31 March 2012

Jen's (Healthy-ish) Restaurant Recommendations

Recently I seem to have developed a reputation for knowing about a lot of good restaurants. I blame OpenTable. But, since I do try to follow a healthy lifestyle and do enjoy trying new places (i.e. eating out a lot), I thought I would share some of my favorites with you all. Plus, it's restaurant week(s) so many of these places may have good deals. Please let me know if you try any of my recommendations, and what you thought about them!

"Crunchy Granola" Places
  1. Life Alive - Original location in Lowell and another in Cambridge. All fresh ingredients in filling bowls, salads, or wraps. They also have smoothies and juices. It can be difficult to get a table, but both places are funky and interesting.
  2. Nourish Restaurant - A gem of an OpenTable find in Lexington, they have food my husband and I both like, including awesome sweet potato fries and carrot cake, plus tempeh for me and juicy burgers for him. Super nice folks, a great bar, and live music some nights.
  3. Red Lentil - A tried and true vegetarian with great pizzas and chili for even the most meat-loving folk. Just don't mention having tried rabbit while you're there.
  4. Melt - OK, so not really crunchy granola and they are in the Natick mall, but their lunch crepes don't need meat to be fabulous. Oh yeah, and then you can step to the other side of the counter and get really amazing gelato! Let me know if you want to go (I have a frequent eaters card there, LOL)!
  5. Tossed - I love the ability to design my own salad here. Their online menu will even calculate the nutritional information for what you decide to put into it!

Gotta Love Thai
  1. Spice & Pepper - My boss turned me onto this very obscurely-placed place in Wayland. I hate to say it, but they may just top Lanna.
  2. Lanna Thai Diner - A former BEA colleague turned me onto this place in Woburn, back when I worked in Burlington. Max (the owner) is the friendliest guy in the world, the food is great, and you're having Thai in a little diner streetcar! What could be better?
  3. Tree Top - Another Waltham gem, a former colleague at StreamBase Systems showed me this place, based on his days at Brandeis. Excellent dishes you want to get again and again!

"Date Night Out"
  1. West Side Lounge - I learned about this great place while stocking Joey's Facebook check-ins. Fabulously kind waitress let me change my order twice! Great drinks and scrumptious tiramisu dessert. Definitely a "return to". I'm starting to really love me some Cambridge!
  2. 29 Newbury - We ended up here for lunch one day, so I can't consider it date "night", but it was fabulous. I had a rice bowl with tofu and grilled romaine lettuce (think it was in olive oil). Originally I wasn't going to eat the latter, and now I'm looking forward to trying it on our grill this summer!
  3. Stephi's on Tremont or Stephanie's on Newbury -  The former was introduced to me by a friend; the latter we decided couldn't be bad and went to post a company meeting in the city. Stephi's has great big and interesting salads and very different, seasonal martinis (I once had a cherry bomb thing with a large, red pepper skewered by a toothpick across the top!) Stephanie's was more sophisticated and had the most amazing scallops and ahi tuna tartare I think I've ever had.
  4. Giacomos - My favorite North End restaurant from the time I moved to Boston. There's no reservations and the line is always out the door, but it moves fast and is worth it! Cash only.
  5. Top of the Hub - While we didn't get a seat with the best view, this place was still amazing for a special occasion.
  6. Tantric Indian Bistro - Nearby on Stuart Street in Boston, this place has an awesome atmosphere, great service, and really nice Indian fare (including lots of vegetarian options).

One-of-a-kind Sushi "Experiences"
  1. Oishii - We went here for our anniversary because we couldn't get into O ya. And, every dish brought out melted in your mouth. That is, if you could get over the beautifully intricate presentations! We had two waitresses and the chef personally came out to greet us.
  2. O ya - We couldn't let this one go and tried it for New Year's. A different experience given we sat at the sushi bar. We didn't like everything (as we did at Oishii) but it was awesome to watch them making each course -- and we got to try all different types of sake pairings.
  3. Wanokura - Here's the best of the not-super-special-occasion-clean-out-your-wallet sushi places, which my husband introduced me to years ago. Not in Boston like the others (and maybe far out for some), but hamachi that's to DIE FOR! :-)

When You Need Coffee, Dessert (and Maybe Some Wi-fi)
  1. Cafe on the Common -  I spent a lot of time here on weekends when we were showing my condo to prospective buyers, and it's still a local Waltham favorite for me. It's in the dessert category because I love their tiny cupcakes, which are always homemade and give you just the right little taste of what you're craving. My favorites are the chocolate ganache and boston creme. Yeah, they have coffees, teas, salads, wraps, and wi-fi too.
  2. 1369 Coffee House -  Literally next door to Life Alive's Cambridge location, you need to make room for their lattes and cake / cookie counter. Chocolate cakes of all kinds keep preventing me from trying their carrot cake, which also looks amazing. Given how long people stay with laptops, I assume they have wi-fi.
  3. Cafe Vittoria - Following dinner at Giacomos, skip the lines at Mike's Pastry and go for a more authentic Italian experience. The decor in this place is fantastic, as is the gelato and tiramisu.
  4. Thinking CupAlthough I'm off caffeine, there are still a few places where I'll indulge in a latte or cappuccino. This place in downtown Boston is one of them. Homemade hazelnut latte had me happy for days! Their breakfast egg muffin sandwich was amazing too.

When You're Traveling
  1. Makeda (NJ) - One of the benefits of traveling for dance weekends was trying all the local restaurants. This is still one of the best places for Ethiopian I've ever found. And, their butterscotch martini isn't bad either!
  2. Crepevine (CA) - I can't speak highly enough of this place for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dessert. Portion warning though: I think my tofu scramble plate had enough for about 4 servings!
  3. Johnny's Pizzeria (NY) - Hey, if you are going to have pizza, make it a good one! If you grew up on the East coast and love a perfect, thin-crust cheese and sauce, definitely try this hole in the wall. Parking is limited.
  4. Natori Sushi (CT) - I discovered this place on the recommendation of my GPS one day while driving with a friend down to NY. Amazing sushi from a little strip mall place, and cheap. And, in my old stopping grounds near the Buckland Hills Mall.

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