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NEMC/Newmarket post-volunteering bite/cuppa/clink?

OK, I'm not very good at asking for help, but here goes:

A group that I volunteer with is going out next Saturday after our volunteer gig ends at 4pm. The gig is at Greater Boston Food Bank, by New England Medical Center. So, I'm looking for a place to get a bite, cuppa, or clink with the following restrictions:

--non-dressy (we'll be kinda sweaty from sorting cans)
--open at 4:15pm on a Saturday
--OK with a non-reservation group (anywhere between 3-15 people!)
--much, much better food than Asgard, their usual spot (blech!)
--parking nearby for, say, up to 5 cars.

OK so far?

Here's my thinking: During Summer, I usually plan for Flour Bakery, because if it's full we can sit together outside and munch pastries. But I think it's a little iffy for Winter. (Nonetheless, Flour will be my backup, if only because of my crush on the woman behind the - I mean, because of the fabulous brioche au sucre.)

224 Boston St.? CH'ers speak well of it foodwise - but I couldn't find pictures.
Seiyo looks interesting, though small and with iffy service, according to CH.
I googled Toro; too dressy.
and B&G Oysters; too small.
I'm OK with Chinatown - I have absolutely no shame about scaring off whitebread eaters. But it's gotta be easy to find.

BJK, finlero, gini, hiddenboston, itaunas, MB fka MB, and RWarner - well, I don't think this area is your stomping grounds, but I trust your opinions. Help?

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  1. I think the Food Bank is near Newmarket..Boston Med Center..off Mass Ave.

    NEMC is next to Chinatown..a short drive/20-30 min walk away.

    I don't know that area well but what about the Victoria Diner? I know it was taken over by the guy who owns Mike's City Diner.

    http://72.166.46.24/boston/food_drink...

    1. I have not been there, but my barber (who I trust with my hair for God's sake) swears by Laura's -- Cape Verdean just down Columbia from Edward Everette Sq. You could also get some solid soul food at Chef Lee's II on Columbia. (Get the greens. Pretty good fried chicken -- though Coast Cafe in Cambridgeport is much better) ... I'd second Victoria's as well.

      1. 4:15pm on a Saturday can be an odd hour, a limbo between the end of lunch service at 3pm and dinner that starts at 5:30pm.

        Victoria's definitely fits the bill; it'll be open, serves decent, cheap diner food in large portions, has free parking, serves good filter coffee, and has a full liquor license. They might even pile you into the back room (usually reserved for functions) if you've got a big crowd.

        Cafe Polonia is pretty close (Andrew Square, Southie), has great Polish food at nice prices, and serves excellent beer. Nearby street parking is easy.

        Don Ricardo on W Dedham in the South End is another option, though their free parking out back might not kick in till later in the evening. Fine Peruvian, Brazilian, and Mexican food at good prices, plus beer and wine.

        I also recommend the Red Fez on Washington St near E Berkeley St in the South End. Excellent Middle Eastern and North African food, wonderful cocktails, and free parking out back. It opens at 4pm.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          I went to Cafe Polonia for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Found it just so-so. (My Polish neighbor thinks it's disappointing.) Others rave about the food and the folks who run it. I may have hit it on a bad day. I thought my stuffed cabbage was pretty good but soup was flavorless. It does have a great atmosphere. I heard the owner made all the furniture. Not so sure how you will do with a group larger than 10 or 12. It's kind of a small space.

          1. re: manofgor

            I'm sorry to hear this. A *meh* kind of meal can damp your enthusiasm for a revisit. I've had much better luck, with things like borscht (a different style than the root-vegetable-heavy Russian model, more like mushroom wonton soup), peirogi (many kinds, not as good as my high-school sweetheart's Krakow-born grandma's Sunday pierogi, but respectable), and especially the potato pancakes.

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              I'll probably give it another shot since it is close to my house in Dorchester so I want to support the local restaurant scene (which is actually improving quite a bit lately).

        2. I don't know how I feel about getting called out!

          You're not that far from Miami Cafe - although parking could be tricky.

          Both Mike's and Victoria's are nearby - they both have decent (but not outstanding) diner food.

          I second the Red Fez.

          You could practically take over Francesca's with that sized group .

          Ali's Roti is sort of nearby for oxtail stew. It's empty that time of day, for sure.

          Flour sounds good too.

          If it were me - I'd rather just go to Chinatown - but you know your group better than we do.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gini

            I like Mike's City Diner a lot, but it closes every day at 3pm.

          2. I don't think 224 Boston opens before 5:00.

            You might want to consider Amrheins on West Brodway in South Boston. It was recendtly completely renovated (they did keep the original bar) and has a varied menu. The food is good if not great, and the atmosphere is casual and staff is friendly. In addition they have a parking lot. It is also an easy drive from where you will be.

            1. Thanks for the mention, but I think you are better covered by the others in that area.

              If the Asgard is their usual haunt, avoiding something too ethnic and maybe too townie is probably needed. Its a little bit of a hike, but JP is a nice starting place. You could even set yourself up at the Behan and since you can bring food in, it opens up the range of options especially for latino.

              I like Don Ricardos, they have most of the decent stuff from Buteco. I think their parking starts after 5pm and if you have 5 cars, somebody will likely need to find a spot or lot.

              Merengue on Columbia Rd might be something ethnic which is good for your group -- welcoming, wine and beer, straight forward and more elaborate plates. It was pretty good the one time I went, but its been a long while.

              1. I did my residency at NEMC. Sadly, a batch of my favorite haunts have either gone out of business or are no longer the greats they once were. But I still like:

                - Wing's Kitchen (Chinatown; pretty decent Shanghai cookery)
                - Taiwan Cafe (Chinatown; great for non-Americanized cuisine but where pretty much everything is accessible and quite tasty)
                - Montien (surprisingly fine Thai and sushi on Kneeland Street)

                /J

                1. Thanks, all, for the help! Now I have fun research to do while it snows.

                  (sorry, gini!)