Trip report: STL friends visiting Boston [Greater Boston]

I have a lag in work today so I thought I’d play some catch-up here. My dearest friend (we went to college in MA and I consider her a sister) visited us over Presidents’ Day weekend with her oldest son (15 y.o.), his first time in Boston. We didn’t have the best eating trip, which was sad for me. My memory fades, so bear with me.

They arrived late Friday, so they stayed in Southie, at the AC Marriott. We met up with them Saturday morning, miraculously found parking in the Seaport area and walked around in the horizontal/relentless in-your-face wind, which was not fun. We decided to try Barking Crab (please don’t judge me) but the kid wanted to make some purchases at LL Bean first. I ran ahead to claim a place in line knowing it might be a shitshow. Had they come with me, we would’ve been seated right away (just before noon). But by the time they all walked over, we had a nearly 45-minute wait. Mid-wait, I suggested that we bolt, but everyone (but me and Spring Onion) wanted to wait. I’ve never eaten on the restaurant side of Barking Crab, but I admit, it was fun, especially with the 80s music playing. I had fish tacos, B and my friend had the cioppino, which they both loved, her kid had his first lobster roll ever and loved it, SO had his requisite hot dog.

Dinner at our house and we did a quick TJ’s run and made a chicken (veggie chicken for me) parm dish over pasta.

Breakfast of bagels from Wicked Bagels and salmon pate, which everyone loved. Not my favorite, but hell, they’re from St. Louis (and lived in San Fran before that when it was a bagel wasteland…Noah’s Bagels, anyone? Oy!).

Lunch was at Bosso Ramen after visiting Harvard because people wanted noodles and we thought it might be a bit spiffier than Santouka. And…we waited. The Missourians (or whatever they’re called) must’ve been like, this is insane. They were swamped, with only 1 waitperson and someone else (owner? manager?) jumped in to help. I only got a photo of my vegan ramen, which was good, but not great. Unctuous, but somehow lacking a umami. Everyone else seemed happy. No kids ramen, so we cobbled together a meal of dumplings and extra noodles, over which I spooned some of B’s porky broth for SO. Very nice people (owner is Thai, from what I saw on the license out front).

Afterwards, we went to Lucky Strike at Assembly Row, my friend got cannoli from the Mike’s outpost there, SO got his dinner at Shake Shack. The grownups got takeout from Szechuan’s Dumpling for dinner (which was crazee busy…ie, more waiting). But everyone was happy.

Monday - SO went to vacation art camp, and so we saved our big walking day for my friend’s last day. We hit up Charles St/Beacon Hill, Public Garden, Newbury Street, North End. We were walking near the Granary Burying Ground and afterwards, I saw The Dubliner, about which I remembered Devra First writing favorably so we stopped there for lunch. I gotta say, it was meh but that could be due to a holiday lunch? The farmhouse bread plate was ok - both bread types were dry and there wasn’t anything special about the butter. My seafood chowder was too flour-y/cornstarch-y and I was searching for the seafood. My friend and B liked their fish and chips/fish sandwich. The kid’s lamb stew was more like a lamb soup…he could barely eat it. We shared the barley dumplings, which were fine, but not memorable (and in fact, I set down my leftovers in a shop in the North End afterwards and them promptly forgot them).

We wandered around the North End on that pleasant day and then had to take leave of them to pick up SO from art camp. They hit up Modern for cannoli as a comparison. I haven’t had a chance to ask her which they preferred. On Sunday, they shared the ones from Mike’s with B and SO (they all loved them). I defer to the sweet tooths in my family.

In hindsight, I would’ve done so many things differently, but I was too busy to plan better. I hope they will return.

Edit: I forgot to mention that after checking into their hotel after 10 PM on Friday, the only place they could find open close by was an Otto pizza, which they both really enjoyed. So we did not get pizza again; otherwise, we may have taken them to the Original Regina on Thacher. And more waiting in line. :rofl:


Thanks for the report. And sorry about the disappointing food for you. And sorry about the long lines…Feb. and April school vacation weeks can be brutual. I’m curious…would you go back to Barking Crab again out of choice, if the circumstances seemed right? Interesting that the cioppino was loved. I haven’t been there for decades, but maybe on a warm day if we go to the ICA…We’ve never tried Otto…might.

Thanks for the report on The Dubliner. I, too, read the Globe review and for some reason I felt a bit dubious.

So glad you got to see your old friend! I have so much catching up to do with old friends who live afar. Finally feels safe to do that.


Funnily enough, the Barking Crab was one of the first places at which we ventured out to in the pandemic days. They were doing takeout-only so on one glorious June (?) day in 2020, we grabbed lobster rolls and a hot dog, brown-bagged some cold beer, and sat on the grass near Pier 4, behind that weird staircase-y structure where I think an oyster bar is slated for. We know Barking Crab gets a bad rap, and probably deservedly so, but we’ve never had a bad experience. Then again, B and I are happy with a cold adult beverage and simple food. The cioppino was in no way a SF cioppino, but it was enjoyed by all who sampled it.


Maybe we’ll go for our 50th anniversary of meeting each other at college later this year!

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I feel like an occasion like that requires something a bit more spiffy, like Woods Hill Pier 4. Not sure if the Barking Crab would be the best choice.


Not spiffy might really suit the occasion for us, however! My partner likes cheap better than anything. We’ll see. My dad used to come up from NC on business when we were in college and take us to the original Pier 4. Dad paid, of course. Revisiting for drinks and an appetizer could be fun, if I could persuade him.