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.

@Chilli Thai Bistro – Brighton, MA

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If there’s one thing that Nate and I love, it’s Thai food. It’s flavorful, it’s light, it has a ton of variety, and, most importantly, it’s centered around our favorite thing in the entire world — carbs.  Since we’re almost always craving Thai food, we decided it was about time we try @Chilli Thai Bistro, a cozy spot on Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton, right near BC’s campus.

@Chilli has a huge menu featuring everything from classic Thai restaurant staples (chicken satay, dumpling soup, Pad Thai, etc.) to more inspired fare that thinks slightly outside the box (like the Thai beef jerky or the Som Tum, a Thai street food-inspired salad with green papaya, shrimp, carrots, tomatoes, and crushed peanut all tossed with a chili lime dressing).  Many of @Chilli’s signature dishes have some sort of spicy kick to them (appropriate for a restaurant named after Prik Chi Fa, or the Bird’s Eye Pepper, a mainstay of Southeast Asian cuisine with a heat level similar to the most pungent jalapeño peppers), but there are also plenty of options for pickier eaters like me who can’t handle spice.

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We decided to share an appetizer and two dishes. We started with the Golden Puffs — four giant crispy triangles filled with a deliciously aromatic blend of potatoes, onions, scallions, and curry powder.  The outer shell was thin and crispy, the perfect complement to the gooey, savory, curry-infused paste on the inside.  The Golden Puffs came with a slightly thick, very sweet chili sauce that further enhanced the flavor and consistency of the puffs.

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We also ordered Nong’s Fried Chicken — Southern Thai fried chicken topped with fried garlic and garnished with fried shallots.  Thai fried chicken is a popular street dish in many areas of Thailand, and after one bite of @Chilli’s version of it, I can understand why.  The chicken was crispy, juicy, and tender with a pleasant garlicky undertone that puts most Southern BBQ joints to shame. Plus, portions at @Chilli’s are huge — we got a small order of the chicken thinking that we’d both just get a taste to see what it was like, and the order came with a half-chicken on the bone, fried to perfection and smothered in garlic and shallots.

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We closed the meal off with Pineapple Fried Rice, which came with shrimp, chicken, egg, grilled pineapple, and a melange of vegetables (including onions, peas, carrots, and sweet corn). The rice came tossed with curry powder, which gave the dish a slight, but perfectly manageable kick.  

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The sweetness of the pineapple combined nicely with the savory flavor of the rice and veggies and further helped to prove my point that the addition of grilled pineapple makes literally everything better.

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We left there satisfied and extremely full, and justified the fact that we had no leftovers by saying that we were burning calories by walking home instead of taking the T (#logic?)

TL;DR: If you’re looking for authentic and delicious Thai food that strays from the beaten path of most Thai restaurants in the area, then @Chilli’s Thai Bistro won’t disappoint!

P.S. – If you’re looking for a great place in Brighton, Tasca Restaurant is right down the road on Comm Ave!

The Boston Eat Party takes it on the road!

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In our opinion, the great thing about traveling is seeing what makes each city unique in its own right. That is the point of traveling after all — to broaden your mind through experiences you may not find elsewhere. Oddly enough, the same thing goes for food.

Forget different areas of the world — there are tons of cities in North America that boast great food culture that you might not otherwise realize by just staying in Boston. Every city or state has an iconic dish or type of food to offer.

So, we took the Eat Party on the road and set out to try some of the most iconic foods in North America, spanning across Upstate New York, the Midwest and Ontario, Canada. Here is a map of our route and all the delicious, weird, and very unhealthy foods we ate along the way.

Finger Lakes, NY

Food to Try: Cheese

History: The Finger Lakes region is well-known for its wine trails, but a lesser known trail in the Finger Lakes is the Cheese Trail, which features a collection of local farms and creameries producing artisan cheeses that range type and age. The Finger Lakes Cheese Trail is a recent addition to the region, founded in 2010. It was a collaborative effort by local farms to bring bolster tourism in the area.

Where to go: Muranda Cheese Company seems to be the top choice in the region. We were fortunate enough to stumble upon it after doing a wine tasting. There were 16 different types of mouth-watering cheeses sampled.

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Not only were the samples delicious, but the tasting room was a renovated barn that overlooked a farm full of cows.

Muranda Cheese CompanyA few other notable cheese tastings on the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail are Engelbert Farms and Kenton’s Cheese Co. It’s also crazy cheap to go – it was only $3 for a tasting, plus they hook it up with free samples of jelly to put on pretzels afterward!

Buffalo, NY

Food to Try: Buffalo Wings

History: The Buffalo chicken wing was invented in 1964 by Teressa Bellissimo, the co-owner of Anchor Bar.Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NYThe story is that their son came in at 11 pm with a posse of college friends, drunk, demanding food. Teressa needed a quick way to serve up food. At the time, chicken wings were generally used for soups, but Teresa took it upon herself to create It was then that she came up with the idea of deep frying chicken wings and tossing them in cayenne hot sauce.

Where to go: If you ask any Buffalonian, they will tell you it’s a debate between the Anchor Bar and Duff’s Famous Wings – and it’s NOT both – it’s one or the other. Due to the amount of history tied to it, we went to the Anchor Bar, which is well-known nationally among tourists and outsiders (hey, that’s us!). Duff’s is more popular among the locals who hate tourists and have to prove them wrong by saying Duff’s is better. In their defense, Duff’s has a more expansive list of wing sauces, while The Anchor Bar’s flavors were limited mild, medium, hot, death-wish and BBQ. Still, I’m glad we tried the buffalo wing where it originated.

Buffalo Wings at The Anchor BarWe could see and feel the history inside of the Anchor Bar with endless memorabilia hanging on the wall including autographed pictures of famous people who have popped in (and also one strangely placed portrait of Christopher Columbus for reasons unknown).

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If you’re a tourist looking to get a sense of Buffalo (like we were), it’s a really good choice in my opinion – plus top quality wings. We will have to try Duff’s next time to compare the tastes and flavors.

Cleveland, OH

Food to Try: The Polish Boy

What It Is: Grilled Kielbasa or hot dog in a bun, and covered in layers of french fries, a layer of southern style barbecue sauce or hot sauce, and coleslaw on top.

History:  Unlike the stories behind some of the other foods we tried during our trip, there isn’t much to the history of the Polish Boy.  The first version of the sandwich dates back to the 1940s, when Cleveland restaurateur Virgil Whitmore, owner of Whitmore’s Bar-B-Q in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Cleveland, created a kitchen sink sandwich consisting of a smoked beef sausage and a bunch of ingredients he had on hand, including coleslaw, French fries, and his homemade barbecue sauce. Other BBQ restaurants around the city followed suit, and the Polish Boy made a name for itself as a Cleveland culinary staple.  

Where to go: We wanted the authentic Cleveland experience, so we headed over to Seti’s Polish Boys, a food truck located in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland and the best place in the city to get a Polish Boy.

Seti's Polish Boy TruckLauded by celebrity chefs like Rachael Ray and Michael Symon, Seti’s take on the Polish Boy is a true Cleveland classic (and it’s an incredible value — $7 for a heaping portion that will keep you full for hours). Served on a perfectly grilled all-beef hot dog and generously topped with French fries and coleslaw slathered in the most flavorful sweet BBQ sauce I’ve ever tasted, I can safely say that Seti’s Polish Boy is literally one of the best foods you’ll ever try.

Polish Boy in Cleveland, OHPlus, we got to meet Seti (who makes each Polish Boy to order) and his wife (who runs the truck) — two of the nicest people we ran into during our trip.  Despite having gone to both an Indians game and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while we were in Cleveland, I think Nate will agree with me when I say that this sandwich was definitely the highlight of the Ohio leg of our journey.

Detroit, MI

Food to Try: Coney Island Dog

What It Is: It’s an all-beef hot dog plopped on a steamed bun and topped with chili sauce, chopped raw onion, and a squiggle of yellow mustard.

History: While the hot dog itself got its start in Coney Island, New York (with the first hot dogs being sold at the amusement park as early as 1867), the Coney Island Dog is a staple specific to Detroit — over 500 diners in the Metro Detroit area alone serve some variation of the Coney Dog. The Coney Dog made its way from New York to Michigan in the early 1900s as hundreds of thousands of Greek and Macedonian immigrants traveled to the Midwest after arriving at Ellis Island.

Where to go: Several Detroit diners claim to be the true originator of the Coney Island Dog. We decided on Lafayette Coney Island, a no-frills diner located in the heart of downtown Detroit.  Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit, MITheir version of the Coney Dog came smothered in a slightly spicy chili. The raw onions gave the otherwise soggy chili dog a nice crunch and the yellow mustard added a nice, tangy flavor that brought the whole sandwich together.Coney Dog in Detroit, MI

The Coney Dog was an enjoyable variation on the classic chili dog, but it was a little plain — a little cheese, or perhaps a higher quality hot dog, would have improved the experience.  Simply put, Detroit’s Coney Dog was good but was really nothing compared to Cleveland’s Polish Boy.

Toronto, ON

Foodie Neighborhood to Visit: Chinatown

History: Toronto doesn’t have a specific dish per se, but because it is such a diverse and multicultural city, it boasts a wide variety of authentic international cuisines. Toronto is home to one of the largest Chinatown districts in North America — in fact, there are six Chinatown neighborhoods to explore in the greater Toronto area. Old Chinatown, which is the main Chinatown district located in the heart of the downtown, has no shortage of restaurants to get an order of noodles, dumplings, or any other kind of Asian cuisine you can think of.

Where To Go: There are literally hundreds of restaurants in Chinatown, serving food from China to Korea to Vietnam and everywhere in between. After deliberating for what seemed like hours (but was probably closer to minutes), we decided on Ka Chi Korean Restaurant, where we indulged in traditional Korean noodle dishes. I got the Bulgogi — sliced sirloin marinated in a traditional sweet sauce and served over thick, gummy noodles and steamed veggies.

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Nate opted for a spicier dish — the Bibimbap (rice) served with spicy Bulgogi and squid. Both dishes were served on stone hot plates.

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We also shared an order of steamed beef dumplings, which came with a myriad of sides, including steamed noodles, spicy kimchi, steamed greens, roasted potatoes, and a sweet soy sauce for dipping. We left full and satisfied, happy with our choice but also dying to try to some of the other restaurants on the street (there’s always next time, Toronto).

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Because You Always Leave Room for Dessert:  While traveling from Chinatown to the Rogers Centre (where we were going to watch the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays, naturally), we stumbled across a small cupcake shop called Cutie Pie Cupcakes, where we tried what can only be described as the greatest dessert you will ever eat — the Unicorn Twist Ice Cream.  It’s amazing — pink champagne and blue vanilla soft serve piled in a rainbow waffle cone, topped with your choice of sauce (I went with dark chocolate, Nate went with Cherry Coke), dry topping (I went classic with confetti sprinkles, Nate went with cotton candy crumbles), and homemade mini whoopie pie (I went with a rainbow swirl because it was SO PRETTY, Nate went with cookies and cream).  The end result was a customized version of Heaven that made me very much wish I lived in Toronto and could visit Cutie Pie Cupcakes on the regular.

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Rochester, NY

Food to Try: The Garbage Plate

What It Is: The “Garbage Plate”, a highly-caloric plate that includes basically combines every type of food you could ask for in a cook-out – either hamburger patties (with or without cheese) or hot dogs, thrown on top of some combination of beans, fries (or home fries), mac salad, along with meat sauce, chopped onions, and mustard.

History: In 1918, Alexander Tahou opened a restaurant in Rochester called Hots and Potatoes. On the menu was a dish that included just about everything the kitchen could cook — meat and potatoes with a few other things thrown in to make a one-plate meal. Alexander’s son, Nick, took over the restaurant operations and updated the name to Garbage Plate. The dish has long been popular among college students in the area. Legend has it that long-ago college students asked Nick Tahou for a dish with ”all the garbage” on it. So, he concocted the garbage plate.

Where to go: When we arrived at Rochester on a Sunday, many of the hots restaurants were closed, including Nick Tahou’s. We settled for Mark’s Texas Hots, which was great, but they only have garbage plates with hamburgers and hot dogs. The size of the plate was pretty big at Mark’s Hots, but honestly no bigger than any other place. For a more expansive menu, try Henrietta Hots or Nick Tahou’s.

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Fun Fact: The University of Rochester’s Sigma Phi Epsilon has a charity event called “the garbage plate run” that starts on campus, and involves running 2+ miles to Nick Tahou’s, eating a garbage plate and running back to campus. Many people actually tag team it, with one or two runners and one eater, but there are “iron men” that actually do it solo.

Dorado Tacos – Coolidge Corner, Brookline, MA

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Dorado Tacos was always a place I would pass on my commute to work. As enticing as it was from the street view, I was either in a rush to get to work, or too tired after work to stop in. This time, we were finally able to try it!

When you walk into Dorado, the vibe is certainly noticeable. The interior flashes vibrant colors, and the music played is both hip and cultural. The vibe definitely matches what Dorado is known for around Boston – an eat-in/take-out place that serves authentic mexican and spanish dishes.

Dorado is a counter-service restaurant, however, if you eat at the restaurant (like we did), they will bring your food to where you are seated. The menu was affordable, with not many options over $10! Samantha and I went ahead and placed our order, and within 7 or 8 minutes, the food was served to us. Although the place is small, it has enough seating inside to hold a good crowd. There is also outdoor seating available along Harvard Street.

Samantha order a steak bowl, something similar to what you would get if you went to Chipotle or another chain – the difference being, the quality of the steak. The steak strips were grilled perfectly, and seasoned just right for a delicious, tender taste.

She also insisted on ordering elote – otherwise known as grilled Mexican street corn on the cob. The elote was Samantha’s favorite part of the meal. I myself am not a corn on the cob person, but I will say that corn on the cob tastes a lot better to me when it has spices and cheese on it.

I was in the mood to try something different that I hadn’t tried before, so I went with what Dorado might be best known for – cemitas. What is a cemita you might ask? It’s a Mexican sandwich served on a bread roll with sesame seeds. Here is a diagram courtesy of Dorado, hanging on their wall.

There are different types of cemitas to order. I went with the pork chorizo cemita, and it did not disappoint in the least. It was one of the times when you try a new food and your taste buds literally jump because they are exposed to something new (don’t act like you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about). The pork chorizo had an after-kick to it, and the cilantro added a nice spice that complimented the rest of the sandwich.

If you’re in the Coolidge Corner area, it’s worth the walk down Harvard Street to Dorado. Trust me, you’ll get great food at a good price, our guarantee!

For Mexican food just outside of the city, be sure to check out La Siesta Restaurante in Winthrop!

Tennessee’s Real BBQ – Braintree, MA

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Ever since our trip to Nashville, We’ve have been on the lookout for delicious BBQ in the Boston area (because surely the South can’t be the only place that does BBQ right). We’ve had some definite missteps — after hearing rave reviews, we went to Sweet Cheeks BBQ in Fenway, only to be sorely disappointed in the small portions, overpriced food, and lack of authentic flavor. However, on a recent excursion to Braintree, we stopped in at Tennessee’s Real BBQ, which is the closest we’ve come so far to recreating the Southern BBQ experience we’ve been craving.

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Look to the right as you walk in and you’ll see their wall of accolades — Tennessee’s has won basically every award possible for everything from their ribs to their spices to their sauces. And their food really lives up to the hype. The center of it all is the sauce. There are three kinds — sweet (my personal favorite), tangy, and spicy. Each is thick, with the perfect creamy consistency and packed with flavor. They keep extra sauce in barrels for you to help yourself to during the meal and if it wasn’t for common decency and a desire to not be banned from the restaurant for life, I would literally drink the sweet BBQ sauce directly from the barrel and have absolutely no qualms about it. It’s really that good.

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Nate got the North Carolina Pork BBQ sandwich with a side of homemade cornbread. The sandwich was packed with a generous amount of pulled pork that was smothered in the tangy sauce. I got the BBQ Dixie Chicken — I opted for the quarter bird option (although I could have gotten a half-chicken if I had been hungrier) with the sweet BBQ sauce. It was juicy and delicious and came with three sides of my choice. I decided on the macaroni and cheese (creamy with a little bit of crunch on top and especially good with a little bit of the BBQ sauce mixed in); the cucumber salad (slightly salty, slightly sweet, and it was green so I counted it as a “healthy choice”); and the BBQ baked beans (hearty and a nod to our Boston heritage!).

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Tennessee’s is a bit of a dive, but that’s part of its charm. The ceilings are covered in bottle caps, the walls are covered in pictures of cartoon pigs, the napkins are actually paper towels, and the silverware is plastic. But the portions are huge, the food is reasonably priced (we ate for about $20 and left absolutely stuffed), and everything comes out impressively fast. If you’re looking for Southern comfort food, Tennessee’s Real BBQ in Braintree is really the next best thing to being there.

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