Having lived in and around Boston my entire life, it’s often hard to find new and interesting things to do. I take this as a personal challenge to stretch myself and experience things I may not have otherwise tried. Whether it’s a trip to the Institute of Contemporary Art or joining a volleyball league, I can generally find something different to do. Well, this was certainly the case this past weekend as my colleague, Lillian, and I went on a food/walking tour of East Boston.
Taste This Tours offered us a look (and taste!) at some of the local flavor around several Eastie neighborhoods. The restaurants weren’t necessarily ones you would find as a regular tourist, but were certainly favorites in the community. We tried eight different restaurants after a quick boat ride across the harbor on a water taxi with our driver, Burt, who we later saw eating at one of our stops!
The restaurants ranged from Spanish and Vietnamese to Italian and good old American; and each one brought a very different taste and experience. The pupusas at Mama Blanca’s, the Spanish restaurant, were definitely the most interesting thing I tried, though the pork at Sai Gon, the Vietnamese place, was a close second. My favorites, however, were the ChicaChica BoomBoom Firecracker Chicken (spicy chicken bites with caramelized onion aioli) at 303 Café, and the pasta dish at Off the Boat, served to us from the owner herself. Yum!
We walked five miles all over East Boston with interesting historical sites and facts along the way. Laura, our guide, was very knowledgeable, having been an Eastie resident once herself. I learned all about the blossoming artist community and the old immigration building, second only to Ellis Island back in the day. Immigration was certainly a theme of the tour as so many different cultures have influenced the area – well beyond the food! We saw evidence of this very point on a building-side mural, “History of East Boston Immigration,” which I took a picture of with my new Droid X.
While we joked about Tasteless Tours as we happened upon some interesting sights and relived past tour experiences, the neighborhoods felt very safe with a real community aspect. Overall Taste This Tours was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon and experience new parts of Boston. Definitely something I’d recommend to locals and tourists alike.