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what are your (reasonably priced) standbys?

I know similar questions are asked occasionally, but I dont see anything really recent.

I'd mostly like to know what your standby / fallback restaurants are. That is, the places you go for a fun, delicous, and casual night out when you don't have any special plans. Preferably under $100 for a dinner for two.

I'm mostly interested in Cambridge / Somerville / Boston, but I'd go to Arlington, Brookline, Newton, or towns north of the city for something really great.

We currently frequent Blue Fin sushi in the Porter Exchange, Myers + Chang, East Coast Grill, Flatbread / Sacco's, the Painted Burro, Za, etc.

I personally love places where you can eat at the bar or don't need reservations, places where you can order a bunch of small plates / appetizers, and places with great cocktials or beer. What are your 'musts' for a casual night out?

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  1. Magoun's Saloon as long as there isn't a big sporting event going on.

    1. Clover in Harvard Square. The great, cheap beer they serve turns it into a worthwhile destination for an actual fun sit-down dinner. That's especially true on Friday Nights, when they serve whoopie pies.

      1. Lately -- The Painted Burro, Bergamot, Solea, Strip-T's, Saloon. If there's time for a drive, Cafe Polonia, especially in mid-winter.

        1. Highland Kitchen is my stand-by.

          1 Reply
          1. Abigails, West Bridge and Portugalia are probably my 3.

            1. We hit Chez Henri occasionally, after the dinner rush. Used to love Casablanca for this kind of meal, but not for much longer alas.

              1. if you go early and sit at the bar, Oleana.

                1. Tupelo-comfort food with a Southern drawl plus pies by Petsi
                  City Girl Cafe-cozy, good & simple pasta & pizza, excellent value
                  Gaslight-good cocktails, which you should limit if you're using the FREE parking

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pollystyrene

                    Second City Girl - good place that is perpetually under my radar.

                  2. Downtown Boston:
                    -JM Curley
                    -Antico Forno (for N End)

                    -Highland Kitchen

                    -The Druid
                    -Green Street
                    -The Cellar
                    -Russel House

                    Small sample, but I'd say those are where we find ourselves most and we also like to sit/eat at the bar.

                    1. Great lists everyone -- thanks for the ideas! I always forget about Highland Kitchen and Gaslight, even though I love them both.

                      1. when having a bar or some ambience is important:
                        The Druid
                        Highland Kitchen

                        and otherwise:
                        City Girl
                        Basta Pasta
                        Pho & Rice

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: dulce de leche

                          Prix fixe nights at 10 Tables, Rendezvous - Jo Jo Taipei and Shanghai Gate any night (no booze at the latter) - oysters at the bar at Lineage , Fireplace Grill for great burgers and good drinks, Estragon for good tapas at good prices

                          1. re: teezeetoo

                            which reminds me how much I love the Monday tapas at the bar at Rendezvous.

                        2. Salty Pig would be my first choice, given your requirements. Great food, sit at the bar, casual, no reservations, small plates, etc. I eat there regularly, usually after shows at the Lyric Stage.

                          1. Foundry On Elm
                            The Saloon
                            Five Horses Tavern
                            Park Cambridge
                            Gas Light
                            Highland Kitchen

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sun1234

                              +1 for Park Cambridge - was really crowded when I was there about two weeks ago though

                              I also end up at Eastern Standard a lot but again can get a little crowded