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any dinner suggestions for couple w/ opposite tastes?

I like Thai, Mexican, and Caribbean food, grilled salmon, Caesar salad. He likes steak, potatoes, and maybe corn. I'm looking for a place for dinner, with meter/free parking (no valet), nothing super romantic or where you have to get dressed up. Preferably not much more than $20 per person, anywhere between Boston and Wellesley. We both like BBQ, but since we're just getting to know each other, I don't want anything too messy! I'd like to avoid a chain restaurant. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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  1. ahhh, the start of a new relationship. chnewbie, you are about to learn two key things about relationships: (1) Be realistic (a lot of restrictions you've listed up there) and (2) Compromise.

    My advice...head to the Washington Square Tavern

    1 Reply
    1. re: CambridgeFoodie

      Oh no, I thought I was keeping things open! :) I'm willing to eat just about anything, he isn't. And since he's already told me that he's paying and driving, I don't want to leave him penniless. Thanks for the suggestion!

    2. A couple of thoughts:

      Jasmine Bistro, Brighton -- French, Hungarian, and Baluchistani (something like Persian, Afghani, and Pakistani cuisines, lovely). I love the whole menu here (Hungarian is otherwise non-existent in Boston), and maybe the European dishes wouldn't be too weird for your beau. Menu link on this page: http://boston.menupages.com/restauran...

      Equator -- decent Thai, less interesting pan-Asian (Japanese, Korean, Chinese), plus American prime rib and steaks and Italian pastas. It's a bit bizarre, and I've only ever really liked the Thai dishes here, which have improved since the owners closed their other South End place, Thai Village. But it's one of those rare East-meets-West places that isn't fusion cuisine. http://www.equatorrestaurantma.com/

      Bars with good, slightly creative menus might serve your purposes, too: better than average food, relaxed atmosphere, low prices. Some of my favorites along these lines include The Franklin Cafe, Coda, Silvertone, Audubon Circle, the Blarney Stone, The Alchemist, Green Street, Miracle of Science, Columbus Cafe, B-Side (though parking in that last one's neighborhood is a challenge).

      A little pricey by your guidelines, but Elephant Walk's menu has two halves: French for him (steak frites), Cambodian for you. Cool atmosphere at the Brookline location; I'd choose the Waltham location next; I don't like the Cambridge one for some reason.

      Good luck!

      1 Reply
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Jasmine Bistro sounds great, and I like the strategy of foods that won't scare off my guy. Elephant Walk sounds tasty too, and the Brookline location would be perfect. Thanks for all of the options!

      2. This is probably too small or casual for you, but Something Savory in Arlington Heights has Caribbean food, grilled salmon and a grilled steak. The jambalaya and jerk have been fresh and tasty when I've had them. They also have ribs, but I haven't tried them yet. It's not a destination place, but parking in the Heights is usually pretty easy, the food is good and not too expensive, and the room is cute. You could also hit up The Chilly Cow in Arlington Center for frozen custard afterwards.

        The website seems to be down, but I did find this online menu.


        Anyway, if you opt for something a little more upscale and things work out, SS is a good casual compromise place to keep in mind for the future. Have fun!

        1 Reply
        1. re: bear

          I checked out their menu, I think I would like it and may end up going on my own this weekend. It might be a bit adventurous for him. But it looks great. Thank you!

        2. May be a little tame for you, but Green Street Grill in Central Square, Cambridge?

          7 Replies
          1. re: North Ender

            Green St. was my first thought and with their offal plate and some fun apps, there's a good amount for the more adventurous person to eat. And maybe it's time for their corn chowder w/ bacon and fried clams to come back on the menu. And there's the statler chicken and steak for the boring eater.

            1. re: Joanie

              I still have not made it to Green Street. What's the sound level there? Can you hold a conversation? How about the bar--is it full menu?

              1. re: BostonZest

                The sound level is pretty low in both the dining room and the bar. The bar is L-shaped and also has high tops if you prefer. Full menu available at the bar. I hope that corn chowder is back on the menu now.

                1. re: gini

                  I must disagree. It gets loud in Green Street, in all areas. I like it there anyway, but always make sure I can sit very close to my DC, side by side if possible.

                  1. re: jajjguy

                    After going in to get a drink on Sat. nite w/ one free table available in the bar, I have to agree that it was pretty freaking loud. I think the dining room side is better but I was surprised at how noisy it was. We opted for the Rendezvous bar.

                    1. re: Joanie

                      Hmm, my own loudness may skew my perceptions. Thanks for the update!

                      1. re: gini

                        I'm no shrinking violet myself, we both were surprised at how loud it was. I think weekdays will work, and definitely on the early side.

          2. I suggest Silvertone. The steak tips are delicious, and plenty on the menu for you too.

            1. Hmmm - food love and exploration is a pretty fundamental relationship issue for me. It can indicate a mis-matched sense of adventure, experience and sensuality between people. Are you sure you want to pursue this relationship?

              Be sure compromise just doesn't come from you!

              3 Replies
              1. re: alwayscooking

                Thats so funny you say that- I had the same hesitations about my boyfriend when we started dating- very concerned that he would only eat steak and "pub food"-didnt think I could have a relationship with someone like that! But he's been really open to going to all of the restaurants I want to go to- and always finds something he likes. Now he even wants to try Pad Thai which is pretty exciting for him :-)

                You never know I guess...

                1. re: fmcoxe6188

                  I agree, if they are willing to explore then you have a good chance but if he doesn't like new things, doesn't like to dine at all - it didn't work for me. This guy only liked 5 vegetables and Denny's was one of his favorite restaurants. He hated sitting in a restaurant. I knew It was doomed from the start.

                  My hubby isn't a foodie but loves to try my creations and we go back and forth picking out restaurants.

                  1. re: fmcoxe6188

                    I had the same problem with my boyfriend who standardly eats Caesar salad and Italian food. Now, he loves Pad Thai and is willing to try new foods. He still likes is very standard fare and tends to go back to it though. Oh well, at least he tries.

                2. Highland Kitchen in Somerville might be a great choice for you. They have a wide variety on the menu that covers most of the cuisines you mentioned, typically under $20 an entree. There's also an extensive appetizer and side dish menu that could be fun for sharing foods and breaking the ice. The atmosphere is casual and I know quite a few people who go there for lowkey first or second dates.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cambridgejen

                    I absolutely love Highland Kitchen, but would caution chnewbie that it can fairly loud in there some nights, so depending on how new the relationship is it might be awkward if you have to shout to hear each other. The food is great though, and I often go with a non-adventurous eater friend and we always find things we are both thrilled with. There is usually street parking available, and also a free lot around the back (enter from Central St). Have a great time!

                    1. re: italyinmind

                      I agree with italyinmind. I really enjoyed Highland Kitchen as a fun night out with my husband. The food is really good, the prices are right, it's a great space and there's something for everyone, but it was definitely too loud for the first few dates in a new relationship unless we hit it on an unusually noisy night.

                      1. re: bear

                        I like Highland Kitchen a lot, but it is loud and often involves long waits.

                  2. How about Gaslight in the South End? There's a free parking lot, and the entrees are all under $20. He could get the steak frites or bar steak, and there are plenty of interesting options for you (including salmon and beyond) at this French brasserie.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pollystyrene

                      Again, I like Gaslight a lot, but it is the loudest restaurant I have ever visited.

                    2. Well, I'm a little late to the discussion, but you might consider Angela's - a bit unusual - Wonderful Mexican, (incredible mole and guacamole, among other delicious things)and my understanding is that she makes steak with rajas? (Fellow and sister Chowhounds, please correct me if I'm wrong!) Not a thick, juicy steak - flank steak? Meateaters - help! Rajas are wonderful peppers in crema...Like I said, maybe a bit off the beaten path for him....Low-key, friendly place....

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: fredid

                        I think you mean Angela's carne asada, a $15 Angus sirloin simply grilled after marinating in chimichurri. She serves it with lime wedges, a pile of fresh salsa, and a big side of mildly spiced black beans. While it’s a nice piece of steak, what makes it for me is the side of rajas con crema: roasted poblano chilies in a sauce based on crema, that tangy Mexican sour cream/cream cheese hybrid. Wicked.

                      2. Maybe throw Delux Cafe into the mix too, although parking can be tough if you don't find anything on Clarendon or Columbus. Might have to wait a bit for a table.

                        1. Wow, I didn't think I'd get so many responses. One of my co-workers also suggested Silvertone, which I'm definitely going to check out. Thank you, all, for the great suggestions.