Neighborhood Kitchens

Neighborhood Kitchens Visits Bristol Lounge

By Margarita Martinez

July 19, 2012
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Margarita stops by the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in the Public Garden on her way to Bristol Lounge. (Patricia Alvarado/WGBH)

Listen to my conversation about Bristol Lounge with Morning Edition host Bob Seay on WGBH 89.7 FM

BOSTON — I felt as if summer had indeed arrived after I left the sunny Public Garden to head into the cool air of the Bristol Lounge. Chef José Gamez's recipes, such as golden tomato gazpacho and smoked sable fish tacos, were out of this world and incredibly fun to make. Gazpacho is a dish that I frequently prepare on particularly hot days in the summer, but I had never made it with golden tomatoes. The golden hue made an excellent canvas for my artistically drizzled tomato and cilantro oils. Thanks to Chef José, I got to do my best Jackson Pollock impression on chilled soup.


Chef José's passion for food and cooking is infectious. While we were in the kitchen he asked me, “Have you ever been to East Boston?” I said, “Yes, to visit friends, but I've never actually eaten there.” “Oh, Margarita! You are going to love it. Colombian, Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Peruvian; so many different foods to try!” Wait—I get to eat Chef José's delicious food from the Bristol  Lounge and receive a culinary tour of East Boston? Yes, please!

After we arrived at the Maverick T-stop in East Boston, Chef José took me to Montecristo, a Central American restaurant. What did not make the episode is that Chef José and I ordered a “small” picada to begin our meal. Montecristo's picada is a platter full of fried beef, chicharrón, chorizo, shrimp, and chicken served over a bed of french fries and tortilla chips. It was HUGE (five people could have shared it for dinner!)—and delicious.

José and I then moved on to Salvadoran pupusas, which are stuffed corn patties. I had one stuffed with pulled pork and cheese with a side of curtido, a vinegar-pickled cole slaw. The pupusa is similar to the Venezuelan arepa, which I made with Chef Carlos of Orinoco during a previous episode of Neighborhood Kitchens. Both the pupusa and the arepa are corn patties that can be stuffed with fillings, but they are not identical; I found the arepa to have a fluffier texture than the more dense pupusa.

Frio Rico
Enjoying a cool treat at Frio Rico in East Boston. (Patricia Alvarado/WGBH)
As if we had not eaten enough food, after leaving Montecristo, Chef José and I stopped at a Peruvian market called Frio Rico. There we enjoyed some (delicious!) shaved ice while we perused the shop's imported Peruvian ingredients. At the store we found aji amarillo, a pepper that is uniquely Peruvian but has found its way onto the menus of both Orinoco and the Bristol Lounge. This culinary and cultural diversity is what I find really special about East Boston; you can see and taste the food of many different Latin American countries just by traveling down a few blocks.

I love that Chef José not only draws inspiration from his Salvadoran roots, but also from all of the different foods available in his home neighborhood. He is even thinking about introducing a pupusa appetizer to the Bristol Lounge menu, but he is waiting until he can find a unique and personal way to prepare them. Chef José cooks so many different types of cuisine: Italian, American, Latin, Indian, and Middle Eastern dishes all leave his Bristol Lounge kitchen daily.

My tour of East Boston finished at Piers Park, a beautifully landscaped public space right on the harbor with incredible views of the Boston skyline. It was a lovely finish to a wonderful day that began in the Public Garden and was filled with wonderful food from the Bristol Lounge and an insider's guide to Eastie.

Watch Neighborhood Kitchens online to find out more about Bristol Lounge and East Boston.


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About Neighborhood Kitchens

Building on a 35-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.

Saturdays at 4pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44

About the Author
Margarita Martinez Margarita Martinez
Margarita Martinez grew up in the Bronx, NY and Ossining, NY with a Puerto Rican father and a Franco-American mother. She now calls New England home. Margarita has always had an insatiable appetite for travel and food. She made her first empanada as a teenager visiting Argentina, satisfied her sweet tooth with poffertjes and stroopwafels while studying in Holland, engorged herself on Thai street food for a month in Bangkok, and continues to search for authentic international cuisines in the Northeast. Margarita loves to discover new ingredients, flavors, and cooking approaches that she can bring to her own home kitchen.

On the Go

In each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!

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Find a Neigbhorhood Kitchen
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Margarita's Neighborhood Visits

»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Boston's South End: Orinoco, Teranga and Oishii
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Roxbury: Merengue
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»All Around Boston: Mei Mei Street Kitchens
»Cambridge: Muqueca, Oleana, and Sandrine's
Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer

»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le and Cafe Polonia
»Medford: Bistro 5
»Portland, ME: Emilitsa
»Newport, RI: Tallulah on Thames
»Pawtucket, RI: Rasoi


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