5 Authentic Ethnic Restaurants in Boston

Restaurant Reviews — By on August 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm

My parents probably never would have thought that the picky daughter who refused to eat anything but peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches for lunch would grow up to become a woman who loves the taste of fermented fish sauce in her papaya salad.  So fortunately for me and my evolved taste buds, Boston (my hometown) and its surrounding suburbs offer a variety of great ethnic restaurants to satisfy everyone’s desires.

1. The Helmand: I’m always up for new food-related adventures, so when a fellow foodie friend suggested we hit up this Afghani restaurant, I was all for it.  The Helmand did not fail to deliver.  The atmosphere of this restaurant with its warm colors, classy décor, and wafts of fresh, hot flatbread made us feel as if we had been transported to a whole new world of culinary opportunities- and indeed we had!  Dishes such as kaddo, made with sweet pumpkin, yogurt, tomato and ground beef combined flavors we never would have imagined would taste so good together.   Try the lamb lawand or, for all of you vegetarians, the banjan (pan-fried eggplant).

2. Kabab Corner: Tucked away in a little strip mall near a train station, Kabab Corner is a little diamond in the rough.  Though you may never expect it from the outside, Kabab Corner offers a cozy, candlelit dining room and warm service.  They make a mean rogan josh and superb pakoras that keep me coming back for more.   Eat in-house or order out, but don’t forget to check out the great lunch buffet for only $7.99!

3. Café Belo: Ask any Brazilian in Boston where they like to go for some great Brazilian barbeque and they’ll answer Café Belo in Everett.  Having experienced a huge influx of Brazilian immigrants, Everett has tons of little places to go for rodizio, but Café Belo would have to be the most well-known.   A meat-lovers paradise, the wait staff glides from table to table with a variety freshly cooked meats that they’ll slice off the skewer and right into your plate.  Head up to the buffet to grab some rice, collard greens, salad, and pao de queijo (cheese bread balls) …or if you’re really daring, some chicken hearts (surprisingly, they are actually very delicious!)

4. S&I To Go: Truly Thai, this tiny take-out place exemplifies the small family restaurants found lining the packed alleys of Thailand’s cities and towns.  With a few tables and chairs, friendly staff, and a menu in Thai script on the wall, this place serves everything from your classic pad thai to more interesting dishes such as ka phrao khai yiao ma mu sap (ground pork topped with gooey blackened eggs, peppers, onions and chilis).  Try the som tum (spicy papaya salad) with its mouthwateringly perfect sweet-to-salty ratio, and then move onto to my favorite entre, pad ga pow moo grob (crispy fried pork with chili sauce and thai basil).

5. FuLoon: When I walked into FuLoon and saw all of my Chinese students (I work at an international English language school) filling the tables of the restaurant, I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed.  Serving the best hot and sour soup I’ve ever tasted, FuLoon holds a special place in my heart.  Initially impartial to tofu, FuLoon has converted me into a die-hard mapo tofu fan.  I crave it at least every two weeks which means that my friends and I now visit so often that the staff can predict our order!   In addition to hot and sour soup and mapo tofu,  the crispy orange beef, and hsu liang chicken also sit at the top of our list.

Click here for ideas on where to eat in Boston’s Little Italy and North End.

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