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Jun 23, 2009 05:15 AM

Arlington - What's Always Good?

I know there have been plenty of posts about Arlington and I've read through them but I'm hoping, with this inquiry, to get the most recent feedback on which establishments fellow Chowhounders find to be continually dependable, delicious, and recommended.

More to the point, my partner's 35 birthday is coming next week and her family and I want to take her out to somewhere in Arlington, somewhere we haven't been yet. We love Zas and have been to Tryst but beyond that ... I'm searching for guidance and ideas. What's your Arlington Go To restaurant? Where do you always have a good time and enjoy a Chow-worthy dinner?

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  1. My favorite is probably Thai Moon on Mass. Ave. across from the library. It's a small place, but usually not too crowded. Excellent food and reasonably priced as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hiddenboston

      Had a good meal at Thai Moon last Saturday (based on your recent post, hiddenboston- thanks!) with a group of 8. We ordered a few appetizers- tod mun was a winner, and the only loser was chicken wings. Dinners that were particularly good were the red curry with tofu and the basil duck. Arlington chicken was liked as well. Pad thai was polished off quickly but was a bit bland for my tastes. I would definitely rate the food above the other Thai places in Arlington, notably Sweet Chili. The beers and wine especially were quite reasonably priced- we found ourselves double-checking the bill it seemed so low!

      1. re: Parsnipity

        Glad you had a nice meal there! After my disappointing meal at Sweet Chili a few weeks ago (and with Sala Thai closing), Thai Moon looks to be my go-to place now for Thai food around that area.

    2. We absolutely love flora (on Mass Ave right before the Capitol Theater heading west). It is a family-run restaurant where the staff are knowledgeable about food and wine and are like family. The food is local and seasonal, and you can depend on some menu staples like the swordfish and the roasted Giannone chicken. Last week I had the sour cherry and jalapeno-glazed pork loin with sweet potato polenta, greens and bacon - and it was delicious! There is a recently new wine manager who has some interesting acquisitions in the $30-$50 range.... AND there is always a flora white and red wine by the glass for $7 - some have surprised me quite happily. It is not cheap (entrees $18 - $28, apps $6 - $12) but the quality and the value support the price points. The room is very pretty - an old bank on one side - the modern side features a huge fish tank with about 5 angel fish - very pretty. Local artists are always on display, and true to the name of the restaurant, fresh flowers are in abundance. There is also a private dining alcove. This is my idea of a special occasion as well as a regular Go-To dining destination. Again, we love it!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Small Plates

        Second Flora. Used to live down the street, so have been there countless times. Never a bad meal; in fact, usually quite memorable. Note: I much prefer sitting on the side with the hostess stand (especially back in the little cubby) than the side with the bar (we usually ended up floating in the middle of the room on display on a two-top in there).

      2. It's not exactly high-gloss, but I think Toraya is Arlington's best restaurant by leaps and bounds. Top-notch, understated sushi and various other Japanese food. The small room isn't anything special, but the chow definitely is.

        Just over the line into West Medford is Bistro 5. Not my favorite high-end place in town, but reasonably priced for what it is, and to me, significantly better than Tryst.

        If you can travel into Cambridge or Somerville, you have a number of options I think are probably better fits for a birthday dinner. Quick picks that I think are the most consistently good, roughly in descending order of personal preference:

        High end - Salts, Craigie on Main, Ten Tables, T.W. Food, EVOO (if you love Za, EVOO is probably a good call, as it's owned by the same people), Gargoyles

        A bit less expensive - Highland Kitchen, Green Street, Garden at the Cellar, Rendezvous

        Notably excellent bar menus (cheaper, often better than many of the above, but limited seating and no reservations) - Chez Henri, Craigie on Main, Gargoyles

        I'd put Gran Gusto on the radar, an absolutely stellar Italian trattoria near Arlington in Huron Village, but it can be a little inconsistent, especially on weekends. Best in town when it's on, pretty good when it ain't.

        2 Replies
        1. re: finlero

          Based on your vegetarian addendum, here's my super-veggie-friendly subset of the above:

          Craigie on Main, Ten Tables, T.W. Food, Chez Henri bar (killer pressed veggie Cuban sandwich), Gran Gusto.

          Oleana in Cambridge does a very good vegetarian mezze "tasting menu", which is reasonably priced as well.

          I haven't been to Flora in many years; it's high time to try it again. Based on feedback here and elsewhere, this will likely be one of your best bets.

          1. re: finlero

            I've always found EVOO to be quite vegetarian-friendly as well.

        2. Always a good time and chow-worthy food = Toraya for me, although it's more of an everyday type place than a special occasion place. I think the Flora suggestion is a good one and you might also consider EVOO, which is not in Arlington but not far, and has the same owners and attention to detail as Za. Based on one visit, the new restaurant Pasha was excellent but it has not had time to compile a track record of consistency and dependability -- although I sure am cheering for it to do so!

          8 Replies
          1. re: GretchenS

            Terrific feedback so far! For one thing, I was unaware of the connection between EVOO and Za's. This is all great to hear - one of the people going out with us actually lives in Arlington so I'm all the more excited to get all these suggestions.

            One thing I didn't note in my original post (oops!) is that one of us is vegetarian so if that snippet of info generates any additional mindsparks (or tastebud vibrations), please add to the thread.

            1. re: lescaret

              I've never been to Flora, but keep hearing (on the radio) about their new veg'an tasting menu and would love to hear how it was if the vegetarian in your dining party ends up trying it. The menu is on their website, not sure when they switch from spring to summer menu.

              1. re: lescaret

                Kathmandu Spice, nice atmosphere, superb Nepali with a bit of an Indian influence. Awesome for a veggie or meat eater.

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  I'll second Kathmandu Spice and Punjab for excellent vegetarian as well as non-veg dishes.

                  Not in Arlington, but in Davis Sq, Somerville, which is not far, Martsa on Elm is a Tibetan restaurant which has both veg. and non-veg dishes.

                  (There was some talk a while ago about Somerville parking meters until 8pm - can anyone update that topic?)

                  1. re: peregrine

                    In my book Kathmandu Spice blows away Punjab and Martsa on both decor and pure food deliciousness. I find Punjab to be just another anonymous Indian restaurant turning out the same old same old. I do like Martsa, but MUCH more casual. For Indian nearby (Kathmanu is Nepali), Guru the Caterer on Broadway in Somerville is far superior to Punjab, but not really much of a sit down place.

                    1. re: peregrine

                      I second Martsa on Elm! We walk, so I don't know the parking meter situation. We haven't gotten around to trying Kathmandu Spice, glad to hear good reviews and to have the reminder.

                      1. re: peregrine

                        Currently meters in parking lots go until 8. I believe street meters run until 6.

                    2. re: lescaret

                      For sit-down stuff, Flora, Tryst, Scutra, or Punjab (Indian). Or you can head up the street for the ultimate dining experience - The STEER HOUSE! - just don't get there around 5:30.

                  2. Ristorante Olivio and Jimmy's Steer House are both dependable, as is Punjab.