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Laid-back weekend suggestions?

My BF and I will be visiting Boston the weekend of 10/26-10/28. I've been looking online for some casual restaurants and bars, but everything I've come across that looks good is located somewhere outside Boston. I realize that Cambridge and JP are not far, but we only have two days and we're trying to fit in as much as possible. Also, I'm a vegetarian.

We'll be arriving Friday afternoon and checking into Jury's. We'd like to spend most of the day exploring the city--Boston Common, Freedom Trail, etc--so I was thinking of dinner somewhere nearby. Both Bin 26 and Bar Lola looked good (online at least). Any good bars in the area for after dinner drinks? Silvertone maybe? (What's the dress code situation at Boston bars? Do we have to worry about being turned away if in jeans?)

Saturday we'll be going to the aquarium and touring the Harpoon brewery. Is there a good brunch place between Back Bay and the Waterfront? I saw that Milk St Cafe was mentioned, but couldn't find any breakfast food on their online menu. I was thinking the Barking Crab for dinner (my BF suggested Legal Seafood, but it looks very vegetarian-unfriendly). Looking for a cozy pub-type bar for later--some place we can have a conversation without screaming over the music preferably.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated :)

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  1. Try Z Square in Harvard Square. I had early dinner there tonight and it was great. See their web site for the menu. z-square, i think

    1. Great brunch at Sel de la Terre, right next to the Aquarium.
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/439219

      -----
      Sel De La Terre
      255 State St, Boston, MA 02109

      1. Every place is fine with jeans as far as I know (if they are "nice" jeans).

        I'll comment on your Saturday -

        Milk St. Cafe I believe is a work-aday place - may not even be open on Sat. If you are staying at Jurys, I believe you are within easy walking distance of Rachel's Kitchen - a hole in the wall, great chow. Not exactly brunch, but check out the site - www.rachelskitchenboston.com

        Frankly, I would expect better treatment of veggies at Legal's than at the Crab. But you'd be much better off heading into the North End on Saturday night for veggie options (w/ pasta). It will be a mob scene, but look around and you'll find places to eat with a short wait. After, you could grab dessert at one of the cafes or head down to the Waterfront Cafe or the Sail Loft for non-tourist pub/bar atmosphere.

        Headed in the other direction, you could try Lucky's on the edge of South Boston, stopping at any number of veggie-laden places in Chinatown for dinner. You might also enjoy the Good Life for dinner/drinks, sort of near the Aquarium.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          Rachel's actually looks more our speed than Sel De La Terra for brunch/lunch so we'll definitely check it out. Even though I'm not technically vegan, I don't eat cheese or eggs so I'm a bit limited.

          I couldn't find a single vegetarian option on the Legal Seafoods web site. Barking Crab at least has some hummus and polenta and grilled veggies. Atmosphere-wise, is one significantly better than the other? I don't mind plastic tablecloths if the view is good :)

          Are most of the places in the North End BYOs and cash only?

          Is the Sail Loft on Atlantic Ave? I found a Sail Loft restaurant online, but nothing about drinks.

          Good Life may be a little trendy for us. Is there a Christopher's-type bar in Boston proper?

          1. re: phillyvmd

            I would choose the Waterfront Cafe over the Sail Loft. I find the staff at Sail Loft to be pretty rude. Waterfront makes a pretty decent chocolate martini.

            1. re: phillyvmd

              Nearly every place I know of in North End are not BYO and take credit cards.
              That's interesting about BC vs. Legal - BC definitely has a nicer view, although given the expected weather this weekend (clouds, rain, 50s), you likely won't be able to take advantage of the best part, which is their outdoor deck. Legal's has no view to speak of, other than the Aquarium.

              On second thought, the Sail Loft was probably a bad suggestion on my part. Too much of a meet market...

              I don't get the impression that the Good Life is too trendy - but other hounds please weigh in.

              There are a few veggie options I see on the Legal's menu, both for the Long Wharf location and Legal Test Kitchen -

              http://www.legalseafoods.com/index.cf...

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                I forgot about LTK. That's a definite option. For genuine Boston seafood would Barking Crab be better? We can get good seafood in NY anytime (he loves the angry lobster @ Smith & Wollensky), but I want my BF to have the whole New England experience.

                1. re: phillyvmd

                  I have heard VERY mixed reviews on LTK with more jeers than cheers.

          2. I wind up sounding like a broken record because I always recommend the same places but check out Piatini on Newbury and/or Tapeo also on Newbury, both small plate type restaurants, Piantini has some great wines. Both places very veg friendly (my girlfriend is vegetarian, I am not). It sounds like you are looking for a younger, hipper type bar or I would recommend the Oak Bar at the Copley Fairmont, feels like you are in a refined club.

            Restaurant 33 had good food the couple times we were there (but it was several months ago) and it has a very lively young bar crowd.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Spiritchaser

              Lucky's has brunch, 10 min from Harpoon on feet!.
              cross the bridge from the aquarium and stop for brunch.

              what area are you staying in, that will help dictate the cozy pub you wish.

              Total veg? or do you eat seafood?

              1. re: marthayou

                Yeah, Lucky's seems like a good spot to check out for both food (a very good brunch) and drinks. As for a cozy pub both The Times and Mr. Dooley's on Broad Street come to mind.

                1. re: marthayou

                  We're staying at the Jury's on Stuart. Nope, no seafood.

                  1. re: phillyvmd

                    if you dont eat seafood, I would not go to barking crab. you will be disappointed in the not so great non fish or non seafood food the offer.

                2. re: Spiritchaser

                  Would you recommend Tapeo over Bar Lola? The outdoor patio seating at Bar Lola looked nice online, but I keep forgetting that you aren't having the heat wave that we are right now.

                  1. re: phillyvmd

                    Unfortunately I don't know enough about Bar Lola to give you an honest answer. Tapeo does have some outdoor seating and on a nice day it's pretty nice. Piatini just down the street also has some outdoor seating.

                    1. re: phillyvmd

                      DEFINITELY go w/Tapeo over Bar Lola. Food is consistently good at Tapeo. I haven't heard much good about Bar Lola. Plus, Tapeo also has outdoor seating, right on Newbury Street, great for people watching. If the weather happens to cooperate (chances are growing slimmer and slimmer by the day around here) you can always eat outside, but the inside area is great too.

                  2. If you're looking for laid back vegetarian I would recommend The Other Side Cafe. It's on the corner of Mass Ave and Newbury. Good beer selection too

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: CJ83

                      definitely second the other side. though on weekends it does get very crowded at night. i'd try it for lunch. also, sometimes the music is very loud. but the food is yummy and it's definitely casual.

                      1. re: bakedalaska

                        I hadn't been to the Other Side in years and had a decent BLT w/ avocado and mozzarella (w/ chips, $8.95) on Tues. served by a friendly guy. With awesome, not too loud music (Murder City Devils, Les Savvy Fav), total hipster scene at 6:30.

                    2. Boston is a pretty casual, not too fashionable city. Jeans are always acceptable - the only thing you would get turned away for is wearing sneakers.
                      Jurys is close to the south end where there are plenty of fabulous restaurants. I would suggest Union, Pho Republique, Myers and Chang. And then go to the Beehive for drinks afterwards.
                      There is no BYO anywhere, and credit cards will be taken in the northend.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: pink dress

                        Really, no BYO? That's all we have around here. The Beehive looks like a good bet. I'm hoping it won't be too crowded though since it's at the BCA during the Belgian beer fest.

                        1. re: phillyvmd

                          Don't plan on just dropping by the Beehive for a drink on a weekend night, when the wait outdoors in line can be 90 minutes.

                      2. I would definitely not miss the whole North End experience. It's right on the Freedom Trail. Beware the tourist traps. Antico Forno is a great, moderately-priced brick-oven, pasta, pizza, gnocchi & more place, and they take reservations.

                        For brunch, Union Bar & Grill in the South End is a favorite.

                        Silvertone would be a fine choice for bar food and/or drinks.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pollystyrene

                          Flour Bakery has a waterfront location (11 Farnsworth Street). My BF and I often go there for brunch on the weekends. If it is a nice day, you can take your egg sandwiches or lemon ginger scones (our favorites) and go sit along the Boston Harbor. We prefer it to Rachel's Kitchen.
                          Jury's actually has a decent bar. I wear jeans out everywhere and never have a problem. You could also check out the bar at Excelsior. The bar at 75 Chestnut is cute and cozy- it is also another casual dinner option. It is right around the corner from Bin 26.
                          Franklin Cafe in the South End sounds like it would also be your speed. The only thing is there are no reservations and it gets crowded. It is a really great casual dining place and not a far walk from your hotel. I'd say Legal's over the Barking Crab as well. The North End may offer more veggie friendly options than either.. Also, Tawaiin Cafe in Chinatown has an amazing eggplant dish. so yummy and a halfway between your hotel and the waterfront. I'd also suggest the Parish Cafe for an option- it is a gourmet sandwich restaurant with a great beer selection. I love the veggie options for the sandwiches (great grilled cheese).

                        2. About the dress code. There is one place where they MIGHT turn you away if you are too casual -- the fabulous Oak Bar at the Copley Plaza Hotel. Actually, nice jeans might be OK but a really scruffy thing won't work there. Worth it, though.
                          About brunch. Very near your hotel there is a jazz brunch on Sundays at Skipjack's on Clarendon Street. I have not been there in about 3 years but last few times I went I thought the food was very good, and the music is fantastic! And it's not way too loud.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Lucymax

                            I never considered brunch at a seafood restaurant like Skipjack's. Judging from their lunch/dinner menu online the only thing I could eat there would be the Asian Noodle Stir-fry. But speaking of seafood, I think we've ruled out the Barking Crab and I'm still up in the air about Legal's. Is Jasper White's Summer Shack any good? We're really looking for a moderately-priced casual downtown Boston restaurant with good fresh seafood (nothing too fancy) where I can at least get a salad.

                          2. A couple of good laid-back options in the South End are:
                            Deluxe - a bar with a very simple, but solid menu
                            The Dish - super-laid back, patio dining, small bar

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: heWho

                              Yeah, I saw the Dish and thought it looked good, but I was a little worried when the first thing mentioned on the web site is how long the wait time can be :)

                              1. re: phillyvmd

                                FYI, The Dish is probably one of the few restaurants in the South End that doesn't typically have a wait.....
                                Sometimes there's a wait to sit outside on the patio during the summer, but that's not an issue here anymore :)
                                Food is good, it's a nice neighborhood restaurant. Probably not somewhere I'd go out of my way to dine if I was visiting from out of town, but it's fine.
                                How about East Coast Grill? It's fun, casual, has great seafood, a really good energy, and has LOTS of seafood. It, however, is located in Cambridge, you'd have to make an effort to get there. I think it's a classic Boston spot though.

                                1. re: twentyoystahs

                                  hey, how is the seafood at 75 chestnut?

                            2. just wanted to thank everyone for your suggestions. we ended up on friday at parish cafe for lunch, dinner at silvertone and after-dinner drinks at the butcher shop. saturday we checked out the barking crab post-aquarium and had dinner at delux cafe. all in all, a great weekend. hopefully we'll get back up again when we have more time to enjoy all boston has to offer!