4651 Mission Boulevard, San Diego
The fact that the Boston Red Sox won the World Series has almost zero bearing on San Diego’s restaurant scene.
So many New England sports fans live in San Diego — particularly in Pacific Beach — that they get their own restaurant. Bite of Boston, which has three locations in and around town, serves self-proclaimed New England food. Not inaccurately, that means clam chowder, lobster rolls, subs, and fried seafood. The PB branch has a big chunk of prime Mission Boulevard real estate, which they’ve decorated with New England sports memorabilia.
The most iconic dishes on the menu would be the lobster rolls, and maybe the chowder. Capitalizing on sports success, the restaurant runs a “World Series” lobster roll special: $15.95 for a sandwich, soda, and a bowl of clam chowder. As lobster rolls go, BoB’s is pretty good; definitely the restaurant’s strong suit in terms of New England-y snacks. That’s a grip of loot for a few ounces of lobster meat, lightly dressed and piled on a toasted hotdog bun, but the superiority of clawed lobster over almost all other foods carries the sandwich. The chowder remains credible, mostly because the restaurant resists the Californian urge to adulterate what should be an austere preparation. Loaded with oyster crackers, it’s milky, briny, and not much else besides. Chowder doesn’t keep well over heat, and Bite of Boston’s was on its way to the sad point where the soup breaks down from prolonged cooking.
They may get less public recognition, but fried soft-shell clams are much more of a regular food along coastal New England than the lobster roll, since the latter is comparatively expensive. BoB puts the parenthetical “(with bellies)” on the menu to indicate that their clams ($16.95) are fried whole, with the bivalves’ stomachs still attached. Some people quail at the idea of eating half-digested clam food, which is ostensibly filtered muck, but the earthy oceanic flavor can be tremendous, and it’s not much grosser than eating, say, a truffle. Get over yourselves already! Unfortunately, shipping a clam across the country takes its toll and the withered mollusks at BoB aren’t as plump and juicy as they should be. Still, they’re breaded and fried properly, and the basic flavor is there. Served with a huge portion of fries, tartar sauce, and some vinegary cole slaw, they do the trick.
If anything, that’s the takeaway for Bite of Boston: it’ll do. It has its gimmick on lock, but is that enough to stake a claim to anyone’s heart? Most signs point to “no.”