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Good chow near the MFA

Want to see the upcoming Hopper exhibit. Will probably see it on a weeknight after work. What's nearby for good chow. Looking for casual, low to moderately priced with no long waiting line. Any cuisine.

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  1. Some good options just on the other side of the Fens: Trattoria Toscana for authentic Tuscan cuisine, Brown Sugar Cafe for Thai, La Verdad for gourmet tacos. (Watch out for pre-Sox crowds, though.) Mission Bar & Grill at Brigham Circle, above average pub food in a friendly place with good beers. Moby Dick for Persian kebabs and rice plates, Pho and I for decent Vietnamese and Thai food. Woody's for good wood-fire pizzas. Heard good things about the Caribbean at Flames, but I haven't tried it.

    1. Near the MFA: outbound on Huntington, you have The Squealing Pig - which has a bunch of threads. I like it. Inbound, you have Betty's Wok & Noodle, which I don't like, and some places right next to Symphony. At that point, the options multiply - up Mass Ave toward the thai places and then toward Berklee or inbound toward Copley.

      1. i second the recs for the mission and for brown sugar cafe. also, penguin pizza in brigham circle has really nice pizzas and beers if you don't want to spend too much.

        1. I liked Betty's Wok & Noodle. Not the fanciest food around, but it's a fun place and the food is solid. Mission Bar & Grill is also great comfort food. I've seen a few postings for the cafe at Gardner Museum, which is around the corner from MFA.
          Thornton's grill has good casual food over on Peterborough St.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chowciao

            The Gardener Museum cafe isn't really a weeknight-after-work option unless the OP works unusual hours - they're only open till 4.

          2. Also nearby is El Pelon tacqueria. Quality varies from item to item, but their fish tacos are surprisingly excellent (better than many I've had out West), as are their fried plantains.

            1. Several folks, including myself, have said positive things about the pub fare at the Squealing Pig, up near Brigham Circle. Allstonian and I have eaten there before catching things at the MFA. I'm particularly fond of the toasties and the curry fries.

              1. As someone who works around here, I am sad to report that the chow is fairly limited in the immediate vicinity of the MFA. El Pelon and Rod Dee Thai food are good, but I am not a fan of Brown Sugar. I have had too many uninspiring, uninspired lunches there. The ingredients don't seem particularly fresh and the ambience is kind of a bummer. The Squealing Pig is a pleasant spot. A burger at Brasserie Jo could fit the bill; I haven't had it but my wife says it's very tasty. I second the idea of Woody's for a pizza, but yes indeed--make sure our beloved Sox are not in town the night you come. This probably goes without saying, but for the love of you-know-who do not eat at the fancy restaurant inside the museum; they will take your money and your time from you and offer you only bad service and lame food in exchange.

                1 Reply
                1. re: East Cambridge Hound

                  I had Woody's pizza for the first time yesterday. Really, really good. Crisp, wood-fired crust with actual taste. I had no idea.

                2. when i saw the hopper exhibit i had lunch at the museum. i was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. dining options around there are pretty dire.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Which restaurant in the museum? I'm a fan of the caf in the basement and usually have the salad bar or soup. The more substanial items are a disappointment but the salad bar has the same items as the "finer venues" and costs a lot less, esp if you use your member card for a discount. To the best of my knowledge there is only one kitchen for the 3 restaurants and I like the courtyard setting much better than the main floor.

                  2. For ultra-casual, I've always greatly enjoyed the Lebanese food at Boston Shwarama, walking up Huntington just past Northeastern. That restaurant is my MFA go-to. Very good falafel and chicken shwarama sandwiches; an array of tasty sides (e.g., tabbouleh, grape leaves) and desserts. Other excellent ultra-casual bets are El Pelon and Rod Dee. For a sit-down place, Brown Sugar is good. Have not been to Trattoria Toscana.

                    1. Saw the Hopper exhibit a couple of months back and went to Flames beforehand. I had the oxtail, peas and rice and some veggies. My wife went with the stewed beef. I also grabbed a beef patty. The food was very tasty and had that simple home cooked flavor to it. The peas and rice was a standout with a nice coconut flavor to it. I like the fact that you can order in 3 different sizes for the entrees. I went with the medium and left feeling very full. It's definitely a good option for the area.

                      1. There is a bar called Bravo right in the museum. And, they will be having drinks to coincide with some of the paintings. And, one does not need the tickets for the exhibit to partake of the bar's offerings.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: taxi

                          I'm not usually one of these people who goes some place once and says "never again" after a not great experience, but Bravo may be the one time I do that. The non service we had there was so amazing, I see no reason to give it another shot. We sat there way too long waiting for a server, then waiting more after asking another server for some help. No one came, we left, not going back.