• Boston City Guide: Taste, Keep Fit & Splurge

    December 7, 2013

    Readers often ask me for my recommendations for what to do in Boston. I typically refer them to my I Think I’ll Go To Boston post, which highlights some of my favorite suggestions for where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. Readers have told me that they find this post helpful, but I recently realized it’s almost 2.5 years old and might need a little updating. Some of the recommendations in that post are my very favorites and will probably never change, but here are some new suggestions for tasting, keeping fit, and splurging during your time in Boston!

    *Taste*

    Anthem Kitchen & Bar

    Anthem Kitchen & Bar is located in Faneuil Hall, which is right downtown in the middle of the action in Boston. It’s a touristy area, but if it’s your first time to Boston, you’ll definitely want to check it out. You’d probably expect the restaurants in the area to serve overpriced, not-so-great food. And, well, a lot of the dining establishments in Faneuil Hall are just that, but Anthem is a quality restaurant with an awesome menu and reasonable prices. Mal and I have dined there a few times now, and we’ve always had a great experience. If you’re in the Faneuil Hall area, be sure to pop in!

    anthem boston

    Here are a couple of posts about my dining experiences at Anthem so far—one is from last summer and one is from last winter. Both great meals!

    Steel & Rye

    Ok, Steel & Rye isn’t located in Boston, but it’s a short drive from the city and totally worth the trip. It’s my absolute favorite restaurant right now, and I just had to mention it. The food is amazing, the décor is beautiful, the atmosphere is laid-back but sophisticated at the same time, and the staff, especially the bar staff, is so incredible friendly.

    steel & rye

    If you dine at Steel & Rye on a Friday or Saturday night, be sure to make a reservation (you can call the restaurant or use OpenTable) because there will be a wait. I also highly recommend hanging out at the bar before your reservation. The cocktails at Steel & Rye are excellent—fresh, flavorful, and interesting! For more info about Steel & Rye, check out a few of my previous blog posts!

    *Keep Fit*

    The Charles River

    If you visit Boston, you must walk, run, bike, skate, paddle, or sail along the Charles River. However you decide to move, make sure you visit at least once!

    running-charles-river-main
    [source]

    The Charles River runs right through Boston and the surrounding areas, so you can easily meet up with the 17 miles of (mostly) paved pathways that run along the river. (Here’s a helpful map.) If you visit the Charles on a beautiful day, you will see all sorts of people (and dogs!) out and about, enjoying the gorgeous scenery and staying active. Strolling along the Charles is one of my favorite things to do when I am in the city.

    November Project

    I had my first November Project experience just a couple of weeks ago, and I loved it! If you’ve never heard of the November Project, it’s a free workout held Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 6:30 AM. The locations vary around the city, but everyone is welcome and all you need to do to join is show up. The people I met at my first November Project experience were so incredibly friendly, so they’re a great group to chat and make friends with. Plus, getting your blood flowing before most of the city wakes up is a great way to start your day. Who doesn’t love that feeling of accomplishment?!

    IMG_8701 (600x450)

    *Splurge*

    Max Brenner

    “Food First, Then Chocolate.” You know you’re in for a treat when the restaurant’s tag line involves chocolate!

    max brenner boston

    Enjoying dinner and dessert at Max Brenner is a diet splurge for sure, but totally and completely worth it. The menu features semi-healthy dishes, like Savory Waffle Sandwiches, which are filled with various meats, cheeses, veggies, and flavorful spreads and dressings. You could easily enjoy a relatively low-calorie lunch or dinner at Max Brenner, but what makes this restaurant special is its desserts and dessert beverages—and this, of course, is where the real splurge comes in! Selections, such as Frozen Hot Chocolate, Salted Caramel Milkshakes, Chocolate Chunks Pizza, and Peanut Butter & Banana Crepes, will definitely entice your taste buds, so go ahead and splurge! Trust me, desserts and chocolate at Max Brenner are worth it! Check out my review here.

    Top of the Hub

    This one is more of a splurge for your wallet, but it’s worth every cent and a must-see!

    Ok, I have to admit, the Top of the Hub is a total tourist trap, but for good reason. The views of the city are absolutely amazing and, in my opinion, are even better while sipping a delicious cocktail. Enjoying dinner at the Top of the Hub (be sure to make a reservation) will cost you a pretty penny, so I suggest visiting for an early happy hour. Sit at the bar or snag a table in the lounge, order a drink, maybe an appetizer or two, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the experience. Visiting early in the evening is one of my favorite things to do with newcomers to my city because you can relax and chat before the restaurant gets too busy.

    top of the hub boston

    Question of the Day

    Boston friends and those of you who have visited, what are your top recommendations for the city?

    This post is brought to you by Even Hotels as part of their Well Well Well website.

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    { 35 comments… read them below or add one }

    Becki @ Bites 'n Brews December 7, 2013 at 11:26 am

    I always go to Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale for an awesome craft beer selection (including FIVE casks) and jm Curley’s across the street for the most amazing housemade donut stuffed with strawberry rhubarb and topped with a foie gras glaze and candied basil. One of the top five foods that has ever graced my mouth.

    Reply

    Caitlin December 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    @Becki @ Bites ‘n Brews: I second both of these!! Stoddard’s is one of my favorite bars and has some of my favorite cocktails in the city. I also love jm Curley’s burgers.

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    Megan @ Meg Go Run December 7, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for this post and links to your previous Boston posts! We’re going in April!

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    Jessica Rose December 7, 2013 at 11:43 am

    One of these days…I will have to get round to visit Boston. ;)

    http://vodkaandarose.blogspot.co.uk

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    Sabrina @ Living, Learning, Eating December 7, 2013 at 11:47 am

    I live in Boston, too, so the dining recommendations are great! I also recommend checking out Veggie Planet and Veggie Galaxy across the river in Cambridge, especially for vegetarians. They’re very hole-in-the-wall-ish, but so fun! I also suggest checking out the Curious George Store over in Harvard Square (the only one in the world!) if you’re traveling with kids :)

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    Lillian @ Seize the Latte December 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I’ve only been to Boston once, but the most memorable part was going to the wedding dress section of Filene’s Basement. I was about 12 years old, so I was gazing in romantic wonderment upon all the frilly white stuff when some woman stripped down to her skivvies and started trying on dresses in the aisle (who needs a fitting room when you can do it all in the middle of the store itself?). To say the least, it was a memorable experience!

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    michelle kim December 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Yum! I’d love to visit the Max Brenner place some day… after running along the Charles River, of course.

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    Livi December 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I’ve been to the Max Brenner in NYC– so good!!

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    Kate @Coffee With Kate December 7, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Boston is my favorite city! Lived in Southie for a summer.

    Some of my favorite places are the Seaport District, especially on a warm summer night. Legal Test Kitchen for dining, or pubs like Atlantic Beer Garden, Whiskey Priest for a nice roof-top setting.

    The New England Aquarium is a great place to visit with family. And then walk a few blocks toward the North End for some great Italian food.

    I always loved visiting and shopping in the Cambridge area and walking down Newbury, of course.

    Ahh so many other things I could probably think of if I had the time!

    Of course, always explore some hole-in-the-wall restaurants, bars, shops too! They’re always the best.

    I love your Boston posts, Tina! Makes me miss that city so darn much.

    http://www.coffeewithkatee.wordpress.com

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    Megan December 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    My brother-in-law works at Anthem, so I can vouch that the waiters are pretty awesome too :) Did you know it was Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness week? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-kaplan/inflammatory-bowel-disease_b_4361130.html

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    Tina December 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Yep! I blogged about it the other day! 😄

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    Lauren December 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Barcelona Wine Bar in Brookline has the best tapas/wine/cocktails/atmosphere in the city, great for brunch, happy hour, or a sit down dinner.

    I agree that Legal Test Kitchen (LTK) in the Seaport is amazing.

    Some other favorites are ICOB and Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square, Stefanie’s/Sonsie/Kitchen on Newbury, and THE BEST SANDWICH BISTRO in the city is Parish Cafe on Boylston :) We will have to drive out to try Steel and Rye sometime!

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    Jade December 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    A friend of mine is coming up for a visit next weekend so I’ve been thinking about this! For fit, I’m going to take him to MetroRock in Everett (off the orange line for those interested) but Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville would also be a good option for people who are looking for a more local option. After that, we’re gonna do a Harpoon brewery tour and then lunch at the Barking Crab :)

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    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More December 7, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    LOVE BOSTON! So excited to be heading back this week for work and while I’m sure I’ll be busy most of the time, I’m looking forward to what time I will have to see the city that I just love so much. I really do need to move back. ;)

    One of my favorites in college was Fire & Ice especially because we’d go for brunch on the weekends (or early afternoon, something like that) and get it cheaper. :)

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    Amy @ The Little Honey Bee December 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Ah this made me so excited to head back to the Bean in a few weeks! Love all the suggestions — totally agree on Max Brenner’s. Dessert pizza is a must. I am a huge fan of brunching at the Paramount Cafe on Charles Street. The line is well worth the wait.

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    Annette@FitnessPerks December 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I’ve never been to Boston, but it sounds like such a fun place to visit!

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    Michele December 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I was only in Boston once for a few hours but I had to go to Mike’s Pastry! I thought I died and went to heaven…Holy Cannoli!!! :)

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    Jamie @ Just Ripe Nutrition December 7, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    My fiance used to live in Boston and we LOVED Regina Pizzeria!!! A must try!

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    Anne @strawberryjampackedlife December 7, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I miss living within walking distance of the Charles. We walked the dog there several times a week.
    Anyway, one of my favorite things to tell people to do on a beautiful day is to go get a cannoli (either from Mike’s or Modern Pastry) and enjoy it at the Rose F. Kennedy greenway. It’s wonderful for people watching. In the summer, kids are playing in the fountains.
    Of course my favorite restaurant is Not Your Average Joe’s, with locations all around the city. Of course it’s also in DC, so it’s not that special to Boston. But we could walk to it from our apartment in Watertown. Loved it!

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    Emily December 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    fire and ice (harvard square or south end) is always a good time! and for dessert, jp licks can’t be beat! in terms of vegetarian restaurants, i also love life alive in central square, red lentil in watertown, walnut grille in newton, and true bistro in somerville. for things to do, the duck tours is always a classic tourist-y thing to do, and skating on frog pond in the winter is great! i could definitely go on…i <3 boston!

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    Sarah Emmert December 7, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    I just moved away from Boston and this makes me miss it even more!

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    Anne December 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    @Sarah Emmert:

    Ditto. We left last summer and I get sad. :( I don’t miss the drivers or the cost of living, but I miss walking everywhere.

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    Christine December 7, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Living in MA all my life I have some state recommendations:

    The Clam Box on rt.133 in Ipswich. Best fried clam in New England! When going remember that they change their oil every day at 230pm so expect a longer wait! And yes, there is a wait on the weekends!

    Kimballs ice cream in Westford! Their hot fudge sundaes are killer! And their butter pecan ice cream has large pieces of pecan *drool*

    South Natick pizza in Natick. The best italian, thin crust pizza around! Everything is made fresh! The cheese has the perfect amount of stretch and saltiness! And the slices are huge!

    Steve and Anthony’s in Marlboro…amazing breakfast! They make their own breakfast sausage, my favorite is their maple chipotle sausage. They also have great seasonal specials like pumpkin waffles and apple pancakes! And next door is a country store with homemade confections!

    I hope you get a chance to try some of these recommendations!

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    Alex LT December 7, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Tina! I emailed about wanting to see a list like this not too long and I’m so SO happy to read this post. Just what I needed to help me explore the city as a newcomer to the area :)

    Some places I’ve discovered and totally recommend:
    -Sweet Green in Back Bay: fabulous place for lunch.. all salads and all so delicious and freshly made right in front of you
    -Boston Burger Company in Davis Square: if you’re a burger person it is a must visit, they have a very unique menu (I went with a friend that ordered a burger with peanut butter on it once?) but you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll love and that you won’t get anywhere else
    -JP Licks: Ice cream, froyo, desserts, if you’ve got a sweet tooth you will love it
    -Mike’s Pastry: Go. Have a cannoli. Your taste buds will thank you.
    -Aquitaine for a Sunday brunch is just perfect (and much less of a splurge then going there for dinner $$)

    The Chestnut Hill reservoir is a good (short and easy) and beautiful running loop if anyone’s in the area

    And

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    Runner Girl Eats December 8, 2013 at 6:38 am

    I love the idea of the November Project! I wish my city had soemthing like that. I am planning a Boston trip in the summer so will def bookmark this post ;)

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    Annie @ herightfit.com December 8, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I love Boston. I totally want to check out the Max Brenner desserts!

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    Ilana December 8, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    If the weather is nice, definitely recommend taking a Hubway bike (bikeshare system) for a ride around the city. There are great paths along the Charles River and the Seaport water front with gorgeous views. If you choose the Seaport path, can always stop for some refreshments at the Harpoon Brewery or at the Legal Harborside :)

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    Meredith December 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    I moved away from Boston just 3.5 months ago and this makes me really miss it. Some of my favorites are
    – city girl cafe in Inman square. Great brunch, good dinners and relatively cheap for the area.
    – Tazo chocolate in Somerville.
    – Darwin’s near Inman/ Harvard. Amazing breakfast sandwiches and normal sandwiches.
    – for a drink: the field in central. Fun Irish pub (also check out the druid in Inman)
    – 2 nicer bars- saloon in Davis. Its an unmarked door on elm st right below a very popular restaurant I can’t remember the name of. The other us in central square brick and mortar. Its also an unmarked door right above The Central Kitchen.
    – for workouts: Cambridge Community Gymnastics offers gymnastics classes exclusively for adult beginner gymnast. Though they also have a competitive adult team.
    – my favorite gym is Rx strength training in Somerville. I was a member there for nearly 2 years.
    – for the hardcore types there is total performance sports in Everett. They had (it may still be going not sure) a strongman workshop the first Saturday if each month.
    – touristy spot- revere beach hands down. Get a slice of pizza then an ice cream and walk up and down the beach. Good people watching. They alsobhave a sweet sand castle.competition in July.
    – touristy- Castle Island. A lovely spot for a picnic and you can watch the planes land and take off at Logan.
    Okay that’s probably good for now. I just really miss Boston.

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    Emily December 9, 2013 at 8:52 am

    This is coming at the perfect time. My sister and I are planning a trip to Boston for her 30th birthday in March! I’ve never been but I’ve always wanted to!

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    Stephanie December 9, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I’m a Southie girl, so my recommendation would be to visit the Seaport in the summer. Legal Harborside’s roof deck is the perfect place to grab a cocktail and try some Boston seafood. And take a stroll around Castle Island while you’re at it!

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    sarah @makingitmyhome.blogspot.com December 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    I recently became a fan of Hops and Scotch in brookline. decent beer selection and their bacon wrapped dates became quite the inspiration in our kitchen

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    meghan @ struggle muffins December 10, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Ooo, I’ll play! I’d add People’s Republik, Green Street Grill and The Plough and The Stars in Cambridge (all good home-y feeling bars), Atwoods in East Boston (go when they have live music), Jacob Wirth in the Theater District/Chinatown (they have a piano bar/singalong dealio every week, I think on Fridays), Orinnoco in the South End for delicious food (great date spot!) and The Gallows right down the street for fun drinks.

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    Monique @ Burpeestobubbly December 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    It’s funny that you mention Anthem because that is one of my favorite places that I always take friends and family to. Their Fondu is AMAZING. Seriously, sometimes we go for just that and wine :) I just went to the Top of the Hub last weekend for drinks… I wouldn’t splurge on the food, though, it’s not THAT good, for the price you pay. Abe and Louie’s is better IMO :)

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    Tina December 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I want fondue and wine now! 😄

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    Tasha December 10, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    I think the Barking Crab is the best place to get fresh seafood when the weather is nice. There is nothing like waiting for a table with a beer in hand in the fresh air.

    Reply

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