NFT Boston Mattapan / Dorchester (West)

Mattapan / Dorchester (West)

Essentials
Mattapan is mostly residential and home to about 40,000 people. It has a growing Haitian-American community (the largest in Massachusetts), and has smaller communities whose roots are in many of the nations of the Caribbean. This is reflected in the wealth of Caribbean restaurants located on Blue Hill Avenue.

Sundries/Entertainment
Commercial activity in Mattapan clusters around Mattapan Square. Here you can argue with your friends about whether Haitian patties are tastier than Jamaican patties. Then, as you head towards Morton Street, you can stop arguing to stuff your mouths with roti at Ali's. Pit Stop Bar-B-Q, with its great ribs, represents.

Transportation
To get to the Mattapan T stop, choose an Ashmont-bound train. At the Ashmont station, the "it's not retro, it's old" Mattapan trolley will take you as far as Mattapan Square. The MBTA commuter rail's Fairmount line makes a stop at Morton Street.See more.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Common Grounds
Common Grounds, a java joint and restaurant in the Lower Mills section of the DOT is what I'd imagine most Tolkien geeks would envision the inside of a hobbit house to look like. Stick with me if you're not nerdy enough to know what that means. It's pretty much a tree house, with bits like driftwood railings on the stairs, and tables made out of giant tree cross-sections, with gentle celtic flute music playing in the background. If you had dreadlocks in college, or often smelled like patchouli, you'll probably feel generally at home here. They've got a full lunch and dinner menu, and a separate coffee shop and natural products store where you can get some hemp diapers and yerba drinks. I really wish I could like this place more as it seems like a calm spot with pretty decent food, but it's got a weird Phish show parking lot vibe that I can't get past. Tell you what. Take a look down at what you're wearing. If you've got anything tye-dyed or referencing Dark Star, you should check this place out. Jeans and an ironically funny t-shirt? You can do better.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Genki Ya
I'm not a sushi expert by any degree. I love it, but in most cases it's all decent, from random rolls at Whole Foods on up. Once I tried Genki Ya in Brookline, I suddenly found myself able to determine what a great sushi place is. Hint: This is one. Not only is it great, but Genki also manages to impress me even more by being organic. How the hell average sushi ISN'T organic is beyond me, but the Ya goes out of their way to state that they serve only, "All Natural and Organic Sushi." So you're getting a damn good meal, that's also better for you than Slappy's Sushi Shack. That's a rare +5 from me Genki. Well played. As for the sushi and sashimi itself, you're going to be impressed. Their special maki is not only delicious, but also incredibly well presented. Perfectly drizzled soy sauce, well placed dollops of spicy mayo, and colors that look as delicious as they taste will impress your palate and your eyes. Ok, I'm gushing, I know. It's just that I honestly adore this place. If it's a sushi night, this should be on your list of must go spots.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

P&R Ice Cream
Just in case you want to add another place to your list of places that you must check out on Blue Hill Avenue, I present you with P & R Ice Cream. Besides ice cream, they also have a lot of food. Some of it is sitting in warming trays when you walk in and other items are listed on the menu hanging from the wall. My recommendation is the Jamaican Beef Patty on Coco Bread with Jamaican Cheese. Make sure to get it with the Jamaican Cheese though. My stomach just started making noises at the thought of this delicious patty. Don’t forget to pick up at least one pint of ice cream while you’re there (after all it is an ice cream joint). On your first visit, I suggest the Grape Nut.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Many readers are most likely familiar with Jamaican Beef Patties, but how many of you have ever had a Haitian Chicken Pattie? If you have never had one, make a note to head to Le Foyer Bakery in Mattapan. The line is always long and slow moving, but the wait is well worth it. I usually get a dozen since they freeze fairly well. They also have beef, salted cod, and spicy herring patties, but my favorite, by far, are the chicken ones (which taste even better with a few dashes of hot sauce). They also have delicious looking pastries and cakes. You should make sure to get there no later than the early afternoon since they often run out of Chicken Patties and, if you can, try and refrain from eating them the second you get in your car since the flaky patty crust will end up all over your clothes and your dashboard.



Posted By:  Knox Gardner
Photo:  Knox Gardner

United House of Prayer
Large and imposing, the United House of Prayer for All People, located across the street from the Zoo, has one of Boston’s best kept cafeteria secrets in its rear entrance basement. A no-frills soul food counter with ribs, chicken, greens, and potato salad make it a cheap eat before or after a day at the park. A walk back into Boston difficult integrationist failures and hope, the building used to be the premier Stadt Shul of Boston, Mishkan Tefila, and then was the eponymous, Elma Lewis School, where the Civil Rights Leader taught arts and dance to young African Americans in the transitioning neighborhood. Primarily a lunch hall, the food can at times be overcooked in the steam trays. But for an interesting step into Boston’s changing cultures, the folks at United House of Prayer are pleasant and make you feel down home. We recommend the pork ribs—if they have them—cooked to falling apart perfection.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Ali's Roti
I finally checked out Ali's Roti a few months ago, even though this place has been at the top of my list for a long time. The first time I went to their Tremont Street location, they informed me that they were out of roti. The next time, they only had the basic chicken left. I was a bit sad, but the roti was amazing. However, I didn't think that it was good enough to hold the crown as the best roti in the city. It was not until I tried their Dorchester location that I discovered that they truly are the kings of the roti. This location seems to have way more options, including a delicious pumpkin spice. I will leave you with three pieces of roti wisdom. First, make sure that you are either very hungry or are going to share your roti with someone else since the large are huge. Second, never order a small roti since you will only end up with less meat, poultry, or fish and more of the other fillers. Third, go as early as you can so that you are sure to get your choice of fillings.



Posted By:  Knox Gardner
Photo:  Knox Gardner

Simco's
A good dog doesn't need much but a dab of spicy mustard. Evidently, Kostas Karampekios, the owner of Simco's on the Bridge would disagree, as would the thin woman in front of me ordering "Two, with everything." Simco's on the Bridge, nothing scenic about it, has been down in Mattapan since 1935. It’s your quintessential hot dog shack. A bit shabby like the neighborhood, the kitchen hums, and you’ll likely find yourself in a line watching the cars stream down Blue Hill Avenue. We’d recommend you go now though, and not wait until January, as you’ll have to loiter on the sidewalk or drip mustard in your car as there’s no place to sit. It’s worth it. Their dog is extra long, slender, and all beef. It has texture and a crisp casing without being too toothy. The bun was a New England marvel: griddle-fried white bread. Warm, with a hint of oily fat taste to it so that your tongue craves more. It’s the usual on the extras. I'd even be willing to order five or six buns and pass my dogs on to some low-carb dieter.



Posted By:  Lacey Prpic Hedtke
Photo: 

Franklin Park Zoo Bear Cages
The bear cages are a weird place. They’re creepy, like all of Franklin Park, but in a thrilling, gorgeous, back-to-the-olden-days kind of way. Franklin Park Zoo was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in1912. The zoo was free to all, until 1958, when fences were erected and admission charged. The zoo abandoned the bear cages outside of the fence and they slowly deteriorated; the dilapidated bear dens are reminders of the old stone and brick zoo, before the days of environmental concern for caged animals. If you want to explore something from a bygone era, look for the bear cages to the left of the stadium off Walnut Avenue. But don’t go at night—that’s a good rule of thumb for all parks, but especially this one. And take a friend. In the movie Mystic River, a dead girl is found dumped in the bear cages (which is supposedly just down the street from South Boston—ahh, movies). Once a small home for large animals, the bear cages are now stumbled upon by people walking through the park. Fall is almost here—it’s the perfect time to spook yourself.




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