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

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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.

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Chau Chow City
81 Essex St, Boston, MA 02111

Sofra
1 Belmont St, Cambridge, MA 02138

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

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  1. 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.

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    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

      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

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      Pho 88
      1270 Westford St, Lowell, MA 01851

    2. 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.

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

      Sichuan Gourmet
      1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

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

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        China Pearl Restaurant
        288 Mishawum Rd, Woburn, MA 01801

        1. 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. 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

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

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              Greek Corner Restaurant
              2366 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

              1. re: chuck s

                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

                I was very disappointed by my lunch at Pasha.

                1. re: tatsu

                  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. 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

                Sportello
                348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

                Taco Loco
                301 Lancaster St, Leominster, MA 01453

                1. 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. 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

                    Ecco
                    107 Porter St, Boston, MA 02128

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: CarolinaGirl06

                      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.

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                      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

                      Erbaluce
                      69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                      Cognac Bistro
                      455 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

                      Bondir
                      279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    2. 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. 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

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                        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. 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. Mulan
                            Highland Kitchen
                            Pescatore
                            Martsa on Elm
                            Kathmandu Spice

                            -----
                            Pescatore
                            158 Boston Ave, Somerville, MA 02144

                            Kathmandu Spice
                            166 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                            Highland Kitchen
                            150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                            1. 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. 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

                                  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

                                    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. 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. Fat Cat

                                    Tavalo

                                    Lineage

                                    Coda

                                    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

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

                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                        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

                                          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. 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. 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

                                        -----
                                        Prezza
                                        24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

                                        Lucca Restaurant
                                        226 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113

                                        1. 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. 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