Re: [CH] Boston

The Old Bear (
Mon, 11 May 1998 08:58:06 -0400

In Chile-Heads Digest, v.4 #416, Dave Hendricks wrote:

>Date: Sun, 10 May 1998 06:52:59 +0000
>From: "Dave Hendricks" <>
>Subject: [CH] Boston
>I am going to be working in the Boston Area (Lexington) on a 
>temporary assignment (2-3 months) and wondered if there were any good 
>places to to try out hot/spicy/mexican foods. I'm not sure how much 
>free time I'll have as I will be flying in om Monday mornings and 
>returning Friday afternoons but I will have to eat in the evenings. I 
>might even get lucky and the wife will fly in for 1-2 weekends so we 
>can really do the town.  Anyone have any suggestions on where to eat?
>Dave Hendricks
>Boomerangs, Beer, Bar-B-Que, Any Questions?


Here is a list I compiled last November for another ChileHead from 
the U.K. who asked the same question concerning an impending visit 
to the Boston area:

---------- begin included text ----------

To: (Chile-Heads Digest)
From: The Old Bear <>
Subject: re: [CH] UK Guy Visiting Boston... Where do I go?
Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997  13:49:10 -0500

In Chile-Heads Digest, V.4 #187, Neil Reynolds wrote:

>Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 11:14:30 -0000
>From: "Neil Reynolds" <>
>Subject: [CH] UK Guy Visiting Boston... Where do I go?
>Hi there, I'm a UK chilehead who is in the Boston area for a week 
>or so, and I was wondering if anyone can recommend places to eat 
>that serve the good stuff.  Also, are there any good chile/hot 
>sauce supplies shops in the area? - I'll be able to travel a bit 
>if necessary.

Here are some places we enjoy.  I am looking forward to seeing 
what other suggestions Boston-area Chile Heads make.

       Iguana Cantina
       313 Moody Street
       781 891-3039
          Very informal mexican cantina, closest thing I've 
          found to the California neighborhood hang-out with 
          wall murals, a well-stocked bar, and creative daily 
          specials.  Located in a row of shops on the old main 
          street of Waltham, a city known for its watch and 
          clock manufacturing in the early part of this century.

       La Paloma
       195 Newport Avenue
       617 773-0512
          Not too far south of Boston and accessible via the MBTA 
          Red Line subway, La Paloma is a very popular Mexican 
          restaurant located in a small suburban shopping center.  
          The food is well prepared and presented.  (There is a 
          second location in nearby Weymouth.) 

       470 North Road (Route 117)
       978 443-0820
          A wonderful surprise in the outer suburbs on a  
          rural highway, Sierras has a popular bar and a 
          creative menu.  Much of the clientel work at the 
          nearby corporate headquarters of Digital Equipment 
          Corporation.  The menu is both Mexican and American 
          Southwest, the latter being quite unusual in this 
          part of the country.

       Zuni Cafe
       Mashpee Commons
       Mashpee (Cape Cod)
       508 539-2354
          Located in the Mashpee Commons shopping village (an 
          award-winning development which follows the neo-traditional 
          form of a small town center with streets of shops), the 
          Zuni Cafe is a spicy surprise on Cape Cod.  They make an 
          exciting version of nachos with a habanero sauce which 
          should be registered as a nuclear weapon.  Also, a very 
          nice chili verde.  

       55 Chester Street
       617 628-2200
          Probably the best known 'ribs joint' in the Boston 
          area, Redbones in the urban neighborhood of Davis 
          Square which has become a nexus for small businesses 
          serving the student and young urban market.  Great 
          barbecue and a bar with more varieties of beer than 
          you can count.  (If you can't decide which kind you 
          want, you can spin a wheel and let the fates decide.)
       Blue Ribbon Barbecue
       1375 Washington Street
       617 332-2583
          Small place in an unlikely location in West Newton, 
          this is one of best barbecue places in the area.  Lots of 
          choices available for take-out or to eat at the dozen or 
          so seats within this little storefront operation.  Choices 
          of sauces range from hot to very hot -- and habanero mustard.
          Parking is available in a municipal lot directly across 
          the street.

       Pit Stop
       888 Morton Street
       617 436-0485
          Authentic barbecue prepared in a converted gas station 
          building in a ragged neighborhood in the Mattapan 
          section of Boston's Dorchester neighborhood.  Parking 
          in surrounded by chain link fence, so there is no 
          reason not to pull into the Pit Stop even if you're 
          unsure of the area.  This place is only open on Thursday, 
          Friday and Saturday and does a good local business.  This 
          is real, slow-cooked barbecue served up with lots of 
          rich red barbecue sauce.

       Indian Globe
       474 Massachusetts Avenue
       617 868-1866

       Shalimar of India
       546 Massachusetts Avenue
       617 547-9280

          These are just two of several small places at Central Square 
          in Cambridge, located mid-way between Harvard and M.I.T.  
          You might want to walk along Massachusetts Avene and read the 
          various menus posted in the windows.

    Cajun / Eclectic
       Green Street Grill
       280 Green Street
       617 876-1655
          Although it doesn't look like much from the outside, the 
          Green Street Grill produces some of the most exciting hot 
          cajun grilled food in the area -- all the more remarkable 
          because of its postage-stamp sized kitchen.  You enter 
          through a great little neighborhood bar and go up two or 
          three steps to the dining room.  There is entertainment on
          the weekends.

       Rhythm 'n' Spice
       315 Massachusetts Avenue
       617 497-0977
          Located between M.I.T. and Central Square, this is one 
          of the few Caribbean restaurants in the Boston area.
          The menu includes many items with scotch bonnets and 
          Jamaican jerk spices.  Bright, open and fun environment.

       Singha House
       1105 Massachusetts Avenue
       617 864-5154
          Located in a modern mid-rise building a few blocks 
          toward MIT from Harvard Square, this restaurant is down 
          a few stairs from the sidewalk level in a row of shops.
          Typical Thai cuisine, well prepared.  My favorite dish 
          consistes of New England mussels, steamed with Thai 
          spices and served in the pot in which they were steamed 
          -- a good dish to share as a appetizer.

       Noble House
       1306 Beacon Street
       617 232-9580
          Somewhat yuppy, California style Chinese Szechuan 
          restaurant located near Coolidge Corner in Brookline.
          Noble House brought this style of cuisine to the 
          Boston area which had been dominated by Cantonese 
          restaurants for generations.  A varied menu of dishes, 
          always well prepared and presented.

       Kokopelli Chili Company
       1680 Beacon Street
       617 277-2880
          Brand new, this place opened about six weeks ago and we 
          have not yet had the chance to try it.  Looks interesting.
          Located in the Washington Square area of Brookline.

As for hot sauce shops, there is a retail shop devoted to hot sauces 
on the north side of the food concourse Quincy Market building 
at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace downtown.   You may also want to 
check out:

       Chile Head
       68 Clarendon Avenue
       617 776-7270

       Madras Marsala
       191 Harvard Street
       617 556-1122

There is a big, brand-new supermarket which recently opened in 
Jamaica Plain, near the Jackson Square stop on the MBTA orange 
line subway:

       Stop & Shop
       301 Center Street
       Jamaica Plain
       617 522-4300

Stop & Shop is a subsidiary of the Dutch food giant, Royal Ahold, 
and operates over 100 supermarkets in New England.  This particular 
location is a new venture of locating a store in an inner-city 
neighborhood and was developed in conjuction with the Boston 
Redevelopment Authority.  The area around this store has a large 
Caribbean and Hispanic population, and hence the store maintains an
unusually good selection of fresh chiles in its produce department.  
There is also an aisle of Hispanic foods and an ailse of Mexican foods 
with many, many hot sauces and spicy ingredients at very reasonable 
family (vs. tourist) prices.

Also worthy of mention are:

       Bread and Circus
       115 Prospest Street
       617 492-0070
       (other locations in Brighton, Newton and Wellesley)

       Havest Co-operative Supermarket
       581 Massachusetts Avenue
       617 661-1580

While not exactly a place to go to fill your suitcase, an excellent 
source of Mexican specialties is a restaurant distributor located 
just off of the Montvale Avenue exit on Interstate Highway 93 a few 
minutes northwest of Boston:

       Casa Redondo
       74 Maple Street
       781 279-4020

Casa Redondo is located in an old industrial building and sells to 
many local restaurants.  They stock spices and seasonings, fresh 
chile peppers, mole (roja and verde), chorizo sausage, hot sauces 
(Melinas's, El Yucateco, Inner Beauty and others), Mexican chocolate, 
masa harina, quesco fresco, chipotles in adobo sauce, and flour 
tortillas in various sizes and varieties -- beautiful dark red 
tomato, green spinach, white, and a pinkish chile version.  These 
tortillas are superb for really impressive dishes.  Please note that 
Casa Redono opens very early in the morning and closes mid-afternoon, 
so it's best to call first and make sure they're around.

This should be enough to keep you busy for a few weeks during the 
week you are here.

OK, fellow Boston ChileHeads: what else can we add to this list?

The Old Bear


To: (Chile-Heads Digest)
From: The Old Bear <>
Subject: re: [CH] UK Guy Visiting Boston... Where do I go?
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997  11:33:27 -0500

At 05:00 AM 11/12/97, Eric A. Sohn <> wrote:

>East Coast Grill in Inman Square used to serve an incendiary 
>appetizer called Pasta from Hell, made with Inner Beauty. 
>Elephant Walk in Somerville is not fire-breathing, but how 
>often do you find a Cambodian restaurant?


Your comments join those of my immediate family.

MsBear pointed out that I had omitted the East Coast Grill from 
my list.  This was an egregious oversight.  It is definitely one 
of the best restaurants in the area.  

The Cub pointed out that I also omitted Baja Betty's (at 3 Harvard 
Square -- the one in Brookline Village, not the one in Cambridge) 
and Anna's Taqueria (1412 Beacon Street in Brookline).  These are 
little neighborhood taquerias which do a good job of making tacos, 
burritos, enchiladas, etc. for quick and inexpensive take-out.
Being a growing teenager, he knows both of these as places to 
get that necessary extra meal between the end of the school day 
and what his parents consider to be dinner time.

A small, local place in the Portuguese neighborhood of Cambridge 
is Casa Portugal at 100 Cambridge Street.  I have eaten there 
on several occassions and they have some very lively Portuguese 
home cooking, including stews and a number of fish dishes.  The 
bite of this cuisine comes more from black peppercorns than from 
chile, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Also omitted from my list was a small neighborhood place called 
Cafe Brazil at 421 Cambridge Street in Brighton (near Union Square.) 
While I have not tried this place myself, it comes recommended by 
several friends.

And I should have mentioned the aptly named "Mexican Cuisine" 
located at 1682 Massachusetts Avenue (between Harvard and Porter 
Squares) in Cambridge (tel. 617 661-1634).  Please note that it has 
changed its name to the "Forest Cafe" but it still gets excellent 
reviews like this one available on the Web from the Boston Phoenix:
SINE.html>.  As mentioned in the review, one of the 
signature dishes is the "pescado con mole verde," a grilled 
mahi-mahi with a green sauce of tomatillos, poblano chiles, and 
ground pumpkin seeds and peanuts.  Unfortunately, this place also 
has been on my list to try, but I have not gotten around to it.

Also worthy of mention is the Cottonwood Cafe, with two locations 
at 1815 Massachusetts Avenue (Porter Square) in Cambridge and at 
the New England Life Building at 222 Berkeley Street in the Back 
Bay.  This place is a little on the yuppy side, but does a nice 
job with a typical big-city interpretaction of a southwestern-style 

And in the Back Bay, across from the Prudential Center & Hynes 
Auditorium is the Cactus Club at 939 Boylston Street.  You will 
find additional yuppies gathered under the buffalo in the bar 
there.  ;)

Finally, in addition to the Somerville location of The Elephant 
Walk which you mentioned, The Elephant Walk has a second restaurant 
at 900 Beacon Street in Brookline, at Audobon Circle, near the 
St. Mary's Street T-stop (first stop out of the tunnel on the 
Green Line "C" route, or a short walk from Kenmore Square.)

The Old Bear


To: (Chile-Heads Digest)
From: The Old Bear <>
Subject: re: [CH] UK Guy Visiting Boston... Where do I go?
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997  23:02:07 -0500

Yesterday I wrote:

>And I should have mentioned the aptly named "Mexican Cuisine" 
>located at 1682 Massachusetts Avenue (between Harvard and Porter 
>Squares) in Cambridge (tel. 617 661-1634).  Please note that it has 
>changed its name to the "Forest Cafe" but it still gets excellent 
>reviews like this one available on the Web from the Boston Phoenix:
ISINE.html>.  As mentioned in the review, one of the 
>signature dishes is the "pescado con mole verde," a grilled 
>mahi-mahi with a green sauce of tomatillos, poblano chiles, and 
>ground pumpkin seeds and peanuts.  Unfortunately, this place also 
>has been on my list to try, but I have not gotten around to it.

Well, I took MsBear to dinner there tonight and we both agreed  
that this place has the absolute best Mexican cuisine we have found 
here in the Boston area.  Move this one to the top of the list.

It is a very small bar and restaurant, located in a storefront in 
a row of neighborhood shops.  The place is about 20 feet wide and 
divided down the middle by a low partition with the bar on the right 
and the restaurant seating on the left.  Maybe a dozen booths and 
a half dozen tables.

The menu is not fancy -- but very creative.  This is robust, spicy, 
home-style food in an unpretentious surrounding.  I had an 
enchilada with pieces of steak and chorizo in a red sauce inside a 
flour tortilla, topped lightly with cheese and salsa verde so that 
it appeared to be a light color dish until cut into.  MsBear had 
something called Tinga Poblano which consisted of chicken and 
shredded chicken in a complex red sauce made with poblano.

I don't know how I put off trying this place for so long.

The Old Bear


The above list should keep you busy.  Let me know if there is any 
way I can help make your visit more pleasant.

You also may have noticed that Firegirl (Mary Going) just posted to 
the list that there is going to be a "Hot Luck" at the home of 
Jim McGrath in Concord (which is next to Lexington) on Sunday 
afternoon, May 31st.

The Old Bear