Redbones, Somerville

Man, I love barbeque. We went out with a group of Dane’s co-workers to Redbones in Somerville for some delicious meaty goodness and were not disappointed.

We started up at the bar while they figured out our seating for 11, which was just fine with us. To be adventurous I decided to spin the Wheel of Beer and have my beverage choice made for me.

I ended up with number 16, the Opa Opa IPA. Thank you Wheel of Beer, for making an excellent choice for me. Never had that brew before but I really enjoyed it and I don’t always love IPAs.

As soon as we were seated it was down to business. An order of fried pickles and jalepenos, stat.

I can’t look at this picture without thinking about how delicious this was and how much I want it right this very second. I don’t love the jalepenos, but Dane takes care of those for me, and they give the pickles a nice kick.

Then on to the meat smorgasbord. I went with my favorite, pulled pork sandwich and beans. Dane went straight for the ribs. The pulled pork is super juicy and slightly smokey, and clearly my love of pickles plays out here too with some on top of my sandwich. Nice saltiness to go with the lightly sweet BBQ sauce. Dane’s ribs basically fell off the bone. They were super tender. Just what you want (or at least what we want) in BBQ ribs.

When a very chatty group of 11 people go basically silent for the duration of a meal once the food comes out, that’s how you know it’s a seriously delicious meal. Except for the occasional invitation to share with others (and there was plenty to share) there wasn’t a peep out of us.

Then there was this beauty, the Combo. Described as “whatever ribs we have on hand at the time” along with a variety of other meats, this platter is definitely not for the faint of heart (or light of stomach). Disclaimer: We did NOT order this, it was one of Dane’s friends from work. I salute  him.

There aren’t really any words to describe this beast, so I’ll just let you soak it in via the picture.

Loved Redbones this time, just as I have all the others. It’s really fun with a group and if you’re open to trying some new things. Portion sizes are big, and I never end up being able to finish my entire meal despite my healthy appetite.

My love of craft beer was nurtured with the Wheel of Beer, and I don’t think I would ever order any other way again now that I’ve done it. Go get yourself a beer and some pulled pork. You’ll love it!

Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage, Cambridge

During one of our ridiculous snowstorms here in Boston Dane and I both had a snow day at work (one of the perks of working in higher education). Nothing could get us to leave the house. OK, one thing. Burgers from Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage in Harvard Square. Despite the foot of snow on the ground, I convinced Dane to get on the T with me and head to Cambridge for a taste of these delicious burgers.

Mr. Bartley’s has been in around in some form since 1960. There’s a variety of things on the menu, but it’s really all about the burger. They were featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri on the Food Network recently (which to be honest I didn’t actually know until we saw the signed poster there). It’s easy to see why the Food Network would want to showcase this place. The funky atmosphere and perfected recipe for a burger, along with all the fun names on the menu are definitely different and worth visiting.

My favorite part of eating here is the menu of all the different varieties of burgers. Some are named for politicians (the Menino, the Scott Brown, the Barack Obama), sports figures (the Tom Brady, the Kevin Garnett), pop-culture icons (the Lady Gaga, the Oprah, the Facebook), and everything else you can think of. Each has their own flavor and mix of toppings.

I ended up with the the Democrat (saurkraut, swiss cheese and Russian dressing) and Dane had the Mayor Mumbles Menino (fried egg, bacon and cheese).

And milkshakes because the burgers experience is just rounded out when you have a yummy chocolate milkshake to wash it down with.

If you like a great burger, you have to try this place. It gets mobbed at lunch, especially when it’s nice out (though we found a late lunch around 2pm can work just fine). Branch out with your burger tastes here! It’s the perfect opportunity to try some toppings you might not ordinarily think of, and would never make on your own.

Looking forward to heading back there, but this time minus the foot of snow.

First Food Truck Festival in Boston

This summer the first ever Boston Food Truck Festival took place in the South End. I was super pumped for this event. There was a ton of buzz surrounding it in the weeks leading up to the event, and it was right next to SoWa (the South End weekly open market with antiques, local food, and local artisans showcasing their pieces).

When we got there with our friends, it was packed (and it was before lunchtime). We did an initial walk around to see all the vendors, but were disappointed that a few were missing. Then we decided it was time to get in line for some food. Before we hopped on a line (where waits were 30-45 minutes when I asked people in line who had been waiting for a while) we spotted the Sausage Guy, a Fenway Park staple, where there was no wait. Done. We went over and each got some sausage and peppers within a minute. I’m not the most patient person, and although food truck food is delish, I was not willing to wait 45 minutes.

There was one line I was happy to wait in, and that was for Grillo’s Pickles. Local pickle legend, usually found at the Park Street T Stop, was at the festival. I’m an avid fan of pickles, and these are my favorite. And 2 spears for $1? Can’t beat that.

And as much as I love pickles, I also love my hubby so I was nice enough to share. Those that know me, know that pickles are a big deal to me, so sharing them is also a big deal.

After that, we were happily full and headed over to SoWa for some shopping. I was overall slightly disappointed with the festival. The lines were ridiculous – though it does show the popularity of this event – waiting 45 minutes in line for food isn’t my idea of a fun afternoon. A few of the trucks I was hoping to visit were no-shows (or showed up late and ran out of food within 30 minutes of getting there like the Cupcakory Truck). Growing pains go along with every event for the first time. I would give it another chance if it’s done again next year.

Good try Food Truck Festival. See you again next year (I hope!).

Bottega di Capri, Brookline

On Saturday afternoon Dane and I decided to venture into Brookline and find a place to eat. We passed a few places until one caught our eye: Bottega de Capri. Sounds Italian, and therefore is probably delicious.

We were right. The restaurant was small, smelled heavenly, and was a place to grab a quick bite. There was one big problem though, and that was picking what to order. Bottega di Capri offers freshly made specials that change each day, along with a set menu of sandwiches, paninis, and pasta.

We decided to each get a sandwich for lunch, but couldn’t resist getting a stuffed bell pepper to share too.

Bresaola, if you are wondering, is a dried and salted lean beef which has a dark reddish color. And it is DELISH.

That stuffed pepper was one of the best things I have ever eaten. It was beyond description good. The pepper was perfectly cooked and it was stuffed with rice, cheese, sauce, sausage, and I’m sure some other things I couldn’t even identify. I became so obsessed with stuffed peppers after eating it that I developed my own recipe for it (which I’ll post soon).

Bottega di Capri was very reasonably priced and the staff was great. We picked the brain of the gentleman helping us before deciding what we wanted, and he was patient and gave some great information. I only wish we could have eaten more!

I cannot wait to go back here again. In fact, I think I’ll go for lunch tomorrow. Ciao!
Bottega di Capri on Urbanspoon

Elephant & Castle, Boston

I love a good pub. After our chocolate truffle class, we headed just upstairs for lunch at Elephant & Castle. Awesome decision.

Elephant & Castle is right near Downtown Crossing, making it an easy spot to get to. The spot is actually part of a chain, which was surprising to me. It’s not what I typically think of from a chain restaurant. The atmosphere was exactly what we love, relaxed and friendly. We started with some beer, because you obviously have to get a beer in a pub.

This was a place where we felt like we could just hang out for a while, so we took our time with late lunch/early dinner. The waitstaff was really friendly and knowledgeable about the menu and different beers on tap. We were also there at an off time, so the waiter had a few extra minutes to spend chatting.

We eventually decided on our food order. The menu has a great selection, including all the classic pub foods you’d expect like fish & chips, Guinness stew, and Shepard’s pie. We went with  some choices inspired by our honeymoon in Ireland.

We were stuffed by the time we finished. Everything was great and had elements that were straight from English/Irish cuisine.

I would love to go back and hang out at the bar during a busier time just to enjoy the different beers on tap and the atmosphere. From what I hear Elephant & Castle is also big with the after work crowd down in the Financial district.

Chocolate and beer in the same day. I’d call that a successful day!

Elephant & Castle on Urbanspoon

Barrio, Minneapolis, MN

I really ate like a queen in Minneapolis. After our eventful dinner at the News Room, we went back to Minneapolis and decided to have lunch across the street at Barrio Tequila Bar. Yes, a tequila bar. For lunch. Don’t judge us.

Barrio has a really funky and fun energy. At around 1pm during the week it was packed with local professionals taking a time out for lunch on the patio and inside the restaurant (I happened to visit during a freakishly hot week in May so patio seating was in full effect). We waited about 10 minutes for a seat, which was well worth it.

We were seated upstairs, which was great because a) we were inside in the air conditioning while it was 90 degrees out with 100% humidity (maybe a slight exaggeration, but not by much); and b) we got this view of the restaurant:

First we ordered some margaritas. You can’t go to a tequila bar without ordering one. It’s basically a rule. I went with the Cesar Chavez, described as Barrio’s “Champion Margarita”. Sam ordered something equally delish, though to be honest I can’t remember which one she got. All I know is I tasted it and it was fabulous as well.

Barrio has 117 tequilas on hand. This was fascinating to me because although I love trying different beers and wines to enjoy the flavors, I had never actually thought about the differences in types of tequila. Each one has it’s own tasting notes and geographical region and you can order a shot of any of the 117 varieties. Barrio also gives suggestions on “compadres” (companions to the tequila, like different juices, beer, or soda) to pair with the tequila. Although we stuck with our margaritas for lunch, I’d love to learn a little more about the tequilas at Barrio.

We had a hard time choosing one thing to eat for lunch, so we ended up doing a couple of small plates. It was a great idea because the plates had about enough for the two of us to try, then we could have something new.

Things were super spicy, which made me thankful for my margarita. I’m not very brave when it comes to spicy food, but everything was so fresh and good that I kept eating even when my mouth felt like it was on fire. To a normal person, the level of spiciness would be fine. What can I say, I’m kind lame with that sort of thing.

Again, a Minneapolis restaurant really impressed me. Barrio was an awesome place to have lunch with my bestest, enjoy a cocktail, and take in some local city atmosphere. Cheers!

Sonic really does exist

As a kid, I remember seeing commercials for Sonic on TV. They were always pretty funny and I remember wanting to go to a Sonic. But on Long Island, there was not one Sonic.

After years of commercials without seeing a single restaurant to show me that they exist, I began to think it was one big prank. The makers of Sonic were just messing with my head, trying to force the public into wanting food from a place that isn’t real. I shared this conclusion with my best friend, Sam.

Then Sam moved to Minnesota. While gchatting one day, she mentioned she was going to Sonic for lunch. Great, I thought, now even my best friend is in on the joke. But no, she insisted, there was a Sonic less than 5 minutes away from her new apartment. Not only was it close, but the tots were amazing. Right Sam, I’ll believe that when I see it.

I took a trip to Minnesota to see Sam and her husband Jason in May. Lo and behold, there was actually a Sonic. A real one, with real food! I had to experience it for myself.

So I obviously documented the entire trip to Sonic and created a video. Now you can all be part of my first mind blowing trip to a Sonic, the restaurant that really does exist.

Boston Hot Dog Company, Salem

This is one of those places we just happened upon while visiting Salem a few years ago around Halloween. We were hungry and it looked like a place we could grab a quick bite. We now make it a point to visit this place now every time we are in Salem. While we had friends visiting a few weeks ago who wanted to visit Salem for the first time, so we took them up and enjoyed a quiet town for the day.

Boston Hot Dog Company is always our first stop as soon as we get out of the car. Their specialty is, as the name implies, hot dogs. All different varieties with different toppings. There is something for every hot dog lover out there.

My order is always the 1/4 lb. all beef hot dog with sauerkraut with a side of Boston baked beans. The small side of beans is generous, so I’m nice and share with Dane. He took a little more time in ordering because the options seem endless.

Dane ended up ordering the Chicago Dog (onions, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, green relish, dijon mustard, poppy seeds, celery salt,  and a pickle spear). My choice was much simpler, but both hot dogs were equally delicious.

Another thing I love about this place is the staff. Every time I come here the person behind the counter is the nicest, friendliest person ever. They’ll give you their recommendations, ask where you’re from, and kid around with you if you order a plain hot dog. They keep two maps behind the counter, one of the U.S. and the other of the world. Customers are sometimes asked to put a pin up on the map to show where they’re from. It’s amazing to see that people have come from as far as Japan!

We probably won’t be back up in Salem until October for our annual trip with my mom and sisters, but you can bet that when we are, Boston Hot Dog Company will be our first stop.

The Beantown Pub, Boston

We had friends visiting  a few weekends ago from Pennsylvania and did a ton of walking around Boston. They had only been to Boston once (one when she was much younger, the other about 2 years ago), so we took them to all the touristy fun spots. First we headed to Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market, then to the Granary Burial Ground. Before setting out again, we decided to stop for a late lunch at the Beantown Pub, which is right across the street from the Granary Burial Ground.

The Beantown Pub is located near Downtown Crossing and serves American pub fare in a relaxed atmosphere. On their website, the Beantown Pub explains what makes them different: “After all we are the only bar in Boston where you can drink a Sam Adams while looking at his grave!”. Yes, that is true. Creepy, but true. Unfortunately (or luckily?), we didn’t have a table with a view of the cemetery.

The hostess warned us when we got in that the kitchen was backed up, so there was a longer wait than usual for food. We did appreciate getting a heads up before being seated. That was fine with us, we just grabbed some beer and hung out. This is one of the few bars we’ve found with Samuel Adams Boston Brick Red on tap. One of my favorite beers from Sam Adams, and it can only be found on tap regionally. We ordered some nachos to start, and sandwiches for lunch. The portions were HUGE!

We all had different sandwiches for lunch, but they were all gigantic and delicious.

The last sandwich we got wasn’t actually on the menu. But they were nice enough to accommodate a special order.

These sandwiches were worth the $10 for the size. I could have easily gotten two meals out of it. They also have about 5 pool tables in the back, that were packed the entire time we were there (which was around 3pm in the afternoon on a Saturday).

The Beantown Pub was laid back and fun. It was a great place to stop in the perfect location for some good food before heading back out for our walk through the Boston Common and Boston Public Garden. It was great for our group of friends and our appetites.

Beantown Pub on Urbanspoon

Redbones, Somerville

A few months ago Groupon had an awesome deal that got you $30 worth of food at Redbones Barbeque for only $15. We had gone once before, and Dane especially loves barbeque, so I jumped on the offer. Last weekend when deciding where we wanted to eat lunch, I remembered we had the Groupon and we jumped in the car to drive up the Somerville.

This is a no-frills, down home, barbeque joint. During busy times, you can expect to be seated about a foot away from the table next to you, and it will be packed. There’s a great selection of beer on tap, so settle in and get ready for a big meal.

We ordered our drinks first and decided to forgo an appetizer to focus on our entrees. Dane got the new Sam Adams Seasonal beer, Noble Pils. I found something that looked interesting to me called a Black Velvet, which was cider with Guinness. Two of my favorite things in one. After my beer and cider mixing adventure at the Harpoon Brewery, I had to try it. Well worth the risk for me. It was great. Not too sweet, but definitely an interesting mix of flavors.

It just so happened that the table next to us (well, it felt like 6 inches away from us) ordered an appetizer of fried pickles and fried jalapenos. Just one look was all it took for us to put in an order for ourselves. So much for focusing on our entrees. I absolutely love fried pickles, and these were great. Different kind of breading than what I was used to, and they were crunchy on the outside and hot on the inside. The dipping sauce was a great compliment.

Now that we barely had enough room left for lunch, we got our meals. Pulled pork sandwiches are always my meal of choice when we eat barbecue (which isn’t often, so it’s a nice treat). My eyes were way bigger than my stomach and I ordered the platter, which included a side of beans and potato salad, instead of just the sandwich. Dane decided to go with the Memphis Ribs and Barbecue Chicken combo. Portions are huge here!

The barbecue is just great here. There aren’t too many places in the Boston area that I can think of specializing in barbecue and Redbones does it right. There was no way we could finish everything, despite our best efforts.

Give Redbones a shot if you’re in the mood for barbeque. Don’t plan on eating again for a while after you’ve consumed the massive portions and filling meals this place has to offer. I know we’ll be back again, as soon as Dane’s in the mood for some ribs again!


RedBones on Urbanspoon

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