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Sep 19, 2008 10:07 PM

Quick solo meals near the Jurys Hotel?

I'll be working in this neighborhood again, and need some affordable and relatively quick places to grab lunch and dinner within a 10 minute walk of Berkeley & Columbus. Chinatown is way too far, as is much of the South End and the Back Bay. I'll be working long hours and going back to work after dinner, so I probably won't be drinking with my dinner.

I know that I've got a pretty small area to choose from, but I don't need a great restaurant. I just need a restaurant close by with one (or a few) very good lunch or dinner entrees. No dietary restrictions, and I've got a very big appetite so quantity is a plus as long as there's matching quality.

Picco, DeLux, and the Parish Cafe are the only lunch places that I remember liking. Any menu changes or recs? I also need more variety. Any great soups or stews nearby? Is there a way to put together a decent lunch at Fire + Ice? Is Viga worth the long lines?

For dinner, I liked the Franklin Cafe but need more variety. Masa was fine, but expensive for a quick every day dinner (on my tab) and then back to work meal. Any cheap ethnic food in this neighborhood?

I remember trying once but not going back to the Stanhope Grill, Benigans, Fire + Ice, Cottonwood, 33, Laurel, Via Matta, McCormick and Schmicks, Legals, Rustic Kitchen, and Sibling Rivalry. Oysters at 28 degrees were okay, dinner wasn't so good. I think that B&G might be further than I want to go for a meal. Did I order poorly? Any recent chef changes, or very good affordable entrees at these places?

I think Addis was way too slow, and Maggiano's had a wait, so I ended up at Legals. Is this typical?

Grill 23, Smith and Wollensky, Flemings, Palm, Bonfire, Mistral, Icarus, Excelsior, DaVinci, Davios, and Pigalle are all close, but they look way too pricey. Do these places have a bar menu or any specials? Is it okay not to drink at the bar?

Or are there any happy hour specials where I can get a good dinner without feeling weird about not drinking? Any other bar menu recs?

Am I missing anything? I'm looking for a better eating experience this time a round. Thanks!

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  1. Your analysis of the neighborhood is fairly complete. Value of dining experience in the Back Bay seems constrained to me, perhaps because the ratio of hotels, tourists, and office buildings to restaurants is so high. Some decent but pricey choices at the high end, mediocrity in the middle, and no low.

    My I suggest a little flexibility on geography? If you cut through the Garden/Common you can get to the 'ladder' district (Avery, West, Temple, Winter, Bromfield between Tremont and Washington) in, say, 11 minutes which opens up some nice options.

    Blu in the Sports Club LA (healthy, delicious)
    Ivy (decent small plates, and you might meet someone special :))
    Silvertone (loud, delicious)
    Marliave (newly opened, lots written on this board)
    Max and Dylans (new, try it for us?)

    Across Washington (pushing it)
    Kingston Station
    Good Life

    1. Your list covers Back Bay pretty well but you have missed a lot of places in the South End. Try Coda at the corner of Dartmouth and Columbus for either lunch or dinner. A cheap standby at lunch would be Billy's Sub Shop on Berkeley near Chandler. Pops on Tremont is also reasonably priced.

      Both McCormick and Schmick and Flemings have happy hour (pre 6:00) food specials at the bar. I'm not familiar with the details but it's worth a shot.

      One place in Back Bay that you missed is Vlora on Bohylston across fro Copley Square. Good food at reasonable prices. The have been running lunch specials recently.