One night in Boston
Restaurant wanted: Two foodies from California desperately seeking locals to help us choose the right restaurant for Sunday night (yes, tomorow). We've been through the postings here and on TripAdvisor and though we love the sound of the menus and service at Clio, L'Espalier, No.9, Radius, Mistral, Sorellina -- we want something more moderately priced, not stuffy, great friendly service, consistent gourmet-innovative food, intimate, with a local vibe. Somewhere you'd go for a nice evening and knew you wouldn't be disappointed.
We're staying at the CharlesMark hotel but are up for a walk or T-ride.
ps We'd love a breakfast or lunch recommendation for Monday, too.
You might enjoy Oleanna (on Hampshire in Cambridge). The outside patio, on a warm night, will be lovely.
I have to admit that your dinner preferences may be somewhat contradictory in the Boston dining scene. Ten Tables would be great, but it would help to call ahead. Even so, they did make an error in our most recent reservation that forced us to dine elsewhere, though they were extremely gracious about the whole thing.
Breakfast: May I suggest Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe (429 Columbus Ave)? It's a Boston classic. Won a James Beard award. Walking distance from your hotel. Nothing fancy at all, imagine a greasy spoon diner at the nearly superlative level.
Lunch: Parish Cafe (361 Boylston St). Also walking distance. Sandwiches devised by many of Boston's most famous chefs. Lots of fun.
I'd walk to the South End and go to The Butcher Shop for wine and cheese, then to B&G Oyster for dinner.
Few of the places on your list would qualify as "moderately priced" and some would even count as "stuffy". Sounds like you might be looking for a place like the Franklin Cafe, which has wonderful food and bar, good atmosphere, and is much more relaxed than those places. B&G or Neptune Oyster are both good recommendations in this category. Ten Tables and Oleana (also recommended below) would be excellent choices as well. I'm a fan of Evoo in Cambridge for its creative cuisine and friendly atmosphere - a bit of a walk from the T though.
I'll enthusiastically recommend Neptune Oyster -- widely and deservedly praised by the foodies here on Chowhound. A smallish (maybe 30 seats) charming restaurant on a narrow street in the North End it serves creative, and delicious local shellfish and fish dishes:
Raw bar Menu:
Of the list you had No. 9 would probably be the least stuffy but is closed on Sundays. It would be difficult to describe Clio and Radius as moderately priced.
That said, if moderately priced is about $100.00 or so each you can squeak out of Radius for that and probably have a decent meal at Troquet, which is about a ten minute walk from your hotel.
Neptune, B&G, and the Butcher Shop are all good choices as well.
i'm a huge fan of neptune oyster as well. the chef puts out some of the most consistently innovative food in the city. it's anything but stuffy, has a great winelist and i have never had anything less than a great meal. every time. they're open all day, so you could do lunch there on monday if you like.
taranta in the north end is wonderful too. italian, but with a peruvian spin.
a nice walk towards the common would bring you to bin 26 enoteca for small plates and a very unique winelist. also open all day.
personally, i don't care for b&g at all and find radius underwhelming at best.
Another good place within walking distance is Petit Robert Bistro (just down Columbus from Charlie's).
Thanks for all of your recommendations. After a lovely stay with spectacular weather and guidance from Chowhound, we decided to make a Boston stop-over a tradition when visiting my husband's parents in Georgetown.
We were running on the later side after seeing Blue Man Group (love that Charles Street Theatre serves drinks) so we were too late for our first choice Ten Tables, and went to Neptune Oyster. We so appreciate you steering us to a great meal and evening. It fit the bill.
Late Monday morning we took youngho's rec and went to Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe for brunch. We were fascinated with the history, the handwritten notes posted on the wall, and the 4-table top minimum charge of $3.50.