NFT Boston Fenway (West) / Mission Hill

Fenway (West) / Mission Hill

Essentials
Ah, Mission Thrill. The place where culture, education, and sports meet, you can wander among fine art museums, green parks, eclectic colleges, top medical centers, and historic Fenway Park. While high-rise condos are changing the face of Fenway, Mission Hill remains a funky mix of students, families, and young professionals.

Sundries/Entertainment
Foodies began flocking to the booming Fenway side of Boylston Street after places like Tasty Burger and Citizen's Public House set up shop. In Mission Hill, Penguin Cafe makes delicious pizzas with creative toppings, and the best pints flow at Flann O'Brien's. See more.

>Chicken Lou's has been a Northeastern breakfast institution for years.

Transportation
Avoid driving around Fenway during Sox games, Huntington Avenue during rush hour, and Longwood at any time. Street parking is never easy. Fenway and Longwood have garages (beware of game day price hikes), but are also served by the Green Line D train. The Green Line E train runs up Huntington.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Beautiful Boston & The Pizza Within

By Emily Doutre
Pizza: It's not just for Italians anymore. Thin crust, garlic-stuffed, charred, magic or imported from California (the tomatoes, that is), Emily Doutre's tried them all and now she's reporting. Deal with it.

Read More...
Take One: The Boston Film Festival Circuit

By Nancy Howell
Gay and Lesbian, International, Irish, Jewish and Latino-centered, the Boston Film Festival has it all! Unless you want to watch films about mating sea turtles, in which case this city has nothing to offer you.

Read More...
When the Weather Outside is Frightful

By Sarah Shemkus
Winter in Boston: Scourge of God or Beauteous Overlay Inspiring Indoor Activities? Only Sarah Shemkus can tell.

Read More...

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Brigham Circle Chinese Food
I owe my life to Brigham Circle Chinese Food. This is not some superhero drama, where one stormy night Brigham Circle Chinese fought off six muggers, and then kissed me as it was suspended from a web. No, instead it saved my life when I had first moved to Boston by providing the best and cheapest Wonton Soup in the neighborhood. Please do not trek out here to find this local spot, thinking it's some forgotten diamond in the rough. It's instead an utter greasy hole, with broken tables and fantastic drunk patrons, BUT, the wonton soup truly is an amazing and delicious menu item and when last I checked you could get a giant tub of it for about four dollars. As a kid, recently graduated from college, my options for cooking food were limited by the horrid nature of the stove in my rented crack den, so BC Chinese, with it's delicious broth and pork filled wontony yumminess allowed me to continue to eat on a budget that was purely subsistence, with an occasional egg roll thrown in. If you're driving through Mission Thrill, double park for a bowl to go. It tastes of survival.



Posted By:  Stuart Kurtz
Photo:  Stuart Kurtz

Massachusetts College of Art
These art galleries are more cutting edge than anything you could find on Newbury Street. The Massachusetts College of Art has two professional galleries, the Sandra and David Bakalar Gallery, and the Stephen D. Paine Gallery. They show contemporary artists who are doing some very interesting works, such as the Masters of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibitions and the Graduating Senior Exhibition. There are occasionally shows of collection art. They had a show of German advertising art from 1900 to 1949 that explained the concept of branding and how the Germans created it. It was as good as any top shelf museum show. Take a look upstairs at the undergraduate gallery for those artists who'll someday show off downstairs.



Posted By:  Stuart Kurtz
Photo:  Stuart Kurtz

Warren Anatomical Museum
Betcha never heard of this one before. Tucked away behind the main Harvard Medical buildings in the hospital area of Boston (Not Cambridge!) is one of the most fascinating museums in the city. It's a collection of medical curiosities. If you didn't regard them as the serious artifacts they are, you might think you were in the circus. But this is a teaching exhibit area, and the disorders here are meant to encourage treatment. There is the bent skeleton of a woman who died of rickets, a skull in which a bullet lodged itself belonging to a sailor on The Enterprise, and dried bodies and also skeletons of conjoined twins. There is the inhaler they believe was used when ether was first administered at Mass General Hospital. You can wonder at the first operations for mental illness. Skulls were trephined in ancient Peru to form bore holes through which release the causes of mental illness. The most storied exhibit is the skull of Phineas Gage. A railroad explosives worker, Gage got distracted one day, and a 13 1/2 lb. tamping rod blew under his cheek and exited under his left eye. Gage survived with some terrible changes to his personality. Gage "was no longer Gage."



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo: 

Rod Dee II
I must be one of the least romantic people I know since I seem to have an aversion to fancy restaurants. Why pay the extra money for ambiance when you can pay half the price and have food that is twice as good? So, if you’re in the Fenway and craving Thai food, walk past Brown Sugar and keep on going until you get to Rod Dee II. The menu is huge, the food is prepared in minutes, the staff is friendly, and most importantly the food is amazing. I have too many favorite dishes to mention, but right now, I’m craving their Nam Sod.



Posted By:  Claudia Ricker
Photo:  Claudia Ricker

James P. Kelleher Rose Garden
Originally established in 1930 and well-hidden inside the Back Bay Fens, the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden has over 200 varieties of roses, more specifically tea, floribunda and grandiflora hybrids. Not being much of a horticulturist, I don’t really know what that means other than it results a lot of pretty plants. Wander over here to relax and, well… smell them. Finding the garden is a bit of a challenge but not time wasted. Covered benches peppered about the roses encourage a longer stay. We were, umm, fortunate enough to witness the romantic effect of the garden on its visitors firsthand. An amorous Italian couple spent their time rolling around the garden’s lawn blissfully unaware of anyone else, not to mention the entertainment they were providing.



Posted By:  Myke Weiskopf
Photo:  none

Even among the (theoretically) more liberated gay crowd, Ramrod's reputation often precedes it. As the largest and most prominent establishment catering to the gay leather/fetish crowd, it's become the de facto reference point (some might say the target) for people to vent their opinions on the lore of leatherdom. This gives Ramrod some dubious preeminence, to be sure, but as a result, they are frequently overlooked as a viable alternative to more "traditional" gay-friendly hotspots. Frankly, Ramrod has it all: the bartenders are skilled and sociable, the ambience is cruisy but unpretentious, and the music (their secret weapon) is unfathomably great. Resident duo Freespace plays the most eclectic, funky, and well-versed range of underground house and techno of any LGBT-oriented venue in the city. And while the back bar—with its strict leather/no shirts admittance policy –can be a little "scenic" for the uninitiated, it's advisable to check your self-consciousness and do as the Romans do. Squeamish souls may prefer the downstairs lounge (with pool tables, a video bar, and even pinball), which doubles as a throughway to the 'Rod's clubgoer-friendly weekend alter ego, Machine.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

El Pelon Taqueria
Whenever I want a Fish Taco, I know that there is only one place that can make them right, and that is El Pelón. Besides making the best fish taco in town, they also make the best tortilla chips. And, unlike most affordable Boston restaurants, they have an outside eating area. It might only be made up of a few picnic tables, but it is better than eating your fish tacos on the curb. If you visit El Pelón on a warm afternoon, the line is usually out the door, but your wait will rarely be more than 10 minutes. Besides the delicious fish tacos and the homemade tortilla chips, I recommend getting Caramelos Taco (marinated steak topped with a giant mound of guacamole).



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Massachusetts College of Art
Trying to find cheap and tasty lunches in the Longwood Medical Area is almost impossible. Even though I really like Penguin Pizza, I can't eat there everyday. Plus, I have a $5 lunch rule which I rarely break. I claim this rule exists because I have priorities, but everyone else says that I am cheap. Well, at least I am not an idiot who wasted $10 a day for a crappy overpriced food at Au Bon Pain, Boloco, or Souper Salad. When a friend told me about the cafeteria at Mass Art, I laughed as I headed out to Children’s Hospital’s Cafeteria (which has a pretty good salad bar). However, curiosity got the best of me, and, as he recommended, I got the Veggie Wrap with the hot pepper sauce and hummus ($3.65 with a free bag of chips). I do feel pretty stupid writing up a school cafeteria, but if you are in the area, want something healthy to eat, you will realize that this is one of the best tips you’ll receive all year. And, if you are lucky, you might happen to be there on Nacho Blast Day which is every bit as scary and delicious as the name suggests.



Posted By:  Knox Gardner
Photo:  Knox Gardner

On the fifth floor of Harvard’s Countway Medical Library sits a small sampling of the oddities that make up a good portion of Warren Anatomical Museum’s 15,000 items. After the high strung security to get in the building and the constant injunctions against photography, the few dusty cases under the florescent light come as a bit of a letdown. But in the center case, between the Siamese twin fetuses and goiters, sits the three foot tamping rod that blew through Phineas Gage’s head. And next to it, his skull. A metal rod through the brain does odd things to a man, and Gage’s new emotional life was one the 19th Century’s most famous medical cases as it broadened our understanding regional brain functions. It is one of the highlights of the collection. With its mix of teaching artifacts, medical kits, and oddities (the collection of bladder stones being disturbingly beautiful with their razor sharp crystals), it’s easier to spend an hour here than first impressions give. The Brigham Circle D Line stop is right across the street.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

I have never been a fan of Boston pizza. I am one of the few people I know who could care less about a New York Slice. I grew up in Chicago, so I believe that the only real pizza is a deep dish pizza. Even though I have yet to find a pizza that can compare to what I miss about Chicago, Penguin Pizza can satisfy my cravings (even though their pizzas are thin crust). Recently, it seems that Penguin has been discovered by college students, but the place is not overrun with them… yet. Their pizzas range from your average cheese (the Margherita) to the Duck Confit. My favorite pizzas are the Blanco (pesto and roasted garlic), which is even better if you have them add thin slices of potato to it, and the Seasonal (right now roasted butternut squash and goat cheese). If you do not plan on ordering an entire pizza ($10-$15), you should call ahead to find out which slices they have available before you go. Slices are a quarter of the pie and are a great deal at only $3.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Savory Food Truck
I have no idea why the Chinese Food Truck is so popular. No matter if it is 100 degrees out or we are trapped under a foot of snow, the truck always has a line. Every time I order something, I am never impressed, except for the Peking Raviolis which are pretty tasty (and not a bad deal for $3 served over rice). Today, I decided to check in with a few of the truck’s regulars to see what they order (and to find out why they keep on going back). Fred who had a combination of the Curry Chicken and Marpoo Tofu said, “I don’t know why I go.” Kim who ordered the Szechwan Minced Pork over Rice said that she goes to the truck several times a week because it is “cheap and good.” Chae who ordered the Yushang Eggplant with Beef exclaimed that he goes at least twice a week since “It is better than the sandwich that my wife made me.” I don’t find their reasons very convincing.



Posted By:  Lacey Prpic Hedtke
Photo:  none

This is my favorite place in Boston. Modeled after a 15th-century palazzo turned in on itself, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a most magical and whimsical place. The founder, Mrs. Gardner, traveled the world collecting remnants of Italian churches, tapestries, chairs, paintings by European masters, statues, and mosaics. She was a sponsor of local artists, including John Singer Sargeant, who used the Gothic room as his studio for some time; there are several of his pieces here. Mrs. Gardner’s correspondence with notable people of her day is also on display, as well as an impressive collection of books by Dante. It is awe inspiring to realize she orchestrated everything—the location, building design, and placement of every object. When you step into the museum, you will feel like you’ve been transported to another place and time. Her will stipulates that nothing can be moved or changed but it’s not all 19th century—the museum began an Artist In Residency program, opened a special exhibition gallery showing contemporary artists, including Sol Lewitt this month, and a concert series, holding classical concerts every Sunday. The museum host lectures, film screenings, and other special events. This is an amazing museum built by an amazing woman —if you haven’t visited yet, you should.



Posted By:  Lacey Prpic Hedtke
Photo: 

Where are the thrift shops in Boston? In the Fenway neighborhood—just look for the names spelled out in marbles in the concrete. Sometimes King of Records is called the Recycling Factory Junk Store. When I walked past the other day, they had taken over the entire block with an outdoor yard sale. I badly wanted the flying lizard with large jaws and the old-fashioned photo enlarger. If you like reading other peoples’ diaries, you can it that without shame here—used diaries are for sale like everything else. There’s actually a record store buried beneath the junk store. But it’s not all junk—I once walked out with a sombrero that said “Mexico” on it, a sombrero chip dish, and a Buddy Holly record. The men that run it are cool older dudes who will sit and chat with you all day. They have a piano that they often play. You might have to move heavy pipes and balance precariously while looking through records, but there are treasures to be found here.




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