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Jan 22, 2013 07:14 PM

Out of the loop --where do I go for one night out in Boston these days??

Since moving to the 'burbs a few years back I have not been on here much. Most of the time the city is just too darn far to go for dinner on the rare occasion that we get a sitter and head out. So, meeting some friends out in the city proper soon and want to go somewhere I haven't been and where I won't be disappointed "wasting" a night out.

Would love a place that is unpretentious, has great craft cocktails and inventive food.

Places that I love on the North Shore to get a sense of my taste are 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar, The Blue Ox, 5 Corner Kitchen, 9 Elm, ipazzi, Sawasdee, Cielito Lindo, old favorite haunts in Boston used to be Sorellina, Taranta, ESK, dante...and I am too tired to even think of any others right now!

Can you help an old, exhausted Chowhound out? What should be on my restaurant bucket list these days?

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  1. It's so especially important for someone who rarely gets a night in town- to have a wonderful experience. I think you might love Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Sq. I have written a number of CH raves for it (i think it easily gets more CH comments than any other Boston restnt.) so do a search and those CH threads will come up for you w/ lots of details.

    8 Replies
      1. re: opinionatedchef

        So I have done some research and Island Creek looks perfect. But looks like via Open Table they only have resis available at 5:30 or 10 (a month from now!) I'm going to call later, but any runners up?

        1. re: saridt

          Given that 3 of 4 old haunts were Italian, how about:

          Coppa -


          Cinquecento - - new Italian place in the S.E.

          Both would seem to fit your criteria.

          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            Great --thank you! I'm going to check these out next.

          2. re: saridt

            Do try calling Island Creek directly - I am pretty sure they don't book all their tables via Open Table that far in advance, and they are always very friendly and nice on the phone.

            They are also quite large and take walk-ins (I believe ALL of the tables in the bar area are seated this way - and there are many), though usually with some to a lot of waiting depending on when you arrive, but they have a terrific large bar (Vik is outstanding if there) and The Hawthorne is right next door - they will call you or come get you - and it is a highly worthy destination for a special cocktail on a rare night out in the city - this is probably my favorite drinking and dining combo available in Boston now.

            1. re: saridt

              important thing to remember about Open Table: the restnts always keep some tables for themselves to be able to book. So call them; i'm sure something can work out.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                So, I did call and they are booked up except for 5:15 or 10pm. Bummer. They put me on the cancellation list so se'll see; maybe something will open up.

                1. re: saridt

                  I have gotten in at prime time to ICOB by being on the cancellation list - they DO follow up on it.

                  That said, Toro is totally amazing and worth waiting for if you have the time, and their bar is really noisy and crowded, but the drinks are always great (and I am happy to now know Coppa takes reservations, as I just assumed they did not)

          3. JM Curley fits the bill for unpretentious, great craft cocktails and inventive food. Not as fancy as the old haunts you mention, but I don't think you would be disappointed,

            1. Dinner spots, Prezza just reopened in the North End. Have had recent solid dining experiences at Cinquecento, Toro, Salts and Deuxave. The latter two on the more "special occasion" side.

              Drinks after, The Hawthorne, Liberty Bar, or The Beehive have been good to us too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: KeyConcierge

                Have always wanted to try Toro - that might be the call!

              2. just had an awesome "night out" in the big city! drinks at hawthorne-top notch service, dinner at eastern standard :) Eastern standard was a tad loud and crowded but we had a great meal (Oysters, steak frites, mac and cheese-it was a splurge kinda night) We really wanted to hit up icob for some oysters and a cocktail but it was to crowded and we were a little toooo tipsy after dinner hehehe.
                have fun!!!

                1. For those who have been to both: Coppa or Toro? The menus look great, (and I actually just happened to hear Bobby Flay on the radio this morning raving about how great Toro was the other night), but I am feeling partial to Coppa's cocktail menu at the moment.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: saridt

                    If forced to pick one I would go with Toro, but they don't take reservations so you will most certainly have to wait a bit. Its worth it though...

                    1. re: saridt

                      For me, it's all dependent on the timing. Coppa takes reservations, and Toro does not. Combine that with some outrageous waits at Toro (I've been quoted 2 1/2-3 hours on more than one visit). I do generally prefer the food at Toro, especially the paella, but I don't prefer it enough to wait when I could have a reservation at Coppa.

                      1. re: saridt

                        I like them both very much. It depends what kind of night I'd want. For me, Toro is a bit more scene-y, since there's always a wait I know I'll be hanging out at the bar and my bill there always seems to be more than Coppa.

                        I find Coppa more laid-back, casual, and I either make a reservation or go really early (or for lunch) and never have a wait.

                        I find the food and service uniformly excellent at both, though.