Today I opened my refrigerator and pulled out chicken that appears to be growing fuzz. This means that we'll probably dine out tonight. A little while back, I listed five fabulous restaurants that don't make you feel like a leper when you trundle in with a stroller, an iPad trumpeting Sesame Street's most obnoxious ditties, and a bulbous diaper bag capable of beheading people. It's been a while, and we've eaten out with Andrew a fair bit since then. And so: Here are five more restaurants that you should definitely visit in lieu of frozen pizza.
1. Gene's Flatbread Cafe, Chelmsford. I wrote about Gene for yesterday's Food section, and I'll gladly sing his praises anywhere and everywhere. He runs a tiny noodle shop in Chelmsford, and he's the nicest person ever. He's so smiley! So hospitable! Which makes his ground-up enterprise even more endearing. It doesn't hurt that his food is so cheap and so delicious. You'll get a vat of steamy, spicy Xi'an noodle soup or a flatbread five-spice pork sandwich for under $6, with plenty of leftovers. There's also a menu of familiar favorites like egg rolls for suspicious kiddos.
2. Tenoch, Medford. If you're caught in a Chipotle/Anna's rut and can't seem to break free, try Tenoch. We visited earlier this week with Andrew, and he approved. Appealingly, the counter-service menu is bigger than at other fastish-food Mexican places: They have tortas, enchiladas, burritos, tamales, quesadillas, and tacos. There's also an assortment of salsas. For about $6.50, I got two hefty beef enchiladas, rice, black beans, and a healthy dollop of guacamole at no extra charge. Spice fiends should definitely request the chile de árbol (dried chile and spices) salsa on the side. Service is quick, and on-street parking is snappy.
3. La Posada, Arlington Heights. Could these people be any sweeter? I don't think so. At this sit-down Mexican restaurant on the Lexington border, kids are treated like royalty. When Andrew began to bray in his booster seat a couple of weeks ago, a waiter miraculously sensed trouble and appeared with crayons and paper. When he flung his tortilla chips to the ground, a grandmotherly hostess clucked at him and complimented his long eyelashes. Food can be hit or miss (it's a true homestyle operation), but it has a cozy warmth and delicious adobo marinated pork tacos. Note that it's BYOB, so if it's been a long day, you'll want to stop at nearby Berman's Liquors on the way.
4. Dairy Joy, Weston. Yeah, so a seafood shack in Weston is pretty much guaranteed to be pricy, but that's OK. Dairy Joy is a summertime institution. Why not spring for deliciously crisp fried onion rings and soft-serv every now and then? I love this roadside stand because not only do they make darn fine burgers 'n dogs, seating is strictly al fresco. Find a picnic table and let your kids frolic. There are always children here, so chances are your brood will make new friends and allow you to scarf your fried clams in peace.
5. East Coast Grill, Cambridge. So we took Andrew to a weekend lunch here, and I was bracing for disaster because it's nicer than our average haunts. My fears were nearly founded when he made a beeline for the massive Bloody Mary bar. (You've never seen so many hot sauces in your life.) Thankfully the staff is totally laid-back and accommodating, and weekend lunch (11-2:30 p.m. on Saturday) is still enough of a secret that the dining room isn't packed. This means servers have time to smile sympathetically and chat when your child decides to wave a vodka-filled straw to and fro. Fortify yourself with the aforementioned 20-ounce Bloodies and perhaps a pork belly sandwich. There's lots of kid-friendly sides, like mac 'n cheese, watermelon, and cornbread.
If you've been anywhere kid-friendly lately, please let me know! These spots are great and all, but I'm sure that the patient folks at La Posada are tired of seeing Andy's milk-stained mug every other week.
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