Recommendations for Arlington Center area?
My favorite place to eat in the Arlington Center area is just a few blocks away on Mass Ave. -- Blue Ribbon BBQ (and I'm not exactly a huge carnivore -- usually I go for ethnic vegetarian). Not only are the meat and sides nice but the prices are low. They don't have that many tables but you can get takeout.
I have only been to the Blue Ribbon in West Newton, but the one food there I find really special is the "burnt ends burrito". Really special, especially if you get extra smoked chipolte sauce (mustardy but mysterious) to put on it. I only do takeout there as the atmosphere is ridiculous.
Welcome to town!
I live in the same area and you will by no means be "trapped" without a car. Easy connections by frequent bus to subway and surrounding towns.
I second what C.Fox says, and would add:
In the center
Punjab - superb Indian food, very fresh spices
Viet's Cafe - great Vietnamese, especially pho and bun
Ole - nice Mexican (Oaxacan), nothing fancy
Tea Tray in the Sky - expensive, fancy new American, I've only had lunch there (oyster po boy) but it was terrific.
In East Arlington
flora - more upscale, eclectic American. Opinions vary on this board but I enjoy it; great vegetables for a non-vegetarian place; superb fish, anything braised; use local, seasonal ingredients.
Quebrada Bakery & Coffeehouse (next door) - superb muffins, scones and other goodies. I like their poppy seed challah bread, too.
Cafe Barada - good for takeout (Lebanese). Arlingtonians: has anyone heard rumors that Cafe Barada is relocating or downsizing?
You could do worse. There is quite decent chow in Arlington, both in the center and in the East Arlington area. The Cambridge bus runs frequently, so you'll have the run of North Cambridge and Harvard Square as well, and several other buses pass through your neighborhood. From Harvard Sq. (or Porter Sq., which is on the way there on the Mass. Ave. bus) you can get on the subway and go all over town. The public transportation system, for all our complaints, is one of the best in the country in terms of coverage. (Nope, the closest thing I have to a connection with the "T" is a landlady I had 13 years ago who was a heavy rail mechanic there and has since moved out of state.) ;->
FWIW, my current faves:
In E. Arlington: Neillio's - little hole in the wall where they make their own fresh pasta and do wonderful things with it at very modest prices, also sandwiches on great bread (from Iggy's in Watertown -- remember that name!) and random deli items
In No. Cambridge: Qingdao Garden -- another hole in the wall, this one serving Chinese dumplings from heaven and other Qingdao specialties -- order from the back page of the menu
In Arl. Ctr. itself: Uh, haven't eaten there in a while, actually...but in the interim one Vietnamese and two Indian places have opened, to supplement the Chinese, pan-Asian and Italian eateries already on board...I imagine you won't starve.