NFT Boston Dorchester (East)

Dorchester (East)
(In)famous for protecting turf, Dorchester is a collection of distinct neighborhoods and ethnicities. Uphams Corner, Savin Hill, Fields Corner, Ashmont, Codman Square, and Grove Hall are but a few of the areas that comprise Boston's largest district. If all you think about when you hear Dorchester is crime, you're missing out on an amazing section of the city -- for eating, and for cheaper rents than some of the more upscale 'hoods.

Irish bars line Dot Ave; they lack tourists and charge three bucks for Guinness. If you're looking for a trendier night spot, check out dBar. Mixed in are the city's best pho houses. You'll find excellent Caribbean cuisine along Blue Hill Avenue. Ashmont Grill, one of the best restaurants in all of Boston, is hidden in this 'hood.

In a word: Underserved! The Red Line tracks along the eastern side of Dorchester, roughly parallel to Dot Ave. From Ashmont, a trolley line wraps around to Mattapan Square. Buses run along Blue Hill Avenue; unfortunately, none of these buses directly connects Dorchester to Central Boston. The commuter rail's Fairmount line makes a stop at Uphams Corner and Morton Street. Have a car? Drive. There's always parking.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Flat Black Coffee Company
For me, wine is wine. I can't tell the floral bouquet or how there's a hint of elderberry blossom if you squint really hard, but I can always tell an amazing cup of joe. Flat Black Coffee Company, in Dorchester, might be THE coffee spot for the connoisseurs. Founded after a trip to Australia, the owners of FB have made it their business to offer fair trade coffee from some of the more esoteric coffee countries in the world. So if organic is important, and you'd like to sample something from the depths of El Salvador or Oz, this is java-heaven. FB micro-roasts their beans so you know you're getting incredibly fresh stuff, not something that’s been shipped across the world already ground. The menu itself is a work of art with over 20 varieties to choose from. The day I first went I was treated to meeting the owner Jeff who gave me a rundown on his favorites. On an odd note, the location in Dorchester also shares it's space with a bank, so you can sip slowly on your caffeine, while others cash checks. Still, highly recommended.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Pho So 1 Boston
For those of you dear readers who have been following my NFT writings for the past few years, you might have noticed my absolute love for the soup called Wonton. I've written more than one review stating that I've found a fantastic spot for this clear dumpling infested soup but you can toss those straight in the trash. Pho So 1, in Dorchester has the best damn soup I've ever had the privilege to slurp upon. This stuff is unlike any other varieties. They add noodles to give it a full Pho like consistency, there's lettuce and thinly sliced pork for that classic flavor, and the dumplings themselves are filled with whatever wontons are normally filled ground up pixies and other deliciousness. In most asian food joints, Wonton is relegated to the bargain bin along with other appetizers, but at Pho So they push it right up to the top to share space with the various varieties of other soups offered. I've yet to sample the other wares, and I'm afraid I might never find out...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Ashmont Grill
Ashmont Grill is the best thing to happen to Dorchester since we kicked the British out. I'm not being the slightest bit facetious here, as this is now my new favorite restaurant in all of Boston. Almost directly across the street from the Ashmont T station, the Grill welcomes you when you walk in with an amazing neighborhood bar. The two bartenders on duty when I arrived were both knowledgeable in various local beers and hilariously friendly. I can see myself picking up a quick dinner here while sitting and chatting with the locals on many an occasion in the future. The food itself is a blend of comfort food favorites like mac and cheese, blended with the high end ideals that made Chris Douglass former restaurant Icarus such a popular favorite for over 20 years. Even the old standards like pasta with meat sauce become something you don't feel unadventurous ordering. Let's give you a quick suggestion to make sure you start off right. When you walk in, and sit at the fantastic bar, and order a beer, make sure to chase it with the Train Wreck Fries. It's got jack cheese, bacon, jalapenos, and scallions. Hells yes.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Osaka Shabu
As I tend to write exclusively about restaurants in my radar ranting, it's a good thing that I'm not the biggest fan of preparing my own foodstuffs. I like the satisfaction of a home cooked meal as much as the next fellow, but the ability to have someone else present me with deliciousness while I wait in salivating anticipation is far preferred...unless we're talking Shabu like Osaka in Dorchester. You expect me to pay to cook my meal? You get this bubbling cauldron toiling with some fantastic broth, and a plate of meat and veggies to dip and cook and sip and snarf, and I have to do it all myself? Alone, this is highly annoying--with a large group of people and samplings of all the items available--it's fantastic. Now, it's not the best hot pot place in town, but it's cheaper than the Chinatown varieties, you can park for free two doors down, and it might have the most attentive staff in the history of restaurants. BYOB, grab a group of friends, and enjoy the options. Final three words on the matter? Spicy Korean Kimchi. Mm-hmm.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Irie Jamaican Style Restaurant
In the line of duty for you, my non tourists, I find myself taking random right and left turns in my car to stumble upon neighborhood joints that I would never find on my own. It was in this quest that I found what might be one of the best Jamaican food spots in our fair city, Irie. Jerk spices, slow cooked ribs and steak and chicken, and a dude that sells cd's and Obama tube-tops when you walk in the door? This place could only be better if it sold Ice-cream, AND IT DOES SELL ICE-CREAM!!! I'll admit that the menu is a bit crazy at first glance, with tons of offal and items that you'll need translated, but I say order the jerk chicken or steak, with a nice big side of red beans and rice, plantains, and cabbage, and tell me if you're not coming back to sample some of the more bold choices. Ask the staff for some suggestions, pour on the hot sauce, and press a cool glass of lemonade against your temple to cool back down and you'll agree with me that this place is worth the search.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Shanti: Taste of India
Living in a traditional Irish neighborhood, of a very working class variety, you eventually get used to the fact that take out food mostly consists of pizza, subs, and the occasional bit o' fried fish. Finding an Indian place that puts out awesome food, locally, that will also deliver to most of Southie and Dorchester? Cue the Gospel music people, we've got naan on the way from Shanti. First off, the menu is absolutely gigantic, with all the normal Indian bits and pieces that my limited American palate can stomach: Chicken in various incarnations, tons of lamb, and the occasional beef dish, all smothered in some fantastic sauces, and served on the standard jasmine. They also have GOAT. GOAT! Now, I'm not made of money, so ordering a big old plate of a meat I've never had to just try it isn't happening, but it makes you feel like if they can slaughter a damn goat to feed people, they've got to be pretty legit to the home team. They also deliver, so if you're a fellow Southie-ite like me, this might be the most ethnic food you can get without leaving your house. I dare you to get the goat.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Open Boxes
I feel I'm crossing some unseen barrier by bringing attention to this store, and that mere moments after this appears on the NFT website, I'm going to feel an icy chill behind me, and a cold claw of a hand will tap me on the shoulder and ask me if I would like to see the inside of their van. Bygones. I must soldier on, and inform you people about the creepiest store in Boston--Open Boxes.Ok, it's not really that creepy, it's just the concept itself is a bit daunting. Used electronics? They've got em, and we’re talking electronics you've never even heard of, or know what they’re used for. Think Victorian age and vapors. The real treat here is the namesake of the establishment, the previously mentioned Open Boxes. Now, I'm assuming that this place is legit, and that a Circuit City or Best Buy must use stores like this to get rid of some of their opened and returned merchandise, but I can't help feeling like the entire store fell off the back of a truck, and that I'm on some FBI video somewhere. I wonder if they bought the camera from here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

McKenna's Cafe
In my very not humble opinion, some of the best words in the English Language are as follows: "Breakfast served all day long." In my never-ending quest for the perfect neighborhood breakfast, I keep finding more spots only locals know. McKenna's Cafe, a small jaunt off Dot Ave, is now in the running. Whenever you find yourself sharing counter space with a small platoon of local cops and firefighters, you know you're in a simple spot that does good food in large portions at reasonable prices, and without any expectations on you as the customer. My first attempt at eating at McKenna's was slightly delayed as the cook had called to say he was going to be late, so I busied myself with the coffee choices and studied the menu extensively. You've got your standby options of eggs and toast, your slightly more exotic Irish breakfasts, and the mecca of high maintenance, even crepes. Also, if you're looking for the new best breakfast item ever, four words: Sweet Potato Home Fries. The counter is huge, the waitresses chatty, the chef is apparently tardy, but you come once and you'll come again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

If you're ever in the mood for a traditional Irish breakfast, a big mug of coffee, and need to pick up some cat food and milk on the way home, I've found your new go-to location. In order to enter Gerard's Restaurant, you need to walk through the attached convenience store. This might be the most convenient store ever, as you can get your 5 Hour Energy and Globe and scratch ticks all in the same place as a meal. One-stop-shopping at its finest. As for the restaurant itself, it's pretty damn decent. It's family-feeling, with great service, decent coffee, and pretty much everything you'd expect from a spot in an Irish neighborhood. The breakfast was good and hearty, and the corned beef hash gets a solid 7 out of 10 from me. The real treat is that it’s 100% a neighborhood destination. A family will file in and ask for "a table for nine," as it's Sunday and time to feed the brood post-Church. Give it a visit and just sit back and observe, and if you're lucky you'll hit it big on the scratch tick.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Pho Hoa
Pho is one of those things that is always delicious. I don't think that I've ever had a crappy bowl o’ pho. It scares me a bit. Some places might be more expensive, some places might give you less meat, and a few might have a little less flavor. At Pho Hoa, they make it just right. I really have no complaints, you see (which is surprising). Well, I do wish that they had a liquor license, but with food so delicious, it really doesn't matter (and it makes your meal a hell of a lot cheaper). When you go to Pho Hoa, don't stop at the Pho. Everything that I've tried off their menu has been delicious.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Euromart! While I generally avoid stores that end with "mart," I'll always make an exception for a Euromart. Just by writing about this place, I'm drooling, thinking of all the sandwiches, sausages, dried meats, and beer. It's a small grocery store packed with Polish food. Start by heading to the back of the store, ordering a Polish Combination sandwich for lunch and while they're making it pick out a few sausages and dried meats for dinner. Then, find the fridge that has the fresh pirogies, get one package of each. And, just before you head to the cash register, make sure to pick up a 6 pack of one of their Polish beers.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

I don’t like saying that I have a favorite restaurant, but if I had to name my top 5, Restaurant Cesaria would definitely be on the list. They serve up amazing Cape Verdean food, the service is very friendly, they have several tasty wines available for under $20, they often have live music, and there is usually plenty of street parking. I have taken dozens of friends here and everyone has loved it. If you are an early eater, you will not have a problem getting a table, but if you like dining around 10 pm on a weekend, be sure to make a reservation. I have not had a dish there that I did not like. My favorites include the Cartuniz (fried quail), the Polvo Grelhado (grilled octopus), and the Bife a Cavalo (beefsteak in a garlic broth and topped with 2 fried eggs). This is an ideal place for a date or to go with a large group of friends or family.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

7 courses of beef! Yeah, you read that correctly. Pho 2000’s 7 Course Beef Dinner features the delicious red meat cooked 7 different ways (including two that you cook at your own table). While this is a quite tasty and a very fun experience which I strongly recommend, you would be missing out if you did not also order a whole fish and have some Pho. I know that I am recommending more than you can possibly eat in a sitting. So, go with a large group, get a few appetizers, a 7 Course Beef Dinner for half of your dining companions (which everyone will eat since there will be more than enough), and a whole fish. Then, another time, go back for the Pho. The only downside to Pho 2000 is that they don’t have a liquor license, but the food more than makes up for that.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Chef Lee's II
The other day I was craving Fried Chicken. The problem was that I had no idea where to go. I called a friend who told me to check out Chef Lee's II in Dorchester. The first thing you notice, after the aroma of the food, is that everything is cafeteria style, complete with brown plastic trays. Besides the Fried Chicken; they had BBQ Chicken; Baked Chicken, Oxtail, Fried Fish, Chicken Livers, and a few other dishes. For under $10, I got the Fried Chicken with Gravy, Mac & Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, and Sweet Tea (unfortunately, they don't serve alcohol). The chicken was delicious and the Sweet Tea was even sweeter than anything I have had in the South. My only complaint is that all the food is pre-made and is kept warm on steam tables, making me dream that night about how good their chicken would be if it was made to order.

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See Dorchester (East)...
Restaurants (27)
Nightlife (6)
Shopping (7)
Landmarks (6)

Other Dorchester (East) Restaurants

Antojitos y Panaderia Chapinas
Good Guatemalan.
Ashmont Grill
Bringing flair to Peabody Square.
Banh Mi Ba Le
Wonderful crisp Vietnamese sandwiches.
Blasi's Café and Fat Belly Deli
Sit down or take out. Big, fat portions.
Charlie's Place
Pizza and steak sandwiches.
So chic, you could be in Downtown Crossing.
Traditional Irish breakfast with conveniently contiguous convenience store.
Irie Jamaican Style Restaurant
One love for the jerk chicken and ice-cream, Praise Jah!
Ka' Carlos
Cape Verdean and Portuguese food under the same roof!
Lucky Café
Chinese BBQ. Meat-elicious.
McKenna's Cafe
Four words: sweet potato home fries.
O Ya
Amazing sushi that is not easy on the wallet.
Osaka Shabu
Low-cost, high-amusement Shabu joint in the DOT.
Brunch to impress your grandmother visiting from Iowa.
Pho 2000
Serving a delicious 7 course beef dinner.
Pho Hoa
Phat pho.
Pho Le
Pho So 1 Boston
Fantabulous bowls of Wonton.
Restaurante Cesaria
Something for everyone--grilled octopus to chicken parmesean.

See more restaurants

Other Dorchester (East) Nightlife

Boston Bowl
Open 24 hours. Family fun all night long.
Hip, gay bar. Food till 10pm, then the dancing starts.
Eire Pub
Politicians and sports fans welcome.
Harp & Bard
Patio makes this a summertime Irish standout.
The Banshee
Irish pub.
Tom English Bar
A dive, no doubt, but a friendly one.

See more nightlife spots

Other Dorchester (East) Shopping

Asian Bookstore
Tidy bookstore specializing in Vietnamese books.
Boston Winery
Make your own wine, own your own barrel.
Coleen's Flower Shop
Cute florist on Dot Ave.
Polish meats, beers and pirogies.
Greenhill's Irish Bakery
Soda bread, scones and sandwiches with blood pudding.

See more shopping

Other Dorchester (East) Landmarks

All Saints' Church
Founded in 1867. Beautiful stained glass.
Commonwealth Museum
Operated by the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Dorchester North Burying Ground
Interesting and eerie gravestones spanning 4 centuries.
John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Houses 21 permanent exhibits examining JFK's life and work.
Strand Theatre
Vaudeville, movie house time capsule. Under renovation.
The Blake House
Built in 1648, Boston's oldest house.

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