A little over a week ago I traveled to Boston with my sister to meet my mom for a weekend with just the girls. Even though my boyfriend attends grad school there and we met him for dinner, the weekend was strictly girls time.
While in Boston we stayed right around the corner from Boston Commons, and across the street from Old Granary Burial Ground, at the Zero Nine Hotel - a Kimpton property. Kimptons are a favorite for their complimentary wine happy hours, consistently wonderful room service, and great service. Ever the gracious hosts, when our ceiling in the bathroom sprung a leak, we were moved to the presidential suite decked out with a retina scanner (from the Obama's visit a few years earlier) and sweeping views of the commons - as well as a major telescope to check out those views.
While Boston might not be the food mecca that NYC is (maybe I'm a bit biased) we were lucky to be staying within walking distance of Chinatown. Friday night, Saturday morning and Sunday morning's meals were all spent there. While the Friday night soup dumplings were a disappointment at Taiwan Cafe, a spicy, beefy, dried chili loaded Szechuan style soup we ordered was the perfect dish to beat the cold.
Saturday morning, after realizing that brunch in Boston means only Sunday brunch, we turned again to Chinatown. The bánh xèo and meat-packed pho at Xinh Xinh, a Vietnamese restaurant on Beach Street, filled us while their salty and sweet lime drink warmed us. Sunday's brunch was a feast of dim sum at my personal Boston favorite, Windsor.
Over the weekend we did a little post-holiday shopping, explored Newbury Street and even made the trek out to Somerville to have dinner with the boy at our favorite tapas restaurant, Dali. Read on below for more of my favorite spots in Boston.
Since I travel to Boston nearly every month, I've complied a list of some of my favorites around the city. With Nick in his program for a few more years at least, I'm sure I'll be adding more as time goes on.
Favorite Brunch: Windsor Dim Sum Windsor wins every time. While there are newer brunch places opening up around the city - tons in Somerville - the dim sum at Windor doesn't disappoint. While it doesn't have the carts New Yorkers are used to, ordering off of a menu means your dim sum treats are made to order and always fresh. Honorable mention: Though I haven't been, I hear that The Beehive has a pretty kickin' jazz brunch.
Best Tourist Trap: Duck Tours Yeah, it's kind of cheesy, and yes they make you quack, but the Duck Tours are an easy way to ride around the city and learn a little history if you don't want to walk the Freedom Trail . Nick and I did this on a whim last summer and loved every second of it. Best plan - take the last tour of the day and catch sunset over the Charles River as you putter along in your tour bus/boat hybrid.
Best Thrill for Your Money: Swan Boats at The Boston Botanical Gardens There's something I love about the old timey feel of the Swan Boats. They've been around since the 1800's and are pretty beautiful up close. Add to that the super cheap price - $3.00 for adults, $1.50 for children, $2.50 for seniors - and you've got the most adorable paddle around a pond you've every been on. The gardens are worth a stroll (for free), as well.
Favorite Local Store: Savenor's Opened in 1939, Savenor's now has two locations, one of which is conveniently located in Somerville/Cambridge near my boyfriend's house. They've got tons of made in house sausages and pates, and their butcher is extremely well stocked in all cuts. Fresh produce, hard to find cheeses and a Mom and Pop vibe gets my vote for "Way-better-than-Whole-Foods."
Favorite Cheap Eats: Punjabi Dhaba It's kind of my personal mission to one day have eaten everything on the menu at Punjabi Dhaba, but it's so extensive it may take awhile. Tons of great Indian snacks, combos and menu options under $10.00 make it a staple in my Boston diet. Favorite Restaurants: Dali I don't know if it's the crazy good tapas (get the Gambas con Mojo - just. do. it.), the insane Dali-esque decor of the place, or the super friendly staff at Dali, but we keep going back time and time again. Somehow we always get the same waiter who ends up describing dishes to us in Spanish, and always get one of the tables that is tucked into a romantic nook with beaded curtains, and somehow we always order way too much and eat all of it. I haven't ever craved tapas until I visited Dali in Boston. Get a porron, grab a few friends and order everything on the menu.
Island Creek Oyster Bar For something a little swankier, or when we want to celebrate something special, we head to Island Creek Oyster Bar for their short rib and lobster roe pasta or the heavenly lobster roll in a rosemary bun. New specials pop up nightly and are hand-scrawled onto the menus. Flaky buttermilk biscuits rival some I've had in the South. Oysters and ceviche selections change daily. There's really nothing to hate.
Best Lobster Roll: Alive and Kicking Though, technically, Alive and Kicking serves lobster sandwiches, they're the best lobster-between-bread that you can get without being in a fancy environment in Boston. Perfectly stuffed full of freshly made lobster salad, served Maine style between two pieces of sesame seed bread and served with a bag of Cape Cod chips they're exactly what you'd want in a lobster roll, just done a bit differently. Eat them at Alive and Kicking's outdoor tables during the summer with a side of steamers and bask in the awesomeness of it all.
Do you have favorites in Boston? Follow us on Twitter and tweet us your favorite spots so we can check 'em out next time we're in town!