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Saturday night, casual, inexpensive, but nicer than a pub

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I'd like to go out with a group of 5-6 friends (all women, early 30s) for a fun, casual-but-not-pub dinner on a Saturday night. Booze is required (wine/beer is fine). Not dirt cheap, not expensive. Somewhat lively would be nice, but we'd like to be able to chat. It would be nice to make a reservation, but that's not required.

Here are places I've considered but don't want to go (mostly because I've been there too recently, and a few that others don't like): Audubon, Khao Sarn, Eastern Standard, Tapeo, Laurel, Antico Forno, The Ivy.

T accessible would be good. Not sushi, Indian, or seafood-intensive.

Any suggestions? I feel like I'm missing some really obvious ideas, but I can't think what they might be.

Thanks!

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    1. How bout Toro or Avila? Can only vouch for Toro though.

      2 Replies
        1. re: Sgt Snackers

          it's casual and can be inexpensive, especially if you don't get tons of of tapas and split some of the big plates like the paella. Plus, the comparisons the OP gave made me think that inexpensive, fun and casual would include a place like Toro; I've spent more at Ivy and ES than some nights at Toro.

      1. Thank you both for the suggestions--all three look like places I'd like to try. I agree that a lot of places can be inexpensive, depending on what you order.

        My concern with this particular occasion is that I'm afraid my friends might insist on treating, which makes me really reluctant to choose a place that hints of "expensive, but order inexpensively." I looked at the Avila menu, and thought it looked great for drinks and snacks (which would end up being dinner), but I am just not comfortable suggesting a place with $30-45 entrees :). (Edited to add: for this occasion! I will look forward to suggesting it for drinks, sometime when it's a clear "meet at the bar" situation.)

        1. Central Kitchen in Central Square? Food is good, prices are reasonable, great wine, and a bit of a scene. Even more scene upstairs at the Enormous Room if you and the girls decide to stay out later.

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