As co-owner of The Modern Butcher in Newburyport, Lisa Nichols knows a thing or two about good eats. Two and a half years ago, she transformed her personal Instagram account, filled mostly with beers and selfies, into Pork & Pints, a guide for where to eat and what to drink around Boston. Although her career is built around meat, she’s a fan of nearly every kind of cuisine—from sushi to pizza and tapas to pasta. Here, Nichols shares her tips for food photography (hint: get messy), why small plates are the best way to eat and her favorite brunch spot for people watching.
Tell us a little about yourself. How’d you end up in Boston, and what inspired you to create your Instagram account?
Food has always been a big part of my life. At family gatherings it was the centerpiece of everything. I grew up in Danvers, just north of Boston. After spending my college years in Rhode Island, post-graduation I quickly packed up and moved to the city—which I had always loved for its food, sports, history and smaller “big city” feel.
I started @porkandpints two and a half years ago. The page was previously a personal page dedicated to craft beer, 20-something antics and countless selfies. I started posting more about the beer I was drinking, many of the hard-to-find ones and my travels to different breweries. I was also going out to eat practically every meal, trying new restaurants and new cuisines, and was always the one friend everyone would go to for restaurant and bar recommendations. It only made sense to capture all the food to go along with beer! I had seen so many fantastic accounts that featured usually one or the other, but didn’t see many equally promoting both. So I found my niche.
Name the top five dishes on your Boston food bucket list.
1. Uni Spoon from Uni. It’s a simple spoon topped with osetra caviar, quail egg yolk, and yuzu. It’s an explosion of flavor: earthy, ocean-y, and creamy. I remember my first time having this dish and practically falling out of the booth onto the floor.
2. The burger at Little Donkey. It’s a perfectly-cooked burger topped with buffalo pickles, foie gras, buffalo chips, cheese, and ONION SOUP MAYO. That’s right, onion soup mayo. Genius. You make an absolute mess of yourself after eating it, but it’s totally worth it—plus they give you extra napkins.
3.Wasabi Roulette at Hojoko. This dish is so fun….well, only if you don’t get the wasabi bomb. It’s 6 pieces of hamachi sushi roll and one piece secretly has a ridiculous amount of wasabi. In the center, there’s a horchata in a baby bottle to help relieve the victim. (My fiancé always seems to be the one to get it haha, poor thing).
4. Slice from Galleria Umberto. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of amazing pizza here in Boston. It’s hefty, it’s hearty and I love it. It’s smothered in red sauce and the cheese gets those crispy edges. Perfection. Also while you’re there, get a rice ball. It’s also one of the best.
5. Cannoli from Modern Pastry. The battle of who has the best cannoli is a heated argument in Boston. For quality and consistency, I’m always going with Modern! Fun fact: I’m listed as “cannoli” in my fiancé’s phone because I love them so much.
What do you think the next big trend is for restaurants?
I believe the next big trend for restaurants is more diverse food with cuisines from a range of countries. It’s fantastic because it gives so many people the opportunity to try cuisine from places they may never get a chance to visit and opens conversations about cultures.
I also think the small plate trend will continue. It’s honestly is the best way to eat. You share a bunch of dishes, almost tapas style, with a group. You take your time, enjoy the company more, and conversate over the food. Plus, you don’t get stuck having to order just one dish!
Which chefs are your favorite to follow on Instagram and why?
My favorite chefs to follow in Boston are @juan_pedrosa because his feed is a great mix of his work at his own restaurants, but also his adventures told through food, and also @jamiebiss. His posts make me want to get into the car and drive right away to Coppa, Toro or Little Donkey. He always posts great collaborations and sneak peaks into some amazing culinary events.
Describe Boston’s food scene in three words.
Evolving. Fresh-faced. Consistent.
Which restaurants haven’t you been to but you’re eager to try?
So many restaurants keep popping up that I’ve been dying to try. At the top of my list is Tony & Elaine’s because I love me some Italian!! Also Shore Leave looks amazing, and Fox & the Knife has been getting some fantastic reviews and accolades. I could keep going…haha.
What’s your food photography philosophy, and can you share your top tips for taking awesome food photos?
My food photography philosophy is get messy! Cut open those burgers and sandwiches or donuts. Show the oozing cheesy goodness = food porn perfect pictures. Also daylight, daylight, daylight! Natural light for me is always best. I try to avoid direct sunlight; shade or those mildly-cloudy days work with you in the best way. Also backgrounds are always a plus! The ocean, a vibrant restaurant, street hustle and bustle—it adds life to the photos.
A Few Of Your Favorite Things:
Favorite brunch spot: Little Donkey. GET EVERYTHING.
Favorite place for outdoor dining: Stephanie’s on Newbury. The BEST place to people watch and enjoy a sangria.
Favorite BBQ joint: The Smoke Shop. From the wings to the brisket, everything is always delicious.
Favorite late-night: Bova’s Bakery. I mean they are open 24 hours a day, and I lived on them when I was bartending in the city. I would get out around 2 a.m., head to Bova’s, get a mixture of hot rice balls, pizza and pastries and sit on their stoop and watch all the Saturday night revelers come in from a long night of partying. Pure deliciousness and entertainment.
Favorite neighborhood for food: South End. From brunch to dinner and from Italian to Spanish, this neighborhood hits it all!
Favorite new restaurant: Trillium Fort Point. It’s super new, but it has been such a great addition to the Boston scene, especially for beer lovers like me. The food is fantastic and the beer…well, it speaks for itself.