This morning was a major milestone for me and this here blog! I was invited up to the WFNX radio studio to talk about food and restaurants on the morning program, The Breakfast Show. It was great meeting Keith Dakin, Fletcher, and the WFNX legend Henry Santoro; all great guys and my time in the studio was fun. My air time was split into two segments; the first was spent discussing restaurants to go to for a first date and restaurants that would be great for a double date. In the second segment we talked tacos!
If you missed The Breakfast Show this morning, you can listen to my segment on the WFNX Breakfast Show Podcast page.
So where do I think the fine people of greater Boston should go out to eat on a date? My first pick is The Washington Square Tavern in Brookline's Washington Square. I learned about Washington Square Tavern nearly eleven years ago, shortly after they opened in 1999, and have been eating there ever since. With an affordable, approachable, and well thought out wine list to go along with great food, this is a perfect date restaurant. I have always been pleased anytime I order fish, but their chicken and steak offerings are also great. I would be completely remiss if I didn't also mention their "Famous Choice Sirloin 1/2 lb. Burger", it is a definite contender for one of the best burgers in the city. Please note that Washington Square Tavern does NOT take reservations, be prepared for a lengthy wait during prime weekend dinner hours.
My second pick for a restaurant to take a date to is Toro in Boston's South End. With a long list of creative and classic cocktails, you'll have plenty to drink while waiting for a table; like Wasthington Square Tavern, Toro does NOT take reservations. Toro, opened and owned by one of Boston's best chefs, Ken Oringer, has another well known chef running the kitchen, Jamie Bisonnette. The kitchen team at Toro has taken Spanish tapas to a whole new level with great success. A lot of people say that the best way to judge a sushi restaurant is by how good their tamago (sweet egg omelet) is. Well the same analogy could be used to judge a Spanish tapas restaurant by how good their Tortilla Espanola is; the Spanish egg, potato and onion omelet at Toro is incredible and the rest of the food follows suit. Want to play Russian roulette with your food? Try my favorite item on the menu, the pimientos del padron. These small peppers are lightly roasted and dusted with sea salt, some of them are hot, some are not - how lucky are you!? Looking for a little more adventure? Try the mollejas (crispy veal sweetbreads with blood orange and cinnamon,) morcilla (house cured blood sausage,) or Asado de Huesos (roasted bone marrow with radish citrus salad and oxtail marmalade.) If your looking for something a little less Fear Factor, try the Gambas al Ajillo (griddled garlic shrimp) or Maíz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija, La Especialidad de la Casa (the house specialty, grilled corn with alioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese.) There is plenty for everyone at Toro whether you are adventurous or not. If you like to share small plates, you would be remiss if you did not try Toro at least once.
Looking for something from the sea? Head to Neptune Oyster on Salem Street in the North End, just be careful if you drive, most of the on street parking in the North End requires a resident permit; I found out the hard way the first time I was there.With a dozen different oysters on their raw bar most of the time, this is one of the best places to go for oysters. Yes, I know there are plenty of other places for oysters, including B&G Oysters in the South End, but Neptune is without a doubt the place to go. In addition to the great oyster selection, there is also a great wine list to pair with them. The appetizer options include some great salads and the entrees are all about the fish. They do have a burger and a steak on the menu, but if you skip the fish here you are really missing the boat. At $25, the lobster roll is priced in line with the other great lobster rolls in the city; trust me when I say it's worth it. Once again, Neptune Oyster does NOT take reservations.
Once you've made it past a few dates you might consider a double date with a couple other friends. For something a little more casual, check out Franklin Cafe (South End, Southie and Cape Ann in Gloucester) or The Paramount on Charles Street in Boston. J and I love the Franklin Cafe in the South End; we haven't visited the Cape Ann location or the relatively new South Boston spot. Known for their creative cocktails and their modern twist on comfort food, the Franklin Cafe has always delivered when I've eaten there.
If you're looking for some upscale fish tacos or a great plate of steak tips, check out The Paramount. The steak frites is also a winner here. If your date night carries over to breakfast, The Paramount has great brunch too. Actually Toro and Washington Square Tavern also have great brunch, so do your homework and pick a place that matches your mood for the night.
If its uber-casual that your looking for or if you are on a really small budget, go out for tacos! My favorite for tacos and burritos is Anna's Taqueria. I'm a super chicken guy through and through but their Mexican plates, quesadillas and tacos are great choices too. If your in the Fenway area, check out La Verdad, another Ken Oringer spot. Try the carne asada tacos, my favorite here, or the lengua (beef tongue.) The texture of the tongue is really unique and the meat is incredibly tender. It's a treat if you've never tried tongue before. If your on a date and its already going south, order a few tacos from the taqueria and call it a night. Otherwise have a seat in the restaurant, order a few cocktails, and enjoy some fine Mexican food.
Finally, not mentioned during the segment on The Breakfast Show this morning, Tremont 647 has $2 tacos on Tuesdays each week. Chef Andy Husbands and his great kitchen team make some really outstanding tacos each week. The fried plantains and guacamole are also excellent. Not Tuesday night? Enjoy the constantly changing menu and sign up for their newsletter to stay up to date on the special dinners/events they host every month.
There you have it, with more detail than what you may have heard on WFNX this morning.
Here are all the details:
The Washington Square Tavern
714 Washington Street
1704 Washington Street
795 Main Street
63 Salem Street
The Franklin Cafe
Three locations, see web site
44 Charles Street
You'll find me in the Coolidge Corner and Beacon Hill spots
1 Lansdowne Street
647 Tremont Street