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One dinner with great food and lively atmosphere

I will be in Boston visiting some relatives and I'd like to have one great dinner...unfortunately the relatives tend to throw back a few drinks and get a little loud so I can't pick anywhere too quiet.

Looking for:
- American, French, Italian, something mainstream (they're also meat and potatoes people)
- A la carte, no tasting menus
- within 20 minute cab ride of South End (don't know area well so if this doesn't make geographical sense let me know).
- price flexible but hopefully under $100/person
- not a steakhouse

So hopefully I can get some suggestions on a place with amazing food for both an adventurous eater and more meat and potato eaters who sometimes tend to raise their voices a tad too much.

Thanks for any help!

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  1. Within 20 minute cab ride of South End = nearly every restaurant in the Greater Boston area. :)

    Why leave the South End - there are tons of places that would suit you. Hammersley's for example.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina

      Good to know about geography, staying in South End i'm sure would be nice, but we're open to traveling. I'll check Hamersley's out.

      Any opinion on Salts? I got that recommendation from a friend.

      1. re: PHXeater

        I have not been there but if you do a search on the board, you will find some recent reviews. Not the most exciting place and possibly outside your price range (or close).
        Consider Rendezvous in Cambridge, if you are headed in the direction of Salts (geographically).
        Coppa in the South End for Italian (I must have been reading Purple Bot's mind)

        1. re: PHXeater

          Salts is nice but I wouldn't want to be a loud group there though (it's a single small room). It's towards the top end of your budget plus wine list is pricey. Also, I'm not sure if they have a full liquor license.

      2. Coppa would be my recommendation. Also in the South End.

        1. Eastern Standard. I love Hamersley's, but I would not take loud relatives who like to drink there.

          1. I think Scampo would be a good choice too. Scampo has great food and a lively atmosphere along with an interesting location in the Liberty Hotel

            1. I have relatives like this. Are we related? Here's a vote for Eastern Standard. Make a reservation. And be prepared if you are going on the night of a Red Sox home game and you are dining around the edges of the start time or the finish. It gets busy then. Second choice is Hamersley's. We've been loud there- at least my relatives were- but we got a few haughty glances tossed our way.

              1. Thanks for all the ideas, I will definitely report back on where to take boisterous family members!

                1. Island Creek Oyster Bar might just suit you; it's a very large space, so loud people would not stick out so much there. It has terrific service and excellent food both trad and innovative (lobster roe noodles w/ lobster, oxtail, chanterelles and madeira demi anyone?!) It prob gets more CH love than any other place in Boston (do a search for recent threads.) Eastern Standard is next door to it and same owner; also a large room. I would stay away from the more refined smaller places like Salts (teeny tiny, elegant) and Hammersley's, where loud people would really be noticeable.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    Island Creek Oyster bar would not be a good choice for meat and potatoes people (it has exactly 3 non-seafood entrees: a burger, a steak and a chicken breast). Scampo (mentioned above) has much more variety for the meat and potatoes crowd, as well as for the more adventurous eater. Another option would be Russell House Tavern, or Prezza (if they reopen after their recent fire).

                  2. Fellow posters may disagree, but I might recommend Marliave...I love the atmosphere, food, and you can have a great night there with a group

                    1. Coppa is awesome but very small...not sure how many people you plan on heading out with? also, i'm not sure that they take reservations so that could be tough to coordinate. Stella (Italian) in the south end is awesome and lively. I've been to Empire quite a bit lately in the Seaport--this is my number one suggestion if they like Asian food. Catalyst in Cambridge is great if you want to hop in a cab.

                      1. How about The Abbey in Brookline? Kind of has that gastropub vibe, it was quite loud the last time I went, but in a good way (lively), and I really enjoyed my food, which really was meat and potatoes (cod fillet over a potato pancake thingy....it was outstanding, and my wife got steak frittes, also super delicous). Seemed like good high quality food, in a fun lively atmosphere. Being right on Beacon st. in Washington Sq., you could take the T out there and skip the cab, or not, your choice

                        1. Thanks for all the great suggestions! We ended up at Coppa one night and then the group agreed on seafood so we went to B&G Oysters another night.

                          Coppa was delicious (hello squid ink pasta!) and definitely loud enough for our group, even though one relative got cut off halfway through the meal. Ahh family, gotta love 'em!