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By Bethany Sales
| October 19, 2017
How many dishes and restaurants have you been meaning to try? If you’re like me, your list of where you want to eat is longer than your grocery list. With .boston web domains now available to local businesses in an effort to connect cities and communities through internet identities, I decided to eat my way around Boston for a day. Imagining all the delicious possibilities out there, from coffee.boston and icecream.boston to cocktails.boston, I spat out my stale pb&j and got to work.
www.coffee.boston: Gracenote, Downtown Crossing
I start the morning at the best coffee shop in the city. Gracenote, tucked between the hustle and bustle of Chinatown and the Financial District, is bright and airy with a standing, woodworked bar that runs along its street-facing windows. It’s the kind of naturally lit place that requires under-eye concealer, if not seven hours of sleep, and a sweater as sustainable as the succulents.
I get to the front of the line and go back and forth with the barista on what to get. “Order what you like,” she says. “It’ll taste better than what you’re used to.”
I ignore the fact that she thinks I look like a Dunkin Donuts regular and order a flat white. She’s right. The steamed milk is frothy and rich, like melted down whipped cream, and the espresso tastes so good I wonder why I ever add sugar to coffee in the first place. I’m hungry, so I take it to go.
www.breakfast.boston: Mike & Patty’s, Bay Village
I know this place is good before I even walk in because construction workers are sitting on the stoop outside, which is like a human Zagat rating for good sandwiches.
With only four stools in this tiny corner shop and not much room to stand, you have to order quick. My pick is the Bellota Baller, with acorn-fed Ibérico de bellota bacon (Spanish for “bacon that’ll cost you”), fried egg, and Vermont clothbound cheddar on a homemade English muffin.
I take my place on the stoop among the others, but I don’t wait long. Someone brings out my order, so fresh from the grill it’s almost too hot to hold. I take one bite and the bacon’s smoky flavor blends almost immediately with sharp, melted cheddar. It’s good — really good — and the construction worker next to me nods as I’m mid-bite, as if to say told you so. I won’t be hungry for a while.
www.lunch.boston: KO Pies, East Boston
And by a while, I mean two hours. I take an Uber through East Boston and arrive at a no-frills building in the shipyard. I find the entrance between a giant Australian flag and kangaroo crossing road sign: someone either got carried away with related items on Amazon or I’m at the only Australian-inspired restaurant in the city.
I’m here for KO’s made-from-scratch meat pies. I get the braised lamb shank, mixed with carrots, green beans, rosemary, and peas in a rich lamb gravy. The crust is flaky and the lamb tender, so it doesn’t need anything else. But I still try KO’s famous “brown sauce.”
It’s tangy like barbecue, but I can’t put my finger on a certain sweetness. Sam Jackson, the Wollongong-born owner who’s also working the kitchen today, tells me it’s made with dates and malt vinegar before trailing off with a smile. I’ll have to satisfy my sweet tooth elsewhere.
www.icecream.boston: Toscanini’s Ice Cream, Cambridge
It’s a Tuesday afternoon in October, so I figure there won’t be anyone here. But when you have a “World’s best ice cream” endorsement from The New York Times, there’s no such thing as ice cream season.
The line doesn’t stop me from requesting four different samples. I try khulfee (with cardamom nut), peach bourbon, Earl Grey, and B3 (I’ll get to this one in a second).
After I’ve had about a scoop in samples, I go with their famous Micro Sundae because it sounds ladylike and I’d like my skinny jeans to stay that way. A scoop of B3 (brown sugar, brown butter, brownies) peeks over the espresso-sized cup, under the cover of fresh whipped cream, thick hot fudge, and a smattering of chocolate sprinkles for good measure. It’s gone before I remember to take a picture of my first spoonful (but check out the semi-staged sprinkles in the one I did take).
www.dumplings.boston: Gourmet Dumpling House, Chinatown
I’m told there’s a line no matter what time you go, but I only have to wait five minutes before I’m seated for dinner. I pretend to scan the menu, but I know what I’m here for: soup dumplings.
They’re called “mini juicy pork dumplings,” but when they’re brought to the table I realize there’s nothing mini about them. Using my chopsticks (no forks allowed), I’m careful not to poke any holes, not just because I wore white like the dumpling rookie that I am, but also because I want to savor every last drop of what’s inside. Each dumpling is moist and garlicky, the pork so tender and hot from the broth it steams up my glasses to create a look that says, “I like to read (menus).”
Four dumplings in and no one has come over to ask how they are—they don’t need to.
But I could really use a drink.
www.cocktails.boston: Drink, Fort Point
This place is industrial, with exposed brick and Edison-style light bulbs that hang from dark wooden rafters. But it’s somehow elegant, too, and with no official cocktail menu, a true Barbara Lynch experience.
“What do you like?” a man asks me, maybe for the second time in my adult life. It’s the bartender.
“Gin,” I answer.
He asks a couple more questions, and then he’s gone. Minutes later, a tailor-made golden cocktail I’m told is called “The Bees Knees” appears. A mixture of gin, lemon, and honey, it goes down sweet, then tart. It’s good, but when I look around I wonder if I’ve ordered wrong. Every other woman is sipping on rosé-colored cocktails and wearing bodysuits, just like they do on “Keeping up with the Kardashians.”
I think about going through the bartender’s Q&A again just to see what they come up with next, but it’s been a day.
Six stops. Six neighborhoods. Six reasons I should probably start researching gyms.boston. But if you need a recommendation for where to eat in Boston, I’ve got a few.
If you’ve always wanted to own a piece of Boston and give someone a taste for local (virtually, of course), now is your chance. Visit hub.boston to find out more.
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