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Dining alone in Newton and surrounding area

In New York City, you can walk into any vaguely nice looking place and dine alone and it is not considered strange, and I'm trying to replicate this experience somewhere in the wester suburbs. I know, not an easy task.

I'm looking for a relatively cheap place where I can dine alone and enjoy a good book without too much noise. Newton, Waltham, Watertown, Brookline or surrounding area is preferred. As I am on a strict budget, entrees under $10 would also be nice. In terms of the kind of food, I'm looking for something light and maybe a little different - like a good, niceish place to get pho or a quiet neighborhood Italian joint.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Entrees under $10???? I doubt it. A relatively inexpensive choice is the Biltmore in Newton Upper Falls. Nice bar, excellent food, nice fish specials.

    5 Replies
    1. re: emilief

      Maybe I should clarify: I don't care if it's fancy. Just want some good food without too much noise. Sorry if I was vague.

      1. re: qwertyu

        I second the Biltmore Cafe on Chestnut Street (website: biltmorenewton.com); also, around the corner on Elliot Street, Dunn-Gaherins, Irish Pub with good food; on Needham Street, Greek Food at The Farm Grill; and in Watertown, Strip-t's Restaurant. It may be out of your geographical requests but it is close to Brookline: the Food Court at Super 88 Supermarket for various ethnic all under $10: dim sum, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, etc.

        1. re: paulgardner

          Based on recommendations on this board, my husband and I tried Farm Grill last week. We really liked it, and I noted at the time that there were several people there alone reading. There's a large communal type table in the middle with seats on either side that is especially conducive to dining solo. Also, Sweet Tomatoes and Blue Ribbon in West Newton seem like they might suit your needs. If you're not limited to dinner, Cafe Mangal in Wellesley is nice; I know they serve dinner on certain nights and I think it can get a little more expensive.

          1. re: paulgardner

            Dunn-Gaherins is a nice neighborhood pub, with extremely friendly staff, and it's also very kid friendly. But "good food" is pushing it. I'd be pretty surprised to find out that their kitchen consisted of more than a freezer, microwave, and deep fryer (o.k., maybe a grill for burgers, too). I really wanted to like this place, and I do - just not for the food.

            The Farm Grill Rotisserie is pretty good if you're in the Needham St. area, and eating alone there is no problem. There are lines at lunch, and tables can be scarce, but if you go at off-peak times, you might find it quiet enough to enjoy your book.

            I've also seen people reading books at lunchtime at Matt Murphy's Pub in Brookline (not at dinner, when it's just too crowded), but I haven't been there in a few years (it's not quite the same since Matt Murphy left).

        2. re: emilief

          Based solely on this posting, I headed over to the Biltmore (alone) last night... somewhere between the late afternoon crowd and the dinner/sox game crowd. I sat at the bar with my book, enjoyed fantastic service and tremendous appetizers. Being from Rhode Island, I've had my share of stuffies (stuffed quahogs). But they're usually grounds clams, bread, etc, piped back in to the shell. These three were roughly chopped, lightly refilling the shells with their stuffing, served with mache... a great app... I also had a lamb sausage over eggplant that was tremendous...

          Thanks ChowHounds....

        3. Amarin Thai in Newton Corner? Very nice decor and food. You should find something within your price point.

          1. Try Molana for Persian food.

            1. $10 wouldn't get you a lot there, but Oishii in Chestnut Hill has some of the best sushi in Boston. You don't have to break the bank, but $10 would be tough.

              Many, even most, of the places around Coolidge Corner would be solo-dining-friendly, with a lot of inexpensive options. Although I'm not an expert on your side of the river, I'm sure plenty of people can weigh in. And a board search for Coolidge Corner should give you some great hits.

              1. As others have noted, that level of cheap (not to mention good) is tough to come by. Two Thai places in Brookline near Coolidge Corner, Dok Bua and Rod Dee, have a shot at keeping things that low. So does Bottega Fiorentina (Italian food, Coolidge Corner or Brookline Village). And in Coolidge Corner there are ultra-cheap taco joints like Anna's Taqueria and Boca Grande or Middle Eastern spots like Rami's or Shawarma King, though these four are likely to be noisy.

                In Newton Highlands, you could try Baker's Best (kind of a deli on sterioids) and in Newton Centre, there's No. 1 Noodle (Oriental noodles) and Sweet Tomatoes (pizza), though all can be noisy.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bachslunch

                  Also in Newton Centre is Sabra, an Israeli restaurant with an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. The food is serviceable and the price is right.

                2. I dine alone with a book all the time, mostly in cheap eats places. Maybe I'm just oblivious but it doesn't feel weird. Waltham is handy: Beijing Star, Taqueria Mexico and Taqueria El Amigo come to mind. Second Strip-T's in Watertown. Molana is nice and usually quiet and you can sit for hours. Can you finesse the price point by taking home half? For instance Turkish Family entrees are above $10 but easily enough for 2 meals.