Boston offers so much to see and do. Keep in mind though, it is a state capital, so a lot of the attractions are aimed at tourists, and thus carrying a hefty price tag. Boston is a fun place to live, and if you like to go out and soak up the experience, there is never a lack of options.
Below I've compiled some eateries that can help you get out of the same old dining rut. I've included on my list a couple of places that offer great food, atmosphere and the prices are pretty reasonable for families. I hope you will enjoy them as much as my family and I do.
Cafe Belo (445 Somerville Ave., Somerville, 02143)
Cafe Belo is a Brazilian steak house. You'll find a bar and stage on one side and the restaurant is on the other. If you visit on a weekend night, they have live music. Note: It can get loud, even if you are sitting across the room. The music echoes and vibrates. There is also a dance floor if you care to indulge.
A selection of alcoholic beverages, natural juices, soda and water are available. For the more adventurous, ask for a caipirinha, a popular Brazilian drink made with sugar, fresh lime and imported Brazilian Rum (Cachaca). For those who prefer non-alcoholic I recommend, guarana -- Brazil's version of ginger ale. There are two ways to dine: buffet style or churrusco (Brazilian for BBQ). It refers to the way the meat is prepared rodizio -- and served, placed on skewers and cooked over an open flame.
If you select this option, waiters will visit your table at regular intervals and offer you're a variety of selections of meat. Garlic beef, chicken wings, and chicken wrapped in bacon are just a few of the offerings. The buffet meal is always included with this option, and is all you can eat. I've never gone back for seconds.
Between the buffet, drinks, and selections of meat, diners can fill up quite quickly. Should you still have room after your meal, there is a dessert buffet that features a selection of cakes, puddings and sweets -- Brazilian style. Fruit is common in the desserts. The cakes are moist and flavorful. Also offered are specialty coffee drinks like cappuccino and espresso. Expect to spend between $80 to $100 for a family of four, including dessert and drinks.
Midwest Grill (1124 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 02139)
Also a Brazilian Steak house, this was once my favorite place to dine. Live music is also offered on weekends. One main difference is the dining atmosphere; it is a bit more refined and the live music is usually reflective of that -- one guy, a guitar and a microphone.
The dining style is the same; however, the prices are a bit higher. For adults on a Friday or Saturday night, expect to pay about $25 per person; you'll spend between $5 to $9 on your kids, depending on age. This does not include anything besides the meal. Drinks start at $1.95; desserts are between $3.95 and $8.95.
My family and I used to frequent Midwest Grill when it first opened; however, it has become one of the more popular dining establishments in Cambridge, so I suggest you call ahead on a Friday or Saturday night; otherwise, you could face long wait times. There is no parking lot, and the location of the restaurant is on busy Cambridge Street. Meters are available, but they offer valet parking, and I recommend you take advantage. Midwest Grill has one of the best buffet options I've experienced, and their food at the buffet is always piping hot. The relaxed atmosphere justifies the higher price tag.
Hard Rock Cafe (22-24 Clinton St., Boston, 02109)The last of my selections is not the most obscure; in my case, it was the most overlooked. It never occurred to me to visit. I went for the first time last month to celebrate my children turning 16 and 18. It is a really cool place. The back wall behind the bar is made up of drum cymbals. Rock memorabilia hangs from the walls in every section. I would say it combines the dining and museum experiences together.
The selection of entrees ranges widely -- not too high-end, average meals with about average prices. They offer the usual fare: steak, salmon, chicken, burgers. I had steak with garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli. The broccoli was terrible; hard and tasteless, but the steak was cooked to perfection and the potatoes fluffy and well seasoned. My youngest daughter ordered a honey mustard chicken sandwich; I tasted this as well -- simply awesome.
Although the food is good, the atmosphere and experience is why you go. The gift shop has some great items -- my daughter got a set of golden guitar earrings for about 14 bucks. You will have to park in the garage on State Street; you can get it validated for $3 discounts; however, expect to pay around 12 bucks after the discount.
A family of four can expect to drop about $200 on dinner, not including what you can spend in the gift shop. It's a cool experience; it's mainly for tourists, but locals can indulge as well.