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Brookline Lunch (Cambridge, MA)

About five years ago, I was exploring the area around MIT before one of my many meetings, and while ducking down Brookline Street, passed by an unassuming little storefront on the side of a fairly industiral-looking building. But looking inside, it was a little diner, absolutely filled with students having breakfast. It looked interesting enough that I vowed to come back and try it sometime. There was just one one little detail. Brookline Lunch isn’t open on Tuesdays. And, somehow, that seems to be when the majority of my visits to MIT are. So for about two years, Brookline Lunch has been on my hit list, but it wasn’t until I had a visit to MIT on a recent very cold Monday morning that I finally had a chance to check them out.

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Tepthida Khmer (Lowell, MA)

Earlier this year, I went out with several friends to The Elephant Walk in Cambridge, MA for Cambodian food, and that outing reminded me how much I like the traditional dishes and flavors of Cambodia (similar to Vietnamese, the combination of French and Southeastern Asian influence makes for some particularly tasty dishes). In any case, as I was heading back from last week’s trip down to MIT, I decided to take a small detour and check out Tepthida Khmer in Lowell, MA.

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Kolbeh of Kabob (Cambridge, MA)

Earlier this week, I had another of my periodic trips down to MIT to visit with collaborators, and, like usual, I used it as an opportunity to check out some additional restaurants, since Cambridge and Somerville have all sorts of great dining spots. This time, I was craving Persian food, particularly since rural NH is particularly lacking in Middle Eastern places. Looking over the offerings near MIT, I ended up picking Kolbeh of Kabob, across the street from Cambridge Hospital.

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The People’s Pint (Greenfield, MA)

It’s turning out that 2013 is one of those “revisiting old favorites” sort of years, with my traveling back to well-loved institutions in several states. Often, I’ve been surprised that some of my favorite haunts from before I started blogging seemed to have gotten missed out, often since I’ve assumed when visiting these places that I had already written them up. The People’s Pint in Greenfield, MA, is one of those places; I’ve been going there for years (since 2002), and eaten dozens of great meals there, but never got around to writing them up.

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Sandrine’s (Cambridge, MA)

In late June, a friend of mine, Jeff, had come to Boston for an extended weekend of, well, food and beverages. We decided it would be good to drive down and meet up with him for some light tourism (see my previous review on Modern Pastry), some cocktails (at Brick and Mortar, a rather nice speakeasy in Cambridge), and finally dinner. We ended up at Sandrine’s in Cambridge. Located about two blocks from the Harvard Square T station, Sandrine’s is pleasant bistro focusing primarily on French cuisine, but dabbling in a few other European cuisines as well; a good chunk of the menu is Alsatian, giving a nice blend between French and German cooking.

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Modern Pastry (Boston, MA)

There are all sorts of famous rivalries out there in existence, especially in the food world. Geno’s vs Pat’s in Philly (although I’m more of a Tony Luke’s guy myself). American Coney Island vs Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit. Pepe’s vs Sally’s in New Haven. The rivalries go on everywhere. The Boston equivalent that I run into the most often involves cannoli, with the two most-celebrated places being Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry, located within sight of each other. After my last two visits to the North End involving a stop at Mike’s, I figured it was time to check out Modern as well.

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Catalyst (Cambridge, MA)

As I mentioned in previous review, I’m regularly visiting MIT’s Technology Square, and that usually gives me a decent opportunity to check out some nicer lunch places I can go with clients and subcontractors. While Area 4 and Legal Sea Foods tend to be the more usual business lunch places, sometimes we mix it up, and this time we ended up at Catalyst.

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Cafe Luna (Cambridge, MA)

A few weeks ago, I had one of my frequent trips to MIT for work. In addition to my actual work, I look forward to these trips since they give me a good chance to check out places to eat. My actual destination was Brookline Lunch, a nice little diner joint a half block off of Mass Ave in Cambridge with some above-average diner fare. I had eaten there a few years back sans camera, and wanted to go back and try them out for an actual review. Well, Brookline Lunch is closed on Tuesdays, so instead I decided to check out a nice looking place I passed while walking to Brookline, Cafe Luna. Cafe Luna is a modestly-sized joint just a few doors down from Toscanini’s, and they’ve got the basic “breakfast joint” menu down pat, with breakfast all day and a smaller lunch menu (aside from special events, they aren’t open for dinner). But there are two things that really grabbed my attention right away: the iced coffees, and several people ordering up various waffles and French toast covered with fresh berries.

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Durgin-Park (Boston, MA)

While my primary goal at Offbeat Eats is to document the obscure and unusual places out there, sometimes I still get to be a tourist. And when it came to finding a place to take several of my fellow walkers on our “Death March”, most of whom hadn’t spent a lot of time in Boston, for me the choice of venue was fairly obvious: Durgin-Park, one of Boston’s venerable restaurants, serving up Boston schrod, seafood, and steaks since 1826. Named after Messrs Durgin and Park who were the original owners of the place, it’s located in Quincy Market at 340 Faneuil Hall (North Market), a location its been inhabiting since it opened, albeit with some (minor) renovations (the plumbing in the men’s room appears to be date from the late Victorian era). One of the very notable things about Durgin-Park is that it’s one of those time capsule restaurants. Aside from a few (very few) tweaks to the menu, and obviously higher prices, the experience at Durgin-Park is almost exactly the same that I remember from my first visit in the late ’70s (and my visits in ’95, ’99, and ’01, for that matter), although the service doesn’t seem as surly as I recall from some of my previous visits (some of that is probably my getting used to the general surliness of Boston in general, to be honest). I’m sure that if you go back far enough in time you’d find a different experience, but the current Durgin-Park ambiance and menu harken back to at least the 1950s and the era of white-shirted servers and red-checked tablecloths. And that’s one of the reasons I like to go there, since it’s one of the oldest restaurants in the country, and one of the old respected seniors of Boston dining (along with nearby Jacob Wirth and the Union Oyster House, the latter of which goes back to the colonial era).

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Pho Viet’s (Allston, MA)

The next stop on our Boston March was the Super 88 in Allston. Super 88 is a regional chain of Asian grocery stores (now part of the larger Hong Kong Supermarket chain), and the Allston location opened to much fanfare in 2002. In addition to having good Asian produce and seafood section, it also had an onsite bakery and a really good selection of basic Chinese groceries. More importantly, however, was that the front of the store was made into the “88 Food Connection”, a small food court featuring half a dozen Asian food vendors, including Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Bubble Tea, and other wonderful spots. It’s a great little place to meet up with friends and grab a quick Asian treat, so we decided it was also a good stop on the March. And one of those vendors, Pho Viet’s, is one of the better places around Boston to grab a Banh Mi sandwich.

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