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What are your stand-by, go-to restaurants?

Swankalicious Feb 5, 2011 07:02 PM

I'm curious to know which restaurants Chowhounders rely on, time and again, for good food. Nothing splashy or fancy, necessarily--just places you love to frequent and feel comfortable at. Places that have one must-try dish or exquisite drink, etc. For me:

Tu Y Yo, Somerville
Reliably different, unusual Mexican food in an unlikely neighborhood.

Vinny's at Nite, Somerville
Yet again, an unusual location for a slice of Boston life--high hair, lots of garlic, unpretentious and hearty food

Chau Chow City, Woburn
I'm no fan of the Boston Chau, but the Woburn location is much cleaner, with fresher food, in my opinion. I appreciate the trays of snails, clams in black bean sauce, etc. and the variety of dim sum offered.

Hei Lei Moon, Boston
The best dim sum in Boston, in my opinion. (Not that there are oh-so many options, but this one rises to the top.)

Island Creek Oyster Bar
I'm a fan. I think they try hard, have inventive cocktails, a well-meaning staff, and forward-thinking seafood arrangements. And the vibe is nice. You feel special eating there.

Taqueria La Mexicana, Union Sq, Somerville
For my money, the best down and dirty taqueria in the area, with killer poblanos, wonderful taquitos, and the warmest staff around. A gem.

Gourmet Dumpling, Boston
Their dumplings are yeasty clouds of bliss, and I love their chicken with "mayo" and oyster pancakes...gooey, gummy, yummy.

Diva Indian, Davis Sq., Somerville
You cannot beat their 2-person meal for $29, which will feed you for several days--every permutation of curry, appetizer, salad, dessert--never had a bad meal here. Very rich, very good.

Mr. Bartleys, HSQ
I come here seeking comfort, not atmosphere. A frappe and some onion rings, and I am right as rain.

Sofra, Cambridge
Not a gigantic fan of Sofra's layout (never a seat), and I have endured some oily sandwiches here. No, I love their eggs in rich, tangy tomato sauce. I'd drive miles for this dish.

Feel free to add your own stand-bys. I'll be thinking of more.

Chau Chow City
81 Essex St, Boston, MA 02111

1 Belmont St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Island Creek Oyster Bar
500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

  1. opinionatedchef Mar 4, 2011 10:00 PM

    swank, i think you mean China Pearl, yes?-not chau chow city. wish i could say i like it after i originally liked it a few yrs ago. I live 6 min away but i never go now. i like winsor; i'll have to try Gourmet Dumpling soon.

    have you tried any of your fav. Diva dishes -at Namaskar?

    China Pearl Restaurant
    288 Mishawum Rd, Woburn, MA 01801

    1. s
      STL BOS Feb 9, 2011 03:52 PM

      Good post. Little embarrassing though (guilty pleasures...)

      Chinatown: Great Taste (restaurant and bakery), Taiwan Cafe, dim sum at China Pearl and Emperor/Empire Garden

      East Coast Grill

      Jenny's Pizza in Charlestown (this is out of laziness but it's solid)

      Mi Pueblito

      Minado (case in point - guilty pleasure)

      Porter Square Exchange

      New to the rotation: Garlic n Lemons, Neptune Oyster

      Neptune Oyster
      63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113

      East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
      1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

      Jenny's Pizza
      320 Medford St, Charlestown, MA 02129

      Minado Restaurant
      1282 Worcester St, Natick, MA 01760

      Mi Pueblito Restaurant
      333 Border St, Boston, MA 02128

      China Pearl Restaurant
      288 Mishawum Rd, Woburn, MA 01801

      Great Taste
      201 Main St, Milford, MA 01757

      1. p
        phatchris Feb 8, 2011 01:32 PM

        In my Hood;

        Prezza- Sit at the bar with a nice glass of Red and a half order of pasta or the pork chop.

        Lucca- Have to have the wild boar rigatoni once a month.

        Waterfront/Pushcart/Beneventos/Artu- when I'm in the mood for Pizza without the shit-show of Regina.

        Regina- When in the mood for pizza at off hours.

        Marco- really good pastas reasonably priced.

        Locontes- Red sauce

        Neptune- Winter and off hours

        Not quite my hood but my standby for a great burger and beer has bcome Tavern at the End of the World

        24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

        Lucca Restaurant
        226 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113

        1. BobB Feb 8, 2011 08:41 AM

          Cognac Bistro - great oysters!
          Eastern Standard for the offal of the day.
          Taberna de Haro - always start with the habas con jamon.
          Dok Bua - mango curry.
          Carlo's Cucina for traditional red sauce dishes like chicken parm.
          Gari, chef's selection sushi/sashimi platter.
          Bergamot - whatever they're serving!

          Eastern Standard
          528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

          Cognac Bistro
          455 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

          1. C. Hamster Feb 8, 2011 08:04 AM

            Fat Cat




            East Coast Grill

            Pho Hoa

            Chili Duck

            Rod Dee

            Q Hotpot in Chinatown is going in our rotation, too, once it reopens.

            Wish I lived closer to Highland Kitchen, too

            East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
            1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            Highland Kitchen
            150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

            Fat Cat
            24 Chestnut St, Quincy, MA 02169

            Pho Pasteur Restaurant
            682 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111

            3 Replies
            1. re: C. Hamster
              Bob Dobalina Feb 8, 2011 08:43 AM

              Is that different than Little Q? Do you mean that the new place closed down for some reason?

              1. re: Bob Dobalina
                C. Hamster Feb 8, 2011 10:04 AM

                They call the Chinatown one "The Q" and the "suburban" one(s) "Little Q." The owner explained this to me last time I was there. For whatever reason. I think I had made a comment that the Chinatown location was very swank (which it is, although pretty much anything is a step up from a crumbling strip mall) and he was suggesting that it was their upscale restaurant.

                It is really nicely done, with a full liquor license, and the hot pot still delicious. Friendly service, too.

                The building they are in (The Archstone) had a water leak a couple weeks ago and I am told it damaged the ground floor restaurant.

                They can't cut a break!!

                1. re: C. Hamster
                  Bob Dobalina Feb 8, 2011 11:54 AM

                  I see now...did not know about the water damage and temporary closure. Your description is right on. Definitely recommend their Arlington Little Q location - with this arctic blast coming, gotta get me some hot pot.

            2. j
              joth68 Feb 7, 2011 10:28 AM

              Chili Garden - I could eat their double cooked pork belly, Ma Po Tofu, and Dan Dan noodles everyday.

              Sabitinos - Great pizza

              Pho Hoa - Malden

              Peach Farm - always great but especially so at 2 am :)

              PJ Ryans - Proximity, fireplace, good food, and good beers.

              Peach Farm
              4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

              PJ Ryan's
              239 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

              1. l
                langley Feb 7, 2011 10:25 AM

                My regular go-tos:

                Townsends in Hyde Park. Love sitting at the bar, love the Porterhouse Oyster Stout from Dublin and super super sad they took the roast chicken off the menu. I usually eat the chicken sandwich... Just really enoy the atmosphere here.

                James' Gate in JP. Especially in the winter with the fireplace and the summer eating outside. Ham & cheese toastie, fries and a Guinness. The best.

                Franklin Southie, which has had mixed reviews here. We always sit at the bar and Chad, the bartender is always really friendly and nice. I've also always really loved what I've eaten. It's a little pricier than a typical Friday night spot though, so I can't go here very often. Nice cocktails.

                Ashmont Grill, again at the bar. The friendliest bartenders and I really like the food these days. The vegetable tart is often really good. The best desserts--the sticky toffee pudding is lovely.

                Greek Corner in North Cambridge was always an old standby when I lived closer... chicken gyro and Greek fries or a kabob dinner.

                West on Centre in West Roxbury. It's just a really comfortable place, a decent beer selection and pretty good food. I really like their veggie burger (house made) and they have Berkshire Steel Rail Pale Ale on tap, which I appreciate. I probably don't have to mention that I sit at the bar...

                and if I lived nearby, Highland Kitchen would totally be a go to spot. Love the beer, cocktails and the food.

                It's a little goofy how many times I've said "at the bar..."

                Greek Corner Restaurant
                2366 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

                Highland Kitchen
                150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                Ashmont Grill
                555 Talbot Ave, Dorchester Center, MA 02124

                Franklin Southie
                152 Dorchester Ave, Boston, MA 02127

                West on Centre
                1732 Centre St., West Roxbury, MA 02132

                2 Replies
                1. re: langley
                  sallyt Feb 8, 2011 07:17 AM

                  Good to know about West on Centre - we live two blocks away, but haven't been there in over a year b/c our last meal was so disappointing. We'll try it again -

                  West on Centre
                  1732 Centre St., West Roxbury, MA 02132

                  1. re: sallyt
                    twentyoystahs Feb 9, 2011 04:07 PM

                    My one experience at West on Centre made me come to the conclusion that it IS a comfortable place, great place to hang at the bar and have a beer, maybe an app or two, but the food is mediocre at best......

                    West on Centre
                    1732 Centre St., West Roxbury, MA 02132

                2. l
                  LeoLioness Feb 7, 2011 09:39 AM

                  Highland Kitchen--for drinks, for snacks, for dinner, for brunch....

                  Out of the Blue in Davis Square--I have a serious thing for their clams casino.

                  East Coast Grill--not so much for dinner as for brunch. Some oysters, the black and blue tuna tacos and a Bloody Caesar can often fix whatever I did to my body the previous night.

                  Coppa--my favorite pizza in town

                  Eastern Standard--I love to stop in here at an odd hour for a cocktail

                  Rendez Vous--my standard suggestion for something a little more upscale

                  Out of the Blue Restaurant
                  215 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

                  East Coast Restaurant
                  1456 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02122

                  1. s
                    Stride Feb 7, 2011 09:26 AM

                    Highland Kitchen
                    Martsa on Elm
                    Kathmandu Spice

                    158 Boston Ave, Somerville, MA 02144

                    Kathmandu Spice
                    166 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                    Highland Kitchen
                    150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                    1. hiddenboston Feb 7, 2011 05:12 AM

                      I don't have too many go-to restaurants that I return to again and again, but the three I tend to go to most often these days are O'Sullivan's in Somerville, McKenna's Cafe in Dorchester, and Cronin's Publick House in Quincy.

                      1. r
                        robwat36 Feb 6, 2011 01:14 PM

                        Highland Kitchen for brunch

                        Super Fusion for takeout sushi

                        Publick House for beer and mussels

                        Green Street for cocktails and the fry of the day

                        Hungry Mother for when my parents are in town

                        Super Fusion
                        690 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02446

                        Highland Kitchen
                        150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                        Hungry Mother
                        Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                        Publick House
                        1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                        1. c
                          cambridgedoctpr Feb 6, 2011 11:16 AM

                          probably, one should order them by expense

                          ridiculous: o ya
                          high end: craigie; uni bar; clio
                          medium: east ocean seafood, east coast grill, coppa
                          low end: rod dee; golden garden, sichuan gourmet

                          1. c
                            CarolinaGirl06 Feb 6, 2011 09:04 AM

                            Rani in Coolidge Corner -- the sham savera is my favorte

                            Bianchi's on Revere Beach - two giant slices, two small sodas, $7. Who needs Sunday brunch?

                            Ecco in East Boston -- never had a bad meal here. The mushroom chowder is a must, the cocktail list is inventive, and it's a great place to grab a steak without having a big night out

                            Hungry Mother (when a reservation is available) - I'm a Carolina girl, and they do right by me. The pimiento cheese is as good as my grandma's. When I get too homesick, a trip here is in order.

                            Trident -- I have my book club here after work every month. The staff doesn't care if we sit for awhile and chat, they don't care if some members don't want to eat, and while the short rib poutine is far from traditional, it is not far from delicious. The hummus is also amazing.

                            Hungry Mother
                            Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                            107 Porter St, Boston, MA 02128

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: CarolinaGirl06
                              teezeetoo Feb 6, 2011 10:36 AM

                              Neighborhood trumps travel, so our regulars are Shanghai Gate, Cognac Bistro, Family, Washington Square Tavern. Our "treats" are Erbaluce and Bergamot and our "travels" are East Coast Grill, ESK, and Bondir.

                              Shanghai Gate
                              204 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                              East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
                              1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                              Washington Square Tavern
                              714 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02446

                              69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                              Cognac Bistro
                              455 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

                              279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                            2. MrsCheese Feb 6, 2011 08:27 AM

                              My suburbia-with-kids take:
                              Sichuan Gourmet in Framingham: Dan Dan noodles, dry fried chicken with chiles, chicken with cayenne, Xiang la fish fillets, fish fillets in chili sauce, fresh bamboo shoots with sesame oil or spicy wonder sauce, Sichuan green beans

                              oishii too: after a couple of bad experiences, we came back around once Fugakyu went downhill. Now it's our go-to sushi spot. Love the somewhat new Jonathan maki. And the sushi/sashimi is pretty reliable.

                              Chili Basil: the new Thai spot that took over the old Thai place (can't remember name, gave up on them long ago) in Mill village Sudbury. They have a huge menu, which means there are undoubtedly some stinkers on there, but the pad see yew is the best around here. Shrimp prikking was actually spicy - I have to beg for spice at our previous local Thai, Thai Chili in Maynard (and even after begging, it was usually mild enough that my 4 year old would eat it).

                              Francos in Sudbury: this is a great little takeout spot, and the owners are wonderful. Wish they were open on Sundays; that's always when we seem to want to go there. Very good panini and subs. Really like their thin crust pizza margarita too.

                              Aka Bistro: very nice to have this place within short driving distance. Have been with kids and without.

                              Fugakyu Cafe
                              621 Boston Post Rd, Sudbury, MA 01776

                              Thai Chili
                              40 Main St, Maynard, MA 01754

                              Sichuan Gourmet
                              1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                              1. enhF94 Feb 6, 2011 05:54 AM

                                I love to frequent and feel comfortable at...

                                Highland Kitchen - love the burger, love the fried oysters, love the seasoning skills, love the cocktails. When I want to show friends a good time without fear of intimidating them, this is my spot.

                                Upstairs on the Square, now that Susan Regis is back. I'm often re-surprised at how much I enjoy their pasta - especially, last week, the strozzapreti with cauliflower, which I found toothy, perfectly seasoned, and everything I like about chicken piccata without the (unnecessary) chicken.

                                Taco Loco, B'way, Som'l - insulting name, but I like their food a lot and I like the basement cavern eating area.

                                Pho 'n' Rice, Som'l - The pho changes taste while it's in your mouth! They taught me a lot about soup. I don't go very often, though.

                                (formerly) Dali - I used to visit regularly until I got bored of the menu.

                                Sportello, if I got there more often. I made carbonara for weeks after theirs.

                                Gran Gusto at 4:30pm, when nobody else is there. I've only had "hey, wow, this is great!" experiences there, excepting the carpaccio.

                                Café Mami, in Porter Exchange, for Japanese curries with an up egg.

                                Interestingly, Swank, I found I could understand where you're coming from, even though I'm a detractor of Diva (I've never enjoyed the food as much as the staff think I clearly should), Taqueria la Mexicana (I don't understand the fuss), Tu Y Yo (a little academic for my taste)

                                Viper: OMG next time I volunteer at the food bank, I'm taking everyone to Speed's after.

                                Highland Kitchen
                                150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                Gran Gusto
                                90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

                                Taco Loco
                                301 Lancaster St, Leominster, MA 01453

                                1. Boston_Otter Feb 6, 2011 05:10 AM

                                  Agreed on Mr Bartleys. I've never had a bad burger there.

                                  Mostly a take-out place, but the sandwiches at Davis Square's Deli-icious are always tops.

                                  Somerville's Greek Corner has the best Greek food in town, as far as I've found.

                                  Arlington's Pasha does consistently good Turkish food; their iskender kebab is always great.

                                  I've never had a bad meal at Solea in Waltham.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Boston_Otter
                                    chuck s Feb 8, 2011 07:54 AM

                                    Do you mean the Greek Corner on Mass Ave. in No. Cambridge?

                                    Greek Corner Restaurant
                                    2366 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                    1. re: chuck s
                                      Boston_Otter Feb 8, 2011 08:34 AM

                                      That's the one. It's on the edge of Somerville, so I'm in the habit of thinking of it as a Somerville restaurant.

                                    2. re: Boston_Otter
                                      tatsu Feb 9, 2011 07:03 PM

                                      I was very disappointed by my lunch at Pasha.

                                      1. re: tatsu
                                        Boston_Otter Feb 9, 2011 07:11 PM

                                        That's a shame, I've never had a bad meal there, though I think they changed chefs recently; several apps have changed dramatically recently and the iskender kebab isn't as spicy.

                                    3. mcel215 Feb 6, 2011 05:00 AM

                                      I don't go out for expensive meals very often, so my choices are on the lower price range. And I cook a lot at home, but do love to eat out in ethnic spots (things I don't make at home).

                                      Three Amigos - Stoneham. Great small family style Mexican place. Ask for any substitute and they are extremely obliging and helpful.

                                      Pho1 - Woburn. Again, small local family run Vietnamese.

                                      Zaleks - Wakefield. I love their gilled fish specials and their sweet potato fries.

                                      Billy - Wakefield. Great fish and chips place (fried food or roast beef only).

                                      Rang Bistro - Stoneham. Great Indian food, local family place.

                                      Kyota - Stoneham. Japanese and sushi.

                                      1. h
                                        hargau Feb 6, 2011 04:51 AM

                                        Chau Chau City woburn???? Never heard of this. Do you mean China Pearl maybe?

                                        China Pearl Restaurant
                                        288 Mishawum Rd, Woburn, MA 01801

                                        1. t
                                          TimTamGirl Feb 6, 2011 04:45 AM

                                          I have a fair few - Sichuan Gourmet, Winsor, the James's Gate and the Behan (they feel like proper pubs!) - but when I need to feel like humanity might not be entirely doomed, I go to Regina's on Thacher, I curl up at the bar, and I order myself a small cheese, well-done. It never fails to fix me.

                                          James's Gates
                                          5 McBride St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                                          Sichuan Gourmet
                                          1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                          1. viperlush Feb 5, 2011 07:23 PM

                                            We don't regularly eat at the higher end restaurants unless we have guests up. And we are trying to expand and not keep going to to the same place over and over.

                                            But these are the restaurants/bars that we find ourselves going to frequently:

                                            el Pelon- I have found that there is no hope fighting a burrito craving. And I am a fan of their fish tacos.

                                            Green Street- Great for cocktails and pre-dinner snacks.

                                            CBC- BF works in the area and it is a great place for after work beer and a pre-dinner snack. Their pizzas are surprisingly good. It's also a great place to sit outside when the weather is nice.

                                            Lord Hobo- As an alternate to CBC. Great beer list, decent food specials.

                                            Corner Tavern- I love their sandwiches and the 1st Friday Chicken and Waffles. The staff is friendly and I can always get my game on a tv.

                                            To save money we have started doing "movie and lunch" by going to the movies sunday morning and over to Chinatown for lunch. So for dim sum either China Pearl or Winsor, Pho Pasteur when it's cold and we want soup, or Peach Farm for seafood.

                                            And finally when the weather is nice, Speed's for a post-volunteering hot dog.

                                            Peach Farm
                                            4 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                                            China Pearl Restaurant
                                            9 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                                            Pho Pasteur Restaurant
                                            682 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111

                                            Lord Hobo
                                            92 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: viperlush
                                              lexpatti Feb 5, 2011 08:21 PM

                                              sichuan gourmet in billerica (could eat here couple times a week, addicted to their dan dan noodles and wontons in chili sauce (and more), love Pho 88 %? Lowell, and love sukuras in Chelmford for sushi

                                              Pho 88
                                              1270 Westford St, Lowell, MA 01851

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