A $100 Weekend in Boston


Clockwise from top left: Simco’s hot dog stand, a trolley that runs to Mattapan, pizza and wine at Galleria Umberto, the Granary Burying Ground and the Institute of Contemporary Art.Credit Seth Kugel for The New York Times; Jodi Hilton for The New York Times (art institute)

Philadelphia might claim Benjamin Franklin as its own, but I can think of two ways he’s more closely tied to Boston. First, he grew up there. Second, I just spent a weekend in Boston for the value of the bill that bears his portrait.

For the latest in my series of $100 weekends, I darted from fancy food trucks to old-school pizza joints, took in a morning church service and an evening of neighborhood storytelling, held the Freedom Trail true to its first syllable and connected all the dots via the early-to-bed transit system known as the T. (There’s even an upside to that: in a city where the subway nods off shortly after midnight, entertainment budgets shrink accordingly.)


Starving after a late-afternoon bus ride from New York, I took the subway to Copley Square in search of one of Boston’s most popular food trucks, Mei Mei Street Kitchen. Fridays from 4 to 7:30 you’ll find the Chinese-American-themed truck on Clarendon Street near Boylston, almost in the shadow of the John Hancock Tower. I tried the Double Awesome ($7), a messy semi-sandwich of poached eggs, pesto and Vermont Cheddar wrapped in a scallion pancake; not bad, but a bit over the top for me. I’d rate it a Single Awesome.

After wandering the just-look-don’t-buy boutiques of Newbury Street, I hiked a mile over to the South End, home to Wally’s Café, a narrow, no-cover decades-old staple of the jazz scene that still packs in one of the more diverse crowds (by race and age) you’ll see at a Boston bar. A $5 beer (and $1 tip) buys you an evening of energetic jazz bands battling an equally energetic crowd. (Arrive before 9 and you’ll probably get a seat.)

At first glance, my final stop for the night would seem an unlikely one: Clio, a French restaurant where entrees start around $30. An adjacent space hosts Uni Sashimi bar, which, after 11 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, serves several varieties of “late night ramen” for $10. I ordered the luscious short-rib kimchi version, sipped water and chatted with the friendly crowd, whose bills were much higher than mine.

Friday total: $28.50


Just two subway stops under the harbor from downtown, East Boston is virtually ignored…

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