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If you’re from Massachusetts, odds are you may be a bit of a sports fan. We’ve won a major pro sports title or two (okay, actually seven) in the last decade, and we’re not afraid to let the world know it. As such, the people who cover the Boston sports scene wind up being celebrities in their own right.
Boston sports fans got to know NBC Sports Broadcaster, Kathryn Tappen from her five-year run on the New England Sports Network (NESN), where she was the studio host for Boston Bruins games as well as the lead anchor for their “SportsDesk” program. In 2011, Kathryn joined the NHL Network, where she earned rave reviews as the studio host for their signature wrap-up program. This past year, she earned her first Olympic assignment, hosting hockey on NBC Sports during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Kathryn now has the unofficial title of “best job ever” for NBC Sports, combining sideline work for Notre Dame football with upcoming Olympic and NFL assignments and, of course, her beloved NHL.
When she’s not on the road covering games, Kathryn lives in Boston. With the Bruins dropping the puck for the first time this season tonight, we thought it would be a good time to catch up with her to get insights on what she loves about the place she’s called home for the better part of the last decade.
What’s your favorite thing about the Boston sports scene?
I absolutely love how passionate the fans are. When you’re watching a game, you feel the pulse of the competition because the fans are engaged. It is an educated fan base, which as a broadcaster I appreciate because that holds all of us accountable. When I go to the Post Office, get coffee, the grocery store, people want to know my opinion on certain happenings around Boston sports. I think that’s pretty cool. People care in New England. They eat, sleep, and breathe their teams. I love walking around the city when there’s a big game, or World Series, or Stanley Cup Final. There’s nothing like the vibe in Boston when championships are born.
Breakfast. Lunch. And Dinner. You have to pick one spot in MA for each — where are you going?
This may be the toughest question of them all. I love to eat, try new places, and I’m not a picky eater at all (or a picky critic for that matter!). If a restaurant treats me well, I’m a customer for life.
But ok, I do have a few go-to spots that I’d like to share in many areas in the state of Massachusetts.
Brunch: Sam’s Louis Boston
I’m not a big breakfast person. But this place can get me out of the comforts of home and eating early. The food is delicious! The first time I went, the menu looked so different to me. But every item on the menu is creative and full of flavor. And the views are spectacular! What better way to ring in a Sunday afternoon than overlooking Boston Harbor, watching the boats, eating good food and having a few bubbly breakfast drinks with family and friends?
Lunch: Sweet Green, Boylston Street
You can find me here probably three days a week. I get done with my workout and refuel with a turbo charged salad!
But make sure you go before the lunch hour or pre-order, because this place gets MOBBED! I first learned about this place while visiting my former Rutgers teammate in Washington DC. She took me here for lunch and I thought “Wow! Why doesn’t Boston have one of these?” Lo and behold, a year later I was walking on Boylston Street and Sweet Green had just opened. I was pumped! Great spot, healthy choices, and good company values for keeping it local and organic. A win win!
Dinner: Porcini’s Italian Restaurant in Watertown, MA.
Porcini’s is such a cozy place and the food is outstanding. The wine selection is great, and their staff is friendly and informative. They have a fireplace to warm you up on cold days. And what many don’t know is there is an outdoor patio! So when the weather gets nice it’s a perfect outdoor spot to go and enjoy a good meal.
Dinner: 75 Chestnut, Beacon Hill.
75 Chestnut in Beacon Hill is a perfect neighborhood spot. Low key, food options for everyone, and a quaint atmosphere. It’s a perfect spot to have a drink at the bar and catch up with a friend, or sit down and have a meal. I take a lot of out-of-town guests here because we can stroll the beautiful and historic Charles Street before we sit down to eat. And then, you’re a block from Boston Common. A good way to burn off your dinner is an evening stroll in the park! And yes, I do love their new 75 Liberty Wharf location too.
Dinner: Hale Street Tavern, Beverly Farms
If you find yourself on the North Shore, this pub is a MUST. There’s something for everyone on the menu: pub food, sushi, oysters, gluten free. It’s a fun, energetic, lively place with great food and spirits.
What’s your favorite outdoor activity in Massachusetts?
I run the Charles River nearly every day. It’s one of the best runs, walks, bike rides (Hubway, of course!), there is. You can go as long and as far as you want, and then hop across a bridge and come back on the other side. I love the views of the city and also the fact that other people are enjoying the paths as well. And I love to golf. So anytime I can get out on the course, and in Massachusetts there are a LOT of them, then it’s a good day for me.
Also, this time of year in the Fall is so perfect for outdoor harvest festivals. I love the Newburyport Harvest Festival on Columbus Day weekend. Great food, live music, and family fun while celebrating autumn. Hot apple cider and warm doughnuts? Can you beat that?
Do you have a favorite weekend getaway in Mass?
I enjoy getting over to Nantucket. While I don’t get there too often, I always have a good time. Biking the island, going to the gorgeous beaches, having an afternoon of fun at Cisco Brewing Company, and a nice dinner on the water at Cru Nantucket. When I’m on the island, I feel so far removed from the hustle of every day life. Yet, I’m still in the great state of Massachusetts.
Everyone knows about your love for hockey. Are there places in Mass that you like to go ice skating?
OK, you may know my love for hockey but you don’t know that I’m not a good skater! My sport of choice is not one where I can embarrass myself! However, I’ve skated at the Frog Pond at the Common a handful of times, and I know the folks at the Charlestown Ice Rink in my neighborhood do an amazing job presenting opportunities for our youth to succeed in sports.
You’re a Jersey Girl and proud of it. Without asking you to say anything negative about your home state, what is the biggest difference between living in New Jersey and Massachusetts?
Ha! Why would I ever say anything negative about my great home state? Bruce Springsteen wrote a song about us Jersey Girls you know? It can’t be THAT bad!
One major difference is accessibility to the water. In Massachusetts, you can get to the coast so easily and there are beautiful spots to enjoy and take advantage of, from Newburyport to Cape Cod. NJ has a huge coastline too with lots of towns. But those towns are harder to get to because traffic is difficult. I could never live anywhere that is not near the ocean. I am happy that it’s easy to get to in Mass.
But don’t think for one second you’ll get me to say anything bad about Jersey. Nice try.
Favorite places to shop in MA?
I prefer Newbury Street, are you surprised? I can get anything and everything I need there. Plus, I enjoy being outside shopping and not indoors at a mall. But if the weather turns on you, you’re only one block away from the Copley/Prudential Mall. Another favorite shopping area, as previously mentioned, is Charles Street. There are some great old stores on that street that you can come up with good finds.
Any favorite places to see a concert and/or go to a museum?
I recently visited the Museum of Fine Arts with the Boys and Girls Club summer program. It was my first time there. We had a blast! I felt like I was in Paris, seeing the artwork of the Impressionists and learning about the other exhibits the museum has to offer visitors. A museum can take you away to another moment in time. The Museum of Fine Arts accomplishes that in more ways than one. As for concerts, I love the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. Outdoors, on the Harbor, listening to music equals perfection!
You can catch Kathryn tonight at 7:00 p.m. on NBCSN with live reports for Opening Night at the TD Garden, and also this weekend on the sidelines in South Bend for UNC vs. No. 6 Norte Dame. In the meantime, you can follow her on Twitter @KathrynTappen.