Boston Superstar Athletes’ Favorite Restaurants

We all know Boston is one of the most storied sports towns of all-time. But what keeps these athletes going? Food, of course! We’ve detailed current and recently retired Boston athletes to tell you their go-to restaurants for fine dining in Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline. Read below to see where Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, and Red Sox players go to dine out in greater Boston! See what keeps them coming back for seconds.

Abe & Louie’s – Back Bay

Patriots’ Wide Receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman

Both wide receivers have visited this steakhouse, located on Boylston Street in the heart of Back Bay.

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Craigie on Main – Cambridge

Patriots’ Wide Reciever Julian Edelman

Another Julian Edelman favorite, he covets the Craigie is one of his few favorite places to get a burger in Boston (even though it’s located in Cambridge near Central Square).

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Strega Waterfront – Waterfront

Patriots’ Tight End Rob Gronkowski

The Patriots’ Tight End has hosted events here in the past, where he has bartended before. Beyond that, he frequents Strega Waterfront for fine dining in Boston.

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Strip by Strega – Downtown Boston

Celtics’ Point Guard Isaiah Thomas

Strip by Strega is considered Isaiah’s “go-to”, and is often seen eating here with his wife. He’s apparently tight with Strega restaurant owner Nick Varano.

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Merengue – Roxbury

Celtics’ Center Al Horford, Former Red Sox Designated Hitter David Ortiz

Both from the Dominican Republic, Al Horford and Big Papi love dining at Merengue, in South Boston, which is said to have authentic and delicious Dominican food.

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Grill 23 – Back Bay

Red Sox Rightfielder Mookie Betts

An avid steak-eater, Mookie Betts mentioned his go-to dining spot in Boston to get a steak is Grill 23 right in the heart of Back Bay. Who doesn’t love Grill 23?

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Vejigantes – South End

Former Red Sox Designated Hitter David Ortiz

A big fan of Dominican cuisines, another Dominican favorite of Big Papi’s is Vejigantes in Boston’s South End.

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Union Oyster House – North End

Former Celtics Small Forward Paul Pierce

Pierce would frequently stop by the historic Union Oyster House for seafood after home games, often with two or three of his teammates.

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La Morra, Brookline

Patriots’ Quarterback Tom Brady

The G.O.A.T. has been known to carbo-load at this hometown spot of his in Brookline. Brady’s favorite dish at La Morra is the tagliatelle al ragù.

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El Oriental De Cuba – Jamaica Plain

Red Sox Shortstop Xander Bogaerts

Although he doesn’t go much, Bogaerts has long coveted El Oriental De Cuba in Jamaica Plain, serving authentic Cuban dishes.

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Del Friscos – Seaport 

Bruins’ Goaltender Tuukka Rask, Patriots’ Safety Devin McCourty 

Both the Bruin’s goaltender and the Patriot’s Safety frequent Del Friscos Steakhouse in Boston’s Seaport district.

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Stephanie’s on Newbury – Back Bay

Patriots’ Tight End Rob Gronkowski,  Patriots’ Wide Reciever Julian Edelman

Patriots’ players Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman have both been to this beloved Back Bay restaurant on Newbury Street.

Doretta Tavern & Raw Bar — Back Bay

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Samantha and I wanted to change things up this time and go to a Greek restaurant. There aren’t too many Greek restaurants in Boston, but we settled on Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar in the Back Bay.

The atmosphere is a reason in itself to visit Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar. The restaurant is filled with contemporary art and colorful decor. It’s certainly stylish, but not in a flashy way, but in a more simplistic way. The space inside is big – there are tables and booths that surround a big bar located in the center of the restaurant.

Doretta is like many restaurants around the back bay or downtown area – it doesn’t pretend to be this lesser, more casual restaurant. That means you’ll get smaller portions that cost more, but the quality of dishes are top notch.

The dinner menu is split into raw, mezze (smaller plates), and larger plates. I had never had grilled octopus, so we started with an order of that. Again, a small portion (and even smaller since Samantha split it), but so. Damn. good. The order came in a bowl and in that bowl, along with grilled octopus, came with capers, onions, and parsley.Doretta TavernAfter splitting a mezze, we also ordered a larger plate to split. While the branzino and lamb shoulder both sounded great, we ultimately went with something a little more affordable, that sounded just as great – the lamb burger. We were not disappointed. The lamb burger was topped with whipped feta, spicy cucumber, and tzatziki sauce. The burger came with a side of awesome homemade potato chips which we also thoroughly enjoyed. We also found a foodie hack and dipped chips in the tzatziki sauce that fell out of the burger and onto our plate, and that was a truly delightful experience for my taste buds.Doretta TavernIf you’re looking to change it up from the typical bar and grille, Doretta fits the bill as an elegant restaurant downtown with fresh, authentic Greek food – a very solid place for a date night!

The Do’s and Don’ts of Eating in an Upscale Restaurant

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By this point, it should be pretty clear that we’re fans of eating at restaurants. After all, what’s not to like? Food that tastes better than anything you could ever cook in your kitchen, someone pouring water into your glass the minute you take a sip, a basket of fresh bread that they’ll literally refill as many times as you ask…it’s a delight. But there’s a difference between going out to eat at a regular neighborhood hangout and dining out at a high-end restaurant.

We’re not particularly fancy people, but in an attempt to celebrate special occasions and/or go all out for a nice date night, we’ve been to fancy restaurants a time or two (including one recent experience at Craigie On Main in Cambridge that was utterly delectable, not to mention our total Treat Yo Self day at the Top of the Hub). Still, while going to a nice restaurant is always a satisfying experience (the food! the cloth napkins! the dim lighting!), it can also be an intimidating one (too many forks! menus full of words you’ve never heard of! the prices!).

So, pinkies up ladies and gents, because the Boston Eat Party proudly presents the ultimate list of Do’s and Don’t Of Being Fancy…

DON’T try to pronounce the French and/or unfamiliar words on the menu

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DO pronounce only what you know, and then mumble the rest while pointing to the item on the menu. Your waiter will fill in the blanks and that way you won’t have to ask what conchiglie or foie gras is.

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DON’T attempt to “understand” wine

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DO ask the waiter for his suggestion, pretend to mull it over for a second, and then just go with what he says as if it’s exactly what you would have picked if he hadn’t been there. And don’t forget to swirl it around and sniff it when it comes (you’re welcome).

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DON’T make fun of the jazz and/or classical music that they’re playing in the background. It’s boring, but necessary to the Ambiance™

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DO comment on the Ambiance™ and try to steer the conversation to that time you went abroad in college. People who travel are ~cultured~

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DON’T gasp at the prices on the menu.

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DO go online and study the prices on the menu before you get there. Only order what you know you can afford, but do it in a blasé, Gatsby-esque way that suggests you order Coq au Vin without thinking all the time.

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DON’T look visibly disappointed at how ridiculously small the portions are

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DO eat a snack before you get to the restaurant, and then maybe one after you leave too. That way you won’t be hungry enough to care that your “deconstructed burger and burrata with tomato-basil reduction” is actually just a half meatball and a shred of mozzarella cheese sitting on top of a thin layer of ketchup.

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DON’T be yourself.

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DO be a fancier, better version of yourself. Adopt the Kennedy accent, talk about yachts and summer homes, and remember that the less you know about something, the more you should talk about it as if you know everything there is to know about it. They can’t tell you you’re wrong if you don’t let them talk.

Follow these guidelines and you’re sure to be a success. Now go forth and be fancy!

Craigie On Main – Central Square, Cambridge, MA

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Just a five-minute walk from Central Square T-stop, Craigie on Main is an upscale, French-inspired restaurant that features innovative dishes that push the limits in terms of bold ingredients that somehow seem to compliment perfectly together.

One thing that was evident right away was the outstanding service from the entire staff. From the moment we walked in, the staff was nothing but friendly and accommodating. Throughout the night, we literally never lifted a finger to pour water out of the carafe on our table.

As mentioned, Craigie on Main is an upscale French-inspired restaurant, and the decor certainly reflects that. Where we were seated, there had to have been 8 different types of mirrors with antique-style frames. This, in addition to the dimmed lighting, created an intimate aura, making Craigie on Main a prime date spot. The spot even featured an open kitchen!

The dinner menu offers plenty of new dishes that you’ll have to go out on a limb to try. I admit, we didn’t know some of the ingredients listed on the menu, but in asking our waiter, he was able to explain the ingredients and what we could expect in terms of taste for each dish we quizzed him on. Our appetizer, for instance, was squid ink chitarra pasta, topped with manilla clams, roasted tomatoes, pork belly, uni butter. While the squid ink gives off a strong aroma, it worked in harmony with all the other ingredients, particularly the clams. It had a garlic-lemon undertone.Next was the main course. We decided on the Pennsylvania Dutch country chicken. Let me tell you about this entree. The chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender. It’s unclear what it was braised with, but it was delicious. Along with the chicken, were green beans, fennel, and raisins, with a very tasty mole verde sauce that had a mild kick to it.

To cap off our order, we ordered the milk chocolate cremeux. The only way to describe this was that taste was the only sense that existed in that moment, and all other senses ceased to exist – at least until we finished eating. The combo of milk chocolate, feuilletine, and walnut ice cream was just unbelievable and left me drooling for more.

We were very pleased with our experience at Craigie on Main, and would highly recommend going for a date or special occasion.

TL DR: With outstanding service, Craigie on Main in Central Square is a top notch upscale gourmet restaurant – but it’s about quality, not quantity here.

Panza – North End, Boston

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There’s nothing better than Italian food and, luckily enough, Boston is home to some of the best Italian restaurants this side of the Atlantic. We recently took a trip to Boston’s historic North End with our friends (and visitors from Washington, DC) Nicole and Jasmine in tow for some authentic Italian food at Panza.

Panza is located right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Hanover Street and its small storefront makes it easy to walk right by it.  That, however, would be a big mistake since Panza — a cozy, relaxed, and homey space with mismatched plates on the wall and an open kitchen — has a menu full of classic (and reasonably priced!) Italian dishes that will satisfy pasta lovers, meat lovers, and seafood lovers of all varieties.

I went with the Butternut Squash Tortelloni — oversized, handmade dumplings filled to the brim with a slightly sweet and delectably savory roasted squash purée and topped with a rich brown butter sage sauce. The tortelloni had just the right ratio of pasta to filling and the sage butter sauce — which was flavorful without being too heavy — had an undertone of cinnamon that complemented the savory creaminess of the squash stuffing.Nate got the Potato Gnocchi Bolognese — small potato-filled dumplings in a classic beef and pork ragu. The gnocchi were flavorful and light (despite the fact that the combo of pasta and potato can sometimes make for a rather large post-meal food baby, these gnocchi had just the right amount of starchy goodness) and the meat sauce enhanced the flavor of the pasta even further.

Nicole and Jasmine both gravitated toward the poultry portion of the menu and went for the Chicken Saltimbocca and the Chicken Parmesan, respectively. The Saltimbocca came with salty prosciutto, creamy mozzarella cheese, and roasted veggies, all topped with a light and flavorful white wine sage sauce.  The Chicken Parmesan was exactly as expected — the chicken was slightly crisped and smothered in gooey cheese and delicious homemade red sauce.Both dishes came with a small bowl of pasta that was not wholly necessary considering the large portions, but was nonetheless greatly appreciated because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love pasta?

We left totally full but still completely in the mood for dessert, so we stopped for cannoli at Bova’s (which, pro tip, has amazing cannoli but never has the same long line as the more touristy Mike’s Pastry or Modern Pastry). We shared a cappuccino, chocolate chip, and classic plain cannoli — all of which were perfectly crispy on the outside and deliciously creamy on the inside.All in all, a perfect Boston night in one of the city’s most uniquely fun neighborhoods.

TL:DR:  Panza is the perfect place for a traditional Italian meal without the high prices usually found in most North End restaurants. Be sure to make a reservation to avoid the long lines!

Bamboo Thai Restaurant – Brighton, MA

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In case you haven’t noticed, we are big, big fans of Thai food. Like, such big fans that if we could travel around Boston just eating Pad Thai and writing about its merits, we probably would.

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So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of our favorite things to do is visit the Thai restaurants in our neighborhood and see how they measure up to one another. This week, we popped into Bamboo Thai Restaurant in Brighton. Small and charmingly decorated with traditional Thai paraphernalia, modern artwork, and a seriously awesome fish tank that features nearly all of the stars of Finding Nemo, Bamboo is a neighborhood gem with an inviting vibe and a menu full of Thai dishes that are sure to satisfy.

We decided to start with the Lollipop Wings — crispy chicken wings coated with a tangy sesame sauce.  The wings were tender and juicy with the just the right amount of the delightfully fried, crispy coating.  Each wing came smothered in the sesame sauce, which was sticky and sweet with a slight kick to it (not to mention so good that if my impulse control hadn’t kicked in, I probably would have started just licking the plate with reckless abandon).  

We also got an order of Crab Rangoon.  Each of the bite-sized dumplings had the perfect ratio of crispy fried wonton to creamy crabmeat filling, and the homemade sweet and sour sauce further enhanced the flavor by adding a little tang to the otherwise mild rangoon.

To top the whole meal off with some carbs, we decided on the House Pad Thai, which came with chicken and shrimp, as well as fried egg, turnip, scallions, bean sprouts, and peanuts.  Bamboo’s Pad Thai is one of my favorite iterations of the classic Thai dish in all of Boston — it has a hearty, peanutty flavor without being too greasy, it’s light enough that you don’t feel guilty after eating it, and the generous portion of shrimp and chicken take on the flavor of the noodles and bring the whole dish together so that it is substantial enough to stand on its own as a meal.  

Because no meal is complete without dessert, we decided to split a dish of green tea ice cream.  It was simultaneously sweet and savory and the perfect cherry on top of a very satisfying meal.

TL;DR:  Bamboo Thai Restaurant has an expansive menu filled with some of the best Thai food that Boston has to offer and is more than worth a trip on the B-line out to Brighton.

Amber Road Café – Canton, MA

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Nate and I recently found ourselves in Canton, where we decided to stop in at the Amber Road Café for some lunch.

The Amber Road Café is a homey, cozy spot located right in Canton Center — a bit of a drive from the heart of Boston, but definitely worth the ride. It boasts a large menu of breakfast and lunch options featuring a wide variety of fresh, creative, and seasonally-inspired gourmet dishes that make it seem more like you’re eating in someone’s home rather than in a restaurant.

While the lunch menu was seriously tempting — there were a plethora of salads, sandwiches, paninis, and wraps that I would have loved to try — the breakfast menu won out in the end for us. So, we decided to do our best impression of Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson and indulge in some breakfast-for-lunch.

Following the Golden Rule of Relationships™ (i.e. always share food), we decided to split two dishes:  the Nutella and Banana Crepe and Kristina’s French Toast.  The Nutella and Banana Crepe came deconstructed — the eggy, thin-as-paper crepe was flayed open with a pile of banana slices, a generous lump of Nutella, and plenty of powdered sugar all on top. 

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The DIY nature of the crepe was a pleasant surprise because it gave you control over how much of the precious Nutella was included in each bite (and, as anyone who has ever eaten Dunkaroos can tell you, the ratio between the savory base and the sweet topping is of tantamount importance). Because of the inclusion of bananas, the crepe was a perfect “breakfast” for someone who is clinging to the idea that fruit makes everything healthy but who really wants to be eating dessert.

The highlight of the meal was Kristina’s French Toast, a house speciality at Amber Road. It’s two slices of thick-cut, old-fashioned French toast stuffed with gooey brie cheese and topped with a homemade apple-cranberry-walnut chutney.  

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There really are no words for how good this dish is.  The French toast is buttery and sweet and the melted brie in the middle gives it a dynamic and unique flavor that is utterly satisfying. The homemade chutney — which I could eat a pound of on its own, that’s how delicious the combination of the sweet cinnamon apples, tart cranberries, and toasted walnuts is — sinks into the top layer of French toast and makes it slightly soggy, slightly tart, and wholly delicious. I think Nate would agree with me when I say that they should throw a ticker-tape parade in Kristina’s honor and quite possibly declare a national holiday celebrating the contribution that this French toast has made not only to the world of breakfast foods, but to society itself (is that an over-exaggeration…? I don’t think so…)

We resolved to try something off the lunch menu the next time we stop in, but I have a feeling that Amber Road might become my mainstay for all-day breakfast.

TL;DR: The Amber Road Café has a large menu filled with creative options sure to satisfy any customer who happens to find themselves in Canton!