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challenge: Affordable, local, unique, not to savory/spicy for mother-in-law?

Looking for a fairly easy spot for parents, newborn and mother-in-law for a dinner out this week. MIL can't eat (doesn't like) spicy, zesty (onions and garlic) and is not really about food.

But we need to get out of the house during this visit.

Usual favorites for us that capture local color - ECG, Neptune - are not options with a MIL's preferences.

Anything with achievable parking? A little local color? Something for everyone. Summer Shack isn't a bad idea, but the Alewife one's location isn't great. Haven't been to downtown.

Other ideas?

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  1. Daily Catch, Harvard Street, Brookline
    Local, unique, fish, pasta, can do non-garlic if you ask

    Mr. Bartley's Burgers, Mass Ave., Harvard Square, Cambridge
    Local, unique, funky, huge burgers, many varieties

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pastramiman

      The Daily Catch in Brookline closed.

      I think the Blue Room and Cafe D suggestions are good, Strip T's isn't bad tho casual. What about Frank's Steakhouse, not sure if it's just on street parking there. Maybe Green St. in Central Sq., garage is right next door. Or Rendezvous and Central Kitchen. Temple Bar on Mass Ave. has a wide reaching menu, I had a good burger there a couple weeks ago and friend's scallops were great. I think they let you park in some lot off Mass Ave.

    2. Hmm, interesting question; a restaurant for someone who doesn't like food.

      My least favorite place in the North End is La Famigilia, so maybe that would be good for the MIL. Huge portions of bland, red-sauce Italian-American. No spice to speak of.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bostonbob3

        Heheh, I like that - "a restaurant for someone who doesn't like food."

        Challenge if for us to enjoy the evening as well.

      2. I too have this problem -- Strip T's in Watertown was a big hit (lots of local color!), as was Legal's ...surprisingly she also liked Ole in Inman (loved the guac made at the table) but we only had apps there. Silvertone at Park St. is great if you're sightseeing in the area (closed on wkds I think).

        1. Maybe Blue Room? There is parking in the garage nearby, and she could order one of the more sedate options.

          Cafe D in JP has some plain preparations, and a parking lot in the back.

          1. Rendezvous is a nice idea. Cafe D in JP has good food but it is not very comfortable- little tables squashed together. Would not take a MIL there. Upstairs on the Square and Harvest, both in Cambridge have nice food, valet parking and are resonably quiet and comfortable with non- adventurous choices.

            1. How about Om in Harvard Square? For someone who doesn't like food, at least the portions will be very small.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                OM is so not affordable! and I can't imagine taking a newborn. Just my two cents.

              2. Some of the above are excellent suggestions for the MIL. However, if the newborn is going to dinner, some of the above aren't that kid friendly. I guess it depends on how early you go to dinner.

                Maybe Full Moon on Huron Ave in Huron Village? The food is pretty good for a kid friendly place. Parking on Huron Ave is fairly easy also. Christopher's in Porter Square may be ok too. You can find non-spicy and non-zesty food at Shangri La in Belmont. This way, MIL can order american Chinese food and you can order food to your liking. They are also baby friendly although the restaurant can get packed depending on the day of the week and time of dinner.

                I am blanking on places in Watertown and Belmont. And, there is always the Bertucci's at Alewife, but I think Summer Shack is better than Bertuccis.

                1. Papa Razzi at the Cambridgeside Galleria is surprisingly good, especially given that it's a chain. West Side Lounge on Mass Ave may do the trick, though parking is always tough. La Groceria in Main St near Central Sq in Cambridge. Gargoyle's in Davis. Ole could work, I love the place. The Independent in Union Sq Somerville.

                  1. Thanks, everyone. Also thinking Picco perhaps. Parking not so easy, but you can't go wrong with pizza and rich ice cream.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: edgrimley

                      Picco is pretty family-friendly.

                      I was thinking for "local color" and Frank's Steakhouse in Cambridge might not be so bad. The cheese fries and onion rings rock. The meat is okay. Baked potatoes are always good. And MIL will find many options.

                      Full Moon is a good call, too. The food is quite good (love the Mediterranean plate, steak and fries with gorgonzola, house fried (and it shows!) nachos) and you can have a couple of beers if MIL is stressing you out. :-)

                      1. re: MB fka MB

                        MB - Can you describe the cheese fries at Frank's? I've always hesitated ordering them, but may reconsider now.

                        1. re: gini

                          First I should point out that I go to Franks about once a year, if that, and mostly for the kitsch factor. It's been a year+ since I had the cheese fries, but I recall arriving early to meet friends and two of us nearly polished off the whole plate. Orange cheese, better than nacho/velveeta cheese, more of a bite and a thicker texture that did harden as it cooled. Good and salty. Came out of the kitchen hot.

                          I tried the cheese fries at All Star Sandwich recently and though the fries were much better, the cheese + fries combo was not at all.

                      2. re: edgrimley

                        Parking is plenty easy, just not cheap: there's a public garage in the same building Picco is in. The entrance is around the back, on Warren Ave. I had a very nice special of a shredded pork burrito the other night, and I like their style of pizza (charred, bubbly thin-crust with interesting toppings) a lot. Good ice cream, a little on the soft side. Wonderful frappes, too.

                      3. It sounds like you might be in the Arlington-area. How about 'Za on Mass Ave? I wasn't crazy about the pizza, but it fulfills serveral of your criteria - it's local (EVOO owners), kid-friendly and affordable, with wine and beer available for the beleaguered parents. And who doesn't like pizza, even a picky MIL? We found street parking to be plentiful. In the same vein is the new Regina's in Medford (there's also a Kelly's nearby). No, not the original pizza oven but good enough when you don't want to fight the NE crowds.