10 Tips on Eating at T. Anthony’s

I love T. Anthony’s. We all love T. Anthony’s. But everyone knows there is a strict code you must follow if you want to make it out of there unscathed. Here is a list of tips that will make your visit to the Comm Ave eatery as pleasant as possible:

1. Don’t stutter. Don’t mumble. And for the love of God, DON’T change your order halfway through. You WILL be subject to torment.

2. Only speak when spoken to. The staff ain’t into chit-chat. If you try to start up a conversation, you WILL receive death glares. (Note: chit-chat is acceptable ONLY if it’s related to Boston sports)

3. Don’t talk to the homeless guy. Sure, he seems friendly and endearing… but he won’t leave you alone. Not just that day, but forever.

4. Leave your garbage on the table. Someone will come around and clean it up for you. Don’t wander around like an idiot looking for a garbage can. There isn’t one.

5. Don’t go before a major BU sporting event (read: HOCKEY GAME) unless you want to wait in line with angry, sweaty sports fans and likely have your food stolen right out of your hands.

6. If there’s something wrong with your order, just let it go. It’s not worth it.

7. Don’t sit at/near a table of college kids late at night. Chances are, one of them is about to projectile vomit. On YOU.

8. Don’t order the pastrami sandwich. It’s just nasty.

9. If you placed a to-go order, don’t show up early to pick it up. The staff will make fun of you.

10. After your meal, be aware that you WILL suffer from gastric distress, and you WILL be full of regret.

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Harpoon Brewery

Upon waking up hungover this past Saturday morning, my roommate had a genius idea: Instead of mourning our loss of dignity and ingestion of thousands of “drunk eating” calories the night before, we should go to the Harpoon Brewery and drink away our sorrows! You know, “hair of the dog,” right? Of course, I was more than happy to join.

Everything went suspiciously well that day. The brewery opened at 11, so we stumbled in at around 11:15. We didn’t know where to go, or what we were doing, so we parked in the “employee’s only” section directly in front of the door. Whatevs.

We trudged up a large set of stairs at the entrance and wandered over to a long line of people wrapped around the bar. We didn’t know what the line was for, but we waited in it anyway. After aimlessly glancing around for 10 minutes, I asked the person in front of me what the line was for. Apparently it was for tickets go on brewery tours. Sounds like fun!

Before getting to the front of the line, we discussed our plans for the next few hours. Based on the crowd, we assumed that the 11:45 brewery tour sold out hours ago–everyone else in line was buying tickets for 1:00 or later–and we weren’t trying to hang around in the brewery for 2 whole hours. When we finally got to the front at 11:40, we were somehow able to get 2 more tickets for the 11:45 tour. Score!

The tour was a lot of fun. The tour guides were fun and energetic, and I really did learn a thing or two about beer. Like, I didn’t know that UFO was made by Harpoon! I also didn’t know that before the sugar in beer is fermented, it is called wort. Did you know that?

In the middle of the tour, we were taken to a tasting room. Once there, we were informed by the tour guides that we could “sample” as much beer as we wanted (enough to fill our 4in tall cup for each sample) for the next 25 minutes. We took this as a challenge. I “sampled” almost every beer. It was fun.

After this portion of the tour, they took us to a particularly dangerous area of the brewery where we had to wear safety googles. Interesting that the tour is structured that way after you get the group drunk, but I digress. We learned how the beer was bottled and a few other interesting facts about the brewery.

At the end of the tour, we sang happy birthday to a recent 21 year old. We were then taken back to the taproom, which is beautifully decorated; it’s got a huge square bar in the middle, a pretzel bar in the back corner, and large iron chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. We sat down at a table and ordered a soft pretzel and, wouldn’t you know it… more beer.

The pretzel was amazing–it came with this cheese sauce that I could have happily consumed by the gallon.  Or maybe I just loved it so much because drank so much beer.

In any case, I ended up cleaning out my bank account buying everything in the shop: shirts, hats, cups, and growlers. I woke up in my bed later in that afternoon rather confused about all of the Harpoon knick-knacks now in my possession. No regrets.

Sunset Cantina

Ok, so… I’ve always been a huge fan of Sunset Cantina. I don’t really know how to classify the restaurant–they have a lot of Tex-Mex style stuff but also serve pub food. The menu is enormous and can satisfy any taste. I’d like to say I’ve tried just 1/20th of the menu… but even THAT would be a stretch. The drink selection is awesome too: the margaritas are unbelievable and they always have tons and tons of beers on tap.

The food and the service are usually hit or miss. More often hit, I’d say… but I’ve had some MAJOR misses. More on that later.

The restaurant itself is very cool. They have hundreds of funky things displayed on the walls: license plates, beer taps, alcohol bottles, and other interesting old-school memorabilia. It’s a great place to grab a few drinks and split some appetizers with your friends–very casual, but the food is on par with any of the more upscale pubs in the area. It’s a little expensive, but the menu items are meant to be shared (in my opinion).

I went to Sunset one night with my boyfriend to grab a few beers and an appetizer or two before we headed to TD Banknorth for the Celtics Game. We always get the nachos… they’re definitely a crowd pleaser, and even a half order is more than enough for two people. There was a bit of a crowd that night so the servers were swamped, but that’s ok; we were having a good time so we didn’t mind waiting for our food. When the nachos came, we noted that they were a bit limp, but satisfying nonetheless. In the midst of chewing, I felt something sharp and tasted metal. ????? I spat a mouthful onto the plate. WHAT WAS IT? Dissection of my chewed food revealed a STAPLE. A STAPLE. IN MY NACHOS.

After the initial shock, I motioned for the waitress.

“I found a staple in my nachos”

“Oh.”

OH???? Just “OH?” Is that really an appropriate reaction for a waitress to have when a PATRON GETS A STAPLE IN THEIR NACHOS? I stared wide eyed at her…

“Can I please speak to your manager about this?”

“Uh, yeah… Hold on.”

10 minutes later, no manager and no sign of the waitress. When we least expect it, she shows up… with our check. Our full check. Yes, our full check which included the nachos that could have KILLED ME had I not spat out the staple. I think my death stare said enough.

“Uh… did you want me to comp that for you?”

I asked again to speak to the manager, whom she claimed was “too busy” to come to the table. She also claimed… “The staple probably came from the bag the chips were in. When the chips were poured on the plate the staple must have gone with them.” HOW COMFORTING.

In the end, she comped the nachos, but still charged us for our two beers. Pretty audacious on her part, considering I could have sued the restaurant for everything they’ve got. I probably should have taken it further, but we were in a rush. I was alive and unharmed, even though it could have potentially been serious.

Oh, and I got no apology.

But, yes… I have been back several times since then. Sometimes almost dying is worth getting a good plate of nachos.

Osaka

The first time I went to this place, I accidentally went on the night it opened. Like, without even realizing it. It’s gorgeous inside: dark stone walls, carved wooden dividers, huge ceilings and little water fountains… it almost looks like a spa! They even have a separate room for Hibachi (a chef puts on a show and prepares your meal right in front of you… they even pour sake into your mouth!), a full bar, and a dance floor in the basement. I was really taken aback! Still, I was worried it wouldn’t do well based on the lack of attendance on it’s first night in business.

Luckily, about a year or so later, the place is a huge hit and is always crowded. They (boastfully) have a picture displayed of Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Celtics, shaking hands with the owner. But hey, well deserved success, right?

I love this place, I do, but I wish they would stop changing their menu. It’s like… soon as I fall in love with a certain dish… it’s gone! This has happened with their beef tataki (raw beef with a creamy teriyaki sauce and enoki mushrooms), their rock shrimp, and their gyoza. My all time favorite menu item–truffle salmon belly– was TOTALLY BOTCHED last time I was in there. I ordered it to split with a few friends (who had never been to Osaka) after talking forever about how delicious it was. Everyone wanted to try it because I had been going on about it for months. When the salmon finally came, everyone dug in, and them immediately looked at me as though I had run over their dog with my car. It, quite literally, tasted like crap. (Ok maybe not literally. And no I’ve never eaten crap)

In the past, the dish had been a delicious, plump salmon belly with a smooth truffle flavor and a few hot peppers floating around in the sauce. The dish WE were served had limp salmon, SOUR sauce, and nasty pineapple chunks floating in it. AND THERE WASN’T EVEN ANY TRUFFLE OIL IN IT? EWWWWWWW.

It took awhile for the waitress to notice our distress, but she did eventually respond to our death stares.

“Did they change the recipe for the truffle salmon?”

“Y…Yes. They did.”

“WHY.”

She didn’t know why. I didn’t know why. No one could answer my question. WHY would anyone take something so beautiful and delicate and make it taste like sour pineapple garbage? WHY GOD WHY. I mean, truffle oil isn’t THAT expensive. Plus, that’s false advertising.

My friend and I decided to split a sushi roll instead. It was tasty, but nothing would ease my pain.

Despite the enormous, booze filled, flaming scorpion bowl I had all to myself (pictured below) I was extremely hurt. Everyone else had nice meals but I just couldn’t get over the “death” of one of my favorite appetizers.

even the enormous amount of alcohol couldn't distract me from my sadness: the truffle salmon would never be the same

I’m still in mourning, so I’m not quite ready to return. But I’d advise you to go: they have very competitive prices (especially on the bento boxes) and the food really is quite good. They recently added an enormous cocktail menu, also a plus.

Now I’m sad.

Eastern Standard

One of the most popular upscale restaurants in Kenmore Square, Eastern Standard boasts fabulous cocktails, a massive wine list, and friendly, knowledgable wait staff. I love this place because of the atmosphere as well: the high ceilings, mirrored walls, and paintings of 1930’s stars have an “old school glam” vibe. It’s attached to the Hotel Commonwealth, an elegant hotel right in the middle of Kenmore Square.

My favorite thing on the menu? That depends on the season. Eastern Standard is a “farm to table” establishment (LOVE THIS) so the ingredients are seasonal. Across all seasons, though, they always have a delicious variety of hearty items on the menu.

Oysters are something I never miss out on here… They always have a fantastic, fresh selection. I’m picky with oysters; if I get a single grain of sand, it’s game over. You know that weird crunch when you get a grain of sand in your seafood? BLECHHHTTTT! AWFUL! It really ruins the meal for me, if not my entire day. Eastern Standard never disappoints in delivering sand-less oysters. I’ve eaten seafood at some of the “best” places around, and almost always find sand.

Eastern Standard is popular with locals and tourists alike. One winter evening, I found myself there for a few drinks. I went to the bathroom to relieve myself, and while sitting on the toilet I noticed a stunning pair of Jimmy Choo’s in the stall next to me. That must be one wealthy woman! I thought, while washing my hands. When I looked in the mirror I noticed a familiar face using the sink next to me. It took me a second, but I realized it was sharing the bathroom with one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey! I didn’t want to make a scene, so I smiled at her and walked out. My friends didn’t believe me, so I asked the waitress if she knew anything about it. “THEY’RE ALL HERE IN THE BACK ROOM!” she exclaimed, “I’m too starstruck so they wouldn’t let me serve them.”

Needless to say, we camped out by the front door until they left so we could catch a glimpse. Worth it.

Anna’s Taqueria

Oh, Anna’s Taqueria. I remember first hearing about Anna’s via @BostonTweet when I first moved to Boston my freshman year of college. It was rumored to be the best burritos in Boston, which is an enormous claim! @BostonTweet was the source of authority on this though… Nobody loves Anna’s more than @BostonTweet.

 

My friends and I have debated for years, though… is it pronounced Anna as in ann-nuh or Anna as in ahh-nuh? Anyone with authority (@BostonTweet?) please feel free to let me know… I’ve heard people INSIST that it’s one way or the other.

Anyway, the burritos ARE spectacular. I started slow… the first few times I went I got a plain cheese quesadilla (BO-RING) and eventually graduated to a veggie burrito. It wasn’t until I made the leap to carnitas (braised mexican pork), which I had never had before, that I realized how amazing Anna’s really was. I tend to visit the Anna’s location in Coolidge Corner at least once a month, and I’ve kept this trend going for the past 3 years.

My favorite thing? The quesadilla (which they can turn into a burrito, so it’s kind of like a crunchy cheesy burrito) with carnitas, rice, pinto beans, salsa, guac, sour cream, and hot sauce. OH yeah.

The ONE downside: after you go, you WILL stink of burritos until you take a shower, and sometimes afterwards… but it’s always worth it.

Other advice: Try the horchata! It’s a sweet, creamy rice drink… unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

Refuge Cafe

Do you like breakfast burritos? I do. I really can’t speak much for Refuge Cafe in any other aspect, actually… All I’ve ever gotten there is the breakfast burritos. They’re a coffee joint by nature but I don’t really drink coffee (even though I love it, my body reacts terribly to caffeine) so I just order the breakfast burrito over and over… and over.

It’s a cute little place right on the corner of Harvard and Brighton Ave right across from Blanchards in Allston. Everything’s iron and wood, it’s cute. They popped up out of nowhere last summer and have become a huge hit with hipsters in the area… they really have the “trendy cyber cafe” vibe going. Anyway, back the burritos…

They’re huge! PACKED with fluffy eggs, tons of gooey cheese, salsa, sour cream, and TONS of chorizo. I LOVE CHORIZO, and I never get to eat it unless I’m at a traditional Spanish restaurant or a Tex Mex place (or somewhere in southern California) so it’s an exciting treat for me. I tend to drop by Refuge once a week or so to indulge.

Here’s a timelapse of the consumption of an entire Refuge breakfast burrito.