5-Hour Itinerary is a series—based on the New York Times’ “36 Hours”—in which we serve as your guide to the ultimate Boston day-trip, stringing together thoughtfully chosen locations and activities into a one-of-a-kind itinerary.
Allston, or as you may know it, “that town with the liquor store that I pass on my way to Cambridge. Oh, and Wonder Bar (RIP)," deserves more credit than it gets. It was on those streets where Boston’s rock scene was born. It is now home to immigrant communities, students from all the schools, and some of the best food in the Boston area. If you’re looking for a late night out, Allston has you more than covered. It’s a different, but altogether exciting place, one worthy of more than a drive-by.
1. Have an epiphany at OliToki.
Nothing is more symbolic of Allston’s international scene than OliToki. It’s a small place, and it doesn’t look like much. The menu spurs some cognitive dissonance; surely bulgogi and burrito do not belong in the same sentence or even the same neighborhood. But OliToki takes your judgment and says, “try it and see.” And doing so for the first time was an enlightenment. There’s no way it should work, no way it could work. Kimchi in a quesadilla? Get out of here. But this collision of cultures led my taste buds to a sensation I can only describe as "wow." On a macro scale, OliToki proves that being in a melting pot has its benefits. And boy do those benefits taste good.
2. See a band at Brighton Music Hall.
But I’m warning you, this ain't no TD Garden. This place is so intimate it makes the House of Blues feel like the Coliseum. And if you’ve never been to a concert in a venue this small, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Brighton Music Hall hosts both smaller touring bands (catch me there at Polo & Pan in December) as well as local bands. The music is always good, the people are always fun, and if you get bored, don’t worry: there’s a pool table in the back. The best part? Stepping outside into the cold air.
3. Slurp some noods at Totto Ramen.
See, as much as I love OliToki, their portions don’t provide enough sustenance to carry me through the massive calorie-burn that comes with a concert at the BMH. That’s why my favorite thing to do after a concert is head to Totto Ramen right before it closes and fuel my body and soul with some quality ramen. Both the bar and the table seating offer spectacular ambience, as well as some of the best noodles on this coast.
4. Feel the grunge at Great Scott.
In the late 60s and early 70s, Allston was the place for rock in Boston. That’s why they have 3 notable venues. Two of these, the aforementioned Brighton Music Hall and the Paradise Rock Club, have evolved into more of a general concert venue, but Great Scott remains faithful to its roots. Hosting local rock bands in an even smaller space, this quaint spot is the place to warm up on a cold night. Whether you’re here to dance, drink, or just hang out with your friends, Great Scott is like nowhere else in Boston.
5. Make dessert your first meal of the day at Twin Donuts.
Disclaimer: this one is for the real, no-nonsense night owls and morning larks. You see, Twin Donuts—instantly recognizable with its vintage signage—opens at 4 a.m. Their donuts are prepared fresh and in-house, but to truly get the Twin Donuts experience, you have to go there on the tail end of a long night, or the beginning of a long day. Either way, Twin Donuts is there for you when no Starbucks, Dunkin’, or Chocolate Bar is. And the donuts are great too.