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Reviews

Shed's: Bringing the taste of Texas to Boston

Amanda DeJesus

Words and Photos by Amanda DeJesus

Boston is a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to barbeque. We are known for shellfish, Italian food, and baked beans. Our Northern “realist” attitude is almost the polar opposite of Southern hospitality. The number of successful, reliable barbeque joints here can usually be counted on one hand (Sweet Cheeks and the Smoke Shop, anyone?) But none of this means that good-old Texas barbeque can’t thrive here.

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This is where Shed’s comes into the picture: Siblings Shawn (SH) and Edward (ED) Wilson were born and raised in Texas--barbeque was part of their upbringing. They broke into the Boston restaurant scene in 1999 with Viga, an Italian eatery and caterer that now has three downtown locations. Shed’s opened at Downtown Crossing last March, inspired by the sibling's Mammie’s love for “good company and great bbq.” The Wilson heritage is tangible throughout the restaurant: they use old family recipes and feature menu staples, such as Sammy’s Sandwiches and Lucille’s Bowls, named after Edward’s children.

 First things first: what style of meal do you want?

First things first: what style of meal do you want?

Perhaps the best strategy implemented at Shed’s is adapting to the local market. When one thinks of barbeque, the image of giant meat platters and heavy sides comes to mind--not ideal for a quick workday meal. Shed’s prime downtown location brings in crowds of business people at lunch, but they generally don’t come for the giant platters of ribs. The menu does a brilliant job of converting the taste of Texas barbeque into customizable formats. Lucille’s Bowls, for example, begin with a hot (mac and cheese or quinoa) or cold base (two different blends of leafy greens). Guests then choose a protein, three toppings, a cheese, and a dressing. The varieties are endless here: go healthy with kale, smoked turkey, and edamame or be indulgent with mac and cheese, brisket, and bacon. In order to appeal to more than just carnivores, Shed’s can also accommodate most dietary restrictions.

I went to Shed’s with my Advanced Marketing class (two teams are working with them on a semester-long project) and was greeted by a team of smiling, inquisitive workers. As soon as you walk in the door, you are in Texas. The space resembles a rustic barn (or a shed!) decorated with the Texas flag and tin roof paneling.

 Do-it-yourself Frito Pie bar

Do-it-yourself Frito Pie bar

You begin your order at the counter by choosing the format of your meal. I was immediately overwhelmed by choices, but decided on a plate with one meat and two sides. Next, you choose the kind of meat from six mouth-watering options: brisket (sliced or chopped), pulled pork, smoked turkey, pulled chicken, and Texas hot links. Sensing my indecision, the man helping me told me that the most popular choices are the brisket and the pulled pork, which was his personal favorite. Knowing that Texas bbq is focused on beef, I chose chopped brisket.

 Shed's incredible ribs

Shed's incredible ribs

The plethora of sides didn’t make my life easier--not only was there mac and cheese, there were fried mac and cheese balls, fried pickles, collard greens, roasted corn, two kinds of coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad, and more! I resisted the urge to stuff myself with cheesy pasta (my lactose-intolerant self would not last long) and got collard greens and roasted veggies.

 Some of the side dish options: baked beans, collard greens, roasted veggies, mac and cheese, and fried pickles

Some of the side dish options: baked beans, collard greens, roasted veggies, mac and cheese, and fried pickles

I slowly slid my tray (a quarter sheet pan) down the counter past the dessert displays, which included rum cake and what appeared to be s’mores rice krispy treats. At the register, I grabbed a piece of still-warn cornbread (Shawn and Edward’s grandmother’s recipe) and a ramekin of honey butter. The condiment station, located between the cash register and the dining room, features several different types of homemade barbeque sauce.

 Shed's cornbread, made from Shawn and Edward's grandmother's recipe!

Shed's cornbread, made from Shawn and Edward's grandmother's recipe!

The brisket was tender and smoky, the collard greens were indulgent without being over-the top, and the veggies were garlicky and sweet. The cornbread was phenomenal, especially with the room-temperature honey butter slathered on top. While I ate, I glanced around at what my classmates ordered, already making mental notes for my next visit (pulled pork and ribs!)

 My plate: chopped brisket, roasted veggies, and collard greens

My plate: chopped brisket, roasted veggies, and collard greens

The concept of barbeque is a simple one, yet Shawn and Edward have managed to adapt the old fashioned values for modern, urban lifestyles. Gone are the days of post-bbq siestas… we have to eat quickly and get back to work, but the restriction doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the same flavors and hospitality.

Shed's BBQ

32 Bromfield St., Boston, MA

(617) 542-7433

Stephanie's on Newbury

Bri Garrett

Words and Photos by Rachel Rex 

Everyone loves a good brunch. Whether you want pancakes stacked high or greasy eggs and bacon, there’s plenty of great places in Boston that are friendly to a college student’s wallet. But when Fred, TasteBUds’ former editor-in-chief, came back to Boston for a visit, we knew we had to pick somewhere a little fancier to celebrate his return to Beantown.

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College Meal Hero: Sabor do Brasil

Ally Bryant

Words by Yanir Regev

Walking through the hidden treasure chest that is Allston, there are so many culinary gems to go through. It is easy to miss so many great restaurants, as people constantly flock to Tavern in the Square and Shabu-Zen, and so many amazing places are overlooked. Sabor do Brasil is a personal favorite of mine that I think is so under-appreciated. I almost want to keep it to myself just so I can keep enjoying it. Unfortunately, I feel too guilty not sharing something as great as this place, so buckle up ladies and gents.

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Food Market in Arles, France

Bri Garrett

Words and Photos by Marissa Wu

The sky promised rain as we wove our way through the pressing crowds, past stalls overflowing with spices and meats and pastries. The air tickled our noses with the strong odor of the charcuterie -- all the cured meats and sausages. Ripe produce was abundant, as well as fun specialties like tapenades, whole roasted pigs, pain au chocolat. It was a feat for the eyes. There was a particularly vibrant vine of tomatoes that gave the dreary atmosphere a cheerful kick. After taking a tour and stopping often, I finally settled on Provençal potatoes. My companions preferred to eat and walk, buying goodies that struck their fancy as we ventured about.

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Food Truck Food Crawl

Tiffany Yang-Tran

Words by Emilie Nielsen, Photos by Alice Pinho

Are Food Trucks only for fast food on the go, or is it possible to combine a meal that can compete with the experience of dining at a restaurant?

We tried two Food Trucks, one savory and one sweet, and compared it with your average restaurant dinner experience. To help you decide between dining on the streets or inside a restaurant, we rated our experiences from 1 (worst) - 10 (best) based on taste, looks, and the best bang for your buck.

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Dine Out Boston: Menton

Fred Chang

Words and Photos by Fred Chang

Restaurant Week or "Dine Out Boston" is always a great chance to eat at fun places at a cheaper price. With this being my senior year, and my last confirmed "Dine Out Boston", I figured, why not splurge and go to Menton? For those of you who do not know what or where Menton is, Menton is Boston's only Triple A 5-Diamond, Forbes 5-Star, and Relais & Chateau-recognized restaurant; Menton holds the distinction of being America's only Relais & Chateau affiliate. Serving refined takes on Italian, French, and American cuisine, Menton is the crown jewel of renowned chef, Barbara Lynch's restaurant group, B&G Gruppo, and was formerly headed by Top Chef Seattle winner, Kristen Kish. The restaurant itself is rather far from BU's campus, being located in the Fort Point neighborhood, around a 15-20 minute walk from the South Station T stop. However, the experience and food is a must during anybody's time here in Boston.

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Pho Countryside: Classic Vietnamese Food Right in Kenmore

Rachel Rex

Words by Rebecca Lee, Photos by Samudera Phoa

Terriers in East Campus, rejoice! A new Vietnamese restaurant specializing in pho and other Vietnamese dishes opened in Kenmore Square this past December. Branching out from its original location in Quincy, Pho Countryside serves a wide range of Vietnamese dishes including spring rolls, pho, vermicelli, and rice plates, just to name some.

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George Howell Coffee: A New Respect for Your Morning Cup of Joe

Fred Chang

 

Words and Photos by Jill McKeon

On a Sunday morning at George Howell Coffee, the lively buzz serves as a warm welcome to Howell’s cozy cafe. Tucked into the lobby of a hotel in Downtown Crossing, the cafe offers a nice place to sit and drink your morning coffee. Howell’s respect for coffee is conveyed through the roaster’s direct trade policy, which ensures a fair and healthy financial relationship between the roaster and the coffee farmers. Many coffees offered on the menu are single-origin roasts, meaning they originate from one specific farm.

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Dine Out Boston: Blue Dragon

Fred Chang

Photos by Jocelyn "Jiayin" Fu, words by Fred Chang

Every month since spring semester junior year, my friend Jocelyn, and I do this thing we call “The Monthly Bitch Out.” This is when we go to a nice restaurant that is far, far away from campus, and just rant to each other about whatever it is that grinds our gears, over good food, and sometimes, good wine or drinks. It is one of the most therapeutic things I can ever partake in, because it just relieves me of all of my stress. For the month of March, we decided to go to Blue Dragon for Dine Out Boston. Blue Dragon is an Asian-fusion "small plates" type restaurant over by South Station, owned by renowned Asian chef, Ming Tsai. We chose Blue Dragon over his flagship Blue Ginger, mostly because Blue Ginger is all the way in Wellesley, and neither of us have ever been to a Ming Tsai restaurant before.

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Tacos y Tequila: A Must-Visit in Mexico

Rachel Rex

Photos and Words by Josie Ouellette

Going to Mexico, I expected tacos and margaritas galore. Luckily, that is exactly what I got. Although I stayed at an all-inclusive resort, meaning I had unlimited drinks (by drinks I mean alcohol) and food, I still wanted to venture out to get a real taste of Mexican cuisine. My friend Adrienne and I ended up going to Mexico at the same time as another friend of ours. We decided to meet up for drinks and tacos, and so we wound up at a place called Tacos y Tequila.

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Ganko Ittetsu Ramen

Fred Chang

Photos and words by Amanda DeJesus

More and more ramen shops are finding a home in the Boston area, and one of the best is Ganko Ittetsu. This restaurant is the definition of a hole-in-the-wall: it’s located in Coolidge Corner’s Arcade building and seats twenty-five at most. The sign out front only has Japanese characters, so you really have to know where you’re going. But trust me, this is worth the effort.

 

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Going to Town: Review of Townsman

Amanda Barone

Often, when we are trying a new restaurant in Boston, we look for something foreign and exotic. But Townsman, located downtown just outside of the theatre district, has taken a step back and looked at traditional New England cuisine. They celebrate the Northeastern United States with thoughtful seasonal menus, locally sourced ingredients, and dishes that will recall your childhood.

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Koy Boston

Fred Chang

Photos and Words by Fred Chang

Koy Boston is a Korean-fusion restaurant located just off of Quincy Market in the Faneuil Hall area. It is owned by BU School of Hospitality Administration alumni, Caterina Chang, and her father, who is dubbed "Master Chang." Being able to sit down with a fellow Chang in hospitality, specifically the Food & Beverage industry, and talk to her about her experiences and passion for food, it was a very enlightening experience. The concept for Koy, specifically during dinner, is to be a cozy, artistic atmosphere where you can enjoy a fun dinner with your friends, like how I did, or with a loved one on a special date.

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Boston Cream Pie at the Omni Parker House

Amanda Barone

I am seated in the oldest-running hotel in the country and it’s dark wood is encasing me from the cold, Boston air. The old-time yellow lamps illuminating the room, and booths and big chairs give it a very “homey” feel. The waiter sets the menu in-front of me and I don’t open the it because I know exactly what I am getting, the Boston Cream Pie. The pie was invented inside the hotel itself by Armenian-French chef, M. Sanzian in 1856, and is a rendition of the early American, “Pudding-Cake Pie.”

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PAGU

Katie Fieldhouse

Chef Tracy Chang’s new restaurant, PAGU, located in Cambridge’s Central Square, promises “food, community, and collaboration.” By mixing together Spanish and Japanese cuisine to create an awesome, eclectic menu, it delivers on that promise.

We arrived at PAGU for dinner on a windy Thursday evening. The dining room was dimly lit and buzzing with chatter from its patrons who were enjoying an array of food and expertly crafted cocktails from the bar. The interior is composed of dark woods and black seats to counteract the light walls. Shining brightly through the sleek ambiance stands the open kitchen. Seated at the cherry wood chef’s counter that wraps around the kitchen, we had a front row seat to the action. Throughout our meal, we sat mesmerized as chefs grilled, sauteed, and masterly used chopsticks (to our amazement, as Amanda has yet to master the use of this utensil) to compose beautiful dishes. To our surprise and extreme pleasure, we got to see the mastermind behind PAGU, Chef Chang, at work alongside her team- expediting the dishes emerging from the kitchen.

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Blackbird Doughnuts: Worth the Hype

Fred Chang

Photos and Words by Jill McKeon

The artisanal doughnut trend has been sweeping the nation over the past few years as many culinary pioneers are reinventing an American classic with modern twists. At Blackbird Doughnuts in Boston’s South End, doughnut flavors like the ‘everything bagel’ and the ‘blackberry currant’ are drawing locals and tourists alike to the cozy shop on Tremont Street.

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Olitoki

Fred Chang

Photos by Adrienne Sheh, Words by Josie Ouellette

My mom always told me to never judge a book by its cover. Just because it may look rough does not mean that what is inside won’t be one of the best things you’ve ever read. Hole-in-the-wall restaurants easily apply to this reference.

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