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Funky Place for Summer Birthday

Hey, I have a summer birthday coming up and I am trying to generate ideas for a cool place to have a birthday dinner. There is going to be a group of at least 10, and we're coming from Metro west area, so I was thinking a place in Boston or Newton. I was thinking about something along the lines of the Sunset Cantina (Is this the one right on Comm. Ave, by BU?) or perhaps Union Street Restaurant in Newton. I appreciate any and all recommendations. Thanks.

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  1. Critical question when considering a Boston locale for a group: do you need parking? If yes, options tend to narrow.

    1 Reply
    1. re: recentlysequinned

      I do not believe parking would be an issue, I think we would take the T in. So I welcome any and all suggestions.

      1. The food at Union St is pretty uninspiring. Yes, the Cantina is on Comm ave across the street from the Agganis Arena. Food is nothing special.

        1. A few places I have been with groups of 10-15 that were successes (meaning the service was good for a big group, everyone found something they liked to eat and the price was reasonable so that no one was suprised and no one got stuck with an extra chunk of the bill) are as follows:
          Boston Beer Works - somewhat above average bar food, interesting beers, near Fenway so if your birthday falls when the Sox are in town plan to go ~30 minutes after the game starts
          India Quality - one of my favorite Indian restaurants, also in Kenmore, it is relatively small, but they set up a big group of tables in the back and were very nice

          1. It sounds like you're looking for sort of a bar with a pretty broad menu? The Beer Works suggestion isn't bad--I don't actually like the food there, but it tends to have something for everyone (and I think most people like the food more than I do). My favorite sort of pub spot (that I think could fit a big group) is probably the Kinsale, across from the Government Center T-stop. It's faux-Irish (and a little bit corporate feeling), with a something-for-everyone menu that I think is done a bit better than at similar spots. And there are plenty of other bars around Faneuil Hall if you want to continue the evening after dinner.

            1. I haven't been but I have heard that the dual piano thing at Jake Ivory's is fun. Not sure about food. Also, this I know is a fun time - Jacob Wirth's on Friday night from 8-12 - singalong with Mel Stiller at the piano. Food is good. Pitchers of many types of beer. Lots of fun! Hope this helps...

              1. Ok, I've done big parites (bdays and otherwise) at all these places, and they've all been sucessful in terms of capacity, diversity of menu choices, and service: Cambridge Brewing Company, Jasper White's Summer Shack, The Independent in Union Sq, Montien, China Pearl, Tamarind Bay, Anise, and Picco.

                1. Union Street really rocks this season... they have an outdoor patio which is PACKED most nights. Also, if you think parking in downtown is a problem, try Newton Center around 7 pm!!! That said, the food is okay and it is a huge hit with the 30-somethings.

                  1. Devlin's in Brighton is kind of fun and has a back patio. Sol Azteca, Beacon St. Tavern and Audobon outside Kenmore Sq. all have outdoor seating and are reasonable, obviously you have to like Mexican for SA.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Joanie

                      Has anyone tried Game On! by Fenway, I heard it was good, and I wanted to know if anyone had been there and what their thoughts were. On my birthday they will be away so if there is any good places in the area, I will consider them since it won't have the normal chaos that arises when the Sox are in town.

                      1. re: KGardz

                        No one I know goes to Game On to eat. It's a sports bar on steroids. It's a bar to watch a game, or several games at once, that serves VERY average bar food(nachos, burgers...etc.). I've split appetizers there after a game with a bunch of guys just to get something in our stomachs, but that's it.

                        1. re: BostonBarGuy

                          I went there on Opening Day because that was my customer's desire. Although neither of us had ever been there before and we spent most of our time drinking Guinness, we did order a plate of R.I. style calamari. it was excellent. One of the best plates I've had this year, actually. We never got around to entrees, lol, so I can't comment on that. And of course it's a zoo, but you know that going in.

                          1. re: Harp00n

                            As I have looked further into places, I think I am leaning towards a bar/grille or something along the lines of Boston Beer Works. We are a younger crowd and just looking to go into the city, relax, have a decent meal, a drink, and for myself have a good birthday. So, if anyone knows any places similar to Boston Beer Works or understands what scene I am leaning towards, I appreciate the suggestions.

                            1. re: KGardz

                              I'll give you one more, somewhat upscale compared to BBW or Game On, pre-game spot. That would be the new Burton's Grill on Boylston St. It's not stuffy at all, just a little nicer. Obtw, if you like crab cakes theirs are first rate. Here's the link. http://www.burtonsgrill.com/


                              Burtons Grill
                              1363 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215

                              1. re: KGardz

                                I second an earlier suggestion of the Cambridge Brewing Company. Great beers and their food has been superior to the Boston Beer Works in my experience.

                                Hope this helps!

                              2. re: Harp00n

                                I've had excellent calamari there too along with a couple great pizzas. Burger was okay. I definitely don't think i'ts just a sports bar on steroids. And I seldom see it in zoo mood. In fact, I'm surprised at how quiet it normally is. And why do they open for breakfast? I can't imagine more than 5 people go.

                                1. re: Joanie

                                  We actually stumbled, semi-figuratively, across Burton's after the Opening Day game. Having been known to frequent them in Andover, I knew they were opening another place but had forgotten all about it until then. We had a nice conversation with the manager. He was giving us his take on their market niche in the area. He was very personable and quite proud of their wine selection. Since we'd been hammering the Guinness, the grape was not on our agenda. Sadly, they only had The Black Stuff in bottle but you have to make accomodations some times. Been back a couple of times since and it's a nice option for the area :-)

                        2. The Biltomore in Newton Upper Falls on Chestnut Street would fit the bill. I had a group birthday party there- they set up a table for 10 in one room and were gracious about allowing us to bring in a birthday cake. Excellent drinks and good beer and wine selections. Not expensive, but really good food.

                          1. I have yet to go, but have heard good things about King's in the Back Bay - restaurant/bowling/bar, etc. Might have just what you're looking for.

                            1. I would highly reccommend Tapeo on Newbury Street. They do a great job with large groups and actually have special event menus for reasonably priced. I'm pretty sure all the information is on their website, but I'm sure you can just call the restaurant too.

                              1. I thought of one more spot. Upstairs On the Square in Harvard Square. We recently had a work party there for twelve and had a great time.


                                Upstairs On the Square
                                91 Winthrop Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                1. We had a nice birthday party in June at Deep Ellum in Brighton. Excellent cocktails and a big tap beer selection. The food seems pretty good (I only had a few fries, which were excellent, but mostly I was having cocktails for dinner-loved the sidecar). Music is great and everyone said they liked the place a lot. Call ahead and they might be able to put together a few table for you like they did for us- the staff is very pleasant.