The Great Restaurant Guide

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I have a nerdy habit I need to share:

I collect restaurant recommendations.

Now, it’s not like every time I hear someone utter the name of a restaurant I grab a pen and paper – just when I hear people utter the names of restaurants in cities I visit regularly. Certain lists are less detailed than others; my lists for Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, Atlanta, Austin, Paris, Chicago and Charleston, SC, for example, have fewer than twenty names on them. That’s NOTHING!

My New York, Portland, and Boston lists, however… I’m a little embarrassed.

It’s just a compulsion for me. I see a name come up in a book, and I have to write it down. When I scroll through the Eater feed on my Bloglovin’, I’m constantly updating the version of the list I keep on my phone.

Which reminds me, I should mention that my lists are not universal. They change with time, new information and experience, and more often than not I am way too busy to keep all my lists updated.

The ones here are what I keep on my phone, for impromptu recommendations. By no means have I tried all the recipes on these lists, but oftentimes I specify which places I have tried or where I heard the recommendation. I don’t normally list price, but when a restaurant is known for being particularly spendy, I have added an asterisk. Because of the sheer mass of recommendations I accumulate, it’s hard for me to share much information – for example, hyperlinks. Feel free to email me if you have any questions at all! You can find my email on the about or home pages. I apologize for the inconsistencies and any weird spacing issues. Enjoy!

BOSTON 

My Favorites (Most were sourced; if not, see above sources or maybe I just like them and you should get off my back, bro):

No. 9 Park (modern American/French): Bon Appetit, James Beard – 5 stars

Mamma Maria (Italian) – 5 stars

Myers + Chang: BA, James Beard (Asian Fusion) – 4 stars

Lone Star Taco Bar: BA – 4 stars

Hungry Mother (Southern): James Beard Nominee – 4 stars

Flour (Bakery): Bon Appetit, James Beard Awards – 4 stars

Bergamot (French) – 4 stars

Butcher Shop (steakhouse/French): Boston Mag – 4 stars

Erbaluche (Italian) – 4 stars

Sofra – 4 stars

Blue Dragon (Asian gastropub): Ming Tsai’s place – 3 1/2 stars

Shojo (Asian fusion) -3 1/2 stars

Mei Mei restaurant (Asian fusion) – 3 1/2 stars

Shiki Sushi – 3 1/2 stars

Thai Place – 3 1/2 stars

Ganko Ittetsu Ramen (Coolidge Corner Arcade) – 3 1/2 stars

Totto Ramen – 3 1/2 stars

Santouka Ramen – 3 1/2 stars

Dumpling Palace – 3 1/2 stars

Gourmet Dumpling House: Food Network – 3 1/2 stars

Le’s (Vietnamese) – 3 1/2 stars

Le Petit Robert Bistro (French) 3 1/2 stars

BELLY Wine Bar – 3 1/2 stars

Tres Gatos (unique tapas) – 3 1/2 stars

Coppa (Bon Appetit, Boston Magazine Best 2013, Food Network) – 3 1/2 stars

Sorellina (Italian/ Mediterranean): Boston Magazine  – 3 1/2 stars

Via Matta (Italian) – 3 1/2 stars

Grotto (Italian) – 3 1/2 stars

Giacomo’s (Italian) – 3 1/2 stars (Note: This restaurant only deserves a 3.5 for its lobster ravioli and calamari. The rest of the menu is decent/mediocre, but the ravioli is so phenomenal that I consider it a 3.5 restaurant)

Trade (Italian/Flatbreads) Globe, Jody Adams is just generally famous – 3 1/2 stars

Area Four (Pizza/Coffee): so many places, including Bon Appetit – 3 1/2 stars

Russell House Tavern (modern American) – 3 1/2 stars

The Kirkland Tap & Trotter (modern American) – 3 1/2 stars

Ten Tables JP (modern American) – 3 1/2 stars

Eastern Standard (modern American) – 3 1/2 stars

Regal Beagle (modern American) – 3 1/2 stars

Sweet Cheeks (Barbecue) – 3 1/2 stars

SoulFire (Barbecue) – 3 1/2 stars

Sam LaGrassa’s (deli) – 3 1/2 stars (best Reuben in town)

El Pelon (Mexican) – 3 1/2 stars

Clear Flour Bakery – 3 1/2 stars

Tatte (bakery) – 3 1/2 stars

Bricco’s Bakery (NOT the restaurant) – 3 1/2 stars

Mei Mei (Asian fusion; try the double awesome scallion pancake sandwich) – 3 stars

Bon Me – 3 stars (try the miso-braised pulled pork!)

Limoo (boba/bar/fusion Izakaya) – 3 stars

Teriyaki House (Chinese and Japanese) – 3 stars (Most of the menu is hit or miss, but the chicken udon noodle soup is easily my favorite udon soup in town)

Pikaichi (Ramen) – 3 stars

Pho Pasteur (Vietnamese) – 3 stars

Winsor Dim Sum Cafe – 3 stars

JoJo Taipei (Taiwanese/Chinese) – 3 stars

Thai’s Bistro: My favorite little discovery – 3 stars

Super 88 Asian Market (in particular Pho Viet) – 3 stars

Eldo’s Cake House (Chinese bakery) – 3 stars

TeaDo (boba) – 3 stars

India Quality –  3 stars

Dorado Tacos (Tacos/Cemitas) – 3 stars

Antico Forno (Italian) – 3 stars

Bottega Fiorentina (very cheap Italian food) – 3 stars

Redbones (Barbecue) – 3 stars

Met Back Bay (American) – 3 stars (Note: They can cook a decent steak, but you’re really here to see the sick Robert Longo painting in the front lobby. I promise; it’s worth it)

Root (Vegan food) – 3 stars

Clover (vegan/vegetarian fast food) – 3 stars

Roxys grilled cheese: on The Daily Meal’s list of food carts in the country – 3 stars

James Hook & Co. (Lobster Roll) – 3 stars

City Feed & Supply (deli) – 3 stars

Trident Cafe (breakfast/deli/juice bar) – 3 stars (Inside the bookstore)

Paramount (breakfast/diner) – 3 stars

Zaftig’s (Jewish deli/brunch) – 3 stars

Twin Donuts (diner) – 3 stars

Kupel’s (bagels) – 3 stars

Maria’s Pastry (cannoli): Zimmern – 3 stars

Toscanini’s (ice cream): (Jen Che of Tiny Urban Kitchen. If you live in Boston, check out her blog. She will have way more restaurant recommendations than me for Boston and really, around the world.  She recommended Toscanini’s Grape Nut Ice Cream to me in an interview, and I have taken the long trek to Cambridge many a time for a scoop) – 3 stars

Render (coffee) – 3 stars

4a (coffee) – 3 stars

Diesel Cafe (coffee) – 3 stars

Pavement (coffee) – 3 stars

Georgetown Cupcake – 3 stars

LA Burdick (hot chocolate) – 3 stars

Shake Shack (fast food) – 3 stars

Tasty Burger (fast food) – 3 stars

Mr. Bartley’s (Burgers) – 2.5/3 stars

UBurger (fast food) – 2 1/2 stars

InHouse Cafe (brunch) – 2 1/2 stars

Busy Bee (diner) – 2 1/2 stars

Penang (Malaysian) – 2 stars

Spike’s Junkyard Dogs (late night hot dogs) – 2 stars

Places To Try (Note-this list is a collection of recommendations from Bon Appetit, Saveur, Boston Magazine, The Boston Globe, Tiny Urban Kitchen, Food Network, and The James Beard Awards. Normally, I would try to provide you with some more information about many of these restaurants; however, the sheer mass of these recommendations limit my ability to specify anything in particular. If you would like more information about a particular restaurant, by all means, email me! That, or they are easily found with an easy google search):

Sportello

Menton

Mistral

Bistro Du Midi

80 Thoreau

Craigie on Main

Japonaise Bakery

Oleana Restaurant

The Franklin Cafe

O Ya

Oiishi

Asta

Island Creek Oyster Bar

Toro

La Verdad

Blue Ginger

Peach Farm

Panificio

Emmett’s Irish Pub

Gran Gusto

Dave’s Fresh Pasta

Piatinni Gelato

Prezza

Anchovies (Italian Nachos)

Caffe Paradiso

Bova’s

South Street Diner

Pasta Beach

Bondir

L’espalier

Petsi Pies

Trina’s Starlite Lounge

Neptune Oyster

Deuxave

East by Northeast

Catalyst

Ceia

Clio

Rifrullo Cafe

The Gallows

Grill 23

Harvest

Helmand

Il Casale

Journeyman

La Campania

La Morra

Lumiere

Rialto

Salts

Scampo

Strip-T’s

TW Food

Uni

Russo & Sons (Chick. Parm)

Cutty’s (No. 11)

Mike & Patty’s (Torta)

Las Ventas (bocadillo)

Chez Henri (Pressed Cuban Sandwich)

All Star Sandwich Bar (Alexander the Great)

The Biltimore Bar & Grille (SSBLT)

Blue Ribbon BBQ (NC Pulled Pork)

Hi Rise Bread (Nat Queen Cool)

Revitalive Cafe (Un-Tuna)

Alex Chimis (Chimi de Pierna)

Rami’s (Hummus Falafel)

Tavolo (Meatball Panini)

Brasserie JO: f&w

Pigelle: f&w

West Bridge: f&w, Bon Appetit top 50 2013

Alta strata: f&w

Puritan & Company: Bon Appetit top 50, 2013

Yada Yada (greek, pot pie)

Formaggio Kitchen (pot pie, market)

The Courtyard Cafe in the Boston Public Library (Tea)

Whisk

Brine

Bronwyn

Central Kitchen

Giulia

Highland Kitchen

JM Curly

Rondezvous

Ribelle

Spoke

Steel & Rye

Tavern Road

Warehouse Bar & Grille

Back Bay Harry’s

Roka

Locale

Commonwealth

Fairsted Kitchen

Churn 2 (Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream)

The Latin Spoon (Truck)

Sarma

Cook

Pennypacker’s

Kane’s Donuts 

Ohlin’s Donuts

Verna’s Donut Shop

Union Square Donuts (They do a Maple Bacon!)

Anna’s Hand-Cut Donuts

River Gods (Steak Sandwich)

Yume Wo Katare (Ramen)

Inaka (Ramen)

backbar (Ramen)

Sapporo Ramen

Snappy Ramen

Galley Diner

Henrietta’s Table

Esperia Grill (Greek)

Giulia (Italian)

Kaju Tofu House (Korean)

Angela’s Cafe (Mexican)

Estelle’s (Southern)

Thai North 

Taiwan Cafe

Punjabi Dhaba 

Mana Escondido

Alive & Kicking

Taqueria el Amigo (in Waltham)

Yankee Lobster Co (Chowder)

Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe

Lincoln Tavern

Royal East

Tiger Mama

 

NEW YORK

My Favorites

Babbo – 4 stars

Red Rooster – 4 stars

Prune – 3 1/2 stars

Momofuku Milk Bar – 3 1/2 stars

Xian Famous Foods – 3 1/2 stars

Dim Sum Go Go – 3 1/2 stars

Empanada Mama – 3 1/2 stars

Bareburger – 3 1/2 stars

Sushi Yakasa – 3 1/2 stars

Il Cantucco 3 1/2 stars

Bleecker Street Pizza – 3 stars

 

Places To Try
The London: Gordan Ramsay’s restaurant (Formal)*
Mel’s Burger Bar: The Daily Meal  (The widowmaker burger: mac n’ cheese, bacon, pickles, and then more cheese. Someone please get it for me! Please!)
Joe’s: The Daily Meal best pizza list top ten, everyday knowledge (pizza)
Di Fara (Brooklyn): See above (pizza)
John’s on Bleecker: See above (pizza)
Motorino: See above (pizza)
Co.: See above (Pizza)
Daniel: Ruth Reichl of the New York Times (New French)*
Jean-Georges: James Beard Awards (New French, I guess)*
Maru: Yelp cheap sushi (Sushi)
Soto: Bon Appetit (Sushi)
Katsuno: Time Out, Daily Meal (sushi)
Blue Hill: Food and Wine, NY Times (Farm-to-table)
The Dutch: Bon Appetit (American)
Battersby: Bon Appetit (New American)
Keens Steakhouse: Bon Appetit (Steakhouse…duh)
Roberta’s Tertulia: Bon Appetit (Spanish)
Torrisi Italian Specialties: Bon Appetit (Italian… “the little italy restaurant you try to find but never can.”)
Blanca: Bon Appetit’s Hot 10 (Spanish)
Mark: (burgers) Yelp
Banh Mi Saigon: Yelp (Vietnamese)
The Stanton Social: Food Network, The New York Times, Chris Santos’ Restaurant (multi-ethnic, small plate bistro)
Johny’s Luncheonette: Yelp (Diner)
The Spotted Pig: General knowledge, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Mario Batali (Italian, deli)
Katz Delicatessen: Just… general knowledge. Personal recommendation (Deli)
Tacos al Suadero: Yelp (Mexican)
Taqueria Lower East Side: Yelp (Mexican)
Num Pang: Yelp (Thai)
Gramercy Tavern: Bon Appetit, James Beard Awards (New American)
Biang!: The New Yorker (Chinese)
Butter: Food Network, Alex Guarnaschelli’s Restaurant (American)
Eleven Madison Park: Food Network, Bon Appetit, James Beard Awards (Molecular Gastronomy)*
Rouge Tomate: Bon Appetit (Healthish, new american? hard to describe)
Insomnia Cookies: Personal recommendation for late-night snacking (…cookies)
Taka Taka: Trip Advisor (Japanese tacos and Mexican sushi)
Hi-life: Eater (burger)
Bosna Express: Eater (Bosnian food)
Korzo Haus: Eater (Slovenian food)
Edzos: Eater (burger)
Robertas: Eater (diner)
Diner: Eater
Lafayette: Bon Appetit top 50
Tocanda Verde: Bon Appetit
Uncle Boons: Pete wells of The New York Times (Thai)

Alder: Bon Appetit top 50, 2013

 Aska (Brooklyn): See above (New Nordic)

Carbone: See above (Italian)

Pearl and Ash: See above (small plates)

Ivan Ramen: New York Times

Somtum Der: See above (Thai)

Taste of Persia NYC: See above

ABC Kitchen: See above

Buvette: See above

Smile: See above

 

PORTLAND

Recommendations come from: Mix (of The Oregonian), Bon Appetit, The Daily Meal, Food & Wine, Food Network, Eater PDX, The James Beards, Saveur, and Yelp (rarely). Throw a random blog in there for good measure.

My Favorites

Imperial – 4 stars

Bollywood Theater – 3 1/2 stars

Departure – 3 1/2 stars

Little bird – 3 1/2 stars

Lardo – 3 1/2 stars

Pokpok/ Whisky Soda Lounge – 3 1/2 stars

Salt & Straw – 3 1/2 stars

Genoa – 3 stars

 

Places To Try

 

Castagna (Italian)
Beast (French)
Ruby Jewel (ice cream)
Crown Q (southern cart east)
Robo Taco
Cacao (chocolate)
Blue Star Donuts
Paleys Place
Raven and Rose
The people’s pig (truck)
KOi fusion
Lincoln restaurant
Sunshine tavern
Park kitchen
Atera
Smallwares

Luce (Italian)

Foster Burger

Farm

Bamboo Sushi

Clyde Common

Andina

Clarklewis

Little T American Baker

Bunk

La Bonita

Ava Gene’s: BA top 50, 2013

Slow Bar

Swift Lounge

Reel M. Inn

Fire on the Mountain

Metrovino

Nepo 42

Mee Sen Thai Eatery

Breakside Brewery

St. Jack

Toro Bravo (Spanish)
Gruner/Kask (German)
Luce (Italian)
Screen Door (southern)
Masu (sushi)

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