Thursday, April 24, 2014

PAX East Survival tip: J.Pace and Son

One of the best rules about surviving a convention on a budget is to avoid eating the food at the convention center at all costs. The food is all way too expensive, unhealthy, and unsatisfying to bother with. I have, at times, been desperate enough to fall for the temptation, but I'm here to tell you it's not worth it.

In Seattle this isn't a problem at all: the restaurants in the Washington State Convention Center are all common restaurants with normal prices, like the two Subways and a crappy pizza place. More importantly, though, you're in downtown Seattle--you can easily want to a much better restaurant nearby with less of a crowd.

The Boston Convention and Expo Center, on the other hand, is in a sort of desert, with nothing apparently nearby except for an expensive hotel restaurant. What's a starving con-goer to do? The answer, of course, is J.Pace and Son.

J.Pace and Son is a deli a short walk from the BCEC. It's across a bridge and down a couple of blocks, hidden from view of the convention center thanks to a few buildings. In short, it's just far enough away to make it invisible to most of the 70,000 attendees at PAX East.

The deli features a variety of different foods, but, being a deli, its strength is its sandwiches. Breakfast or lunch, the sandwiches are top notch and very reasonably priced.

I make a habit of visiting the place at least every morning for a breakfast sandwich--usually a bacon and egg on croissant. You can get the same thing for the same price at the Dunkin' Donuts down the street, but the quality difference is huge; once you've had the J.Pace breakfast sandwich, it's really hard to go back to the stale bread and tube eggs of Dunkin'.

Unfortunately, the place is just well-known enough to be pretty busy around lunch time, and this year I went there for dinner once only to find that they had run out of bread--they were only doing wraps instead.

That said, their sandwich lines are pretty fast, even when they're crowded. For that, the price, and the quality, it's still way better than going for the convention center's food.

I also really appreciate the atmosphere of the place. If you've ever been there, it's pretty clear who the owner is: he's the guy who's seems way more lively than everyone else, and who seems to know how to do everything better, quicker, and more efficiently than anybody else there. He also seems to have  lot of character, and though he was that Boston gruffness to him, he's very clearly happy to be doing business with you.

Some more points in their favor: they sell 20oz bottles of Schwepps Ginger Ale (yay!), and their bakery has some pretty darn good stuff there. I particularly enjoyed their cookies, but their cakes looked incredibly appetizing.

I still haven't had a Boston creme pie, but I think I want my first one to be from J.Pace and Son.

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