So Long “No Name”. A look at Boston’s Vintage Restaurants

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This week, No Name, has shuttered, ending a more than 100 year-old run as one of Boston’s classic, old-timey seafood restaurants .

My first visit to No Name was as a college freshmen at Northeastern- a dormitory floor outing to get to know the city.  Boston was a mystery to me and I had never eaten on the waterfront. We were easily a group of 20 girls (same-sex dorm floors were the norm in the 80’s) and the long wood table bore the scars of decades of use as we ate platters heaped with freshly fried cod, shrimp and full-belly clams.

Today’s college kids are much more sophisticated eaters. These days, I suspect that Resident Assistants take their charges to more happening places like the South End’s   Myers and Chang  for Asian-inspired street food or Fenway’s Sweet Cheeks for barbecue (and fab sides).

Truthfully, it has been a while since I ate at No Name’s. The last time I visited was in 2014 to interview the manager for my book Discovering Vintage Boston  .  “The Seaport used to be a like a small city down here. They used to have thousands of people working the docks. They had their own power plant, an ice house, banks, bars and churches.”

I loved writing Vintage Boston the book was all about the classic places that define the city – the old and historic  restaurants, shops and bars that brought you back in time.  They were the places of my youth. And the book’s cover is still my favorite of all my titles.

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The book launch of “Vintage Boston” at Doyle’s

I had my first-ever book launch for Vintage Boston at Doyle’s– and sadly, it too closed this year. Restaurants come and restaurants go, but some keep their place in Bostonian’s hearts. Place after place that I featured in Vintage Boston have closed in recent years: Durgin Park,  Cafe Algiers,  Jacob Wirth, Rubin’s. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to tell their stories.

Boston’s dining landscape  is constantly changing.  The Seaport is overrun with new restaurants and is the “it” place of the moment,  but there is amazing food available in every neighborhood of the city.  And while sometimes restaurants close because of the forces of redevelopment and changing tastes, usually restaurants go dark simply because not enough people visit. Boston still has quite a few restaurants that are  living landmarks: The Union Oyster House, Sullivan’s Castle Island, Regina Pizzeria in the North End. Let’s visit them before they are gone too.

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