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Friendship Arch, the gateway to Chinatown

Restaurants

Boston

Cheers, bar home to the long running TV series
Boston
Lodging
Freedom Trail
North Side

Lunchtime of the day you hike The Freedom Trail, you MUST eat lunch at The Green Dragon. Get a bowl of chowder or a cheeseburger, spaghetti or a salad. The food doesn't matter. But you cannot come to Boston on a history tour and not eat at The Green Dragon. For this is hallowed ground. The Green Dragon was where the American revolution was born. The restaurant opened in 1657 as a tavern and during its first 110 years it had always been popular with the political leaders, lawyers and businessmen of Boston. But it was during the next 10 years that it entered the mythos of history. The Boston Masonic Lodge had long met upstairs over the bar. By 1767 the Masons, representing the elite of the city, were increasingly unhappy with the taxes, regulations and other restrictions the British imposed. Gradually, the Masons morphed into The Sons of Liberty. Upstairs, over tables with maps and charts, they plotted the revolution for five years. But the Colonials were not the only customers at The Green Dragon. British officers also ate lunch and dinner there or stopped in for drinks after a patrol. Officers would often meet in a back room where they could have some privacy, and discuss their own plans. Two 13 year olds, Sam Ballard and Priscilla Lapham, worked as a waiter and waitress at The Green Dragon. They took orders, brought food and bussed tables and nobody paid them any attention. It would be Sam Ballard who overheard a conversation in the back room and that night went to Dr. Joseph Warren with the news. The British were planning a secret middle of the night raid to capture Sam Adams and John Hancock in Lexington and seize the powder and guns in Concord. The Sons of Liberty drew up their own plans, and waited for Sam's tip. On the evening of April 18, the British surrounded the Green Dragon to make sure no one heard anything and passed the word. They paid no heed to Sam Ballard as he carried a full tray of food out to the stable, a common behavior as carry out was done even back then. Out of sight, Ballard set the tray down and started running. A troop of British soldiers was forming on Hanover Street, but Sam turned left and outran them up Salem Street to Christ Church, also known as The Old North Church. Sexton Roger Newman was waiting for him at the base of the bell tower. Sam let him know the British were crossing the Charles by dories and then marching on Lexington. Sam ran in a circuitous route back to the stable, dumped the food, and carried the tray back into the Green Dragon. Newman mounted two lanterns in the bell tower, then escaped out a back window as soldiers, seeing the lanterns, pounded on the front door. Paul Revere, watching from across the Charles River, saw the lights and rode into history. Sam Ballard was renamed Johnny Tremaine in the novel and film.

For dinner the day you hike The Freedom Trail you MUST eat at the Union Oyster House. You'll pass it right after your lunch at The Green Dragon. But after you finish the Freedom Trail and are hiking back, it will be dinnertime. Like the Green Dragon, the Union Oyster House has a long, proud history. Everyone from George Washington to Daniel Webster to John F. Kennedy have eaten here, and the Kennedy clan comes so often they have their own upstairs booth. With the closing of The 1620 in Plymouth, this and Christiana Campbell's Tavern in Williamsburg (Va.) are the oldest restaurants in America (The Green Dragon was a tavern). We don't usually recommend appetizers but here you have to try The Original Boston Baked Beans, Oyster Stew, Fish Chowder or Seafood Stew. Among the entrees, we really enjoy Lobster Ravioli, Mushroom Ravioli, Lazy Man's Lobster (already cut for you), Shrimp & Scallop Stir Fry, Ye Olde Seafood Platter, Seafood Medley, and Broccoli Shrimp. If your gang is starved after a long day, order the Boullaibaisse. You'll barely be able to walk home.

Boston has one of America's greatest Italian communities. It has occupied the North End for two centuries and is deeply ingrained in the culture of the city. Perhaps the greatest way this heritage is expressed is in the hundred superb Italian restaurants the city boasts. They range from tiny six table outlets run in the front room of the family home to multifloor empires with art galleries and stores. You should sample at least one of these during your visit. The one we recommend is just down Causeway Street at the entrance to Bunker Hill Bridge: Fillippo Ristorante. The menu is very extensive and items range from $7 to $30. They include various snail dishes, a dozen cheeses, three eggplant entrees, an almost unlimited number of breads, pastas and sauces, and the usual sea food, veals, chicken and meat dishes. Warning : the food here is a whole different experience than a Midwestern Italian restaurant. you may never again be able to enjoy an Italian restaurant back home.

Fillippo Ristorante also offers a market, a de facto art gallery and a store.

If you find Fillippo's overwhelming and prefer to try a medium sized neighborhood restaurant, we like Ricardo's Ristorante. On North Street around the corner from Paul Revere's house, this is run by a father and son. Their award winning entree, which has been written up in newspapers and magazines all over the country, is a simple creation called Risotto Alla Ricardo. It includes chicken, spinach and mushrooms in a light wine cream sauce. By the time you surround it with a substantial salad, soup, bread and Italian wine, this becomes a quite adequate meal. With 100 Italian restaurants competing for attention, no one is going to sweep all the votes. But about a third of everyone who evaluates Boston eateries ranks Ricardo's number one. We do not advise going on a Saturday night, however. Bostonians jam the place. If you must eat there on Saturday, go early, perhaps 5 pm.
Another category which evolved in Boston and in which the city still beats all others is the Sports Pub. You ought to try the one near The Shawmut, The Fours. Its location right near The Gardens has given it a long, colorful history and a loyal clientele. Televisions are everywhere. Hockey sticks, bats, gloves, helmets, basketballs, cleats, pads, and other sports memorabilia adorn the walls between autographed photos. The Celtics and Black Hawks dominate, since they play right across the street. Red Auerbach, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Larry Bird and other heroes of the past look at you from every angle. And there's food. You might forgive them if that were an afterthought, but there's a surprise. This is a really good restaurant hiding behind its Sports Pub image. The Chowder, Wings, Salmon, Swordfish and Scrod are very good. The Baked Stuffed Shrimp and Charbroiled Steak Tips are outstanding. They whip up a pretty mean milk shake, too. The well worn old wooden booths exude tradition. You find yourself wondering how many times Auerbach, Russell or Bird sat in your booth over the years. This would be a good lunch stop as you return from the morning on the North Side, or a dinner stop your first night in the city. From the Shawmut, this is halfway around the block on Canal Street. If you're here during a Red Sox game, brace yourself for a rowdy crowd. They love their sports in Boston.
Boston has the third largest Chinatown in the U.S., and some outstanding Chinese restaurants. The best of Boston, and one of the five best in America, is China Pearl. They are famous all over New England for their Dim Sum, a brunch buffet featuring an incredible array of Cantonese delights. If you are in town during the week, try it. On the weekend, don't even think about it. Everybody in the city floods in, and you'll wait in line over an hour. Either your first or last night in town it would make a good stop. The decor is classic Chinese Gaudy, with bright reds, pinks, yellows and greens decorating dragons, pagodas and flowers. The menu is extensive, but we especially recommend the spare ribs in black bean sauce, the barbecued pork, and the duck. They put all their energy into the Dim Sum and dinner main courses, so you're better off to skip dessert and stop at Fanueil Hall on the way back to the hotel for an ice cream. Especially if you don't have a good Chinese restaurant back home, you should try China Pearl. It's an experience. And the average dinner is only $11.
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