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fun, not too pricey dinner in cambridge/somerville?

l
lilbiscuit Oct 9, 2007 07:22 PM

hi all,

i have a few girlfriends visiting this weekend and need to make a reservation for saturday night dinner. i just moved to somerville (near cambridge) myself so could use a recommendation (in harvard square? central? davis?). it needs to be reasonably priced too, as we are recent college grads. any help would be great!

thank ya.

  1. Bob Dobalina Oct 9, 2007 07:38 PM

    Ole comes to mind...or cuchi cuchi...can keep prices down with tapas.

    Redline is a hopping place - food is ok...more of a meet market potential...

    River Gods is fun, good chow, very social bar, but tiny and lots of grad student types -

    Ole and River Gods do not take reservations - i assume Cuchi and Redline would.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina
      b
      bella_sarda Oct 9, 2007 07:49 PM

      Ole' *does* take reservations, but call well in advance or you might not get your desired time slot. I highly recommend the place---excellent margaritas, guacamole, steak, taquitos, chiles rellenos, etc, and not all the plates are interchangeable as in many Mexican restaurants. website is www.olegrill.com

      1. re: bella_sarda
        r
        raddoc Oct 10, 2007 05:31 AM

        Lots of threads on this:
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/440702
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/435624
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/438901
        An Indian fun place that seems to get overlooked a lot on these lists is Punjabi Dhaba in Inman Sq, which is quite inexpensive, and fun, serving on tin trays in what seems an authentic "street" style.

        1. re: raddoc
          Joanie Oct 10, 2007 05:48 AM

          No reservations and it's not where I'd bring girlfriends from out of town, who I assume maybe want to hang out some place where you can get a drink, chat and relax. I'd say Green Street, awesome corn/bacon chowder w/ fried clams on top.

          1. re: Joanie
            Bob Dobalina Oct 10, 2007 06:14 AM

            I always forget about Green Street. I am a little confused - I thought it had gone in another direction, but then recently looked at the menu and saw old favorites like curried goat still on the menu. What gives? Still as spicy as the original?

            1. re: Bob Dobalina
              l
              lennyb Oct 10, 2007 06:58 AM

              Mr. Dobalina, the website that you looked at is for the old restaurant. Green Street has a new menu but their website is not up due to some domain name issues. I believe there have been numerous Chowhound conversations about this fact but can only tell you from personal experience that the menu has changed. By the way, Dylan (the owner and Central Square ruffian) mentioned to me that he was getting rid of Guinness and replacing it with Gritty McDuffs. Being an avid Guinness drinker I am a little thrown off, but I wondered if anyone had any opinions on the replacement stout.

              1. re: lennyb
                l
                lennyb Oct 10, 2007 07:01 AM

                Dobalina, I know you like bourbon...Green Street just recently added the 20 year Pappy Van Winkle

                1. re: lennyb
                  Bob Dobalina Oct 10, 2007 08:09 AM

                  Thanks, Lenny! I will have to pop in - so cold and damp today - so perhaps today! ;)

              2. re: Bob Dobalina
                limster Oct 11, 2007 10:18 PM

                Green Street has changed their menu dramatically in the last year or so. Did you look at the menu online or at the restaurant?

                1. re: limster
                  Bob Dobalina Oct 12, 2007 07:12 AM

                  I just looked at the website again and found the current menu (without goat curry) for example. Not sure what I saw before, because I thought I had gone to the same website. Anyway...

            2. re: raddoc
              b
              bear Oct 10, 2007 08:07 AM

              I agree with Joanie. Punjabi Dhaba is not a place to hang out. The food is great, and cheap, but it's more take-out or a quick bite.

            3. re: bella_sarda
              Bob Dobalina Oct 10, 2007 11:07 AM

              Ugh...what was I thinking! I meant to suggest Dali, not Ole....which does not take reservations.

          2. LauraBear Oct 10, 2007 08:22 AM

            Ole would be a great choice

            We just went to Daedelus (outside of Harvard Sq) and sat on the roofdeck - wonderful Indian summer evening. It won't be outdoor eating weather this weekend, but still an option.

            4 Replies
            1. re: LauraBear
              Bob Dobalina Oct 10, 2007 08:24 AM

              How is the chow there?

              1. re: Bob Dobalina
                DavisSquare Oct 10, 2007 08:51 AM

                I haven't been in a couple of years, but it was not great. Fine for upscale bar snacks, and a great place to relax with a drink, but expensive and disappointing for dinner. Of course, after a couple of drinks on Friday afternoon, it's sometimes worth chow disappointment to remain in your comfy chair and eat... Like I said, haven't been back in a while...

                1. re: DavisSquare
                  Bob Dobalina Oct 10, 2007 09:09 AM

                  My impression too, but I got the sense it had upgraded....

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina
                    digga Oct 11, 2007 10:11 PM

                    Nope, not "upgraded"...based on several visits this summer (every time to take advantage of that lovely roof-top deck), the food was far from good. But, as Davis Sq points out, we weren't complaining after a few cold ones. Sandwiches, difficult to screw up, were dry and bland and the pizza, well, don't even go there. What would James Joyce say?!

            2. Small Plates Oct 10, 2007 09:29 AM

              I think Central Kitchen fills the bill - we went with a large group not too long ago - before a show at the Middle East - and it was great - we sat upstairs - fitting nicely into the area with couches and chairs - and ordered a whole bunch of stuff - all delicious. Here is the menu - http://www.enormous.tv/central/index1...

              By the way - the cocktails are good - the vibe is cool - and service is good too - although with our large group we gave them a workout - nothing a great tip could not redeem. All in all - it was a great experience

              4 Replies
              1. re: Small Plates
                sailormouth Oct 10, 2007 10:11 AM

                Central Kitchen might be a little expensive for them and I've found it's not a place to hang out for a while afterwards. How about East Coast Grill or Magnolia, (both of which are in Inman Square). For food you're looking at between $25-30 each.

                I think Green St is good idea too, food will be $20-30. That chowder is really good.

                1. re: Small Plates
                  DavisSquare Oct 10, 2007 10:15 AM

                  Central Kitchen is one of our favorites, but I don't think it fits the bill for "not too pricey". At $25 mains, it's on the upper end of mid-scale for Cambridge.

                  1. re: Small Plates
                    l
                    lilbiscuit Oct 10, 2007 10:43 AM

                    Wow, thanks to everyone for all the input! Now I have a whole list of places to try. I think Central Kitchen looks a little pricey...will wait for a parental visit. Ole sounds great...I wish they had an online menu I could check out. I should probably make a reservation soon if it's for Saturday, right?

                    1. re: lilbiscuit
                      sailormouth Oct 10, 2007 12:12 PM

                      Oh, you may get quite another list for a parental visit!

                  2. s
                    SmartChow Oct 10, 2007 10:35 AM

                    - Casa Portugal on Cambridge Street - good food, great portions, nice atmosphere, reasonable.
                    - The Tibetan place on Pearl Street in Central Square a block off Mass. Ave. - wonderful menu and flavors, ethnic atmosphere.
                    - Red Bones in Davis if you like a more raucous but fun setting and LOVE bbq and beer. While the ribs are good, don't neglect the catfingers, fried okra or fried oysters.
                    - I second Magnolia and River Gods.
                    - Central Kitchen and Cuchi Cuchi are fairly pricey I feel.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: SmartChow
                      Bob Dobalina Oct 10, 2007 11:04 AM

                      I believe the Tibetan place is Rangzen.
                      Red Bones is actually a great suggestion, esp. with the Joshua Tree and the Bur'n nearby.

                      1. re: Bob Dobalina
                        DavisSquare Oct 10, 2007 01:40 PM

                        Friends don't let friends go to the Joshua Tree.

                        1. re: DavisSquare
                          Bob Dobalina Oct 10, 2007 02:07 PM

                          LOL - good point.

                    2. d
                      dvive Oct 10, 2007 11:03 AM

                      Green Street is a good one. Dali in Somerville is good, tapas style, good sangria, & fun atmosphere. probably a wait though....just more sangria time: http://www.dalirestaurant.com/home.html

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: dvive
                        n
                        ngaffin Oct 10, 2007 01:54 PM

                        I suggest Christopher's in Porter Square. And Toad, a small live music place is just next door.

                        1. re: dvive
                          d
                          drewames03 Oct 10, 2007 01:55 PM

                          West Side Lounge on Mass Ave between Porter and Harvard would be a good place.

                        2. finlero Oct 10, 2007 02:35 PM

                          There are a lot of great chow suggestions on this thread, but unfortunately, a good number of them don't take reservations. The following places definitely take reservations, and aren't too expensive:

                          Casablanca (Harvard) - inventive Mediterranean, located in a bohemian, subterranean space, probably the most expensive on my list, but still a notch or two below somewhere like Central Kitchen, especially if you stick to the apps and tapas menu. Lively bar scene as the night progresses too.

                          Sagra (Davis) - lively, upscale-ish Italian. Notably good Neapolitan-style pizzas. Fairly hopping bar scene. Not my favorite Italian in town, but certainly decent to above-average, and definitely meets your criteria.

                          Temple Bar (between Harvard and Porter) - very lively upscale bar scene, the American menu has made considerable strides in the past few years. I love the Guinness fondue, and have also enjoyed several seafood entrees I've tried over the past year or so.

                          [These last two aren't fun in a conventionally scene-y, night-life kind of way, but they offer tasty chow, interesting experiences, and a reasonable level of ambiance.]

                          The Helmand (Lechmere) - delicious Afghan food, a unique find in Boston. I love people-watching here, as you get a striking assortment of scruffy Cambridge academic-types, new economy technology-types stopping by after work, and elegantly-dressed families of Afghan (or nearby) descent having large celebrations. I've never gone wrong here with the food, but I love the pumpkin kaddo appetizer.

                          Elephant Walk (Porter) - a really interesting example of "un-fusion", this French Cambodian place features a French half of the menu and a Cambodian half of the menu. The French half is fine, but nothing to write home about. The Cambodian side is pretty distinctive. The dishes I've had here have been hit or miss, but the hits have been deliciously memorable.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: finlero
                            l
                            lilbiscuit Oct 11, 2007 04:52 PM

                            Reservations are set at Ole. Muchisimas gracias a todos! I had dinner plans set for Christopher's/Toad last night but they fell through last minute. Bummer. I want to check it out soon seeing as it's so close. Ole seems more appropriate for a girls night out though. I also just made reservations at Oleana for when the moms comes for a visit. Can't wait!

                            1. re: lilbiscuit
                              crankypants uk Oct 11, 2007 08:38 PM

                              Another location you may want to check out - the B-Side Lounge, on Hampshire between Central and Kendall Squares. The cocktails are great (try the Stardust made with Parfait Amour) and the menu changes seasonally. Unsure if they have if this autumn, but I used to go for the chicken pot pie at least once a week. The bartenders and staff are a bit indie/rockabilly but are all really friendly. I used to work about 3 blocks away and we were there every Friday night. In fact, a former colleague is moving on to a new job and all are going to the B-Side after work.

                              I think the B-Side is one of the things I miss most about Boston... After my friends, of course.

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