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Suggestions for Italian/Mexican in Burlington/Woburn

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I need to plan a birthday dinner for my friend and she is coming from RI, I am coming from Medford, and our third friend is coming from Billerica. I'm thinking maybe of meeting in Woburn or Burlington?

Can anyone suggest good Italian or Mexican food there? I thought of On the Border but it's just a chain and Border Cafe is so quick that we won't get to talk much (plus they don't serve dessert and it's a birthday celebration).

Any hidden gems I may not know about in that area? We can certainly consider other locations too. Thought about Sweet Basil in Needham but it's pretty far south for 2 of us.

Thanks for the help!

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  1. Try Luigi's in Bedford in the same lot as Whole Foods. It's a red sauce Italian place which would be quite serviceable for your get-together. For Mexican you could try Three Amigos in Stoneham, just past Redstone. It's not a fancy place, but the food is good.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Kiyah

      How about Arlington? Plenty of other ethnic options there. For Mexican, I haven't been in awhile, but I liked Zocalo in Arlington (not any other location). It was run by, I think, the brother of the fellow who runs Ole in Central Sq. Haven't been to Three Amigos in Stoneham, but Luigi's is adequate, but not really worth a trip. I heard there was some better Italian in Woburn... Tre Monte perhaps? Anyone?

      1. re: justbeingpolite

        I went to Tre Monte in Woburn a few years ago and it was pretty good. Agree that Mesa on Rte 3 can be a good option, esp as a girls night out.

    2. There is a Mesa I think in Woburn. Also in Burlington there is a new place called Seasons52 that looks interesting. A friend just got a job there, have not been but the menu looks fun.

      3 Replies
      1. re: momoftwo

        Did you mean Masa? I've had a couple of "meet up with the girls" nights at Masa in Woburn and it's a fun night with a better than average menu. http://masarestaurant.com/woburn/

        1. re: Chris VR

          There's no Mesa. Must be Masa.

          I like Cafe Luigi but want to caution the OP that the tile floor makes for awful acoustics. It's hard to hear yourself, much less the person across the table, unless you go when the place is largely empty. Dalya's, also in Bedford, is not ethnic and is a little more expensive than Luigi but has a much nicer ambience. It's more affordable than L'Andana. There's also Summer/Winter in the Burlington Marriott. It's owned by the same group that runs some of New England's best-reviewed restaurants. You can check their websites for prices.

          Cafe Escadrille in Burlington is moderately-priced with a nice ambience that would suit a birthday dinner.

          1. re: Chris VR

            Masa would be my recommendation, too. It's located in a strip mall but the ambiance inside is really nice, and the food and drinks are good. (A little overpriced, IMHO, but very good.)

        2. A Tavola in Winchester would be my choice by far for that area roughly speaking.

          1. l'andana in burlington.

            10 Replies
            1. re: hotoynoodle

              L'andana is extremely expensive for the quality and quantity of food IMO. For the prices they charge, I expect pasta to be rolled table side; yet their stuff is made in Boston and transported up. For dinner at L'andana, I would expect to pay $75-100 per person with wine and it is way too corporate feeling (feels like Ruth's Chris) to be considered a hidden gem.

              1. re: chrisdapos

                where do you eat that pasta is rolled tableside?

                have eaten in many of nyc's and boston's best italian places and never had this.

                no doubt l'andana is on the pricey side, but the food beats the pants off many of the very-mediocre places listed here otherwise. they also offer 3-course prix-fixe for $45 pp.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  I hope you're not suggesting that L'Andana "beats the pants off" A Tavola.

                  A Tavola is easily a more authentic Italian restaurant by any standard (chef/owner is from Tuscany and knows what he is doing).

                  1. re: retrofabulousity

                    did not say "all", did i? ;)

                  2. re: hotoynoodle

                    For the prices they charge, and what arrives on your plate, I would expect the pasta to be rolled tableside. Admittedly, I have yet to encounter a restaurant that does this, but I am also yet to encounter another restaurant that charges as much as they do for what they serve. I'm honestly shocked that you would suggest L'andana after dining at some of the best Italian places in NYC and Boston.

                    One example of why I think L'andana is a waste: upon asking how the carbonara dish was built (this was earlier this year), a waitress told me that they use cream. If I could have, I would have got up and walked out right then and there. No way a $20+ pasta carbonara dish should have cream in it.

                    1. re: chrisdapos

                      ok, so, your expectations have yet to be met in reality? lol. sorry, but that's funny. besides the fact that fresh pasta isn't suitable for every dish, tableside service is a thing of the past for the most part, presenting both hygiene and logistical problems that are not acceptable anymore.

                      i never claimed it's the be-all-end-all, but have had good meals there and it's certainly better than masa or escadrille or on the border.

                  3. re: chrisdapos

                    If there's one thing I hate, it's tableside pasta rolling. The flour gets everywhere.

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      See, and here I think that it adds to the romanticism surrounding rustic Italian cooking (pasta is rolled tableside at home; my kitchen is tiny)!

                      1. re: chrisdapos

                        Table side pasta would be a nightmare for gluten allergies!

                    2. re: chrisdapos

                      A restaurant in the suburbs that makes it's own fresh pasta? Sign me up!

                  4. Meghan,

                    Although Tanner Restaurant isn't Italian, it's a good bet in Woburn.

                    For Mexican, someone mentioned Three Amigos in Stoneham. It does have great food, but it's not great for a celebration at all. And it's byob. I do go there though whenever I want Mexican.

                    On the Border is a pretty popular place, went once and it's standard Mexican fare. Good atmosphere for a celebration though, lively and fun.

                    Another place to consider if you want Italian, is Polcari's. It's a chain and the place is always busy. Doesn't get a lot of buzz here, but if you are looking for a convenient meeting place, it's right off the exit on rt 93 in Woburn.

                    If you took a left instead of a right on Montvale, right off the highway though, you could be at Felicia's in Stoneham for excellent Italian food. It's about another five minutes drive into Stoneham, but it's not far.

                    Have fun.

                    www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                    1. I agree with a previous reply..if you are looking for italian or mexican you should venture out of this area...arlington has some very good mexican places...zocalo being simpler fare, and acitron being a little more authentic and complex (and all the more delicious). Italian I've heard raves for il casale in Belmont...although I haven't had a chance to go. Not much in terms of great Italian in this area though.

                      1. Is Waltham unreasonable for the three of you?
                        You could go to Tacqueria el Mexico, though on some posts it seems like there's been a downhill slide. Tacqueria el Amigo is better, but too tiny a place for your get together. La Campagnia might be the best bet, also in Waltham. Il Casale was also a great suggestion.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: justbeingpolite

                          I love both Taqueria Mexico and Taqueria el Amigo, but neither of them is what I would think of for a girls-night-out birthday celebration.

                          1. re: Allstonian

                            I believe el Amigo is owned by evangelical folks who frown on alcohol. I have seen AA flyers in there. This would be a usual requirement for a "girls night out"

                            That said, one COULD go to the Hose Trough Tavern right next door, but just make sure everyones shots are up to date.

                            1. re: hyde

                              That is correct, and I thought about that as well. But the main issue is that if On The Border and Border Cafe aren't suitably festive (and I certainly agree that they aren't), neither of the Waltham taquerias will be either (although both have better food.)

                        2. Can't beat Whole Foods of Woburn for burritos with the quality/quantity you get for the $6/7 price point. It's definitely better than what I've gotten at On the Border and Border Cafe.

                          WF in Woburn is definitely a hidden gem for pizza.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: kreptol

                            So are you suggesting they celebrate the birthday celebration at Whole Foods for burritos and pizza, or are you just talking out loud?

                            I don't get it, make me understand.

                            1. re: Infomaniac

                              Whoops; wasn't reading closely that their closest house was in Medford or Billerica so takeout isn't an option.

                              But for a sit down option suitable for a birthday party in this situation that isn't priced too bad, I'd go to Not Your Average Joe's right over by LL Bean in Burlington.

                          2. Friends of mine love the ixtapa in woburn...

                            1. Has anyone tried Margaritas in Lexington? I haven't, and know its a chain but if its any good its very convenient location and its supposed to be a very festive place for a party. Mexico Lindo is very good in Melrose and very festive on Mariachi nite on Weds but off the path a bit. Felicias of the North End in Stoneham is a solid old school Italian with a special occasion feel. Another chain that people I know seem to like, but I haven't tried, and don't know the Chowhound opinion of, that is festive is Boca de Beppe in Lexington which is Italian and festive from what I hear.