Brown's Seafood in Seabook, NH, just south of Hampton Beach. When we went to Boston last fall for our wedding, we rented a car just to drive up there. The steamers, fried clams, and lobsters were just as good as I remembered them from my childhood.
posted by hworth at 3:19 AM on April 19, 2014

Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro in New Haven, CT is a most worthy experience if you're into cheese. New Haven also has Bella's Cafe, one of the most outstanding brunch places I've had the pleasure of enjoying, and I've eaten more than my fair share of brunch.

Recently went to a couple of places in Providence that had genuinely tasty food and memorable ambiance worth a day trip: The Red Fez (quirky hipster dive bar/hunting lodge?) and The Duck and Bunny (they call it a "snuggery" and it's almost painfully adorable).
posted by Diagonalize at 5:23 AM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Luckily, Mark Bittman wrote a column about exactly this! His answer: Antonio's in New Bedford, MA. You can also visit the excellent whaling museum there!
posted by leedly at 4:50 PM on April 19, 2014

It's too late for this year, but February is wild game month at The Student Prince out in Springfield for tasty unusual meats. Closer to home, Journeyman over in Union Sq, Somerville, is worth a visit.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:40 AM on April 20, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the ideas. There are a lot of suggestions here I'm unfamiliar with, which is exactly what I was hoping for. Some of these will indeed end up as day trips. I'll check back, so feel free to add more suggestions. And enjoy the summer!
posted by cribcage at 8:38 PM on April 21, 2014

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