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Davis Square options - advice on places I haven't been to yet

Catching a movie in Davis and trying to decide where to eat before the show.

I haven't been to Out of the Blue. Is it worth checking out? Do they have a bar you can sit at?

Also thinking the a trip to check out Gargoyles is long overdue. Wondering how swanky the bar is? We'll be pretty casual and comfy. How is the poutine?

Anything else worth checking out?

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  1. Gargoyles is great and although it is the nicest place in the square it is not that swanky. Jeans are totally appropriate at the bar.

    Why not try Sagra at 400 Highland? Brand new, about a week old.

    1. i would very much second that vote for sagra, however with one caveat. the place has been open for almost two weeks. i have loved what i've eaten there. rigatoni della casa was great. the mushroom risotto and the short-rib was as satisying a meal as i've ever had. had it monday night and i will get that dish often. i've eavesdropped on others raving abou tthe pizza and the delicious $3 side-dishes, (they're worth $6) and the unigue desserts. my concern for this place has been the service. nothing outrageous, but i am left with the impression that so much talent was put in the kitchen that the front of the house is having a hard time catching up. i don't want a massage from the wait person, but i do expect water, proper place setting, proper follow-up, timely removal, etc. having said that, i am willing to go for the food alone, but i fear others may not be as patient as i am willing to be while the front catches up with it's back. sagra, your food is fantastic, but do yourself a favor and get that house in order.

      1. Out of the Blue:

        My advice would be to go to Gargoyles, although I can't wait to tray Sagra myself.

        1. Another place in Davis I really like is Martsa on Elm. Delicious Tibetan food.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Ed4

            A big second for Martsa. It's cheap, delicious and perfect for this weather. I'm especially fond of the vegetarian menu (I went vegetarian for about six months while living in Somerville, I think it's required, thankfully back on the foie gras and rare steaks). Get the pumpkin curry or the vegetable curry, have them with the tingmo. Follow with the bhagamatsu (sp?). Neat dessert, kind of like tibetan fried dough/bread pudding, big enough to share. I've absolutely stuffed myself like a sultan there for less than $20.00.

            1. re: sailormouth

              Any opinion on Martsa versus House of Tibet up in Teele?

              1. re: finlero

                Both are casual but HoT feels more like a date place to Martsa's quick bite feel. I found the food at each to be good - nothing mind blowing - but solid good chow (though I've only eaten at HoT once to 4x at Martsa). Both are quite affordable with Martsa being slightly less expensive. Out of sheer laziness, I'd say Martsa has the better location too - with that walk to Teele from the Davis stop being oh so far for my lazy a** : )

                1. re: finlero

                  I think both are blah, but prefer Martsa to House of Tibet. I prefer Rangzen in Central Square to both.

                  1. re: finlero

                    I prefer House of Tibet Kitchen to Martsa for straight up Tibetan cuisine. Their stews and momos are quite delicious (especially on a night like tonight). Martsa does have some good Tibet-in-exile dishes though.

                    1. re: finlero

                      Have had the lunch buffet at Martsa twice and dinner at House of Tibet once. Found the latter bland and dull, liked the former much, much better.

                  2. re: Ed4

                    Martsa was in a Globe story yesterday. Sounded quite interesting. I was thinking of going there soon.

                  3. The other option that jumps immediately to mind is Namaskar, some of the Boston area's best Indian.

                    1. Check out La Spina, behind the rosebud. Wonderful neopolitan food

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jjbates4

                        My wife and I tried out La Spina about two weeks ago. We had the gnocchi which were really good and really filling, the seafood pasta which was excellent -- calamari done just right and a subtle red sauce. Antipasti were a bit more hit-and-miss, some lovely cheeses alongside what tasted like supermarket cold cuts. Also a very peculiar approach to service -- very nice, well meaning wait staff, but you'd think nobody had ever figured out the problems of serving dinner before (bread came out in dribs and drabs, pepper and cheese with the meal were handled awkwardly at best, and the timing was just ... odd in a way I can't put my finger on). Good enough food that I"ll be going back to see how it plays out (though I'm also excited about this Sagra place!).

                      2. There's also The Burren, an Irish Bar with great atmosphere and some good food - I usually get their steamed mussels with cream sauce, and a Guinness of course.

                        1. I like Namaskar and Gargoyle's, and a little further away, Tu y Yo and possibly Yoshi's for sushi (only been once but thought it was decent).

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: fenian

                            I just ate at Yoshi's last night and it was exactly decent. The salmon last night was especially tasty and the rice was nicely seasoned and temperatured. The pickled gourd in the oshinko maki (my fave anywhere) was also really good. There was one piece of nigiri (dunno which it was) that seemed like it included a bit of ligament or fiber (?) but that might have just been an unfortunate cut. I like Yoshi's fine and would make it a regular stop if I lived in the area.

                            1. re: Nora Rocket

                              The very best thing about my meal was two little pickled carrots that came along with the unagi donburi. These would have been impressive at Oishii.

                          2. Gargoyle's at the bar will be fine in your jeans. That way you can order off both the bar & the dining menu and profit from Paul's excellent bartending.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: gini

                              A question about Gargoyles bar - we once tried to order off the bar menu on a Friday night (we were sitting in the bar area) and were told that on Friday and Saturday nights you could only order off the bar menu if you were sitting at the bar itself. Is that policy still in effect?

                              1. re: phoebek

                                You have to be at the bar proper on Friday and Saturday nights to order off of the bar menu. During the weekend, the bar area is used as an extended dining room.

                            2. How about Diva for Indian? Their food used to be great. Is it still?

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: lypp

                                As a Chowhound, I'm very conflicted about Diva, especially with Namaskar a block away. I sometimes think of Diva and Namaskar as one of those pairs of mismatched best friends you see in high school.

                                Diva is hip, stylish, popular, and good looking, but just a little bit dim, shallow, and self-centered. Namaskar is more conservatively dressed, less popular, not as good looking (although by no means ugly), but a straight-A student with a great sense of humor. Diva is surrounded by legions of adoring fans, while Namaskar, certainly by no means an outcast, keeps a lower profile.

                                The food at Diva is flashy, fun, competently prepared, and a little bit inauthentic (it is, after all, an "Indian bistro"), served in a fun, trendy atmosphere. The food at Namaskar is significantly more authentic, expertly prepared, and served in a handsome, but much less flashy atmosphere. Diva has lines out the door on weekends (as does the adjoining Diva Lounge); I've never had a wait at Namaskar.

                                Between a love of their superb cuisine and, perhaps, a bit of a root-for-the-underdog empathy on my part, I'll choose Namaskar every time.

                                1. re: finlero

                                  Excellent post... the only thing I can add is that when I lived in Davis, I always thought of Namaskar as that restaurant across the street in Seinfeld that Jerry wants to save (sorry for the Seinfeld reference as I know they are tired but that's EXACTLY how I felt about that place). When I'd pass by, one of the guys would almost always be in the doorway, peering out at potential customers. I always felt bad for him and almost felt like I should tell him to not look so desperate. To use your high school friend analogy: Namaskar might be the straight-A student but maybe it also reeks of spineless-last-finishing-nice-guyishness that keeps the ladies (crowds) at bay? And maybe that's why I found a certain kinship with it? Or maybe it was just the better food and atmosphere : )

                                  1. re: finlero

                                    Wonderful analogy, and I'm with you - Namaskar is our neighborhood go-to for Indian food. Diva may have straightened out its act, but in its earlier days the service was so abysmal that we stopped going after a couple of times. . .

                                    1. re: finlero

                                      What's up with the "Diva Lounge", anyway? Took a peek at the drink menu there and there were some absolutely silly (some might say, "intriguing") cocktails. Is it a popular place and worth checking out, or all sizzle and no steak?

                                      1. re: Sgt Snackers

                                        I find it positively absurd - horrible cocktails that aren't just poorly mixed, but incredibly small in an uncomfortable space. Too bad really, I was excited about the design at first, but then I tried to actually sit down!

                                        1. re: gini

                                          Agreed - we've been in once, shortly after they opened and it was bloody awful. Mixed drinks were terrible, poor beer selection, and I found the lighting (those silly, pillowy-looking fixtures) to be highly unflattering, much like sitting under muted fluorescent lights.

                                    2. re: lypp

                                      The food is okay, not great. However, the service is impressively poor and has been all 3 times I've been (I'm officially done giving it a fair chance). Forgotten food, unrefilled water, waiting forever for the check (so long that I almost just left once... ). Ugh. I hate Diva and their stupid over-sized plates. I'm not a huge fan of Namaskar either, actually (I prefer Tanjore and India Quality), but I would take that over Diva any day.

                                      1. re: lypp

                                        Have had the lunch buffet at both Namaskar and Diva. Would gladly go back to the former anytime I'm in the area. Didn't care for Diva's food that much and found the waitstaff less than friendly, if not as famously rude as their reputation has it; am in no hurry to go again.

                                        But good as Namaskar is, if I'm getting Indian I'd just as likely (or more likely) choose India Quality, Tamarind Bay, Cafe of India, Rangoli, Indian Club, or Kebab Factory.

                                      2. We frequent the front room at Gargoyles'; the bar menu is always available in that room around the bar, and at the tables. Weekends include... although we prefer to be on the bar regardless, gini I think you were misinformed. I agree on the smoke (not sizzle) of Diva lounge, but those puffed snacks they put out (freebies) are calling me back. I get a Clockwork Orange feel, which is scarily OK.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: blacknbleu

                                          According to the Gargoyle's website:
                                          the bar menu is available at the front dining room tables...
                                          Sunday, Tuesday - Thursday 5:30 - 10:30pm
                                          available after 10:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays

                                        2. I can't believe that no one has mentioned Tu Y Yo. It is in Powderhouse Square (about ten minute walk). But, oh my, sooooo god. The best Mexican and sangria.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: naughtywaitress

                                            As I've said before, we've given up on Tu y Yo after a couple of disappointing meals and a couple of downright bad ones (and not a good one in the lot). Haven't had the sangria, though...

                                            1. re: naughtywaitress

                                              I mentioned it :).

                                              I haven't been in a while (maybe all the negative reviews got to me), but the entree of pulpo and camarones cooked with peppers in olive oil is one of the best dishes I have had in Boston. I've probably been four times total (ordering that dish twice), and nothing else has been *great* to me, but it has all been good. I enjoy the neat menu items like grasshopper tacos and beer with salt and pepper and hot sauce. Service and atmosphere are nice. It always seemed popular. If it were in Davis Square proper I'd probably have gone twice as much, but Powderhouse Square is a bit of a hike without a car.