When friends and family visit Boston they always ask for restaurant recommendations in Back Bay, because that's usually where their hotel is. I have a hard time giving good recs in the Back Bay because many of the restaurants are overpriced, corporate and crowded. Not all of them of course, but it's definitely harder to find a consistently great place that delivers a unique Boston experience than it is in other neighborhoods.
Usually I try to convince them that Fenway and the South End are closer than they think and it's worth the extra $5 in cab fare, but sometimes they only have limited time and they're confined to the Back Bay for one reason or another. So, I am always on the lookout for great places in the Back Bay because even a short list of spots will come in handy pretty frequently. Lately I've been constantly recommending Oak Long Bar + Kitchen and The Salty Pig because of their amazing cheese and charcuterie boards. I guess that's what the Back Bay does really, really well. Even though these spots are best for lunch or a pre dinner bite, the dinner options are great too.
The LBK Board from Oak Long Bar is HUGE and will keep any group of people occupied for hours. Including the whole gamut of cheese and cured meats, it comes with Prosciutto Americano, Organic, La Quercia, Smoked Speck, Salumeria Biellese, Sopressata, Artisan Salame, Fra-Mani, Spicy Coppa, Salumeria Biellese, Porchetta, Berkshire Blue (raw cow cheese, MA), Landaff (cave aged, raw cow cheese, VT), and Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (raw cow cheese, VT).
The a la carte cheese and meat boards from The Salty Pig are completely customizable. On this particular day I decided on Prosciutto and French goat cheese. You can add anything you want but in terms of meat, cheese and homemade condiments (like homemade fig jam pictured below) and the boards come standard with homemade pickles, whole grain mustard, and thinly sliced crostini.
What restaurants do you recommend in the Back Bay?
Belly Wine Bar is the newest concept from the owners of the Blue Room and Central Bottle. Located adjacent to the Blue Room in Kendall Square, Belly is a modern space with a fun wine list and great menu of snacks and small plates to accompany the wine.
The eccentric wine list is curated by Liz Viraldi of Central Bottle. The sections of the wine list aren't organized regions or type of grape but in offbeat categories like oysters I love you, rocks in your mouth, and a wee bit sparkling. Wine is available in four different sizes, so you can get less than a class which makes it easy to try a bunch of different varieties. Or you can get magnum size if just one bottle just won't cut it. Every wine we tried was completely unique, from mineral-y whites to spicy reds, you probably won't see many wines you recognize.
The charcuterie is prepared in house by the Executive Chef of the Blue Room, Robert Grant, and Central Bottle's Cheesemonger Stephanie Santos takes care of the cheese. Her organization of the cheese menu is similar to that of the wine, the menu just lists the qualities rather than the type or origin: fresh, butter, earth, salt, funk, whole, home grown, the blues or Parmigiano-Reggiano. Because it is hands down my favorite cheese, I fully support Parm being in a category of its own. Which is why I had to order this...
They cut the cheese to order straight from an enormous wheel of Parm sitting behind the bar. Served with only fresh honey, it's a very simple dish but the quality of the cheese is so good you don't need anything else to enjoy it.
I'm excited to try the charcuterie and other cheese options. Like most new places in Kendall, it's hard not to love it! Has anyone been yet?
One Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA 02139
As of last week I am officially a resident of the South End. I used to be over here all the time when I was a student at Northeastern; if my friends and I ever decided to venture out of our college bubble, more likely than not we would go to the South End. There have been a lot of changes to the area since I graduated like Columbus Cafe closing and Parish Cafe II opening RIGHT after I left (which I am still bitter about), but there are still a ton of classics from college that I'm starting to revisit. First on the list is Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe, my favorite breakfast place in the city.
They have the best omelettes ever. If you know of a better one please let me know so I can try it for myself. First of all, they are HUGE, perfect for a start to busy weekday or a morning after a late night. After they're cooked in the saute pan on the stove, they are transferred into this oven above to finish it off, giving it a very slight golden brown crispiness on the outside.
What are some of your favorite breakfast places in the South End?
Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe
429 Columbus Ave.
Boston, MA 02116
Tomato season is hands down my favorite time of year. Not only do we get perfect, juicy, ripe tomatoes but tomato's best friend basil is also in season. That means that I've been eating caprese really, really often -- as in once a day or more. When the ingredients are fresh there is absolutely nothing better. That's why I was shocked when I finally got sick of caprese last week. I've had more than my fair share this season but I honestly never thought the day would come. I think I just wanted to do something different with tomatoes and basil for a change. That's how my friend and I came up with this recipe, which still incorporates tomato, basil, and of course, cheese.FULL ENTRY
Things that are normally associated with Chinatown: late night food, sake bombing, soup dumplings, dim sum. Things that are never associated with Chinatown: modern dishes, lounge atmosphere and cocktails - until now. Shojo opened last month and they are looking to switch things up a bit with a creative beverage program and shareable Asian small plates.
Shojo is named after an old Japanese sea spirit (on their wall mural he is depicted as a monkey) in search of a sake river. Sake is the spotlight of the beverage program but they also offer interesting house made infusions and tiki drinks as well.
Get the Reiko Greene! It's refreshing and very cucumber-y, and doesn't get watered down when the ice melts.
The Cold Tea For Two pays homage to the Chinatown tradition of drinking "tea" post 2am on a weekend night. They do a great job of making the tea taste meld with the other flavors in the drink.
As for the food, Shojo is more so the type of place you share a few apps rather than sit down for a full on dinner. The food serves as a great accompaniment to the drinks. The standout dish was the Chicken Cutlet, the tomato chutney on top made the dish almost have a Chicken Tikka Masala taste and the chicken was perfectly tender.
9A Tyler St.
Boston, MA 021111
About the authors
Michelle Zippelli is a Boston based hedonist who is committed to finding the best food that Boston has to offer. She has lived in Boston for 6 years and works in online marketing. Michelle loves meatballs, live music, exotic cheeses, Mexican food, spur of the moment dance parties, and all things pickled.
Jacki Morisi is a self-proclaimed bon vivant extraordinaire. A Boston native whose waking hours are exclusively focused on travel, music, food, and fare ... emphasis on food and fare. She's a firm believer that just because you're living on a young professional's budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste, and carries this mantra into each and every dining endeavor.