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San Francisco Hound Needs Solo Dining Advice

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Hi All - Will be in Boston this coming weekend and dining alone on Saturday night. I'm staying at the Omni Parker House Hotel and would love recs on good, lively places to have a great meal solo, preferably within walking distance, or a short T ride. Nothing too fancy - I'm open to pubs with good food, as well as holes in the wall, and am willing to spend up to $30-$40. If you all can suggest a good place to grab a drink and meet friendly locals afterward, this would be a much appreciated bonus!

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  1. Silvertone fits all your requirements with ease.

    Do a site search for details.

    BTW, I believe it opens at 6:00 pm on Saturdays.

    1. It's restaurant week then, I'm recommending non-restaurant week places.

      You can walk to the North End. Try Carmen (good antipasti selection), The Daily Catch (squid ink pasta aglio olio), Maurizio's (a few Sardinian dishes that are worth trying).

      Try Cafe Baraka in Central Sq. for Algerian/Tunisian food, a few stops North on the red line.

      1. There's hope: Restaurant Week does not start until Sunday. And at many places, not until Monday. The sponsors have figured out that offering such a promotion on a Saturday is not a good idea.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BBHound

          Woops, my bad, misread the OP (I thought next weekend) - RW is March 4-9.

        2. Silvertone for both good "comfort" food and a place to grab a drink afterwards.
          Beantown pub has pool & beer for afterwards, but please do yourself a favor and stay away from the food.
          There's also Jacob Wirth's in the nearby theater district - I'm not the biggest fan of their food, but it is decent pub grub.
          Depending on whether you go right or left down Tremont, you could end up in the North End or Chinatown. Wouldn't recommend chinatown with your being from SF, but there may be a few places (mentioned above and below) in the North End that would fill the bill.
          If you're a cigar smoker, downstairs from Cafe Vittoria in the North End is quite lively and convivial mixing of the locals over cocktails and cigars.

          1. Besides Silvertone, No. 9 Park for a step up. 75 Chestnut and Beacon Hill Pub on Charles St. Teatro on Tremont St. might be okay on the early side before it gets too crowded and noisy. Spire even closer has a fun bar. Short walk to the north end where Prezza has a good bar for solo dining and keeping it to apps is reasonable. The Kinsale across from the Govt. Center T stop is okay pub food.

            If you don't mind emailing joanie@wmbr.org, I have some SF questions. Thanks.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Joanie

              the BHP serves food? Say it ain't so!

              1. re: gini

                Oops, Beacon Hill Bistro. A few steps above.

            2. I'd suggest dinner at the bar at Gargoyle's followed by meeting the locals at the Burren, both (of course) in Davis Square and thus well off the business traveler circuit.

              2 Replies
              1. re: DavisSquare

                And by locals at the Burren on a Saturday night you mean a drunk Tufts meat market, right?

                1. re: gini

                  Sorry, I missed the Saturday night part so I assumed that business travel was midweek. I retract the Burren recommendation; I'll read more carefully next time.

              2. I agree that the Burren on a Saturday night is fun....if you are a junior at Tufts. It's such a different (better, imo) place at other times of the week.

                I always find Mr Dooleys (on Broad St, not a far walk from your hotel) to be a friendly place to have some solo drinks on a Saturday. Sometimes the live music is Unicorn Song-type hokey, but it's sometimes quite good.

                1. this is wonderful - i really appreciate all of your replies! i'll sift through these, and others that come in and will be certain to report back. naturally, don't hesitate to ask if i can return the favor in SF!

                  1. I send the Gargoyles bar rec. Although you'll need to get there early since it gets pretty packed. Pass on the Burren...

                    Central Kitchen in Central Square would also work. You could eat and then hit the Enormous Room upstairs. OR even better, walk up River Street to River Gods. You can also eat there and it's well worth the short walk from the Central Sq. T stop.

                    The B Side Lounge is a short walk from the Kendall Square T stop. Should be very lively on a Saturday night.

                    One more great pub - Plough & Stars on Mass Ave. between the Harvard and Central T stops.

                    1. btw, is the paramount any good? a friend recommended it. saw generally good things from a search done here.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: sfoperalover

                        I've only had breakfast there (a waffle with fresh fruit) which was delicious. But I did not like them charging me ca. $1.50 more than the listed price on the price board and menu for it. And when I pointed out the mistake, I was told by the cashier to pay the higher price anyway, that the correction would be made on the price board right away. The price upgrade hadn't been made on the menu in their window several weeks after I ate there -- I checked.

                        Any place that plays the "prices subject to change if you don't watch our cashiers closely" game is not a spot I'm keen to repatronize. But the food was very good.

                        1. re: bachslunch

                          I'm surprised the Paramount did that. I once ordered a grilled cheese w/ tomato and bacon which came with no bacon. They felt bad about it and offered me a free drink while they did it over then the owner saw my post and emailed me. I wouldn't have paid the higher price.

                          1. re: Joanie

                            The woman at the Paramount's cash register did indeed do that. I ordered the waffle at the counter and the cooks were making it for me when I went to pay -- at which point, the cashier told me that the much higher price had just recently gone into effect. When I asked to talk to the manager, I was told there was none there at present, and that if I wanted the waffle, I'd have to pay that price. And if I didn't want to pay that price, I should order something else -- by which time the waffle was pretty much done. Happened some time last year, on an early Saturday afternoon if memory serves.

                            It was my first -- and will be my last -- time to eat there.

                          2. re: bachslunch

                            That happened to me too, with a pick up order at lunch time a month ago- I think she was relying on me to just want to move along instead of pay the listed price- it gets very busy and frenetic in there during lunch... I haven't been back since

                          3. re: sfoperalover

                            It's somewhat ordinary.

                          4. I'll suggest the Publick House, probably the best beer pub, great atmosphere, and well above average food IMO, Belgian choices for instance. Take the C Green line from Park Street to Washington Square in Brookline (20-30 minutes).

                            I also agree with the Burren recs, my favorite Boston Irish bar - The Field in Central Square is second.

                            If you decide to splurge I think Uni (a sushi bar next to a well known restaurant named Clio) is a great solo place for this, it's at the Hynes Convention Center stop on the green line.

                            1. paramount is good but not really conducive to solo dining.

                              there's also an irish pub called cleary's, on columbus ave., within a 10 minute walk from your hotel which is really packed and fun at night. don't know how old you are, but the rattlesnake is also a good spot for meeting people under 30.

                              1. Lots of great suggestions here! You can let the weather be your guide - if it's very cold or sloppy, eat at Silvertone, but treat yourself to fabulous cocktails at #9 Park. Both are extremely close to your hotel.

                                If the weather's more temperate, Gargoyles is great, and then you could walk around Davis Sq,. If the Burren isn't quite right, you could also check out the music at Johnny D's, or play pool and drink coffee at the Diesel.

                                One other combo would be dinner at the bar at either the Blue Room or Oleana (both not too far from the Kendall sq on the red line--Oleana's further), and drinks after at the B-side lounge.

                                Publick House is nice & cozy too, and has a fireplace.

                                1. thanka again all - just to clarify, i'm not looking for a date! just a friendly atmosphere! i wish i had longer to spend checking out all these wonderful places!

                                  1. I agree with most recs, specifically Bluebell's...if the weather is nice and you feel like venturing out and checking out another area, then yes, head to Davis Sq and sit at the bar at Gargoyles...maybe grab a pint at the Burren...Plough and Stars is fun though you'd have to get there from Davis by T...sort of hassle.
                                    If you just feel like hanging close to your hotel, your best bet is by far Silvertone. It's exactly as you describe..very casual, delicious comfort food..you can grab a seat at the bar and enjoy expertly mixed cocktails and/or good draft beers and have some dinner. It's a short walk from your hotel and by far one of my favorite spots in Boston to grab some really good comfort food and drinks. Enjoy.

                                    1. One thing I would definitely not do is eat at the Parker House restaurant or the Last Hurrah pub, both on the premises of your hotel. While they purportedly invented Boston cream pie (and they do this dessert well there) and the dining room in the former is attractive in an old-wood formal way, the food at both places was otherwise stodgy and dull when I've gone, brought over by servers who aren't exactly a joy to experience. Fortunately, you've gotten lots of good suggestions above.

                                      1. I think you may find the friendliest atmosphere that fits your criteria on a Saturday night at No. 9, but you'll have to open your wallet. You can get pretty toasted on excellent cocktails and eat a decent, light meal for about a hundred bucks.

                                        Boston's a nice, walkable city but going out isn't cheap. If your $30/$40 is for both dinner and drinks you may want to pre-game a bit with a six pack at your hotel, as that'll buy you about two small glasses of wine and one main course, maybe, especially in your neighborhood. If I'm going all-out but on a tight budget I'll typically stop for a hot dog or a slice with a few cheap beers first.

                                        One place that I've found particularly friendly on Saturday nights when solo is Icarus in the South End. It doesn't get much attention on here, but the food is decent New Englandish/New-American food and the drinks are reasonably priced. Also, it's one of your best bets for finding a seat at the bar. I'd plan on spending about eighty, which would be a main, maybe an app and about four glasses of wine, including tip.

                                        1. If you're feeling adventurous, try Les Zygomates or Sorriso in the Leather District. It's about a 15 minute walk from the Parker House, on the other side of Downtown Crossing. Both are great for solo eating - I've eaten plenty of times at the bar (I'm a woman, FYI). The barkeeps are friendly, as is the crowd. Sorriso is italian and cheaper than the French Les Zyg.