The Dish: 5 things to eat and drink in Boston right now

Including Japanese curry empanadas, shrimp chips, and rooftop drinks.

Pale Blue Owl at Blue Owl
Pale Blue Owl at Blue Owl. Erin Kuschner

Wondering what to eat and drink in Boston this weekend? The Dish is a weekly guide to five things in the local restaurant and bar scene that are on my radar right now. Shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] to let me know what other dishes and drinks I should check out.

1. Head to Café Phinista for shrimp chips and adobo

I’ve been to Café Phinista, a Vietnamese coffee shop in the Fenway, a handful of times, but never for Filipino food. That’s because Phinista usually doesn’t offer Filipino food — they serve bánh mìs and crêpes and the most delicious Vietnamese egg coffee. But on Saturday, the coffee house will host Kuya’s Cooking, a Filipino-American pop-up by Aldrin Agas. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., stop by for shrimp chips served with garlic-chile vinegar; pork belly, chicken, and tofu adobo; and lumpiang sariwa — lumpia with chicken or tofu and roasted root veggies, bean sprouts, and more. A portion of sales will be donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank.

2. Spice up your lattes with saffron sugar from Curio Spice

I’m heading back to Curio Spice this weekend to stock up on my chai supply, but also to pick up a jar of this limited-edition sugar. The Cambridge spice shop just released this saffron sugar made with Afghan saffron threads from Rumi Spice, which ethically sources spices from farmers in Afghanistan. Curio’s blend can be added to teas, coffees, fruit, or pastries, and 100 percent of the proceeds from sales will be donated to Women for Afghan Women, an organization working to protecting the rights of Afghan women and girls. Looking for more ways to support the Afghan community in the Boston area? Consider dining at Ariana Restaurant or Helmand Restaurant, whose owners I chatted with earlier this week.

3. Get some rooftop patio time in, cocktail in hand

La Primera Palabra and shrimp at Blue Owl
La Primera Palabra and shrimp at Blue Owl. – Erin Kuschner

If you’re not going anywhere for Labor Day Weekend but are still looking for vacation vibes, I highly recommend heading over to Blue Owl in Cambridge’s Central Square, a new rooftop bar that debuted earlier this week. I popped in on Thursday night and found plenty of comfortable seating and stellar views, plus the drinks and food — street food snacks with an international spin — are excellent. La Primera Palabra is a savory mezcal-based drink with a hint of cilantro, and one that paired really well with my order of shrimp tika — skewered shrimp with a bright cilantro chutney. With summer on its way out, don’t we all need as much patio time as possible?

4. Order your next cup of coffee at Bitty & Beau’s

This national chain just opened its first Massachusetts location in Melrose, but it isn’t just another Peet’s Coffee or Intelligentsia that’s come to challenge Dunkin’. Amy Wright and her family first opened Bitty & Beau’s in North Carolina in 2016. The company, which now has seven locations, was named after their two children with Down Syndrome, and employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Stop by between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily for a cup of coffee and a pastry.

5. Eat Japanese curry empanadas and sip on sake at a Brighton block party

The Speedway, a new-ish marketplace that opened in Brighton in early July, is still waiting on the majority of its vendors to make their debut; so far, only Notch Brewing has opened. But on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., you’ll be able to get a sneak peek of some of the upcoming vendors at the Speedway’s End of Summer Block Party, complete with games, music, beer, giveaways, and even an early morning yoga session. The Koji Club, a soon-to-open sake bar, will be pouring — you guessed it — sake, while upcoming market Super Bien will be selling Japanese curry empanadas. Pop by for some more tasty treats for a fitting send-off to summer.


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