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Good Parking + Good Food in/near Boston = Possible?

s
spectra21 Oct 27, 2010 07:15 AM

I've been so impressed with all the helpful advice on this board. Where do you guys go in Boston for a sure bet for good parking and good food and nice atmosphere?

I am wrestling with the perfect dinner choice with a host of complicated criteria:

What is the best choice for a large dinner party of 10 people on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.....with the below preferences:

1) Easy Parking - Lot if at all possible
2) Nice ambiance for conversation with a size that can comfortably handle our larger party
3) Not too divey but not high-end ($20 or so per person, no alcohol)
4) Asian preference (but not pure shabu and not Indian. Sushi might be okay if not too pricey).
5) Non-Asian options that could work would be "experiential" like a Fire + Ice or a Seafood place or "Healthier".
6) If not right in Boston, prefer suburb with convenience to Mass Pike and/or Rt. 9 as 2 elderly couples live in opposite directions off I-495. Others will be coming straight to the dinner from the airport.

See my challenge? :)
Obviously from the criteria above this is a pretty finicky bunch with elders very cautious about dealing with crazy traffic and difficult parking in Boston they are anticipating on that Wednesday night. One possible idea I have is Oga in Natick, but not sure. I would be so grateful for any other ideas, or if anything a bit closer to Boston so we could have dinner earlier (flights arriving close to 7pm). Thanks in advance.

  1. r
    robwat36 Oct 27, 2010 07:27 AM

    JP Seafood is pretty good and reasonable for sushi, bibimbop, etc. There are two lots off Centre St. with free parking, and JP is close to Route 9.

    Also, Coolidge Corner might not be that busy on the night before Thanksgiving. You could park behind the movie theater and walk a couple blocks to Dok Bua.

    1. Prav Oct 27, 2010 07:28 AM

      How about Blue Ginger in Wellesley? I thiiiink parking's not too bad around there. Certainly not as bad as in Boston.

      -----
      Blue Ginger
      583 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02482

      1. h
        HJSoulma Oct 27, 2010 07:34 AM

        I can't think of a specific restaurant, but parking in Boston is AWFUL. Just plain, bottom-line awful. Very few decent-but-not-ridiculously-expensive restaurants have anything but roadside parking, and trying to park at a garage in Boston for any length of time really means you'll be spending upwards of $25 just on putting your car somewhere. I have a teensy weensy subcompact and I still have trouble parking, and it sounds like you're bringing a number of people.

        In short: I would strongly recommend parking at one of the outside of Boston T-terminals, be it Braintree, Newton, wherever, and just "commute" in. If the aforementioned elders are wary about having to walk, I'm sure you can find a good restaurant near an accessible T-stop. Of course, if they're completely unwilling to go on the T, then I suppose you have an issue, but seriously, I live 7 miles from Cambridge as the crow flies, and I *still* avoid having to drive into Boston (not because of traffic/etc, I actually find driving in Boston just fine) because parking is such a nightmare most of the time.

        Of course, I totally just missed the part about you having to catch flights, so all my advice is probably moot, since you'll have to have baggage with you... Oops.

        2 Replies
        1. re: HJSoulma
          r
          robwat36 Oct 27, 2010 07:50 AM

          Oh, it's not THAT bad. Someone should compile a list of Boston/Cambridge/Somerville/Brookline restaurants with their own or adjacent lots (in addition to those already mentioned, I'm thinking Highland Kitchen, dbar, Ashmont Grill, James' Gate, Red Fez, The Independent...)

          -----
          Highland Kitchen
          150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

          Ashmont Grill
          555 Talbot Ave, Dorchester Center, MA 02124

          Red Fez
          1222 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

          1. re: HJSoulma
            c
            cutipie721 Oct 27, 2010 11:17 AM

            Most of the garages in Boston offer flat rate parking ($12-15 around Fenueil, ~$10 around Copley) till at least 12am if you enter after 5pm on a weekday. It's been a while since I ate at any restaurant in Prudential Center, but as far as I can remember, if I entered after 5pm, I got validated at the restaurant, which gave me free parking.

            Pick a restaurant, use google map to locate a nearby garage, call them up and ask if they do this after-hours discount, or look for restaurant validation discounts.

          2. Mike5966 Oct 27, 2010 07:36 AM

            Shiki (Japanese) in Brookline doesn't have its own parking lot but there is a neighborhood lot a half block away right off of Harvard Ave. that usually has a few open spots on weeknights. Most of their dinner menu items are small plates, and if you order ~3 plates per person you could end up being just over $20 per person. It's a small restaurant so generally it is quiet. They can probably arrange the tables along the far wall to fit all 10 of your guests if you make reservations far enough in advance.

            -----
            Shiki
            9 Babcock Street, Brookline, MA 02446

            1 Reply
            1. re: Mike5966
              s
              spectra21 Oct 27, 2010 07:41 AM

              I am so thrilled for all the quick feedback so far. Boston Chowhounds rock. :) Please keep the ideas coming..
              Prav- unfortunately Blue Ginger is probably a bit too "fancy" this time around (I went there during Thanksgiving weekend 2 years ago!) and HJ - yes, can't do the T with this group for many reasons. Thanks Rob and Mike for some new food for thought...

            2. t
              twentyoystahs Oct 27, 2010 07:37 AM

              Both Rocca and Gaslight in the south end have parking lots. Both are good, solid choices that would be great for a group. However, neither are asian --Rocca is northern italian; gaslight is sort of french bistro (i.e steak frites, onion soup, grilled fish/meats).

              2 Replies
              1. re: twentyoystahs
                hiddenboston Oct 27, 2010 08:40 AM

                I agree about Rocca--excellent food, nice atmosphere, and and easy parking.

                1. re: twentyoystahs
                  viperlush Oct 28, 2010 05:54 AM

                  The only problem with Gaslight is that it can get pretty noisy so the OP's second criteria of < Nice ambiance for conversation with a size that can comfortably handle our larger party >might be an issue. But the food is good, and parking is relatively easy.

                2. l
                  lergnom Oct 27, 2010 07:47 AM

                  Sticking to Asian, there's Yasu in Coolidge Corner for Korean and Korean BBQ and Elephant Walk at St. Mary's - has valet and street parking isn't difficult when the Sox aren't playing - for Cambodian / French. Almost in the same block as Elephant Walk is Sichuan Gourmet. All 3 can easily handle 10 people.

                  Sacrificing a little on parking ease is Brown Sugar on Comm Ave at BU West. It's not that hard to park.

                  All have nice atmosphere, reasonable prices and can fit your group. I've had group dinners at all of these but Yasu.

                  -----
                  Elephant Walk
                  2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140

                  Brown Sugar Cafe
                  129 Jersey St, Boston, MA

                  Sichuan Gourmet
                  1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: lergnom
                    c
                    CookieLee Oct 27, 2010 08:03 AM

                    Ginza is next to Sichuan Gourmet. V. reasonably priced sushi and cooked dishes and soups.

                    -----
                    Ginza
                    16 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

                    Sichuan Gourmet
                    1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                    1. re: lergnom
                      Mike5966 Oct 27, 2010 09:11 AM

                      If you're at all interested in Korean food as an option (not a bad idea since table-grilled Korean BBQ is always somewhat of an "experience"), I'd recommend both Korean Garden in Allston and Koreana in Cambridge over Yasu (both places have better food, better atmosphere, and better parking options).

                      For Korean Garden, parking is easiest in the lot behind Blanchard's liquor store right across the street. This place easily fits 10 people, is a little louder than Yasu, but lively in a good way. They do take reservations.

                      Koreana has a gas station across the street where there are 2-3 spaces around 7 PM that are designated by agreement with the restaurant for restaurant customers. These spots are almost always empty. If these are full for whatever reason, there are usually 2-3 street parking spots available within a one-block radius.

                      Among the two, I'd recommend Korean Garden.

                      1. re: lergnom
                        c
                        chevrelove Oct 28, 2010 02:11 PM

                        In addition, there is ample, free parking at the Elephant Walk location in Porter Square. Just behind the building.

                        -----
                        Elephant Walk
                        2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140

                      2. itaunas Oct 27, 2010 07:51 AM

                        Its certainly not Asian and has limited seafood, but the Stockyard in Allston has ample parking and is fairly convenient to the Pike. Central Square might also be a good general option because there is a large municipal garage on Pearl St and its very convenient to the pike but requires some city navigation skills (one way streets, etc). There are lots of dining options, including some Asian and Asian themed.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: itaunas
                          c
                          CookieLee Oct 27, 2010 08:04 AM

                          Going that route, there is also the Agean in Watertown, around the corner from the Stockyard. They also have a parking lot.

                          1. re: CookieLee
                            w
                            Walthamfoodman Oct 30, 2010 03:25 PM

                            The Agean is a good choice, but I don't know about a large party. You won't be disappointed by the food. Any lamb dish is great and the menu really has a lot to offer.

                        2. barleywino Oct 27, 2010 07:52 AM

                          usually one can find parking at Shanghai Gate in Allston, either on Harvard st, or in the lots on the south side of Commonwealth on either side of Harvard st, or possibly in the lot behind Staples next to Shanghai Gate. another option might be Fugakyu in Coolidge corner (reserve a tatami room with foot well, no kneeling), they might even have valet parking, otherwise park behind the theatre or on the street. Bernards (Chinese restaurant) in Chestnut hill mall on rt 9 would also work (lots of parking) and you can even get Peking duck there in honor of Thanksgiving.

                          -----
                          Shanghai Gate
                          204 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: barleywino
                            c
                            CookieLee Oct 27, 2010 08:05 AM

                            barleywino, thanks for the Peking duck rec. How is it served there? Do they include the soup made from the duck frame?

                            1. re: CookieLee
                              barleywino Oct 27, 2010 08:32 AM

                              when we've gotten half duck there, there was no soup, but perhaps they would provide if you ordered a whole duck? their food tends to be a bit more health conscious than some Chinese places and the ambience is also rather nice for a Chinese restaurant.

                          2. b
                            Bellachefa Oct 27, 2010 08:21 AM

                            For the car commuters, they could take the pike in to Boston, getting off at Copley, make their way down Stuart St, take a left at Washington and park at Archstone 660 on the right. From their, many asian opportunities.

                            1. Bob Dobalina Oct 27, 2010 08:23 AM

                              Oleana has a small free lot across the street (it's tight for SUVs) and the Middle East is part of Asia. ;)

                              -----
                              Middle East Restaurant
                              472 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                              Oleana
                              134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                m
                                Madrid Oct 27, 2010 09:00 AM

                                and a collection of the small plates would come in under $20 if you order carefully. Also, I've split the veg. tasting menu before with a friend and we were both satisfied ($40 for five courses plus dessert).

                                1. re: Madrid
                                  t
                                  trueblu Oct 28, 2010 12:26 PM

                                  I think that eating under $20pp (incl tax and tip) is impossible at Oleanna unless you've had a large meal beforehand. Many have commented how two could eat the 5+dessert special, but I can't see it myself.

                                  But there is parking (was my first thought too).

                                  Bernards in Chestnut Hill has many of the criteria that the OP is looking for. Tasty food, very easy parking, off route 9 and easy to navigate towards, in a group, price will probably come in at just above $20pp with prudent ordering. Not authentic Chinese, but that wasn't specified.

                                  tb

                              2. c
                                cambridgedoctpr Oct 27, 2010 09:23 AM

                                How about Golden Garden on Concord Avenue in Belmont. By the way, from what i can tell, the business is picking up since I started going there.

                                -----
                                Golden Garden
                                63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

                                1. b
                                  bluesjack Oct 27, 2010 09:37 AM

                                  Not the cuisine you are look for but Gaslight in the South End has free parking

                                  1. p
                                    pemma Oct 27, 2010 09:49 AM

                                    How about Amarin for Thai in Newton Corner? Right off the Pike, has attached garage and municipal lot in back. About 20 minutes from airport.

                                    1. e
                                      ebaba Oct 27, 2010 10:25 AM

                                      Helmand may work for you, it's a lovely Afghani restaurant with delicious food, lots of grilled meats and warmly spiced dishes, incredibly reasonable prices, fairly convenient from the airport and they do have a small parking lot.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: ebaba
                                        b
                                        blink617 Oct 27, 2010 11:15 PM

                                        There's also The Similans, owned by the same folks as Brown Sugar, on the same block as Helmand - great Thai food and definitely in your price range. No parking lot, but we never have trouble finding street parking around the corner.

                                        -----
                                        The Similans
                                        145 1st St, Cambridge, MA 02142

                                        Brown Sugar Cafe
                                        1033 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                        1. re: ebaba
                                          c
                                          chevrelove Oct 28, 2010 02:14 PM

                                          Good suggest on Helmand. A word of caution, however, with respect to the Helmand lot. If you've got drivers who are not accustomed to urban driving, they may feel quite uncomfortable navigating the very tight spaces here.

                                          1. re: ebaba
                                            mangorita Nov 1, 2010 10:49 AM

                                            Also, with regards to parking for Helmand and Simalans..if the little lot is full, and you can't find street parking on one of the side streets off of 1st St (or if the drivers are uncomfortable parking on the street), the Cambridgeside Galleria is just a block away and has a parking garage. Their parking rates usually aren't too bad.

                                          2. v
                                            VintageMolly Oct 27, 2010 10:34 AM

                                            This is not food specific, but I'd avoid any restaurant that requires anyone to get on the Mass Pike the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The entire Mass Pike, particularly westbound, will be a literal parking lot. I say this as someone who will be sitting in that parking lot.

                                            I will put in another vote for Golden Garden, very easy to park in that neighborhood, and fairly convenient to Rt. 2 for non-Mass Pike access.

                                            -----
                                            Golden Garden
                                            63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

                                            1. b
                                              Bellachefa Oct 27, 2010 10:46 AM

                                              so confused. other then the two elderly couple off 495, who else is involved. Landing at Logan at 7pm and trying to make dinner arrangements on the eve of Thanksgiving. . . how many people are landing in Boston, are they picking up rental cars or taking cabs/pub trans to boston? where are the flyers sleeping that night? Looks like no matter where you decide it will be a very late dinner.

                                              1. s
                                                smtucker Oct 27, 2010 08:01 PM

                                                Doesn't Gaslight have a parking lot? And if I recall, it is free and an easy ride from the airport.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: smtucker
                                                  t
                                                  teezeetoo Oct 28, 2010 05:22 AM

                                                  Dah Mi in Natick has decent thai food and korean and japanese choices and is right off Route 9. Framingham has some excellent sichuanese restaurants (check board) also right near Route 9. If you want to stay near the airport, check Scups on the Harbor in East Boston. Fiorella in Newton is decent Italian and easy to access from Route 9. Frankly, if all else fails, Legals at Chestnut Hill has parking, Route 9, and can handle finicky elderly eaters, but not for 20.00 a person. Dok Bua in Brookline is an excellent choice: Lot is across the street, behind Harvard Street, on Fuller. Shiki is not a good choice for 10 people and generally costs more than 20.00 a person for dinner.

                                                  -----
                                                  Shiki
                                                  9 Babcock Street, Brookline, MA 02446

                                                  Fiorella's
                                                  187 North St, Newtonville, MA 02460

                                                  1. re: teezeetoo
                                                    s
                                                    spectra21 Oct 28, 2010 10:39 AM

                                                    Again, I am so impressed with the prolific recommendations on this thread. Thank you so much to all who contributed. Your comments unearthed many new possibilities that I hadn't considered. (No need for you guys to worry about the transit logistics of the flyers - I can handle that!) But I'm glad to see that my question clearly revealed a common desire for many Boston Chowhounds to find good parking when pursuing good eats - this thread certainly delivered. Thanks to all!

                                                2. r
                                                  redelephant Oct 28, 2010 12:26 PM

                                                  Changsho between Harvard and Porter Square on Mass. Ave. has a parking lot and several large round tables that I think can accommodate up to 10 people, which I particularly enjoy for large groups of your size. They also have decent food, although it's no Blue Ginger.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: redelephant
                                                    w
                                                    Walthamfoodman Oct 30, 2010 03:22 PM

                                                    The parking lot is about the only good thing at Changsho. The food is average American style Chinese and the last time I went I was totally underwhelmed.

                                                    -----
                                                    Changsho
                                                    1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                    1. re: Walthamfoodman
                                                      hiddenboston Nov 2, 2010 06:18 AM

                                                      Anyone remember the sign in their parking lot? It said something to the effect of "Changsho customers only. All others will be towed perfunctorily." Not often you see that word used anymore!

                                                  2. l
                                                    lc02139 Oct 28, 2010 12:34 PM

                                                    Sichuan Garden in Brookline might do, there are a couple of municipal lots and street metered parking, see if you can reserve a big round table.

                                                    -----
                                                    Sichuan Garden
                                                    295 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: lc02139
                                                      c
                                                      cambridgedoctpr Oct 28, 2010 03:24 PM

                                                      and also Sichuan Gourmet but i find the parking frequently to be challenging especially on Friday or Saturday night; i definitely take the T.

                                                      -----
                                                      Sichuan Gourmet
                                                      1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                        L2k Oct 29, 2010 06:44 AM

                                                        And don't park at the meters for more than 2 hours, if they pass the ordinance, fee will go up to more than $20!

                                                        1. re: L2k
                                                          l
                                                          lergnom Nov 1, 2010 06:45 PM

                                                          That will only apply on Red Sax game nights because now people can park after 6PM for nothing and they hog parking. The plan is to extend the parking hours near St. Mary's and in Coolidge Corner and for game nights near St. Mary's to have a much higher rate of $10 for the 3rd and then the 4th hours. The first 2 hours would be the usual rate.

                                                    2. digga Oct 31, 2010 05:00 AM

                                                      We had our pre-wedding dinner at Apgujang in Newton. Not the most authentic Korean food, but it was a good introduction to the cuisine for many of my (now) in-laws and the staff was really accomodating. For your experiential aspect, you can also cook bulgogi at the table. There are Japanese options as well. Large free parking lot and the restaurant is also large.

                                                      1. Pia Nov 2, 2010 04:28 AM

                                                        This is less chowish, but since most of these suggestions are in the suburbs, in case you'd like to be right in Boston and near the airport you could try Aura at the Seaport Hotel. You can park in the hotel lot and the restaurant validates so it comes out to $5. The Seaport Hotel is in the World Trade Center area, right off the Pike (exit 25). I like the food and would happily eat there but wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to eat there.

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