Most people will tell you that you’d be crazy to visit Boston in the winter; the New England weather may be notoriously changeable but the one constant at this time of year is the cold. Having experienced it myself, I can’t disagree with those people but hey, we should all be a little crazy sometimes right? Boston winters may not be as beautiful as the springs or autumns, but there’s a certain elegance to the snow covered streets glistening in the sunlight and those cloudless bright blue skies. Not to mention the fact that you can follow that red brick road all the way round without having to push past the hoards of Freedom Trailers!
By the time we arrived in Boston we were suffering from a bit of diner’s fatigue- it was nearing the end of our epic trip and we had wolfed down some seriously good food, but the downside of that is it makes you really miffed at the seriously average food. So we wondered, would Boston be in the awesome or average category?
We turned to our constant American companion- Eater.com, a site that’s rarely failed us, and picked something off their ‘essential 38’ list. For our first night, we wanted something laid back and comforting, something like jm Curley– we were not disappointed with our choice.
Not only did we enjoy some of the best fried chicken we’ve ever had, and moreish house cured salmon sliders, we had a pretty good chat with the bartender and ended up with our own ‘where to eat in Boston’ list! It seems we’re not the only ones who think Kevin is the bartender-host with the most. Oh and rumour has it the burgers are worth a try too- we were just way too full.
If time and money were no object, we’d happily go through each and everyone of the places listed, but when you’ve been on the road for close to 3 months, this is not a luxury one can afford. So this is what we did tick off…
You cannot go to Boston’s North End and not have Italian; but your biggest issue will be finding a truly good one. Pomodoro is one of those- the restaurant is tiny, the atmosphere was especially intimate on a chilly evening, and the food is lick-your-bowl-clean kind of tasty. We sat down to warm crusty rolls and olives, then tiger shrimp linguini for me, and the seafood fra diavolo for a certain someone. Both in the spicy marinara because even though I had the choice, I cannot ever look past a rich red sauce. Desserts technically aren’t on the menu but you’ll always end your meal here with a sweet treat on the house- we were lucky enough to enjoy decadent peanut butter cups and Boston’s famous cannolis!
The restaurant written in large caps, because we thought he must really, really recommend it. It’s no secret that we love tapas, so it didn’t take much convincing for us to try out Toro– we were extremely lucky to arrive just as someone else cancelled, otherwise the wait times can be ridiculous. I probably could have chosen everything of the menu but that would be a little too greedy so we settled for- pan con tomate with extra anchovies, atun crudo, mollejas (crispy veal sweetbreads), asado de huesos (roasted bone marrow), pato con membrillo (duck drumettes), lengua con lentejsaa y salsa verde (beef tongue with lentils), and the maiz asado con alioli y queso cotija (the most delicious grilled corn covered in alioli and cheese). Ok, looking back at the list- we were still a little greedy.
Highlights were the corn (if you have to eat veges, you might as well eat them like this) and the tuna crudo which we would still consider as one of the best we’ve had; the only minor blip was the somewhat uninspiring tongue. But all was swiftly forgotten by the time our second plate of corn arrived! And if you don’t believe me when I say it’s pretty good- the well fed people at the James Beard Foundation think the chef is one of the best too.
No trip to Boston is complete without a visit to Cambridge, home to Harvard, possibly the most widely depicted university in popular culture?! We strolled through the pretty university grounds and perused the aisles of the famous Harvard Book Store, before stumbling across the Harvard Square Chili Cook Off where local restaurants serve up chill and locals vote for their favourite- and you thought there was no such thing as a free lunch.
Kirkland Tap and Trotter
For dinner we went to Kirkland Tap and Trotter– a bustling, casual gastopub-esque restaurant tucked away from the main streets of Cambridge. Seated at the bar, we got a great view of the chefs at work; there’s a lot of grilling and sizzling that goes on in that kitchen resulting in some meaty, flavourful plates of food. We enjoyed the fire-roasted chicken, a mammoth swordfish steak, a juicy pork chop, and some tasty sides- it was a smidge too dark for photos so you’ll have to take my word for it- it was good.
When You’re Not Eating
We also managed to fit in a casual burger and cocktail at Silvertone, a couple of cannolis from Mike’s Pantry, a cheap, cheerful and delicious roast duck and rice lunch in Chinatown, a stroll through Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and a classic plate of hot wings while watching the Superbowl!
Without a doubt, the food in Boston was in the awesome category; next time you’re in town do the food trail alongside the Freedom Trail, you won’t be disappointed. A certain someone and I will definitely head back to cross more restaurants off the list and finally have one of those famed jm Curley burgers, but next time we won’t be crazy enough to go in winter!