Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Food bits

The Starbucks on McClellan Highway, opposite Boardman Street, has been open for a couple weeks now, and the hours are 4:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays.

A place called Oran Cafe also opened recently at the corner of Bennington and Marion streets. I'm not sure what kind of place it is. Can anyone fill us in?

Meanwhile, La Hacienda -- at the site of the old Caffe Italia -- has been open for about a month. I've had espresso there and it's good. Anyone have thoughts on the food?

19 comments:

Matthew said...

I just had breakfast at Oran Cafe yesterday with some friends. They call themselves a cafe and pizzeria. They have good coffee (cappucino, machiatto, espresso, etc...). The breakfast (eggs, home fries, toast) was good and very cheap. A cup of melon balls on the side was also a nice touch. For lunch and dinner they have pizza, sandwiches, steak tips, and more. The dining area is roomy and comfortable. Go check it out!

Jenafah said...

I have been to La Hacienda - 4 times in the past 3 weeks! It's THAT good. (and for the record, I'm Italian)I have recommended it to several people and brought friends there. So far, everyone has been impressed.

The food has been excellent - their chips and salsa are very fresh, their guacamole is to die for, chicken wings cooked perfectly, and they make a great margarita. I have tried several dishes, but I really love the veggie burrito. A note on one item: the fried talapia - is an actual fried talapia.

Everyone is very nice and they really seem to appreciate the business. The prices are very fair. The layout works well... it is a more inviting environment, now that the kitchen is in the back.

I was orignally sad to see Cafe Italia go, although I usually frequented Mario's and Rinos' However, now I am actually pleased they left to make room for this fantastic addition to Eastie!

Megan said...

There is a Mexican restaurant in Winthrop, called "La Siesta"...the food is AMAZING!...the service is GREAT!...and the atmosphere is WONDERFUL! I have gone once a week for the past month or so, it's that good! It's on Woodside Ave, towards the center. Enjoy! :)

Jimbo said...

I am grateful for the comments and suggestions so far. Please keep them coming.

Anonymous said...

I went out to La Hacienda a couple weeks ago with some friends. The food was fantastic. I ordered the fajitas and they were some of the best I had ever had. They also appear to make their own tortillas, were were amazing.

Service was a little slow and we had to ask a couple times for drink refills, but I'll forgive that because they were likely still working out the kinks.

Knowing a little Spanish is helpful when placing your order.

Mary Berninger said...

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Anonymous,

With all due respect, please do not suggest that East Bostonians should know "a little Spanish" when visiting a new restaurant in our community.

Allow me to turn your own argument the other way: new restaurateurs should be compelled to know and to speak English in a sufficient manner to entice and to retain customers. That must be extended to ensuring that menus and signage are in English.

Let me phrase it in another way: it's interesting to me that I was able to enjoy immensely the former Cafe Italia and wasn't expected to appear at the door possessing a working knowledge of Italian. I expected and was rewarded with an outstanding dining experience regardless of my fluency in Italian. How is that for novel thinking?

Honestly, it's not novel. It is how many people feel who live in East Boston.

Jimbo said...

I have to weigh in against Mary here. The post prior to hers says that "knowing a little Spanish is helpful," which seems different to me than suggesting that "East Bostonians should know 'a little Spanish'" when visiting La Hacienda.

I also disagree that restaurant owners be "compelled" to know English. As with Italians, Germans and every other non-English speaking group of immigrants, the children of Latinos will learn English while most of their parents struggle with it. I don't see that as a reason to deprive them of a way to make a living.

Any business that prepares or sells food needs to meet all relevant health regulations, but I'm not in favor of forcing language laws on anyone.

Megan said...

If I were in Mexico on Vacation, then I would definitley take a dictionary along with me so that I can familiarize myself with the language...HOWEVER...if I were to LIVE in Mexico, then I would need to LEARN Spanish. This is the same for AMERICA, including East Boston. I should not have to know any language other than English in my country. When I go to "Margaritas" on McClellan Highway or "La Siesta" in Winthrop, there is never a moment where I feel as though I need to know any other language other than English. When we go to "Great Chef" on Bennington Street, do we need to know Chinese?...NO!

Anonymous said...

Jeez, relax about the language thing. If the food is good and knowing a little Spanish will make it better then so be it. Be happy you live in the best neighborhood in the city where we all speak many different languages and still manage to coexist peacefully.

John W. said...

I agree with that last one, lighten up. If you want to remain uni-lingual, go ahead. If you are morally outraged that staff in restaurants may have shaky English (and therefore your being able to communicate with them in their language would facilitate their understanding that you don't want sour cream on your nachos, for example) then don't frequent those restaurants.

The most holy and sacred marketplace should put those buggers right out of business for not being able to do what most Americans cannot seem to do -- learn another language.

Jenafah said...

Yikes, Mary - seems like you may have taken anons comment as something more political than it was intended to be.

For the record - their menu is in spanish and english... and their staff seems to be bilingual, or at least in the process. Good for them! If you want a fuller experience - try ordering in Spanish if you can. I actually find it more fun to immerse myself in the culture when I can... not matter what it is...

Well, unless it is ignorance.

James said...

I have been to Hacienda several times with my wife and frequently stop by for espresso. I think the food and coffee are both very good. I also love the mariachi on Friday nights. But perhaps the best thing is that they serve food until well after midnight! It is so hard to find a place anywhere in Boston that does this. I think La Chiva in Day Sq serves until 3AM as well. Lets get more restaurants that are open late and serve a full liquor selection!

Anonymous said...

Yikes is right, it seems like that person is overly defensive for some reason.

There are a few things I don't understand about the English only people.

1. I have travelled in a lot of other countries and have NEVER had someone tell me, "Learn Japanese, learn Nepalese, learn Spanish!" etc. In every case people went out of their way to try to help me, even to the point of trying to speak English. The one exception was France where a few times I felt that people were turning up their nose at me. Is that the reputation our country wants? Snobs like the French? Why aren't people interested in being a little more hospitable?

2. And why aren't people willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. Most of the people I know in this country who don't speak English as a first language are trying really hard to learn. They might be really busy trying to survive, or they might not have the $ for the English class, but if that is the case, they are really trying in other ways. I've tried to learn a few languages and it is REALLY HARD. Why are these "English only" people so critical and unsupportive of people who for the most part are trying to so something really hard?

3. There seems to be a real double standard when it comes to English only. I hear older gentlemen in East Boston speaking Italian on a regular basis. It seems like most people think it is quaint or cool in an old world kind of way. No one questions these old men's right to speak in their native tongue, but when it's Spanish, it's suddenly, "LEARN ENGLISH!!"

Doesn't seem fair to me...

James said...

Is Oran Cafe owned by Moroccan? It would be great to have some Arabic coffee in Eastie. I don't speak Arabic or Moroccan french though ;)

Jimbo said...

I was in Oran Cafe on Saturday and had an espresso. It was OK.

I'm not sure if the place is run by a Moroccan, as I didn't get a chance to speak with the owner, but it certainly appears to be Middle Eastern or North African (Moroccan, Libyan or Algerian) as there were two women with head scarves at a table and an Arabic news station on the TV.

Matthew said...

It is co-owned by an Algerian and an American. From what I can tell, the Algerian takes care of the coffee and the American does a lot of the cooking.

Anonymous said...

James are you crazy, you want more places like La Chiva.What type of city do you want?I think East Boston already has enough liquor licenses.I live on the same block as La Chiva believe me more places like it open late night will only cause more drunkdriving and violence.Does anyone remeber the Boston firefighter that was stabed earlier this year.

Dman Boston said...

Back to the language issue. I do think that even the "parents" and anyone else who lives in the US should do their best to learn English. I go to restaurants in Maverick Square quite often. The waitresses may not always speak English very well but they are polite and courteous. They always repeat the entire order after I'm finished. The menus are bilingual, too. But knowing what mole and chicharron is would be helpful to know!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to rain on the La Hacienda parade...I took friends there today based on the rave reviews from this site. Unfortunately, I thought it was below average. It seems that they are trying to do way too many things and it is all turning out mediocre. If you really want good Mexican, go to Angela's, if you really want good Colombian, go to El Paisa, La Reina has good El Salvadorean food, etc. If you want generic, "fast food" type fare, go to La Hacienda.

PS: Warning, their vegetarian burrito has hot dogs in it!