I made the most of my birthday, stretching out the celebrations to several nights, with several friends and family! I indulged my passion to explore new restaurants and cherish old favorites in six different cities and towns!
1) Tango Argentinian Cuisine in Arlington
They're famous for meats - steaks, sausages, lamb and pork chops - but I was most impressed with the special cold soup - gazpacho - and the polenta with parmesan and malbec mushroom sauce! I had the mile-high pork chop with a delightful side of mashed butternut squash and sweet potato.
2) The Loading Dock in Belmont
We had Sunday brunch at this beautiful new Mediterranean bakery, deli and restaurant. We ate well in a quiet corner of their dining room, and brought home prepared foods like curried cashew chicken salad and soups!
3) Texas Road House in Everett
We went late evening and found a quiet corner table for their delicious chili, house salads, steak and ribs. Basic American food with country music and dancing servers! And fun non-alcoholic drinks! I had the red raspberry lemonade.
4) Lobsta Land in Gloucester
My favorite place on Cape Ann with a lovely view of the salt marsh just off Rte 128. I had lobster for lunch! They make a delicious lobster chowder! I was tempted by the lazy man lobster or paella but went with the combo appetizer of crab cakes, coconut shrimp and calamari.
5) Nichols Candy House in Gloucester
This is the best old-fashioned candy shop! It's run by a cheery group of older ladies who walk around the displays while you point at your favorites and they fill a box of handmade chocolate. You can pick up lobster lollipops, jelly beans, poppycock, Boston Baked beans, molasses puffs and more!
6) S&S Deli in Cambridge
This deli in Inman Square is on my way home from work but we rarely stop. I was starving so we ducked in for dinner. They have a huge menu of deli favorites and basic American breakfast, lunch or dinner choices. Choosing is tough! I ended up with the gazpacho and the most delicious chicken pot pie! Oh... and blueberry blintzes. Mmmm.... they were good at breakfast the next day!
7) La Casa de Pedro in Watertown
We enjoyed the Venezuelan treats at this restaurant with the fanciful tropical interior. I adore their tapas menu! Another place where it's tough to choose. I got to taste the shrimp ceviche, sweet plantains, "Pedro's Old Times with Vargas" - a spicy pork nuggets dish, fried cheese sticks and then the paella - an immense mixture of seafood, rice, and snap peas in a cast iron wok.
8) Oleana in Cambridge
I was blown away by this place! It's spectacular! I can't believe this was my first time. I tried to make a reservation a week ahead, but ended up on the wait list with little hope. The universe smiled on me - they finally called at 2:30 pm the night I wanted to go saying they had a 6:30 pm table! Perfect! We got an outdoor table in a quiet, covered corner of their magical patio, next to an open plug where I could charge my almost-dead phone! This is another "lots of tapas with a few entrees" place owned by award-winning chef Ana Sortun. If she puts ingredients together, you know they will coordinate to delight your palate! I got to taste several tapas:
Deviled eggs with tuna,
Sultan's Delight of tamarind beef short rib with smokey eggplant puree,
Fatteh- Caramelized Onion, Romanesco, Crispy Mushrooms, Pinenuts, Yogurt;
Swordfish special meze
Sister's Lemon Chicken with Za’atar, Turkish Cheese Pancake
My Softshell Crab with Saffron-Almond Skordalia, Heirloom Tomato, Couza Fries w/ Olive tapenade
Pistachio Ma’amoul Cookie w/ Lemon Verbena Peaches, Olive Oil Ice Cream
Sweet Corn Ice Cream w/ Blueberry Spoon Sweets, Corn Puff, Sumac Kettle Corn
My first ever Baked Alaska - Coconut Ice Cream and Passion Fruit Caramel
My companions enjoyed their creative cocktails. I enjoyed the festive drinks without alcohol! I adored the hibiscus iced tea. And the rooibos hot tea with dessert.
Our server was a friendly, efficient younger woman with a way of asking how things were going that encouraged us to gush compliments to the chef.
It is pricey but worth it for a special occasion!
I recommend all these spots to you for happy eating!