Moving from the West Coast to the East Coast is probably one of the scariest decisions anyone can ever make. There are so many struggles to deal with: the arctic blizzards, hurricane-like rain, but even more important, no In-N-Out (sad face). Being an LA native, I am used to 70°F weather and SO MUCH FOOD.
From American, to Italian, Mexican, and even Mexican-Asian fusion, whatever you are in the mood for, LA probably has it (and within a 15 minute drive too), so obviously we think #WestIsBest. Without my LA favorites, I have had to try some of Boston’s top picks. These are the thoughts on the popular East Coast foods from the taste buds of a West Coast girl. Some were a hit and others… a miss.
Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee
Before coming to the East Coast, I had never seen so many Dunkin’ Donuts in my entire life (it feels like there’s one on every corner). East Coasters have to understand that the West Coast is all about Starbucks. Seriously, getting a gold Starbucks card is something that everyone wants.
In LA, there is only one Dunkin’ and that one only opened a couple years ago, so basically before then, we didn’t even know it existed. My go-to drink would be a caramel macchiato with extra caramel drizzle from Starbucks, but now I have caught myself slowly starting to get used to an iced coffee with a French Vanilla flavor swirl.
2. Dunkin’ (Actual) Donuts
I just told you that Dunkin’s coffee was popular, but we can’t forget about their donuts. All West Coasters love Krispy Kreme donuts. Usually you can score a free hot, freshly made glazed donut, and you’re in heaven.
I get — Dunkin’ has lots of options, and their donuts are pretty good, but they’re never hot out of the fryer. But still, for some reason, East Coasters love them. I mean I don’t hate them, but they still cannot compare to Krispy Kreme Donuts.
Sushi is the most popular kind of seafood in LA, so seeing this, I was kind of thrown off. But since Boston is famous for it, I felt like I had to give it a try. Sorry to say but I’m still not a fan. I just don’t get it. Bread bowls are always enjoyable though.
From the top restaurants to the BU dining hall, I feel like I see clam chowder everywhere. I think that eventually I might grow to like it, only because it seems to be a Boston staple, but so far… not impressed.
Ever since the show “DC Cupcakes” became a part of TLC, I have wanted to try Georgetown Cupcakes. When I found out that there was a location right on Newbury, I knew that this would be my new favorite place. The regular chocolate and vanilla were pretty good, but the salted caramel was the best combination of sweet and salty I have ever tasted. You can’t live in the East Coast and not love these sweet treats.
Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills does still have the best standing Chai Latte cupcake though; that is not arguable.
Everyone always says that New York bagels are the best. I had the fortunate opportunity to try some of these godsend treats. On the West Coast, bagels are seen as an ordinary breakfast item that you just pop in the toaster and slap some cream cheese on, so they’re not anything special.
After visiting New York, I now know what the buzz is about. Whether it’s a plain bagel or a bagel breakfast sandwich, it will be a delicious experience no matter what. They are perfectly chewy and are perfect for a snack anytime you crave (because yes, you will crave them).
Now this is a toughest one. Everyone on the West Coast knows that In-N-Out is THE best burger place to be. Whether it is a family dinner, or a place to chill with friends after school, you can never go wrong. Their menu is consistent and perfection.
I will say that Shake Shack comes as a close second (although I don’t know about those long lines). The burgers are juicy and fresh, and their milkshakes are also quite impressive. The one thing that I will give them credit for is the fact they have managed to incorporate lobster into their burgers. That’s something In-N-Out can’t compete with (sorry angelinos).
Sunset Cantina (if you’re in Boston)
Living in Boston is especially hard for a West Coaster. You know what I’m talking about… no Mexican food. I guess technically unless you want to take a 30 minute Uber or get lost on the T, then the only “Mexican” food we have is either chipotle or Sunset Cantina.
Although it’s not the usual taco truck tacos, Sunset Cantina gives it a good try. If you want authentic Mexican, which all West Coaster wants, this place just won’t do it. Although I will say that their nachos are slowly becoming one of my favorites, even if they are a sad excuse for Mexican nachos.
Frank’s RedHot Sauce
If you’re going to a restaurant in the East Coast, don’t even think about asking for Tapatio. Yea, sad isn’t it? In LA, Tapatio Hot Sauce is an option everywhere; on the East Coast, not so much. Because of this, your new favorite has to be Frank’s RedHot Sauce by default.
I have lived in Boston for about a year now and I have never seen another hot sauce besides Frank’s. Maybe it’s because East Coasters don’t really like spicy foods? I have no idea, but this is something that all Californians can say they will miss. So you better get used to loving Frank’s if you want that extra kick in your food.
I had no idea what Sweetgreen was before I came to Boston. Back home, I had Tender Greens and I loved that place. Not only did they have a great Chinese chicken salad, but they also had the best grilled chicken sandwich.
The only option at Sweetgreen is salad. I know that lots of people are crazy about salads, but I would also like to have the option of a sandwich, or something that is not entirely plant based.
J.P. Licks and Emack & Bolio’s
If anyone on the East Coast likes ice cream, then they will definitely have tried J.P. Licks or Emack & Bolio’s. My personal favorite back home used to be Cold Stone Creamery. I was overwhelmed by the idea of creating your own flavor and tossing in whatever add-ins you wanted.
Walking into Emack & Bolio’s was a whole different kind of overwhelming. They had SO many different flavors (that were really creative) and all of the sugar cone creations were genius. Like a Fruity Pebbles marshmallow ice cream cone? Never seen that before, and now I want it all the time. I will say that these two have really impressed me. I may have found new possible favorites over Cold Stone (sorry not sorry).
Before moving to Boston, I had never heard of Cane’s before. But of course, being a BU student, there was no way I wouldn’t be eating Cane’s. To be honest, it was not all that impressive. Yea, it’s good when you are craving fried chicken, but I was more impressed with their secret sauce than with the actual food.
Other than that, it is just basic chicken tenders and crinkle cut fries, and honestly, I’m not a big fan of crinkle cut fries. Back home, my favorite fried chicken place is Chick-fil-A. Their fries are waffle fries so that immediately outranks Cane’s. Chick-fil-A doesn’t taste like all other fried chicken. The only thing in which Cane’s beats Chick-fil-A would be their secret sauce. Chick-fil-A does have their own sauce as well, but I definitely liked Cane’s better.
I have family in North Carolina, so of course, when I visited them, we all had a big breakfast at Waffle House. I went in with high expectations, but it was just like another version of IHOP to me. Their waffles were pretty tasty, but eggs and hash browns were nothing special. Even though their waffles were good, I wouldn’t go back for them. They were pretty similar to the waffles from Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles.
If you’re a West Coaster reading this, then you know Roscoe’s is where it’s at. If you’re an East Coaster, it’s safe to say you have most likely never had this combination (or at least not from this restaurant), but once you have tried it, it’s like you have uncovered another world. Not only do they have great waffles, but they also have some of the best mac and cheese I have tasted. Waffle House is good, but I challenge that Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles is better.
Boston Cream Pie
This is an obvious one. I hadn’t even lived in Boston a full month before I tried some authentic Boston Cream Pie. I was taking a “History of Boston” class and my professor kindly treated the class with some Boston Cream Pie. The closet I had ever come to BCP was a Yoplait yogurt that was BCP flavored (sad, right?).
That day in class, I definitely became a fan. Who doesn’t love chocolate and cake and sweet custard filling? I mean, unless you hate sweets, there’s no way you won’t like this. This definitely made the list of my favorite East Coast desserts.
Speaking of favorite desserts, here’s another one that made the list. If you’re looking for a good cannoli in LA, good luck. At least I had never tried one until coming to Boston. The West Coast’s idea of pastries is a chocolate croissant from Le Pain Quotidien. It was a whole different experience going to Mike’s Pastries and seeing the line out the door, waiting forever, and finding out you can only play with cash. The wait was definitely worth it though.
Cannolis are not for everyone but I loved them. They are the perfect combination of crispy with creamy and sweet. This is definitely one thing that I miss whenever I go back home to LA.