What Do Bostonians Want, Really Really Want, From Our Food Scene?

Photo: Santarpio's

Are people in every city, no matter where they reside, afflicted by culinary ennui? Or is this a Boston thing, as ingrained in our culture as T breakdowns and Yankees hatred? A recent, heated thread on Chowhound (which eventually devolved to the point of being shuttered by their admin team), addresses this very question while calling out many off-the-beaten path restaurants that should make Bostonians proud. More ahead.

Poster Fishmanator (who has resided in New York City and the South of France) poses some troubling issues in an initial post: Fish M. thinks that Boston, despite its educated and diverse population, simply doesn’t demand good food. “How does Boston not have a bakery with a wood fired oven?” Fish M. wonders. Latin American groceries, meanwhile, are “sad.” (Soon to be sadder still, with the loss of Hi-Lo.) “How about a good ice cream joint … or coffee roasters in the city?” The poster also laments the lack of a decent burger and is equally unenthusiastic about Mexican options. Fishmanator even thinks Dallas has better dim sum. Dallas!

The post sparked 108 heated, eloquent, and passionate replies, many of which thoughtfully defended the depth, diversity, and history of Boston eateries. (The thread was eventually locked when attacks got personal.) Some standout spots touted by posters: Fuloon and Peach Farm (Chinese), Xinh Xinh and Pho2000 (Vietnamese), Pizzeria Regina and Santarpio’s (pizza), Red Barn Coffee Roasters (coffee, duh), Rotisceria Jalisco (Mexican), and on and on. Listing them here would take far too long.

Other posters did lament the unsophistication of some Boston diners, who supposedly prefer ho-hum Italian-American and other “safe” choices; Hound Andytee declares that “Boston is a bit of a hard nut to crack … Overall (and I know I’m making sweeping generalizations here) the city’s culture is surprisingly provincial for one of the nations’ major metropolitan areas, especially with the highly educated population. There is a lot less libertine experimentation and sensuous culinary glee than one might find in many other areas.”

We relish elevating our city’s culinary accomplishments when appropriate, and we believe there are countless truly amazing, innovative, surprising meals to be had here at all ends of the spectrum and in all corners of the city, delivered by chefs famous and unheralded. But we’re also eager to hear your criticisms of Boston’s dining scene. As much as we enjoy musing on that star chef’s impending big-name opening and glowing about the burgeoning food truck scene, oyster bar influx, high-end Mexican phenomenon, and so forth, it’s also important not to fawn over every little menu change and anticipated debut without pausing to reflect on larger issues.

So we want to know: What would you like to improve about our city’s dining scene? Boston is a savvy, educated group of diners (there we must depart from several Chowhounders). What’s missing in Boston? And, just as important, what gets you truly excited about eating here?

Food Culture in Boston [Chowhound]

What Do Bostonians Want, Really Really Want, From Our Food Scene?