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Cheap but upscale with TV

I am looking for a restaurant/bar that is affordable, has decent food, and has TVs at the bar for dinner Thursday night with a friend - can anyone help recommend a place to go?

Here are my preferred parameters. The TV is non-negotiable (Sox); cheap is 2nd most important, while still being non-dive-y; food, sadly, has to come 3rd for this dinner but I really hope I can still eat well.

1. Cheap - dinner for 2 at less than $50 total, whether it's standard app+entree or small plates or whatever. Booze is separate - no worries about cost there.
2. Somewhat upscale - not fancy or anything, but not typical sports-bar/Faneuil-Hall-bar level. Initial ideas we had tossed around were Ivy, Silvertone, and Match, to give you an idea.
3. Somewhat lively - which I assume will be a given anywhere with a TV/bar during the Sox game. Nothing cozy or intimate - I'd imagine those places wouldn't have TVs anyway.
4. Ideally Boston "proper" - I'd prefer to stay in Boston itself. South End, North End, Downtown, Back Bay, Waterfront, Kenmore are preferred neighborhoods.

Coda fits perfectly - BUT that's where we went last time we had dinner together, so I'd love to try something else.

Thanks!

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  1. How about the bar at 75 Chestnut? I haven't been in awhile but I've always liked the bar there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lissy

      cambridge 1 at fenway. had 2 half pizzas there for $10 each w/ a friend a few wks back. audobon--but not sure if they have TVs.

      1. re: chowfdf

        I think audubon might have one tv.

    2. Audubon Circle does have a TV and I think would fit your criteria very well. Another idea is Eastern Standard - sitting at the bar. Here you could easily stay under $50 for two if you got sandwiches (they make an awesome grilled cheese) or just an entree, but you would have to have some discipline since it is easy to also spend more money here if you get an app + entree + dessert.

      2 Replies
      1. re: LauraB

        If you go to ESK, get there early. It can be hard to get a bar seat on game days, even if they are out of town.

        1. re: LauraB

          Audubon Circle has also added some new menu items as of last week. Eric (great bartender, BTW) gave me a taste of the muhammara dip served with some light and crisp pita chips. There are several other new items (can't recall). In fact, there are new items or rotating taps at all of the Miracle of Science group restaurants (for example, Victory Hop Devil replaces Tremont Ale at MoS; not sure about Middlesex. though). I love their formulae, but it's nice to see some changes.

        2. Coda is another one to add to your list.

          7 Replies
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Is there another Coda-like place you could recommend? As I mentioned, the last dinner I had with this friend was at Coda, so we'd like to try something different.

            1. re: laura jean

              That's what happens when I don't read the original post to the end. I met your requirements allllllmost perfectly.

              I actually did a piece for the Dig last summer on places to watch the Sox that were a little nice than sports bars, in which I mentioned Audubon Circle, Green Street, and Pho Lemongrass (an okay Coolidge Corner Vietnamese that does have a TV in the bar). I also cited the late-lamented Caffe Umbra, now the home of Sage, which has a similarly-priced bar menu that's a decent deal, though with drinks you'd push your budget. Ditto for Union Bar & Grill, which has a couple of sandwiches and small plates suitable for budget bar dining. Stella doesn't have a separate bar menu, but its prices on things like pizza and pasta are pretty reasonable.

              Other places that I think of in the same category as Coda (above-average food in a casual bar/restaurant with good food and drinks) that have a TV include Silvertone, B-Side, Alchemist Lounge, River Gods, and Bob's Southern Bistro.

              If you can go a more casual, consider J.J. Foley's, Mission Bar & Grill, Atwood's Tavern, R.F. O'Sullivan's, the Blarney Stone, Lucky's, the Forest Cafe, Jacob Wirth's, and Woody's.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Does River Gods have a TV? I remember the first Super Bowl of the Belichick era, they had a big projection screen for the game (what a great place to watch it, BTW...chill, non-meathead crowd), but why am I not recalling ever seeing a TV in there?

                1. re: digga

                  I think they pull a projection screen down for big games. I will never forget watching Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS at River Gods. I almost threw a Miller High Life bottle at the TV when Grady Little sent Pedro back out in the eighth.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    This is exactly why they don't have a TV on the premises regularly!

                    1. re: mrsx

                      I like River Gods a lot; it was definitely weird to watch a game there with the place packed with baseball fans.

                2. re: MC Slim JB

                  I googled River Gods and couldn't come up with a website. If someone has it, could you please post? Thanks.

            2. Its probably a bit closer to "sports bar" than what your are looking for, but the Hill Tavern has pretty solid inexpensive food and a decent beer list, with acceptable cocktails. I wouldn't suggest it on a weekend night, but to check out the game on a Wednesday night.... Might be hard to get a high-top right before the game and the dining room isn't as good for the game. I may try to get over to Atwoods in Cambridge tonight.

              1 Reply
              1. re: itaunas

                I hit this place up for day games quite often (work nearby). My only complaint is that they don't always put the game sound on.

              2. Give El Pelon a try, plus you'll be in the shadows of the park.