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Your Favorite Night Out (downtown)

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Some friends and I are having dinner this Friday. I really don't know the restaurant/chow scene in Boston well, having sadly lived the life of a commuter.

I am looking for a tasty, affordable ($20/25 pp) place where we don't have to scream to be heard. Mostly, I'm just looking for the names of great places I have yet to try (which is almost every place). Location would be downtown -- off the orange line or the green line before it splits at Copley.

Sorry this is so vague.

Restrictions
- veggie friendly
- cozy
- no Korean food

Thoughts/recommendations?
Thanks in advance!

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  1. Penang for Singapore/Malaysian in Chinatown followed by a fancy dessert at any of the nearby restaurants might fit the bill.

    1. How about Addis Red Sea? It's not quite downtown, but only a 10 or 15 minute walk from the Copley area and a bit more from downtown. Excellent Ethiopian food there, and very quiet and cozy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hiddenboston

        I second that suggestion! My bf and I love this place for an affordable romantic special night.

        1. re: hiddenboston

          Triple this suggestion. Addis is usually quite hushed, and the communal platter setup is cozy and congenial. And the veggie friendly options are flavorful (as is everything else, really).

        2. I think Tapeo. Fun atmosphere, good food, good sangria. It's a spanish/tapas place.

          It's gonna be hard to get away with $20-$25 per person downtown.

          I also like Tantric...it's not the best Indian food in Boston, but it's a really nice space with gooda atmosphere. Definitely veggie friendly, right on Stuart St. near the corner of Tremont (Boylston stop on green line).

          2 Replies
          1. re: tamerlanenj

            Tapeo is also fairly loud.

            1. re: coookie

              Tapeo is very loud. The last time I ate there with a group we could not even have a conversation!

          2. Woodie's Wood Fired Grill on Hemingway Street is a quick walk from the Pru area and serves great wood fired pizza and other fare at very reasonable prices. Near by Fenway area are serveral choices on Peterborough Street including Mexican and Thai and Sushi, sorry, can't recall names.... a little afield of downtown but great places to check out for cheaper eats and converstaion friendly atmosphere.

            1. Maybe Laurel? It's convenient to the Green and Orange lines, has good (not exceptional, but quite good) food, a nice atmosphere, and is in your price range. I like it a lot. There appear to be a few veggie options on the menu: http://laurelgrillandbar.com/id11.html

              1. Laurel is way too boring for a night out for young people. For 70somethings, maybe.

                1 Reply
                1. re: tamerlanenj

                  I disagree. I have been to Laurel with small groups and it worked out great. It *does* tend to be quiet at times but OP did say they want cozy/to be able to hear each other. Actually on a Friday from 7-10 it should be fun and somewhat crowded.

                  I do agree with your Tapeo rec, but it can get loud inside.

                2. This isn't so hard. Grotto comes immediately to mind: short walk from Park St Station, plenty for vegetarians, cool, intimate, nice priced.

                  A longer walk from the T (15 minutes from Community College on the Orange Line) is Tangierino in Charlestown: Moroccan (plenty for non-meat-eaters), very cool atmosphere, certainly cozy (especially in those tented tables), and the right price.

                  Beacon Hill Bistro: small hotel, slightly traditional French, (probably closest to Park St Sta), quiet of its type, plenty of options if your friends are pesco-veg, fine service; the addition of a tiny cocktail bar is a big plus in my book.

                  A gamble that I'd take based on your criteria is Bin 26 Enoteca, also on the Hill, a Med tapa joint/wine bar from the Lala Rokh folks. It's near the top of my to-try list, and it sounds kind of like it would meet your reqs; I just don't know how loud or not it is.

                  There's not much that's quiet in the North End, but Carmen might meet your criteria.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    While I have not yet eaten at Bin 26, I have poked my head in and took a look around - it's not exactly *cozy.* In fact, it's pretty minimal in there, with lots of hard, flat surfaces. And as with almost any small plates kinds of places, I think the bill would quickly escalate.

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      I love Grotto, but it can get pretty noisy.

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        I *have* tried it, and it was a complete let-down. Terrible, terrible service (and I'm not someone who generally cares about this). And the food was mediocre, at best. Steer clear of this place -- there are many, many better options.

                      2. I would also recommend Addis Red Sea it's an excellent change of pace and not loud but very popular, and very different with out being too out there for those less adventurous. Try the Honey wine if you go. Tapeo is also nice but as mentioned much louder. Penang is also a nice choice right in china town. I would recommend one of the bakeries around the area for desert in Chinatown if you go to Penang. Another fun spot for friends in Chinatown is, Shabu-Zen where you can all share shabu shabu together.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lavelanet

                          It might not be nice enough for what you're looking for, but I always enjoy Silvertone. And I second the Shabu Zen suggestion.

                        2. I would suggest Via Matta, always very good food. There are some little local restaurant bars nearby that aren't bad. Service is always good at Via Matta