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Waltham/Watertown - mid-level

I've read the old threads, but still having a hard time finding a mid-level place. Can't afford the fancy places, but I'm not looking for pizza or counter service. I'm looking for a sit-down place for a group, with a liquor license and entrees in the 10-17 dollar range. Thoughts?

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  1. Casa de Pedro in Watertown has gotten good and not so great reviews, but it's a great space. Watch City Brewery in Waltham. Do they have a full liquor license?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Joanie

      Only beer, wine, cider, and maybe a malternative are served at WC.

      1. re: Joanie

        Watch City's food is godawful and their brews aren't much better.
        Elephant Walk & Solea are both very good and will fit in "mid-range" if one orders carefully.

        1. re: Harp00n

          Now, now, its not that bad - take it from someone who has been eating/drinking here about once a month since 1998. Food can be hit or miss depending on who's cooking or what you pick. Stick to the burgers and sandwiches and you'll be fine - sometimes the entrees can be good, sometimes not. Beers have been spotty over the years, but Aaron has done a real good job with the regulars - they definitely have come a long way since 98 - Titan is always delicious, Hops Explosion is very good most of the time - just ok sometimes, never had a bad stout or porter there. Some seasonals are good too - like baltic porter, pilsner, clockwork orange, maibock etc, but some are experimental style splitters that seem odd sometimes. Still miles ahead of Rock Bottom and John Harvard's chains in the area in both beer and food imo.

          Maybe you just picked the wrong things during your visit(s).

          1. re: LStaff

            Okay, okay, I feel your vehemence. I'll go, I'll try again. Admittedly, it's been a couple of years since last I was there. At that time, after several widely scattered sessions, none of the brews I tried were either really outstanding nor really bad. They were workmanlike. Cambridge Brewing, IMO, is probably the best of the brewpub bunch at the moment along with The Tap in Haverhill. I just love The Tap's Leatherlips.

            John Harvard, and I can only speak of Framingham, does a couple of very nice brews. Namely: the Irish Dry Stout and the CurlyQ IPA. They don't call it a double IPA, but it is. Some of their "comfort food" dishes are pretty damn passable, regardless of received knowledge. It's not My Local, Stone's Public House in Ashland & The Horseshoe in Hudson would fall in that category. But it's close-by and more than okay, if you know what to order liquid and otherwise.

            Okay, I've gotten way off-topic, your personal recs are noted and I will act on them, so thanks LStaff.

            All the best, Harp00n

          2. re: Harp00n

            I agree with you, there food has never been much to write home about and their brews are very hit or miss.

            I will admit it has been 3-4 years since I have been there because I just plain gave up on the place.

        2. Moody St has tons of mediocre places that fit that bill. Jakes BBQ, Watch citry Brewery, Margaritas, Bison county, Iguanas etc etc

          did plenty of work lunchs/dinners at Jakes, good variety and decent Q, full bar and has a sort of seperated back room area good for groups

          3 Replies
          1. re: Bighead

            I agree that Moody St is a good place for mid-range food. I had a bad experience at Jakes....bland, dry food and the worst service I can remember experiencing in the past two years. I actually complained to the manager twice and refused to leave a tip (something I try never to do).

            Margaritas is pretty good, but I do prefer Iguana Cantina...I've been there at least twice, and was pleased each time. The margaritas are good (i.e., they actually compare to what I make at home!) and the place tends to be less busy than Margaritas (once we were looking at an hour wait at Margaritas, but were seated instantly at Iguana).

            1. re: Bighead

              Mediocre? I don't mean to sound ungrateful for the suggestions, but I was hoping for something better than mediocre - not necessarily blow-your-mind fantastic, but good. I've noticed that this price point seems to be a hard one to get recommendations for, and I don't know if it's a Chowhound thing or an actual dearth of good places in that range. I find lots of recommendations in general for what I would consider expensive, special-occasion restaurants (entrees starting in the high teens or twenties), and lots of recommendations for take-out, pizza, etc. But very few recommendations for something in the middle. Odd - I would think there would be a big call for that, for the post-work dinner outing and so on. Maybe people just make way more money than I realize.
              Or is this the range in which the chains have the strongest effect?

              1. re: curiousbaker

                Well, I think mediocre might be understating some of these spots. Iguana Cantina is far better than mediocre in my book, and see my recs below...I consider them all to be great food for the money.

            2. Elephant Walk on Main Street (at the intersection with Moody) might work. The entrees on the dinner menu kind of push your budget a little - they're mostly in the 15-20 dollar range, but there are a few cheaper selections, and I think they do have a full bar. Nice atmosphere as well.

              1. Not your Average Joe's in Watertown Square is part of a small chain. Drinks are pretty crummy, but some of the food isn't bad. I actually really like the chicken cutlet and meatloaf there. Burgers aren't bad either, and the bread and garlic/cheese oil they give you is addictive. Stick with wine or beer. It fits the bill when some of our non-adventurous family members come to visit.

                Halfway cafe farther down Main towards Waltham is good for steamers, burgers and sandwiches and has a big beer selection.

                  1. re: bear

                    Not big - just six. But not an intimate, couple dining situation.

                  2. Solea on Moody is a good place - tapas so you can price accordingly. Definitely firmly in the mid-level.

                    You are right about mid-range recs - they are lacking because there are so few places that fall in this category.

                    1. (My original post was deleted b/c of a link that I shouldn't have included, so I'm reposting an edited version)

                      I actually think this price range is where Watertown/Waltham really shines. There aren't a lot of high end places, but a reasonable number of solid mid-range dining options.

                      Right in Watertown, check out Asiana Fusion (on the corner of Main and Waverly Sts). From their website: "Asiana Fusion cuisine is a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Thai favorites with a contemporary flare." My partner loves the Udon soup and you can also get a lychee martini!

                      If you want good, basic Mexican, I would suggest Acapulco (45 Lexington St--on the corner of Main St). The Sangria is yummy and they have a few interesting items on the menu (i.e., that go above and beyond "basic" Mexican fare).

                      Just over the border into Newton is Fiorella's, which does solid red-sauce Italian food. This place is a tad pricier, but if you sign up for their mailing list, they'll send you a coupon for a free entree on your birthday :-)

                      My favorite place for pub grub is John Brewers Tavern, on Main St right at the Watertown/Waltham line (I think the food is a notch above other pubs on Main St in Watertown). They even have a small patio for al fresco dining in the summer. The chx pot pie is great with a huge flaky top, the pot roast is consistently good, and I've never had a bad burger there. If you like wings, the Honey Buffalo boneless wings are worth trying.

                      I've only been to la Casa de Pedro once, but I found the prices to be too high relative to the quality of the food. just my two cents...

                      I know I'll think of more places, and will update my reply accordingly.

                      1. Fiorella's would fit the bill exactly. It's on North st in Newton right over the Watertown line off Pleasant st, sort of around the corner from Russo's market. Very nice pizza and Italian food, very comforable and affordable, good wait staff, even cloth table cloths (I think??). This should be the one.

                        1. I hear you on the mid-range prices. Our dining budget can't handle high-end places, and usually end up with take-out or cheap eats except on special occasions.

                          Here are a couple more suggestions:

                          Waltham:

                          On Main, Joe Sent Me is a burger/tips place and may be too casual for your needs, but the burgers are very good, the fries great, and you could definitely make a bit of noise and feel comfortable. Not sure how the cocktails are.

                          Watch City would work as far as atmosphere goes, with typical pub food where your burger may be okay, or may be way over-cooked.

                          Bison County and Jake's have okay Q, and could be fun.

                          John Brewer's is a generic pub, typical wings and burgers.

                          Watch City may not have stellar food, but the atmosphere would work and most of the food is acceptable.

                          Gemelli is a low/mid-range Italian which would fit your needs. Fairly sparse atmosphere, okay food.

                          I think that Solea and Elephant Walk are a little pricier than you are asking for.

                          Watertown:

                          Not Your Average Joe's is okay if you order carefully. Atmosphere would work and full liquor license.

                          Grappa is a fairly small Italian place with decent food and it fits your price range. I'm not sure if they have a full liquor licence, but they have beer and wine.

                          Gary's has decor that probably hasn't changed since the 50's. An old-school red sauce place.

                          Donahue's is fun, typical pub menu, great prices, but very crowded most of the time.

                          Stellina and La Casa de Pedro are again a little out of your price range.

                          Fiorella's, over the line in Newton, (mentioned above) would definitely work.

                          Have fun!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: bear

                            "Gary's has decor that probably hasn't changed since the 50's. An old-school red sauce place."

                            - I think you mean Greg's Restaurant? - 821 Mount Auburn St

                            1. re: okra

                              I think Bob D's suggestion of Solea was good. The room is nice, not too noisy, it even has that nice open to the street area, and the tapas are good for an intimate, couple dining situation.

                            2. re: bear

                              I went to Grappa once in February, about a month after it opened. I will have to respectfully disagree with Bear on the quality of the food - it was totally subpar. my meatball was the most flavorless I have ever eaten, and the undercooked Prince pasta did not pass for al dente, as they hoped it would. jar-quality marinara. DC's linguine with scallops and shrimp was swimming in low-quality olive oil and butter, and the texture of the seafood was rubbery. I thought I'd delight in the pre-dinner garlic bread, except it too was drowning in an oil slick.

                              Service was ok, nothing special, but the hostess was overly solicitous - I personally can't stand the patronizing, wide-eyed overservice. but i suppose it was better than ignoring us or being otherwise rude.

                              one plus - they do have a full liquor license. however, I think the poster would be much better off at Fiorella's in Newton, which was previously mentioned, for mid-range Italian fare. their presentation is much more thoughtful than a restaurant of similar cuisine and price point, and their huge, reasonably priced and well-prepared cocktails were another plus. service was also warm and attentive.

                            3. Great bar food at Sadies in Waltham, good italian at Gemelli's on upper Moody St. Dont care for either BBQ place in Waltham, but I would say Bison over Jake's. Boca, very cool place to hang/eat/drink with friends. Iguana and Marg's, both decent. Joe Sent Me, another place for good more creative bar food. Erawan of Siam, best Thai in Waltham and I could go on and on. Enjoy!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: LovesFoieGras

                                LovesFoieGras, I'd love to hear specifics about Boca. Been wanting to try it, but haven't made it there yet.

                                Curiousbaker, I think Solea is a little high for your price range unless you just want snacks. Food can be very good, but plates are tapa-sized and add up quickly.

                                1. re: bear

                                  You should check out their web-site boca-bar....cool atmosphere and drinks!

                                  1. re: LovesFoieGras

                                    Based on a Chowhound rec, we went to Tempo in Waltham last November and had a wonderful dinner.. I recall having a great beet salad with goat cheese and tuna. My son had a great steak. Here is the website:http://www.tempobistro.com/

                                    1. re: sherry f

                                      Tempo is indeed very nice, but most of the entrees are above curiousbaker's
                                      range. Very fun room, lots of energy, rather loud.