Papagayo (downtown Boston) This restaurant would last about four minutes in regions of the country that specialize in this sort of thing. The first red flag emerges when you overhear a manager mispronounce jalepeno. If you’re on West st, downtown, head next door to the less pretentious Fajitas and Ritas. If Fajitas is closed, walk to Park st, make a right and order a couple of taquitos from 7-11.
Soundbites (Ball Square, Somerville) Brunch food that gets the job done. The rumors about the owner’s temper are true; he did brawl with the Ball Square Cafe owner in the middle of Broadway, directly in front of the two adjacent, competing restaurants, and he will throw you out for looking at him wrong. Despite its flaws, Soundbites is a better, more honest restaurant than Papagayo. The crew charges through busy weekend brunches in a way that evokes awe from patrons, if also hostility.
Charlie’s Kitchen (Harvard Square) This is where you go when you first move to Boston and you think you’ve found a cool place. Tall PBRs. Tall Gansetts. One enormous fryer and a huge tub of batter in the kitchen. It’s dirty, old and loud. Low-level staff endure pure hell on Earth when tending to insane summer-night crowds in the “Beer Garden.” Urinals and toilets are often catastrophically avoided. Health Code Violations abound.
Tremont 647 (Guess where) Molly Dwyer, Tremont’s Chef de cuisine -or whatever you wanna call her- is a pro. Multiple patrons have proclaimed “This is the best blank I’ve ever had” whether it be soft-shelled crab or the braised pork ragu. Eat her food before she leaves Tremont, then eat her food when she owns her own restaurant. She’s like 25 years old.
Dave’s Fresh Pasta (Davis Square) Go there for the “penny candy” box and grab some Swedish Fish.