Q&A with Jacqueline Neves, author and influencer
More than 50,000 social media fans follow Jacqueline Neves’s photos and stories of global adventures — Island hopping in Maine one week, touring wineries in Rheingau the next. But the social media influencer, known as JQLouise to fans of her blog and Instagram feed, is also happy making her way around favorite spots in Boston. Neves has collected her neighborhood recommendations in “Boston Food Crawls: Touring the Neighborhoods One Bite and Libation at a Time.” The book is designed to give her audience, primarily East Coast-based readers, an insider’s take on how to eat and drink like a local with what she likes to call “local gems,” some old favorites, some new hot spots.
Neves was born and raised in the Boston area, and now lives in the Theater District. The handle JQLouise is a combination of her family nickname and middle name.
Q. When did you get the food and travel bug?
A. Well, I think I always had the food bug at least. My dad was a big foodie. He is always wanting to try new places and try new things at his favorite places. It’s hereditary.
Q. Has writing about food and travel always been your trajectory?
A. My background is in marketing. The reason I started was that whenever I’d go somewhere, I’d take a million photos and tell everybody about it. I was always that person people would ask for recommendations for things. Then one day I decided, all right, I want to do something with all these beautiful pictures I have that are just filling up my hard drive. So, I started [my] Instagram [feed] and my blog.
Q. You’ve called Boston your favorite city in the world. How does Boston stack up as a food city?
A. For food, for years, Boston was nowhere to be seen because we only had five or six decent restaurants and they were all classic French. But now we have so many up-and-coming chefs who are doing so many creative things. Now Boston is a contender. We’re really showing what we have with all these world-class businesses here, all these high-rises. There are so many startups. The population has boomed. All those things have just contributed to demand for fine dining, quality fast casual, funky, cool new places that there just wasn’t a demand for in the past. There are so many young chefs out there that are doing great things. Boston is a world-class dining destination now.
Q. When you come home after traveling, where do you look forward to eating?
A. For me, honestly, Chinatown has always been closest to my heart. I think that’s where my family has always taken me. After I graduated college, I’ve always lived in the Theater District area. Whenever I do come back from trips, that’s the first place I want to go.
Q. Do you have a favorite spot?
A. It’s interesting. How I set up the book speaks to that. There’s always a perfect place for a specific experience. Each chapter is about 10 restaurants. I really tried to lay it out to speak to someone who’s trying to look for a specific experience.
Q. What neighborhoods do you think are underappreciated by locals?
A. I love talking about this. I think there are neighborhoods like Eastie that are huge. There are some places that have been there for years that are just getting discovered, like Taqueria Jalisco and Rincon Limeño, a fabulous Peruvian place. East Boston is really starting to develop. A lot of people are calling it the new Southie. The Theater District is another big one. A lot of these restaurants are brand new.
Q. What restaurants do you like in the Theater District?
A. Ruka is a great one. Pabu is a Michael Mina restaurant. It’s world class. Yvonne’s is excellent. Even some places that have been [around for a while] like Artisan Bistro. They have a fantastic new menu. Explorateur is brand new. It’s an all-day cafe menu. Then they have a full dining menu and their bar menu is pretty good, too. There are so many little places. This is much more of a neighborhood now.
Q. For visitors to Boston, do you have places that bubble up to the top for everyone?
A. One place that I think everybody should always go that’s on all the tourist guides is Mike’s Pastry. I’m a big, big fan of Mike’s.
Q. You’re a pro at taking Instagram photos. What’s your etiquette for photographing food in a restaurant?
A. When I’m traveling especially, taking pictures helps me remember what I had to eat. I think, you know, get your shot then be done. Especially when chefs are doing all these creative things, how could you not want to take a picture?