Welcome back to Food Crawls, a series in which Eater Boston staffers guide you (virtually) on various food (and booze) crawls in the Boston area.
When we go out, we often find ourselves wanting to try more than one restaurant or bar at a time — a drink and a snack here, another drink and perhaps a dessert there — and want to share our favorite multi-stop combinations with you. These crawls are meant to be relatively walkable, and the amount of food and drink is meant to correspond roughly to a couple of average appetites (so bring a friend), although your mileage may vary. Email us if there’s a particular theme, specific dish or drink, or neighborhood you’d like to see covered in a future installment.
As a ride or die Allston rat, I’m constantly having to remind myself that there’s more to Boston and its suburbs than the confluence of Brighton and Harvard Avenues. (I know this intellectually, but I forget this in practice.) Watertown, which is but a seven-minute bike ride from my beloved Allston, serves as a constant reminder — and yet I rarely drink or dine there.
Last week, Loyal Nine proprietor Daniel Myers got in touch and invited me to lunch in Watertown, which he calls home. We started with shared plates at Cha Yen Thai Cookery, stopped off at Strip-T’s for a lunch beer (Myers usually makes a midday stop at Strip-T’s with his infant son, but it’s usually a Mexican Coke he’s after), and finished the afternoon with another lunch beer — and a game of bocce — at Branch Line.
(Note: Myers insists that La Bodega should be on your Watertown dining list, even though we didn’t make it there ourselves on this particular crawl.)
- Total stops: 4
- Cute little quail eggs snacked upon: 7
- Beers swilled: At least 4
- Classic Watertown joints that are about to close but aren’t yet closed patronized: 1
- Uruguayan-Spanish-French Basque dishes consumed: At least one (but let’s see how full we’re feeling, shall we?)
Quail Eggs and Papaya Salad at Cha Yen Thai Cookery
613 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown
Seven adorable little quail eggs are cooked in a cast-iron skillet and seasoned with soy sauce, scallions, and white pepper. One person could eat all seven, but it’s best to share with a friend. Balance the richness of the eggs with a bright, fresh papaya salad. Strands of green papaya are mixed with tomatoes, peanuts, raw green beans, lime juice, and chilis. Warning: It’s a very spicy salad. Worth noting: Cha Yen is BYOB, so bring a beer or two to counter all that chili heat.
A Beer (and Perhaps Some Ramen) at Strip-T’s
93 School St., Watertown
Strip-T’s is closing after 32 years, but it’s not closed yet. After our perfect Thai lunch, Myers and I headed to the Watertown classic for a beer. (We were both in that space where we could have eaten more but might have felt miserable if we did — otherwise, I’d have gotten a bowl of Strip-T’s now-famous ramen.) There’s no official closing date, but go there, and go there now. It’s probably your last chance.
A Beer at Branch Line
321 Arsenal St., Watertown
Word to the wise: Don’t play Myers in bocce, because he’ll wipe the floor with you. Do, however, drink a lunch beer (or two) at Branch Line. The space is stunning, the patio is ample (and it’s finally patio season, y’all!), and the bocce court is raked daily. And if you’re still hungry after the Thai and the ramen, try the bierwurst or some marinated mushrooms.
Heirloom Carrots (and Everything Else) at La Bodega
21 Nichols Ave., Watertown
La Bodega is the latest restaurant from Gabriel Bremer and Analia Verolo, the folks behind the now-defunct Salts in Cambridge. While Salts took its cues from French cuisine, La Bodega looks to Uruguayan, Spanish, and French Basque country for inspiration. If you’re still hanging around Watertown after all that day drinking, and if you’re suddenly hungry again, head to La Bodega for dinner. Try the carrots if they’re on, and try the Uruguayan ribeye with chimichurri, too.