Taste Race: Seaport
Updated: May 27, 2019
Taste Race (n): When a group of influencers get together for an epic food crawl in one of Boston's neighborhoods.
I got the idea for a Taste Race earlier this year when I wanted to learn more tips and techniques from my blogger friends while also really delving deep into Boston's best food neighborhoods. The result was an epic crawl, four restaurants in five hours, and a fun journey for you to follow along with us! (Not to mention a wheelbarrow to carry us all home after).
My first Taste Race was in Davis Square, one of my favorite places for food and where I lived for three years. You can see where we went on my Instagram story highlights! For my second Race, though, I wanted to go to one of the newer, up and coming spots for delicious eats. So where else would I go but Seaport? I went with some of my favorite influencers, Emily from Boston Foodgram and Taylor and Angelica from Chicks With Food Pics, who were all so fun to spend the day with. If you don't already, give them a follow to see how they enjoyed the Taste Race as well.
Do you have any suggestions for where we should go next? Comment below!
Stop 1: Committee
When choosing the restaurants Committee was definitely towards the top of my list. If you've been then you know -- the atmosphere is so trendy and the food holds up to the hype. What I love most about Committee is the fun, shareable plates. Now normally, I hate sharing. Like I HATE sharing. If I was a Friends character, I would be Joey. BUT the shareable plates from here are actually perfect because they aren't small plates. They're giant plates of delicious food that I normally wouldn't want to commit a full meal to.
Enter: The Tsoureki Toast.
This delicious, French toast monstrosity is basically a whole loaf of bread covered in strawberries, blueberries, and merenda (Greek nutella!). I don't usually go sweet for brunch and this was definitely an indulgence, which is why it was perfect for sharing. And of course, we didn't stop there. With a full order of the Greek Yogurt Pancakes, topped with crunchy almonds, honey, and berries, everyone definitely had their sweet tooth satisfied.
We knew that we needed a little savory to our sweet and what would a Mediterranean restaurant be without some shakshuka? This bowl, or should I say wok, was easily enough for four people and we had a great time laughing while swiping fresh pita into the big tomato-based stew. It's a great social dish to enjoy while taking bites of our smaller plates, like one of my favorites, the sesame and honey encrusted feta.
We realized we were lacking a bit of meat so we went for the burger, which had everyone going back for second and third bites. The Spanakopita Grilled Cheese was a real treat though, and a fun Greek twist on a comfort food classic! It was still oogey and gooey, which I worried about with the feta cheese, and the tomato soup was the perfect complement. What we loved the most was that, despite being a tomato soup, it tasted very different from the Shakshuka, so it wasn't redundant having both dishes.
Lastly, we were all blown away by the cocktails, especially Emily who is the biggest cocktail blogger out of us all. We asked the server for recommendations and she did not disappoint. What we got were three beautifully presented drinks, the first was Who's Your Brunch Daddy which came in a fun tiki glass and was very tropical. The second was Whip It Good, which we got for the delicious creamsicle whipped cream. The last two were the prettiest -- Just Beet It, which was a beautiful beet red but tasted like ginger (so basically, my idea of a cleanse), and the Main Squeeze, presented in a orange gradient with the tasty flavor to match.
Stop 2: The Smoke Shop
I really wanted some diversity when I planned this crawl, which is why I chose a Mediterranean place, a BBQ place, a Spanish place, and an Asian place. It's so great that one neighborhood has all these different types of eateries, which makes it the perfect spot for whatever you're craving.
For BBQ, we had to go with a Boston staple. The Smoke Shop is easily in my top three for comfort food, and I love the atmosphere of the Seaport location. It's beautiful and bright while also not taking itself too seriously. In the end, you're coming for the food and Smoke Shop does not mess around.
The first dish on everyone's must-eat list was the BBQ Fries. Now despite the name, this isn't a finger food. Oh no. Not unless you want sauce all over your fresh mani. These fries, smothered in melty cheese sauce, a mountain of pit beans, and the meat of your choice (we chose burnt ends) are definitely a fork-and-knife food, but still 100% shareable. For our other app we chose the Mac and Cheese Bites because, if you didn't know already, I have a mac and cheese obsession. And although these were tasty, the real star was the sauce. I have no idea what it is but I'd dunk just about anything in it. Heck, I was 5 seconds away from taking shots of the stuff. It was delicious and both apps were the perfect start to the meal.
Oh right, the meal. We were pretty full from Committee so we only ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich, the Pulled Pork Sandwich, and the Big Beef Rib. Kept it light. I loved that both sandwiches come with a side AND a piece of watermelon because I love ending my meal with something sweet. The chicken was super crispy and the pulled pork comes underdressed so you can add your choice of BBQ sauce that's on the table, which I also love. No matter what you order, you have so many opportunities to enjoy your meal and make it your own (but to really enjoy yourself, get that mac and cheese as your side. You won't regret it). Now I love ribs, But I've never really thought about beef ribs before, nor have I had one. Angelica was SO excited about this, telling us it reminded her of her childhood when her and her family would get them growing up. One caveat with these though, they only have the beef rib on Saturdays and make sure you go for dinner to get them, they aren't always ready by brunch.
Now I don't know what I was expecting with the ribs. I'm used to finishing a full rack of pork by myself without stopping for breaths. And yes, I understand a cow is significantly bigger than a pig but MAN this was huge. So big that you only get one, which was surprise but definitely understood. They cut the meal up for us in slices on the bone which plucked off with barely a touch of the fork because the meat was THAT tender. It melted in your mouth and was unlike anything I've tasted. I'm legitimately bummed that they're hard to find normally, but I guess that means I'm going to become a regular at Smoke Shop Saturdays!
Now understandably we were stuffed by dessert. We've just basically eaten 11 dishes and still had two more stops to go! However, I've heard things through the foodie grapevine. Whispers of a banana dessert that goes unmatched. Birdies tweeting that it's something you should save room for, and if you don't have any, you make room. So I listened. I ordered the Banana Nilla Puddin' and it is now officially one of my favorite desserts in Boston. It's like a banana cream pie without all the dry crust and it is everything. We didn't finish it so I brought it home to my boyfriend and I had to fight him for the take-out container. The whipped cream is so fresh and I loved the Nilla waffers -- it's actually even better sitting for a bit so they get a tiny bit mushy. Did I mention I'm becoming a regular? Just call me the beef rib and banana puddin' queen please.
Stop 3: Scorpion Bar
I've heard of Scorpion Bar but mostly as a night club spot, which honestly did have me nervous about the food. A lot of these places don't hold up during the day so I wasn't sure what to expect.
We walked in and the decor blew me away. Where Lolita is Spanish-Gothic, Scorpion Bar is Spanish-Rustic. Very comfortable and trendy, but my favorite part was the glass-enclosed section of the restaurant. I love natural light both as a human who needs sunlight to make her happy and as a influencer photographing food. This area was a beautiful contrast to the dark tones inside.
We ordered some drinks while we decided on food and after a few short minutes we saw smoke billowing in from the dining room. "Oh my God," gasped Emily, as Taylor and I turned around. Our server was carrying a glass skull full of red sangria, dry-ice smoke pouring out of the vessel. We were all in awe by the presentation and I immediately thought of how fun this would be to order on a Friday night. Best of all, the sangria HELD UP. Now I've had a lot of sangria in a lot of local restaurants. I've also had sangria in Spain. What restaurants do wrong is that they just pour some wine in a glass with fruit and call it a sangria. No. False. Sangria should be steeped in fruit, it should definitely have some sweetness but also a little bit of zip. This sangria was the most authentic sangria I've had in years, and I basically drank the whole skull (which is enough for two-three people). Our second drink was equally impressive but not for its authenticity, because I've never seen anything like it. Behold, the Alejandro: A creamy coffee-type drink had an epic garnish...fried ice cream! Can't decide between dessert or drinks? Get this bad boy to have your fix of both.
For apps, we shared Loco Papa Fritas (Crazy French Fries) which came in a cast iron skillet and were topped with a variety of sauces that were so tasty, I didn't even reach for the ketchup (a big deal for me). And at only $5, this dish was a steal! It's a large serving and perfect for splitting with friends. We also ordered the empanadas, the pork quesadilla, and the Loco Nachos. The nachos are another definitely must-order because they're mountainous and covered in sour cream, cheese, pico, lettuce, and olives. No chip was left uncovered, which is the true test for me when it comes to the nach.
Now if you don't want to share, Scorpion Bar has the most epic entree: A giant, FOUR POUND, burrito. You might think to yourself, "four pounds, how much can one burrito weigh? That really isn't that much." And you'd be wrong. So very wrong. This thing was the size of two already oversize burritos and packed with all the heavy stuff -- rice, beans, meat, and cheese it looked like it used four tortillas. And the real kicker? If you finish it in 15 minutes, you get it for free! But spoiler alert, no one has ever done it. And that's because it's impossible. There is no way on this planet that one person could ever fit that monstrosity in their stomach in an hour, let alone fifteen minutes. Love the idea but you can put me in the "watch, don't do" category for that one!
Stop 4: Empire
"I love all the different types of food we're getting, because when we get to a new place it's like I'm hungry all over again."
By the fourth stop our stomachs were stretched, our endurance was wearing thin, but Taylor's optimism kept us pushing through. That, and the smell of fried rice making its way through the kitchen.
I had been to Empire before but for the all-you-can-eat sushi deal, which only allows you to select from a few rolls. We were all eager to try more of the menu and learn why Empire is one of the most happening spots in all of Boston.
What I loved most about this place was the massive portions (yes, despite us being very full). The side dishes are a little more expensive than a typical Asian restaurant but you're paying for more food, and higher quality. We ordered the Chow Foon because Angelica claimed it was "literally the best dish ever" — a title I don't take lightly when it comes to food bloggers. Shocker, she was correct. The soft noodles were savory, delicious and packed with flavor, not to mention veggies and beef. They were almost as good as the Lo Mein, which my boyfriend proclaimed as the best lo mein he's ever had (and he had it reheated!). Needless to say, we were off to a good start.
Rounding out the shareable plates was the Two Way Rangoon with three fried crab pieces and three fried lobster. Honestly, we weren't sure which one was which but it didn't matter because we scarfed them all down in .2 seconds. Emily and I especially enjoyed the Spicy Salmon "Rice Bites" as an innovative take on a traditional roll. It was crispy yet flavorful, and had a perfect salmon-to-rice ratio. Our only regret was getting three instead of six, because neither one of us would let the other have the full second piece.
Though it may have seemed impossible, we tried our best to save room for dessert. The Shanghai Mud Pie is a social media sensation and we just had to see what all of the hubbub was about. This two-person dessert is made with espresso cream and drunken chocolate mousse, fudge sauce, milk caramel jam, and crispy chocolate pearls. And it's actually so big that it comes served with a steak knife for cutting. We loved the different layers of chocolate ice cream, making each bite an adventurous indulgence. It's not what I would expect at an Asian restaurant but it's also one of the most delicious desserts I've had. Definitely worth getting (even if you're dining by yourself).
Overall, I'd rule Taste Race: Seaport a complete success, although we didn't expect anything less from one of the most trendy neighborhoods in Boston. Sometimes this area doesn't feel like the rest of the city, with its modern, soaring skyscrapers and lack of cobblestone. However, the excellent chefs continue to draw a diverse crowd, reminding us of where we are every time someone asks for "watah."
Have you been to any of these restaurants? Let me know what your favorite dishes are in the comments below!