You can take a chef out of Massachusetts but you can’t take Massachusetts out of the chef. At Southie’s Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar, chef Matt Drummond transforms traditional tacos — filling tortillas with everything from grilled avocado to General Tso’s chicken — while staying true to the region’s most famous fare: seafood.
And while this Williamstown native may draw his inspiration from across the globe, Drummond has never strayed too far from home. After attending culinary school at Johnson and Wales, Drummond cooked his way through Providence and north to Boston, becoming chef at the Colonnade Hotel and then Cambridge’s Temple Bar. These days, Drummond calls Dorchester home, but that doesn’t mean his palate isn’t free to roam.
Best late-night meal?
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I don’t usually get out that often, but Franklin Café has been my spot for years. The steak-frites is my go-to. 278 Shawmut Ave., franklincafe.com
Best meal under $5?
Sullivan’s on Castle Island. It’s probably the only meal you can get for under $5 to this day. If you have $5 to spend, you can buy two hot dogs and a hamburger and you’ll be fine. You’ll be happy. 2080 William J. Day Blvd., sullivanscastleisland.com
Best hidden foodie gem?
Cafe Portobello here in Southie has the best pizza, and nobody knows about it. There’s also a place called Mezze, in Williamstown, which is run by a good friend of mine who forages for a lot of the products. It’s in Western Mass., so no one really knows about it. 672 E Broadway, cafeportobello.net; 777 Cold Spring Rd., Williamstown, mezzerestaurant.com
Best place to dine alone?
Other than my recliner? The only place I go to dine alone is Row 34. I go there randomly on an afternoon for lunch — they’re always very welcoming. The food’s awesome, the wine is good. I always get everything at the raw bar — ceviche, oysters. But I love their fish sandwich and the fried oyster lettuce wraps. 383 Congress St., row34com
Place you recommend for out-of-towners?
You have to go to the Barking Crab. The first thing I always do is order two cold beers because the line is always long. Then I go for the peel-and-eat shrimp, oysters, the fried clams and steamers. A year or two ago they went under a management change, and it’s so good now. 88 Sleeper St., barkingcrab.com
Go-to date spot?
Toro. I get everything. My girlfriend and I are big seafood junkies, so if they have razor clams, I always get razor clams. Whatever foie gras dish they have, because I need to get my cholesterol. The softshell-crab sliders are also dope. 1704 Washington St., Boston, toro-restaurant.com