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Saturday nite... where to eat and then stroll the nabe?

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We arrive in Boston on a Saturday nite after a long flight. I'm thinking about making a dinner reservation now so that our first night will be set and require no thinking. We are staying at the Charlesmark in the Back Bay area. Looking for something in a neighborhood where we can stretch our legs before and after dinner with entrees under $25PP. We like most foods and consider ourselves chowhounds. Please do not suggest the North End because we plan to do that another day (Reginas and Neptune Oyster!). Somewhere easy to get to from our hotel is good, but willing to take the T. I'm sure we'll be tired though, so no long treks. I'm thinking Cambridge as a good possibility because I don't know that we'll have another chance to get there.

Thanks! can't wait to be in Boston!

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  1. It might be a bit easier to get to the Allston area on the T than Cambridge. That's probably the most diverse chowy neighbourhood in the Boston area. If you do a search with "Allston" you'll find lots of great chowhoundish places -- you can walk from one to the next (they're all very close together) and sample a whole range of cuisines.

    1. No need to cross the bridge to Cambridge... walk over to the South End! It's a very short jaunt from your hotel, and a charming neighbourhood with lots of intimate and bistro-y CH-ish options.

      Mr. Rabbit and I did a Saturday night South End walkabout in July, and we had a great time. Depending on what you like, I'd suggest taking a look at The Butcher Shop (has detractors on this board, but we loved it), B&G (although it sounds like you're doing the oyster thing in the North End), Toro (very innovative Spanish tapas), Gaslight (new French bistro... I haven't been yet but initial reports are good), Union Grill, Aquitaine... really you can just walk and menu-read until you find something that suits.

      You can read www.menupages.com (Boston) to find menus for most of these spots.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Rabbit

        Some good options here for the South End, which is a worthy area to consider -- personally, I'd opt for Icarus or Hamersley's if I wanted an excellent if pricey meal here. I'm pretty sure both take reservations. Franklin Cafe is also first rate, but I don't think they take reservations and they get crowded, with subsequent long waits.

        1. re: Rabbit

          Gaslight is a fabulous room. A very clean, timeless bistro space with a nice zinc bar.
          The food I enjoyed was all very tasty with exception of a rater tasteless steak tartare. Also the salads are laughingly small. Cheap, but almost embarrassingly small.
          And another thing, Who is going to fill all these "bistros". I would love to see the business plan for this joint.

        2. You could get a drink across the street at City Bar in the Lenox Hotel. Walk down to Davio's for an app of chicken livers. Over to Bin 26 on Charles St. for wine and entrees. Or Grotto. Then to No. 9 Park for a nightcap. All of these places are no more than 15 min from each other.

          1. Thanks all! It sounds like reservations are not needed at these places on a Saturday nite. Is that true? I'm referring especially to the South End ideas or right in the Back Bay area.

            Is Cambridge really that hard to get to?

            2 Replies
            1. re: abqdeb

              Cambridge is not as hard as all that to reach from your hotel. You have two options:

              1. walk about four blocks to the corner of Newbury Street and Massachusetts Avenue and catch the #1 bus to Harvard Square.

              2. take the Green Line subway inbound from Copley, change at Park Street to the Red Line, then head out on the Red Line in the direction of Alewife.

              Both go to Central Square and Harvard. The former goes right by MIT and the latter stops at Kendall Square not far from MIT.

              1. re: abqdeb

                It would be nice if you could just walk around, read menus, and choose; but, on a Saturday night, I wouldn't go to any top-notch restaurant without a reservation. Unfortunately, there really isn't anything very good in the Back Bay itself.

                Icarus and Hamersley's are good recs, but entrees are more in the upper 20's at Hamersley's and 30's for Icarus. You might check out Gaslight or Laurel for well-priced fare in the South End. The former is livelier, the latter more relaxed. I'm not sure where in the Back Bay your hotel is. If it's closer to the Beacon Hill end, then Grotto would be a good option; if it's closer to the Kenmore Sq. end, then Eastern Standard might be just what you're looking for.