Eugene Mirman has a couple of strategies for finding places to eat on tour. First, the comedian (whose voice you may also recognize as Gene Belcher on Bob's Burgers) will ask his friends for suggestions. Then he goes straight for the Internet.
"I'll tweet, 'What's a good restaurant in . . . Milwaukee or Minneapolis?' or whatever. And I find that basically the top four restaurants are the ones that pop up a bunch."
Luckily, Mirman has no problems finding places to eat in Boston, having grown up in its vicinity and for the past three years, throwing the popular Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival in the area. This weekend's installment features comedians including Wyatt Cenac, Rachel Dratch, Jon Glaser and Bob's Burgers co-star Jon Benjamin. But first, Mirman spoke to us about where to find swordfish pastrami in Boston, the most explosive thing he's infused into vodka and the link between Chinese food and comedy.
Bagel sandwich at Bagelsaurus | Photo: Mimi Palmore
Breakfast/Brunch: Winsor Dim Sum Café or Bagelsaurus
"I was going to say Craigie on Main, but it looks like it's not serving brunch anymore. (But it still serves a roasted pig's face.) Otherwise, I like dim sum for brunch, and I try to go to the Winsor Dim Sum Café in Chinatown whenever I'm in town. It's casual, there are no carts and you just order off a menu. For a more traditional breakfast, I like Bagelsaurus in Cambridge, where the bagels are handmade."
Lunch: Coppa or Toro
"Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer have two restaurants together. Coppa is an enoteca in the Back Bay and is the baby sister of the tapas restaurant, Toro. It's informal and has an amazing lunch, with a lot of charcuterie, pastas, and pizzas and things. The Bone Marrow pizza, a white pie with smoked bone marrow, roasted beef heart and fresh horseradish, is so good. Toro is a little nicer for lunch, which might be easier to get into than dinner. (There's also one in New York, but this one's the original.)"
Casual Lunch: Sichuan Gourmet
"Sichuan Gourmet is a Chinese restaurant in Brookline and is one of my favorite places in the Boston area. It's like a restaurant from 1986, when you could just go inside and eat food without any fanfare—very unassuming, but it's definitely some of the best Chinese food I've had in Boston and New York. It's also great for groups. The hand-pulled lamb noodles and nicely charred Chengdu street barbecue (the chef, Lijun Liu, is from Chengdu) are both great."
Dinner: Puritan & Company
"Puritan & Company in Inman Square is named after the cake company that used to be in the space. It's modern American, and the kitchen does seasonal, locally sourced things, so the menu always changes. I love the swordfish pastrami, which is served with pumpernickel purée, mustard and pickles. They also have very good cocktails that incorporate fresh ingredients. The atmosphere is pleasant—it's not too crowded, but it's very often booked."
Swordfish pastrami at Puritan and Co. | Photo: Courtesy of Puritan & Company
Bar: The Cellar
"The Cellar is a good, casual bar in Central Square. I used to go there after doing shows at The Comedy Studio, which is on the third floor of a Chinese restaurant and is where I largely started doing comedy. Sometimes I'll go back and meet up with comics there. Chinese restaurants and comedy clubs have weirdly gone together for quite some time. When I was in college, there was a place that I used to perform at in Hadley, Massachusetts, that was a Chinese restaurant comedy club. Steven Wright got discovered in a Boston Chinese restaurant called the Ding Ho. It's very famous now but out of business. I think someone lost it in a poker game."
Cocktails: Highland Kitchen
"Highland Kitchen is a block from where I used to live in Somerville, except when I was in Somerville, there was nothing as nice as Highland Kitchen. It has quite a few good cocktails, like the Mark and Stormy, which I think is just a Dark and Stormy with Maker's Mark, but the ginger beer is infused with Scotch bonnet. I like Scotch, but I generally do not like whiskey cocktails. I gravitate toward something that's refreshing. I'm really sophisticated! At home, I actually like to infuse vodka, as anyone of Russian descent might. I once made a Gorgonzola vodka. It tasted like Gorgonzola, was amazing, and then for no reason—or maybe for some reason I don't understand involving science—at some point, when I was holding the bottle, it exploded."
Dessert: Gracie's Ice Cream
"A friend of mine who I've known since college, Ben Dryer, had a spot for a while in Union Square called Sherman Café. That closed, and now he's opened up Gracie's, which serves excellent ice cream in creative flavors like Fruity Pebbles and chocolate Fluff. I like the salty whiskey. [Fun fact: Fluff was invented in Somerville.]"
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