When I travel I also like to stick to the local element why go far away just to get something you can get at home? Even this time on our trip we rented and apartment in maybe one of the best local neighbourhoods I have ever seen in the US/Canada Boston's North End. The North End is crammed packed with restaurants and small shops. Even walking through this neighbourhood at 10 at night on a Tuesday the streets are full of people and almost all the business are independent locals. The whole drive down there are other locals that were worth a stop as well. Though I do admit I spent a couple hours at the outlets.
The Lost Kitchen - Belfast ME
Fantastic restaurant - high end good quality food at a decent price, reservations are ideal as it was a popular spot on a Friday night but luckily we just sat at the bar, where the free bar nibbles were hard boiled quail eggs, and we got to watch the Bartender make his even concoction on Tanqueray , lime, cucumber. We had lots of different appetizers, from, squash blossoms stuffed with lobster, lamb sliders, creamed cucumber soup and calamari.
The Clam Shack - Kennebunk ME (right on the others side of the bridge from Kennebunkport)
The Clam Shack has been recently receiving attention as the best lobster sandwich in the world, and it is indeed a good lobster sandwich, a pound of lobster in butter on a toasted roll. The thing is I think TV fame may be getting to them the town was packed and although the sandwich was good it was not as good as it was 2 years ago when I tried it. (two years ago it was a weekday in June, this time a weekend in July and the lines were looooong)
A localized Boston chain of affordable Mexican goodness there are 7 types of protein available and the most expensive item a super burrito is only $5.35, I usually opt for the tacos one taco is usually 2 it's served with 2 soft shells and all the stuff that falls out of the first one when you are easting it falls onto the the second shell and voila 2 tacos for the price of one
Regina Pizzeria (Re-geena)
Now here is the thing about Regina only go to the North End one @ 13 1/2 Thatcher that is were the best pizza I have ever eaten is, they have other locations but they are not the same, still good but not great. Also in the North End expect to wait up to an hour for a table there is often lineups to get in. It's worth the wait though and the service is very rough around the edges and that is what makes it great.
Newbury Comics isn't exactly independent anymore as there are 30 locations around New England but this gem has more than just comics, it is your destination for novelty toys, punk wear, Cd's, Dvd, Rock tshirts and posters and other bits of pop culture. They are strong promoters of the local music scene and even Aimee Mann once worked there. The store to go to of course is the original on Newbury St.
Like most Boston North End must sees they have a second location but again I am focused on the North End one, Giacomo's is Italian perfection, seafood, homemade pastas, homemade sauce and $5 wine. The line ups here as well can take 60+ min. So worth the wait! We adopted someone into part that was traveling alone from Austin TX and our bill for 6 including drinks $150! With dishes of Lobster Ravioli, Chicken Parmigiana, Clams and Mussel linguine with a lobster sauce.
Squid, who doesn't love squid! Calamari is the dish of choice and the ink is saved for making the pasta the menu is simple but this small 20 seat restaurant that you are basically sitting in the kitchen is a delight. Lineups again are common
A small grocer with all the needs of a true Italian, bread, antipasto, pasta and cold cuts. The prosciutto and cappcolla are excellent and frankly I could happily shop there everyday.
Modern pastry or Mike's Pastry
You can't leave the North End with out having a cannoli and again these 2 oft lined up for pastry shops are the way to go. I am fan of Modern while my family prefers Mike's, both make make delicious treats. As I heard one man describe at Mike's "we can go to either but Mike's has more cache"
Now this one doesn't show up as much in the travel guides but this little Hannover St. hangout is not to be missed this is the spot the locals go to hang out the old fellas go here in the day to shoot the breeze and just sitting in here you here the greatest arguments in true excitable Italian American fashion, and ladies don't be alarmed if you get a kiss on the cheek as your leving after having a fantastic espresso or cappuccino.
The thing to remember the best thing about being at home is the local goodness, look for the same when you are away.