We’ve seen which places have weathered the pandemic. These faves continue to ace the test of time.
After a rainy and generally awful summer for weather, it has been a mostly magnificent fall in Boston, with plenty of sunshine and temperatures often in the 70s well into October.
But reality has now set in, and the cooler days have finally arrived which worries restaurant owners and workers alike, since the pandemic has caused many dining spots to depend on outdoor patios one and off for nearly two years now.
Unlike last fall and winter, however, when the surge in coronavirus cases basically forced places to depend mostly on takeout and delivery, there is a bit more hope this time around, in part because the vast majority of people locally have been vaccinated, with many of them now starting to get their boosters.
As a result, indoor dining has become more of an option for at least some as we approach the coldest months of the year, while takeout (and delivery) remains a popular pick as well.
So, what Boston-area restaurants are good places for both indoor dining and takeout?
The key is to look for spots that have spacious dining rooms, or dining areas that are rarely crowded (or both) while also offering food that is meant for takeout. A handful of such places can be found below, including those in the city itself along with the suburbs.
Dino’s, Boston (North End)
Temporary patios in the North End are done for the season as of Nov. 1, which means that folks looking for food in the neighborhood will now be dealing with often-crowded dining areas up and down Hanover and Salem streets, and not all are conducive to takeout. This is what makes Dino’s a terrific option, as this hidden gem at the corner of Salem and Prince streets is a counter-service spot that has some seating and is mainly a place that locals go to, which means grabbing a table usually isn’t a problem—and for a takeout spot, the food (including a variety of pasta dishes) is both outstanding and affordable.
Dino’s, 141 Salem St., Boston. dinosnorthendboston.com/home.html
Greek Corner, Cambridge
Greek food tends to travel well, making it a good option for takeout, and this beloved Greek restaurant near the Arlington border has the added benefit of a comfortable dining room that is rarely crowded, in part because so many people who come here live nearby and opt for takeout instead. Because of this, Greek Corner feels a bit safer than other spots for dining in, and their classic Greek options such as moussaka, pastitsio, spinach pie, stuffed grape leaves, gyros, and souvlaki are all perfect comfort food for a chilly fall day.
Greek Corner, 2366 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. greekcorner.us
Granite Grill, Braintree
Some more upscale restaurants have struggled a bit with takeout during the pandemic, as their food options really aren’t meant to be eaten at home, but this casual upscale spot that’s hidden away in a shopping center has done a great job with their takeout from the start. And perhaps because of this, the multiple dining sections at Granite Grill are often quiet even on weekend nights, which means that customers can enjoy chicken parmigiana, bolognese, blue crab ravioli, grilled salmon, stuffed pork loin, and other Italian, Mediterranean, and New American dishes either in-house or at their homes.
Granite Grill, 703 Granite St., Braintree. granitegrillfx.com
Pleasant Cafe, Roslindale
For a long time during the pandemic, this iconic restaurant and bar was takeout-only, which was frustrating because the interior of the place is so special in an old-school Boston kind of way, but they wanted to keep people healthy and by doing so, they also had their meals to-go setup firing on all cylinders once they reopened their dining room. Some of the best pizza in all of Boston can be found at Pleasant Cafe, which many still order for takeout, while their great takes on lasagna, ravioli, shrimp scampi, and the like can be enjoyed in one of their comfy booths once again, along with their old-fashioned cocktails.
Pleasant Cafe, 4515 Washington St., Roslindale. pleasantcafe.com
Mary Chung, Cambridge
Chinese restaurants were unfairly hit hard as the coronavirus outbreak took hold in 2020, and there were concerns that many might not make it because so few people would even consider ordering takeout from them. Most survived, however, including this unpretentious Central Square eatery that decided to stick to takeout until fairly recently. Mary Chung offers the best of both worlds food-wise, serving classic Chinese-American fare that works well for takeout or dining in, while more authentic options such as hot pot, lion’s head meatball, and whole fish with hot bean sauce are good options to eat in their spacious dining room.
Mary Chung, 464 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge.
The Restaurant, Woburn
As mentioned earlier, Greek food tends to be a good option for takeout, and American comfort food is as well for that matter, which makes this longtime local favorite a perfect choice for those in the northern suburbs. The Restaurant is a cafeteria-style eatery with a large dining room whose tables are spaced pretty far apart from each other, so sitting inside while noshing on a Greek salad, macaroni and cheese, moussaka, a burger, steak and cheese sub, or a turkey club is fine for those who are comfortable being indoors, and cafeteria concepts tend to be ideal for to-go food, so takeout is the name of the game here for many patrons.
The Restaurant, 489 Main St., Woburn. therestaurantwoburn.com
Seapoint Bar and Grill, South Boston
Being that it is a dining and drinking spot hidden under a function room in a mostly residential neighborhood, the Seapoint isn’t exactly a household name outside of Southie, but it’s very convenient with plenty of parking and bus lines/t stops that aren’t too far away. And the sprawling dining area is typically pretty quiet—especially for a local watering hole—so it feels quite a bit safer than some of the hotspots not too far away that have constant waits for tables. Takeout is a good call here as well, as pizza, wings, tenders, mozzarella sticks, potato skins, and steak tips all travel well.
Seapoint Bar and Grill, 367 E 8th St., South Boston. facebook.com/seapoint367
If you’re looking for a quiet dining room in a place that doesn’t feel like the tables are right on top of each other, full-service Indian restaurants tend to fit the bill quite nicely, including this elegant but casual dining spot right in the heart of Dorchester’s Savin Hill neighborhood. And if you’re not quite ready for indoor dining yet, the Dorchester location of Shanti does quite a good takeout business, with samosas, pakoras, coconut soup, naan, chicken tikka masala, biryani, tandoori chicken, and curry all being excellent to-go meals. (Other locations of Shanti can be found in Roslindale and Cambridge.)
Shanti, 1111 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester. shantiboston.com
City Streets, Waltham
A family-friendly restaurant known in part for its comfortable outdoor patio, City Streets now focuses on its sprawling two-room indoor dining area along with takeout as the colder days approach, and its nicely-presented New American and classic American food tends to work a bit better for dining in, though they also do a good to-go business as well. Options here that are better geared toward dining in include the stuffed burgers, mustard crusted chicken, fajitas, jambalaya, and grilled swordfish, while good takeout options include chili, turkey tips, mac and cheese, pulled pork sandwiches, and spicy Thai chicken salad.
City Streets, 411 Waverly Oaks Rd., Waltham. citystreets.net
Ocho Cafe, Weymouth
The stretch of Route 3A between the Fore River Bridge on the Quincy/Weymouth line and Hingham Bay has a number of decent dining options, including this relatively new Mexican restaurant near where Weymouth and Hingham meet. Ocho, which also has locations in Westford and West Hartford, CT, is a friendly spot that was very popular for outdoor dining during the summer months because of its huge patio, but its brightly-colored and roomy indoor dining area is a fine choice especially on weekday nights when it tends to be quieter. Expect to find a variety of taco, enchilada, quesadilla, and chimichanga options here, all of which also work very well for takeout.
Ocho Cafe, 765 Bridge St., Weymouth. ochocafe.com
Marc is the founder of @hiddenboston, a textbook editor, a hike leader for @AppMtnClub, and a food and travel writer and commenter for DigBoston, NBC/NECN, WBZ, WMFO and indie617.