Non-outrageously priced restaurants for an anniversary

Jami asks:

Looking for recommendations on really good restaurants in Boston for anniversary that aren't outrageously priced.

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Some answers via Twitter

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Me, too!

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Me, too!

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SRV

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SRV, in the South End, makes the best Italian food in the city, and if you don't crazy on the wine, you'll be able to get out of there for less than $100 for the two of you.

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Delfino's in Roslindale

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No, Delfino's is the best Italian place in the city. I like SRV for their small plates, but their pasta (and portions) aren't as amazing as Delfino's.

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they said

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cheap....

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TT is expensive

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I make okay money and wouldn't have a problem going to TT for a special occasion, but it is absolutely not a place that comes to mind when someone is specifically asking for a cost conscious option. A ton of these suggestions are very similar.

If you dine out a lot, and think a $70 bill is a regular Friday night meal, I get that you might think TT isn't outrageous, but trust me it is for a lot of people.

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Quote:

Original requester here. I think all of the recommendations so far are within our budget. It's basically, can we get out under $100 and have a nice experience.

I think for a nice place $35 per person is not outrageous. It is expensive, but not ridiculous, especially for a special occasion, especially in Massachusetts. No, I can't afford it either, I'm a student and I work only part time these days. My partner (who also isn't rich) took me there once, and we really enjoyed it, got out at around $50 I think, an even reasonable-er price. It fits pretty much exactly what the poster was asking for.

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Specify a budget, please.

The concept of value versus "outrageously priced" is highly subjective -- I find people who don't live in Boston, especially if they come from someplace like Florida or the Midwest, are shocked by restaurant prices here -- but an upper limit on price (I usually ask, "What should the midpoint price of the entrees be?") at least sets some useful boundaries.

Lots of people think The Cheesecake Factory is a great deal because of its enormous portions. In my book, a big pile of mediocrity is no value at any price: sorry, 90% of the North End. Likewise, lots of folks feel swindled at certain pricey places that I consider a good value for the quality of ingredients, technique and service involved, but don't serve up portions that guarantee you'll take a doggie bag home. (I hate doggie bags.)

I get a lot of vague questions like this for which I can't offer much help. People are weirdly loath to set price ranges, don't wanna seem cheap, I guess. I like O Ya, even though it's easily the most expensive restaurant in the city, but that kind of very specific dining experience isn't for everyone. People adore the national chain luxury steakhouses; I think most of them are a shit value. But you gotta start somewhere, and that somewhere is naming your budget.

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Original requester here. I

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Original requester here. I think all of the recommendations so far are within our budget. It's basically, can we get out under $100 and have a nice experience.

And to your point, yes, it varies from where people originate from (hey, I'm originally from Florida). But, we've lived here long enough to know how Boston rolls.

I appreciate everyone's recommendations. Good ones on this list that look very promising :)

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Ester in

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Dorchester Lower Mills. Lovely food and pleasant place.

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So, by that math, I'd say you're looking at

$40/head total (plus 6.25% meal tax and a frugal 18% tip), so entrees in the mid-to-high twenties, apps in the low teens. (Small plates make this calculus trickier, so let's skip those for now.) Some ideas with cool-to-sorta-nice atmosphere and good service, with a few off-beat options:

Grotto, Beacon Hill. Romantic, funky basement space, a kind of luxurious, rich take on Italian cuisine.

Daily Catch, North End. Tiny, casual but loaded with old-timey North End atmosphere, great Sicilian-style seafood, specializing in squid dishes. One of the few North End restaurants I have any use for. Cash only. Do not bother with the Seaport or Brookline locations.

The Glenville Stops, Allston. A rare grown-up kind of place in student-y Allston, like an upscale British pub in aspect but with a globetrotting menu.

Fairsted Kitchen, Washington Square, Brookline. Intimate neighborhood place with an eclectic American / Mediterranean menu

Mida, South End. Cozy, modern Italian neighborhood place, great housemade pastas.

Fat Hen, East Somerville. 30-seat romantic Italian joint with great wines and a killer four-course prix fixe for $45, a steal, if a little above your budget.

Juliet, Union Square, Somerville. Charming, rustic neighborhood French place. The gentle prices include gratuity.

Branch Line, Watertown. Cool, airy former factory setting, modern American cuisine with a focus on rotisserie.

Steel & Rye, Milton. A modern American restaurant in a cool industrial setting that would be out of your price range if it were downtown, but is in the suburbs.

Sycamore, Newton Centre. New American in a brick-walled bistro setting, also cheaper than it should be thanks to its suburban location.

Q Restaurant, Chinatown. I like the romance of sharing hotpot with a sweetie, and this is probably the swankiest shabu room in Boston, sorta nightclubby, and it has a liquor license. A wicked bargain. Tutorial here, if you're not familiar with the format.

Okay, it is hard these days to avoid small-plates places. Some of my favorites:

Uni, Back Bay. Hip, modern Japanese restaurant combining sushi, sashimi, and izakaya dishes. Avoid the priciest imported raw fish (mostly from the sashimi bar) and stick to the hot tavern dishes (dumplings, skewers, and you can hit your price point nicely.

Kava, South End. A tiny, moddish Greek place doing very traditional mezze. Drink retsina for cheap!

Little Donkey, Central Square, Cambridge. Two beloved local chefs do small plates from around the world. Noisy, fun, casual-feeling room.

Tiger Mama, Fenway. Brilliant, modern, meant-to-be-shared Southeast Asian fare in a lovely room.

Sarma, Prospect Hill, Somerville. Whirls around the Mediterranean from Portugal to Morocco, with Turkey at the center. Casual, neighborhood-y, super cool.

Casa B, Union Square, Somerville. Pretty little room, cool tapas style dining with more influences from Central and South America than Iberia.

Tres Gatos, Jamaica Plain. An actual Spanish tapas joint in a charming former residential-home setting, with a record store in the back.

Shojo, Chinatown. Fun, funky, street-food inspired Chinese/Western fusion in a hip-looking little shoebox of a space and the only good cocktail program in the neighborhood.

Hope that helps! You can find my professional reviews of a lot of these places in the links section of my blog.

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Thanks!

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Very awesome, detailed list. Thank you!!

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That's our MC!

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You won't go wrong picking one of the places off this list.

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Delfino

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Roslindale Square

For my money - the best out there - with wine and a tip might be a little over $100 - or less depending on what/how much you eat. I have a VERY picky friend who loves the place.

Very quaint - small - my recollection from being there a few months ago is it's less noisy than a lot of other places too.

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I concur.

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Love the place. Gotta get there early since it is so small. Food is consistently awesome.

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Original requester here fulfilling your request

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I narrowed down all of the suggestions to a top 5 and gave to my husband. He chose Carlos Cucina.

We had an absolutely delicious meal! Really, it was just what we needed. Nice, quaint experience and amazing food. I had the Pollo Involtini and my husband had the Chicken Marsala. He was in love! It reminded us a lot of a place we used to go to down in Florida when we were dating.

Thank you all again for the recommendations. I bet we'll try out some of the others in the near future :)

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Sure

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It was around $70, including our meals, salads and tip.

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Great question about budget

Another factor might be, how often do you go out? After buying a new home and with two kids now, we cook at home. A lot. Sooo, do you spend the money even if you don't really remember what outrageous is anymore?

Would Little Donkey qualify as not outrageously priced? Because man oh man everything I hear about it is fantastic.

P.S. just read your review and it confirmed my desire to eat there!

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Hmm...

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Eastern Standard never fails. I also LOVE Abigail's (Central Square). It has a cozy gastro-pub feel.

Is Tremont 647 still around?

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Any Barbara Lynch restaurant

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They are all basically amazing.

If you stick to the ala carte menu and not the prix fixe the total cost does not have to be outrageous.

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Chipotle

The food is relatively cheap and you'll get to spend lots of quality time together as you recover from Norovirus. Clover and their Salmonella specials would be another choice pick.

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Brassica Kitchen at Forest Hills

Some of the most remarkable food in the city, reasonable prices, and friendly staff. I have had few meals as satisfying and gratifying as the meals I have at at Brassica. Used to be Fazenda Cafe and last year they expanded to add dinner. Here is their website and address.
Brassica Kitchen
3710 Washington St
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 477-4519
http://fazendaboston.com

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Veggie Option

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True Bistro in Somerville. You don't have to be veg though, all types will enjoy their meal.

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I'd suggest

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I'd suggest
224 Boston Street
Ashmont Grill

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Good Food

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Two good places. Don't forget Tavolo Ristorante -1918 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02124

tavolopizza.com

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Dbar

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Is great too.

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I'd recommend Craigie on Main

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I'd recommend Craigie on Main in Cambridge. Consistently great quality and technique, at lower prices than Barbara Lynch.

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J/K?

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Really? Isn't Craigie On Main like 250 for entrees and beers? Wine starting at the sky?

Try Brasserie Jo on Huntington Ave in the Collonade. Fabulous French bar and dining room.
Meals average $22-$40

Place seems like something of a throw back to the 80's - tablecloths, chandlers, and waiters with ties and vests. It feels very dignified. You expect to be offered a cigarette....

The bar after 10 is always always interesting.

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Grotto on Bowdoin

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I've had many nice dinners at Grotto on Bowdoin St. -- it's a cozy, below street level Italian place with dim lighting and a seasoned waitstaff. My husband loves their short rib gnocchi.

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Two more:

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Two more:

That new place - Lucy's - on Granite Av. Been there once, pretty good, though maybe a little noisy for anniversary dinner.

If you're willing to go past city limits - Bamboo in Dedham. Good food, good service.

Also - Venezia has been very nice the couple of times I've been there on the restaurant side.

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I have never

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ever in my years heard anyone recommend this place. That said, it seems to have changed hands recently or at least has a new name (Magnolia?)

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Santarpio's...try the lamb!

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Santarpio's, 111 Chelsea St, East Boston. Great pizza and a small but delicious barbecue menu. Try the lamb for $8.95! Cash only.

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