Where to eat near Harborlights

14 Jul

First, an apology: I promised this post last week, and then our DSL went down. For days. Verizon sucks. Moving on…

imagesIf you’re a fan of adult contemporary or smooth jazz, you’ve probably enjoyed a gently rocking night under Harborlights’s big tent. I know I have. (And yes, this venue is technically identified by another name. It will not be used here. You can buy the naming rights, corporate behemoth, but you can’t buy our hearts!)

The waterside location is lovely, but a bit off the beaten track (less so now, though, as the Seaport District expands, amoeba-like, to surround it). So where to chow down before the big show?

Eat Here: Sportello, Lucky’s Lounge, Perspehone*, and the Pizzeria Regina stand in the venue.

Why: Sportello is Barbara Lynch’s idea of a Brighams-style lunch counter, only with perfectly made gnocchi and papardelle and an exceptional porchetta starter. Some people hate the backless stools, bolted as they are to the ground, making them more stylish than accommodating. But I love the sleek design, the quirky wine list, and the fact that it’s open Mon.-Sat., 7am – 10pm (takeout is available until 7pm, if you want to try a pre-show picnic on the steps of the ICA).

Lucky’s Lounge is fun and retro and does nice sidecar and a very respectable take on fried chicken and waffles. What more could you want? How about a sign to help you find the place? Here’s a hint: it’s at the corner of Congress and A St.

Persephone* is one an all-around Boston fave, and my go-to spot when I miss the food in San Francisco. Fresh ingredients, many locally sourced, cooked with skill and a light enough hand to let the actual flavors shine through. Hate to contemplate how rare that can be in Boston. Also, the bar menu is solid (don’t miss the gremolata-spiked fries) and affordable, with everything (including the squid salad, the burger, and homemade bacon and sea salt pretzel) priced at just $5 from 4-6pm daily.

Now, as both of the above choices are a bit of a schlep (15 minutes on foot, 3 by car), I’ll give a shout-out to the above-average-but-nothing-to-write-home-about slices at the Pizzeria Regina stand in the pavilion. It’s always nice to have an inside option if you’re running late.

Note: I left out two restaurants of note, which you might want to consider if the above options don’t grab you: Aura at the nearby Seaport Hotel boasts chef Rachel Klein’s inspired fusion fare, but has a slightly more formal feel than I tend to want before an outdoor concert. And the Barking Crab is my favorite waterfront spot to grab a beer and some fried calamari, but the food is too spotty for a full dinner.

* Confession: I’m embarrassed to admit that the original version of this post did not include Persephone, for no reason other than my own stupidity. Thanks to Alison Arnett for pointing it out!

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3 Responses to “Where to eat near Harborlights”

  1. Andy P. July 14, 2009 at 10:33 am #

    What about Legal Test Kitchen?

    • Amy Traverso July 14, 2009 at 11:13 am #

      Good question! I think LTK can be great, but it hasn’t quite achieved the famed Legal Seafood level of consistency (check out Chowhound if you want some other first-hand accounts). You might have a great meal, but I feel safer recommending the others.

  2. Holly July 14, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    Yes!!! Another person who still refers to the big tent down by the waterfront as Harborlights. It’ll forever be Harborlights to me (and GreatWoods will forever be GreatWoods). I did, however, finally make the switch from Bread & Circus to Whole Foods. 😉

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