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coffeehouses, cafes, quiet places to work ...

My favorite place is CafeNation in Brighton Center. Free WiFi, you can easily stay and get some work done. Usually see plenty of people with laptops. I like the coffee, it's actually their own brand, they usually have a couple different flavors available, a light roast, a dark roast and a decaf i think.

They also have pretty tasty crepes and sandwiches.

Sep 24, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area

RW: Taranta does it right

Three friends and I had dinner at Taranta last night before seeing Snakes on a Plane (haven't laughed that much in a theater in a long time). It was really a great experience, I think they really make the best of the whole Restaurant Week thing, because based on my meal last night I can say that I will definitely be back for a full priced meal.

Taranta has three floors and we were seated on the third, near the window, which was cool. I like how they seperate different groups between the floors, it was clear that it was mostly couples on the first two floors, which felt much more intimate and even had a guitarist, while the third floor, where the groups were, was a bit noiser but fun. Even though I wasn't there on a date, I could appreciate that those who were could have a more intimate dining experience, while the groups upstairs could be a little louder.

Chef Duarte greeted us at the top of the stairs and seated us, and was chatting with diners all night. He even went so far as to take our orders when he came over to ask if we had any questions about the menu - though he had to come back and write them down - great chef, but he's not a waiter. :) Anyway, it made us feel very welcome. Our server suggested an Argentian wine they seemed to be pushing last night whose name escapes me right now, which she claimed would pair well with most of the things on the menu, and I can say that it certainly did with the dishes I chose. A little bit of a spicy finish which complemented the Peruvian/Italian flavors nicely. We liked it so much we ended up ordering a second bottle.

For an app I had the gazpacho, which was nice and spicy with some watermelon and cucumbers that complemented the spiciness very well, but after tasting my friend's mussels, I kind of wished I'd gotten those. For dinner I had the cassava gnocchi with lamb, which was fabulous. Admittedly, I am a gnocchi fiend, so I might be a bit biased. Friends seemed pleased with the Tilapia, though I tried a bit, and was glad I got my gnocchi, though I did like the fried? chickpeas that came with the tilapia. Didn't get a chance to try my other friend's steak, so I'm guesing it was pretty great since she didn't seem to want to share! Had a hard time deciding between the desserts, a cheesecake and a hazelnut mouse with dulce de leche - caramel and cheesecake are my two loves, so it was a hard choice! I went with the cheesecake for dessert, and after tasting a friend's mousse, I think I made the right choice on that one too. Cheesecake was topped with fresh papaya and a raspberry.

So overall the food was great, but I think the thing that made it a really fantastic night was the service. I was a bit worried we'd be rushed since it was a Friday during RW, and I haven't always had the best service during RW, but that wasn't the case at all. Our server was attentive and knowledgeable, but we never felt rushed, we definitely took our time with dessert, and our server even made a point of saying there was no hurry at all when she brought the check. I'd have no problem paying full price there another time.

Aug 19, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area

Solo Dining near Brandeis

Wow, that's a great list MC Slim. Anything that's anybody's favorite Mexican in Boston is definitely going to require further investigation -- I grew up in SoCal, so I get pretty strong cravings for the stuff from time to time.

Other places I think I'm definitely gonna have to check out: Il Capricio, Elephant Walk (haven't been to any of them, even though I live not too far from the other two), Domenic's (assuming I can get there in time -- that might be cutting it a bit close), Prospect Cafe, and Mi Tierra.

So last night was an information session about the program I'm doing, so afterwards I decided to check out Solea. My expectations honestly weren't terribly high, since I've been to Dali a few times and had either really really great dishes or really really boring ones. Never bad, just boring. But I actually loved everything I had at Solea, maybe I just got lucky and picked all the right dishes? Nice bar area and good sangria too.

As for the food, I had a crostini with a HUGE heaping pile of artichokes and mushrooms which was really tasty, a delicious lobster and crab ravioli, and a chile relleno stuffed with casava, corn, mushrooms and some other stuff I can't remeber...with quite a spicy sauce -- which was actually a bit too spicy at first, but it grew on me as I ate the dish. I realized about midway through I probably should have only ordered two tapas, but they were all so yummy I ended up eating all of it!

Anyhow, I registered for the class last night, so it looks I'll have ten weeks to try out this long list of restaurants I now have. Thanks for all the ideas everyone!

Aug 17, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area

Solo Dining near Brandeis

This coming fall I'll be taking a class after work at Brandeis's Continuing Education school. Unfortunately I know pretty much nothing about Waltham whatsoever.

The class will be once a week, and since it's not terribly close to home, I've decided to use this an excuse to try a whole bunch of new places. It will be from 6-9, so I'm looking for either a) a place to grab a super-quick bite before class (will probably have about half an hour free before class) or b) any other place open past 9 that I can go to afterwards.

I'm looking for a variety of cuisines and prices, and as far as the fancier places go, somewhere with a bar where I'd be comforatble eating alone would be ideal. I'll try just about any type of food. I love Indian, Thai and Italian, but am always excited to try a cuisine I'm unfamiliar with. Can any of you 'Hounds help me out?

One last thing, are there any good cafe-type places nearby with wifi access?

Thanks in advance!

Aug 16, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area

Burgers near Faneuil Hall

And when I was there last night they had a special, $10 for a burger and a beer. (And I walked there from City Hall Plaza, didn't take long at all).

Aug 11, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area

hidden meal deals in boston?

So last night my friends and I went to the free concert at City Hall Plaza, and afterwards were looking for something to eat. Being near the North End, I wanted to head that way, so me and another friend broke off from the group. I'd been hearing about the North Street Grille here and elsewhere, so I wanted to check it out. A little off the beaten path, but we found it.

Anyhow, last night they were having a special, either a burger or a mini Clam Basket and a beer for 10 bucks. Sounded like a good deal to my DC and I, so we both got the clam basket and a Harpoon Summer. The fried clams were tasty, they came with some cole slaw and a little stack of potato chips.

We each had another beer, so our total came to 32.55 each before tip. Not half bad for two people!

Aug 11, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area

Zocalo in Brighton- Suggestions?

I'd reccomend one of the chiles rellenos off the specials menu. I had the chicken mole one and thought it was pretty tasty. They also have some non-meat ones.

They also have a fresh guacamole app that they make right at the table that's yummy too, though I have to say the chips are pretty generic.

Also liked the mango sangria.

Aug 02, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area

Wine Pairings w/ Restaurant Week

They don't have much info on their website, but for the Winter RW, Meritage did half glasses for $15, I'd imagine they'd do it again since wine pairing is kind of their "thing".

I also went to Harvest last time, and I have to agree with the above poster, the food was fine, but the wine was better.

Jul 26, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area

authentic italian in Newton

As someone who recently visited Italy for the first time, I can tell you that at least the "no tap water" thing IS authentic, heh. :)

It was a bit of a culture shock for my traveling companion and I, but NO restaurants in Italy server tap've got to pay for bottled water no matter where you go.

(Note, I am not defending this place. This is Newton, not Italy, for crying out loud. Give the patrons some darn water.)

Jul 21, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area

Bakery/Grandma pizza

Sicilia's on Comm Ave near BU makes them. They call them "Stuffed" Pizzas. The rest of their food is pretty standard pizza joint stuff, but I love those stuffed crust pizzas. We used to order them all the time back in college, and now when my roomates and I need some comfort food, we always turn to those!

Here's the entry on menupages:

Jul 18, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area

Good Italian for under $18/entree?

OK, so it's totally not in the area you asked for, but you might consider Carlo's Cucina in Allston. It's right in your price range, the most expensive thing on the menu is $18.95.

If you do a search for it on the board, you'll find some reviews.

Jul 06, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area

Athan's Cafe Brighton Center Excellent and Inexpensive!

While I didn't have as bad as an experience at Athan's as you, I do have to second the vote for Cafe Nation, I definitely prefer it to Athan's. In addition to the crepes, their salads and sandwiches are tasty as well as interesting, I've never been dissapointed with the food there. They have an absolutely delicious home-made vinagrette dressing (a little salad comes with all the savory crepes and sandwiches). Also, I like the laid back atmosphere there better. Usually good music is playing, and every once in a while there will be someone performing -- don't know if that's an official thing or they just wander in off the street, but it's nice.

Plus they've got free wi-fi!

Jul 02, 2006
jessicar in Greater Boston Area