Sometimes the best dishes aren't actually on menus. They're legacy items that a chef will whip up for favored regulars, late-night peculiarities that are too wacky for non-nocturnal consumption, or just special items held back for in-the-know diners. We've picked 13 tempting dishes that range from the high-brow (head cheese at Deuxave) to the downright trashy (chicken waffle nuggets at M3). Ask, and you shall receive.
The Notorious B.I.G. Burger
Where to Get It: The Gallows This city of protein lurks on the Gallows' secret menu. The Gallows's Seth Yaffe is a Biggie fan, and as such, he created a burger for his idol: Behold two patties crowned with American cheese and a fried egg, perched atop a puddle of poutine. Consider it a drunken challenge.
Where to Get It: Craigie on Main Chef Tony Maws loves to play fast and loose with pork. One of his most popular porcine pleasures is pied de cochon farci, or whole stuffed pig's foot for two. The ideal romantic meal! Request it when you make your reservation.
Pizza with a Fried Egg
Where to Get It:Coppa If you're eating at Coppa, chances are you're already feeling pretty indulgent. For a truly over-the-top experience, ask for a fried egg atop your pizza. They'll happily oblige. Another off-menu topping that gets rave reviews: fried shishito peppers. As if roasted beef heart and bone marrow just isn't enough.
Oblong Saffron Arancini
Where to Get It: Rialto Jody Adams's long-time fans know to ask for her snacky arancini, even though they're not on the menu anymore (many people would like to change that). They're stuffed with taleggio and saffron risotto, then drizzled with a zippy saffron pepper sauce.
Tampiquena con Camarones
Where to Get It: Rosa Mexicano If you're dining at the Seaport and the tableside guacamole routine has gotten old, consider straying from the menu. We're told that Rosa still serves this popular surf 'n turf dish by request only. Grilled skirt steak with sautéed jumbo shrimp in a tomato-chipotle sauce, served with arugula salad and garlic fries, will sop up those four margaritas quite handily.
The Humble Baked Potato
Where to Get It: Grill 23 Believe it or not, Boston's quintessential steakhouse doesn't serve a baked potato, just mashed or hashbrowns. That shouldn't stop you from ordering one, though. It will arrive on its own plate with sour cream, butter, or chives, if you please.
Where to Get It: Russell House Tavern This handsome burger is topped with sriracha butter, air-dried Chinese sausage, pickled carrots and jalapeños, green curry aioli, fresh cilantro, mint and basil leaves ... oh, and a poached egg for good measure. Russell House announces the appearance of this and other mystery burgers via Twitter, so don't look for it on a menu.
Crispy Fried Pig's Headcheese
Where to Get It: Deuxave Sometimes, you just gotta have headcheese. And, sometimes, you need to ask for it by name. Swanky Deuxave indulges those in the know with a crispy fried pig's headcheese, a deep-fried terrine with red pepper mostarda and mustard greens. Impress (or confuse!) your colleagues during that next big business dinner.
Duck's Heart Sausage & Cock's Comb Cassoulet
Where to Get It: Eastern Standard This rustic cassoulet appears on ES's late-night menu from time to time; follow them on Twitter or stop into the restaurant past 11 p.m. on weeknights (or midnight on weekends) for a taste. House-made duck heart sausage, cock's comb, bacon, foie gras, and cranberry beans will offset even the most persistent hangover. And, somehow, it's only $8.
Where to Get It: Strega Waterfront Yes, Strega is a glitzy monument to Seaport excess. That said: We've also had some pretty good meals here. The hefty fettucine carbonara is an import from the North End Strega; it's not technically on the Waterfront menu, but owner Nick Varano makes it for regulars just the same.
Where to Get It: Ducali Ducali's owner, Phil Frattaroli, whipped up this espresso-and-ice cream treat for himself a few weeks ago. Guests saw it and started asking for it, so now he'll offer it up to anyone who's interested. He dunks vanilla ice cream in a cup of espresso, and the result looks somewhat like a mugged iced latte. Better here than at Starbucks.
Chicken Waffle Nuggets
Where to Get 'Em: M3 These treats taste like something Elvis Presley might have ordered before dying. Housemade chicken patties are dunked in waffle batter, infused with Kentucky bourbon barrel ale, and deep-fried. They're served with apple-butter syrup and macerated cherries. Sometimes they're a chalkboard special, but if not, just ask. If it's not too busy, they'll whip you up a batch.
Lydia Shire's Brown Sugar Angel Cake with Maple Cotton Candy
Where to Get It: Towne This dessert is too elaborate to prepare on the spot, but diners can call in advance to specially request it, and Shire's team will happily oblige.
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