Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Eating Well in Boston, Again (2020)

   I was thinking on how best to introduce the new places I think are the best in the Boston area to eat, and realized my original introduction still captures the exact tone I wish to set. So, here it is again:

   “I don’t think it’s a big secret that I love to eat good food. I think that it’s an improvement from my previous position of just loving to eat…nearly any food. As I age and grow wiser, I try to make better decisions on how I treat my body and that starts with what I put in it. That said, when I’m at home I follow a strict diet and try to give myself a fighting chance to enjoy my later years. This also has the benefit of make those times when I indulge purely for the joy of taste, less detrimental to my overall plan.

   I don’t eat out too often, but when I do I’m very selective in where I go and what I eat. I look for places that can present healthy choices  (relatively speaking considering how I eat at home) without sacrificing extraordinary taste. Once I find such a place, they gain a loyal customer…and I gain weight (LOL!).” 

   I have decided to showcase my current favorite places to eat. If you live in the Boston area (or the Brattleboro area as one of these places is in Vermont), treat yourself and check these places out. If you don’t live here but find yourself visiting for a bit, treat yourself and check these places out. I present them in no specific order…except that I have saved the best for last, so if you can’t restrain yourself on knowing what place I love the best, skip to the bottom.

1.) Joe's 320 Cafe - West Roxbury, MA

   I love breakfast. It’s one of my favorite meals of the day and nobody does it better than Joe’s. I admit that I don’t know his secret. After all, how many variations of eggs and toast are there? Yet, somehow, Joe manages to set his a cut above the rest and separate a good breakfast from a great breakfast. If you are a regular reader here, then you already know I’m a potato head and Joe’s “breakfast potatoes” makes you wonder why someone would ever prepare potatoes differently and call them anything other than, potatoes. Also, sourdough toast is something you don’t find at many other places (I know, I’ve looked) and I’m still just at the tip of the giant culinary iceberg I’m floating you here. Joe does lunch also, but honestly, I have never passed on the opportunity to order breakfast here, even at lunch time. I can say that one of my sons swears by the lunch menu and like me, he’s BIG on great food.

   There is so much I could say about this place. I think I’ll start by saying that I live in Boston, and nearly every Sunday (that we are able), we drive to Brattleboro…just for lunch. Think about that. I could say it’s just for the food, but there is so much more going on here from the postcard scenery to the craft beers brewed right at the restaurant, this is a day trip we always look forward to making. The menu, both food and beer, change every often to keep things fresh, but eating (and drinking) here are never a disappointment regardless of what is (or is not) on the menu.

3.) Dumpling Kingdom
- Allston, MA

   I would ask what list would be complete without the best Chinese food in town, but seeing as how I had not listed any Chinese restaurants in my first post, it’s rather a silly question. I’ll just say that of you like Chinese food, you’ll love this place. You will quickly understand that the places you have been eating are just doing it wrong. That’s the best way I can describe their food from other Chinese food places, and it may not be true…they might be just doing it that much better that other places simply taste “wrong.” All I know is that I wasn’t a big dumpling eater until this place. I start off every order with the egg fried rice and round it out with either sautéed string beans, spinach with garlic, or Shanghai bok choy with garlic. Just remember if you ever order all that together (I could never conceive of being that hungry) either bring plenty of friends, or have lots of time, as they are very generous with the portions.

4.) Veggie Galaxy - Cambridge, MA

   If all the awards they’ve won and articles about them hanging on the wall in their foyer wasn’t enough to let you know this place is special, then trust your gut after it thanks you for stopping here. People like to crack jokes about vegans and vegetarians but I assure you there is nothing funny about this place. Quite the contrary, they take making unforgettable food very seriously. They make breakfast. lunch and dinner, but just as I have never had lunch at Joe’s, I have never had breakfast here. Also, like before, I have a son (not the same one as before) that swears by their breakfast (and yes, he is a vegan). Just by the very fact that of you are not a vegan or vegetarian, you will still love this place, should be all you need to hear to drop in and treat yourself to some excellent food that is actually good for you.

5.) Coast Cafe
- Cambridge, MA

   Let me sum this up in a few words so that you understand very quickly (before I really go deep) what you’re getting into here…southern-cooked soul food.

   I have been living and eating in Boston for a long time, and had never heard of this place before a year ago, and had never eaten there until a few months ago. I heard about in passing conversation with a friend, but that was a conversation…that was just passing. It wasn’t until I needed food for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday party that things got serious.

   Of course, I went back to my friend to nail down some details (good looks Ray!) and set aside some time to go by and test the product (note when someone uses the word “product” when talking about something, you’ve entered another level of “whoa.”). We had some budgetary concerns due to planning this giant party, but we wanted the best value for our money…and some decent food. Well, after ordering a couple of plates of what we figured we’d like, it was evident that what we ordered went way beyond “decent” and the budget wasn’t our concern anymore…getting more of that food was, a lot more.

   Listen, there are those few moments in life when you look at your significant other and have a moment of shared astonishment, neither one of you quite able to grasp that what is happening is indeed, happening. The first bite of this food was exactly that.

   Fast-forward past all the details and prep and we find ourselves at the day of the party and the food is set up and we are ready to roll. Let me take a moment to add that Coast’s catering deals are second to none and their commitment to great service, treating you like family, is a reflection of the warmth, love, and kindness that they prepare their food with ( “food from the soul” as they say) that make this place the very best of the best (thank you Tony!)

   But wait…there’s more.

   The real story here starts with when it came time to serve the food. Most of the family came from down south, so we made sure to have a good variety of food to please everyone. We also got more than what our actual guest count was and were a bit worried that we may have ordered too much…but in retrospect, it was foolish of us to think every person in that room wouldn’t have the exact same reaction to the food we did when we first tasted it.

   We expected people to take a plate home. Most everyone took three to four plates home. To this day, all anyone talks about in regards to the party, is the food.

   Now, scroll back up and read all the reviews again, then realize this place is the BEST on the list. Marinate on that.