Need a Boston-area restaurant recommendation for a difficult crew

I’m looking for a recommendation for dinner north of Boston. Diners include 2 well-behaved small children, 2 adults with discerning palates (one of whom is celebrating a birthday), and 3 grandparents, two with hearing issues, and two of whom are vegetarians. So, the location has to be quiet enough for the grandparents to hear but not so quiet that two small children would seem out-of-place. It must take reservations for a Sunday. There must be at least a few vegetarian (no seafood/fish) options. Entrees should be in the $19-29 dollar range. We’re in Somerville, and everywhere around here with decent food is either super loud or doesn’t take reservations or specializes in whole hog heads or all of the above. Maybe there’s somewhere in a nearby town I’m missing? Arlington, Medford?
Here’s a few places where we like the food but can’t make it fit the current situation: Highland Kitchen, Rosebud, various ramen spots, Full Moon, Strip T’s. Help!

Some possibilities…
Cafe ArtScience

Love the food at Bergamot and EVOO, and Bergamot is where I always recommend for people with noise concerns, but they are a bit more upscale than what we’re going for. I haven’t been to Cafe Artscience yet, but it’s on my list- entrees mostly in the $30 range from what I can see. That’s why I was hoping that we could get find somewhere casual but not loud if we headed out from the Camberville area a little.

Park in Harvard Square might work. They don’t have a ton of veggie options but there are some. They validate for free parking Sunday -Thursday so that’s a plus.

Hmm. Excellent suggestion. It won’t be too loud Sunday at 6pm?

Ah, good point. ArtScience is definitely not casual. Unfortunately all of the places I frequent in Camberville tend to be far too loud most of the time! One place I visit occasionally that’s pretty quiet is Pasha in Arlington. It’s Turkish food so there’s decent vegetarian options, but it might not be to everyone’s tastes.

This looks perfect! I especially love that the kids menu is a sized-down version of real food, with not a hot dog in sight! Thanks. I was looking for somewhere not necessarily new or sceney, but good food that I might have never tried or forgotten about. No one is a picky eater and I think there will be good options for all here. Easy to park will be a bonus. Perfect.

Cool! Hope everyone digs it. Their appetizer platters are tasty and I really like the iskender kebab.

[quote=“boston_otter, post:8, topic:2051, full:true”]
Their appetizer platters are tasty and I really like the iskender kebab.
[/quote] Second both those recommendations. Pasha is a terrific suggestion.

Pasha is a perfect recommendation. Something for everyone, and low-key.

Reporting back! Successful meal. Pasha was indeed the perfect location. We were able to get a wrap-around bench seat in the window- always great to feel a little private and be able to pin the kids in on a bench. The cold appetizer platter was really nice and enjoyed by all veg and non-veg eaters. Hummus and yogurt and pita slices were a hit with the littles; the spicy veg dip was my favorite. Baba ganoush convinced some members of the family that they do like eggplant after all, although I missed the smoky flavor I love from places like Garlic & Lemons and Noor.

Entrees were a very long time coming- my only gripe. However, the rice and bulgur pulled our kids back from the brink of meltdown when they finally arrived. One weird service glitch-my mother in law received a different entree from what she ordered, but had already started to eat it because both were lamb and she didn’t realize the mistake. Ten minutes later, a server showed up and dropped her correct entree in front of her. A few minutes after that, a second server showed up and tried to take back the plate she was eating from because she said somebody else had ordered it. Huh? We had to argue with them to point out that both plates had been on our table, eaten from, and could not be swapped so they might as well leave them. I apologize to whomever’s entree we ate who probably had to wait an additional 40 minutes for their food.

The kebabs (we tried Iskander and a ground beef/lamb version) were tasty. I wasn’t really sure how the plate would look- they put a buttery pita on the bottom, smother it in tomato based sauce, then top with meat. Our veg faction had a vegetable casserole and a Imam Fainted, which they finished off so I assume they enjoyed. While the flavor of the meat was good, I would prefer something a little crunchy on the plate- when I think of the components of a shawarma, the pickle or radish that’s in there is an important counterpoint to the meats and sauces and I think the kebab plates would benefit from something similar.

We ran out of time for dessert, but I’d be interested to try it another time. The location on the whole was the perfect recommendation for our needs. I’d take a group back here again, but for just straight up food preference, I’d probably pick shawarma and side of baba from Noor.


Awesome, so glad everyone dug it. I’ve noticed that their service can be spotty once in a while, but it’s rare, so I’ve chalked it up to the variances at a tiny restaurant. Sorry to hear about the bizarre glitch!

Very much agreed on their baba; the stuff at Noor is better. It’s hard for me to compare the meat in the Iskender kebab vs. a ‘pure’ shawarma from Noor, since the dishes are so different. When i’ve had the Iskender kebab at Pasha, the pita on the bottom is usually toasted, so it’s still crunchy – at least until the sauce softens it.

If you get a chance to get dessert, I really like their baked rice pudding (which is cold, but very rich) and the honeyed shredded wheat with cheese. They also do a nice tea or Turkish coffee service. One time I ordered coffee and the waiter recommended I get it flavored “traditional style”, which ended up being mastic flavored. I can’t say I recommend Turkish coffee that tastes like tree sap, but it’s definitely unique!

I really enjoy my meals at Pasha. I think that their vegetarian options are wonderful and rarely bother with meat, though Mr. SMT loves the koftas. I highly recommend the lentil soup [make sure they give you some lemon to squeeze over the soup] and the cold vegetarian appetizer plate.

Whoops… you have already responded! So glad it was the perfect spot for your gathering.

i know the op already had a good meal, but fwiw we had a pretty rotten experience as a group of 8 at park. server argued with me when i told him my glass of wine was corked, food was meh and took a long time-- even after we said as soon as we got seated we had a show. he never checked back after the plates were dropped and i finally had to hunt down a manager to get our check.

only 1 guy liked his meal.

that whole group of restaurants gets a wide pass from me.

That sucks, especially about the corked wine, and you of all people would definitely know corked wine. We had a group of 7 about a year ago at dinner. Service was very good but we found many things (the short ribs were great) underseasoned, especially the sauce on the potato skins. People liked their patty melts, though.

We have been to brunch a couple of times (admittedly, not for a few months) and have had much better luck with the seasoning on the food. It’s always been on a Saturday morning so service has been great since it’s pretty slow. I would imagine that Sunday brunch is busier so service might suffer.