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Birthday dinner--opinion on these restaurants?

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I am relatively new to the Boston area and I want to take my boyfriend out to dinner for his 25th birthday. From searching online and reading reviews, it seems like the following places might be good choices:

Pigalle
Dali
Icarus
Excelsior
28 degrees

I know they are a range of styles, types of food, etc. But does anyone have a strong favorite or recommendation? Also, any other suggestions would be appreciated. However, he or we have already been to Teatro, Mistral, Masa, Restaurant 33, Stella, Abe & Louies, a few places in the North End like Florentine and Il Panino...so I'd like to try somewhere new.

He loves steak, Mexican food, Italian food...and I do too, but the only catch is that I'm vegetarian...but obviously, it's for his bday so it really doesn't matter as long as there is at least one option for me.

Thanks, I appreciate any suggestions!

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  1. Also, perhaps an option would be to go to 28 degrees for a drink or two (either before or after) and have dinner at Icarus, since they are next door to each other...

    1. Dali is a perennial favorite for a moderately raucous dinner celebration. Personally, I like it best when I'm with a medium-sized group rather than when I'm just part of a couple.

      I've found the optimal party size to be five. This allows you to order a whole bunch of different tapas, and still get a taste of everything you want to try, without the mass chaos of a larger group setting in. The 2-liter [awesome] sangria pitchers are also a good "quantum" for a 5-person group.

      Dali works fine for a two-person group as well, although I'd recommend trying to score one of the booths or a table in the nominally quieter back room, which may add to the long wait.

      1. I think Teatro would be fun for 25 year olds who like Italian and need to accommodate a vegetarian. Also, it'll save you a few dollars from some of those (Excelsior, Icarus) if that's a consideration at all. Icarus is a nice room tho if you prefer quiet and sedate over big and bustling (Teatro). And there's always Prezza in the north end.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Joanie

          Thanks Joanie. We've already been to Teatro (and really enjoyed it) so I was thinking something a little different this time...maybe Icarus for dinner, and 28degrees for drinks...?

          1. re: Lisa123

            Sounds likek a good plan.

        2. How about Taranta?

          1 Reply
          1. re: michela

            i second taranta. no other menu like it in the city. the owner and staff are congenial, the menu always interesting and well-executed.

            dali gets its props here, but frankly, all the tapas are microwaved or fried. meh. fun bar though.

            from your list, i'd pick pigalle, although their demographic seems to skew much older than 25.

          2. Of these, I'd go with Pigalle, Icarus, or Dali, all excellent, with the last being the cheapest of the bunch. Excelsior is exceedingly pricey and really not worth the expense. 28 Degrees is best for drinks, but watch for snooty attitudes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bachslunch

              I'd say Dali and its Newbury Street counterpart Tapeo. Great romantic and completely fun atmosphere.