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Weeknights, strong wallets

March 24, 2010

Many of my fans ask how I can afford to live my lifestyle in our fine city.

I could write you a novel on this one. My short answer is a roll of quarters and weeknight dining specials. Also, frequent Forever 21 trips help to pull it all together.

Have you ever found yourself outside of your car (in your cute Forever 21 outfit), feeding the meter and praying you have ONE more quarter somewhere in your bag, your cupholder, glove compartment….or somewhere on the sidewalk? And no store in sight to break the $20 bill you have in your wallet? That 7:45 – 8pm time slot costs 25 cents now and $25 if you chance it and then get caught by a meter maid.

Recently this was me on Avenue de Lafayette. I was on my way to Fajitas and Ritas and running late. I had to leave my car unsecured for that last 15 minutes. Yes, it was great to get a street spot but there was a pang of worry as I approached my car at the end of the night. Thankfully, no orange ticket and I learned my lesson – keep a roll of quarters in your car! That way you can park anywhere, pay a toll or buy scratch tickets.

Next – weeknight dining. These are my favorite deals right now:

Noir, 5-4-3-2-1-0 menu runs 5-7 p.m. Monday – Thursday
With a $6 drink purchase:
$5 Flatbreads, $4 Sandwiches, $3 Snacks, $2 Salads, $1 Sweets, $0 Nuts (try the fresh strawberries, crème fraiche & brown sugar dessert!)

Masa, 50 cent tapas Mon-Fri 5-7 pm (get the platter)
$5 pitchers of sangria in the bar

Om, Monday Momos & Martini special $12 for a martini and 6 delicious momos (tibetan dumplings)

Tapeo, $5 tapas at the bar; Mon-Fri happy hour 5-7 p.m.

Tremont 647, $2 Taco Tuesdays

Comment with your favorite weeknight deal!

Cheers,
Zoe

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Liberate your Thursday night

March 17, 2010

Remember in college when you went out for Thirsty Thursday? It made the weekend that much longer and sweeter.

In the working world Thursday fun has been fading out… and it’s time to bring it back! If you’re at a loss for where to go, I have found a duo of venues that makes for a perfect night out that will ease you flawlessly into the weekend. Ok, maybe you’ll be a bit tired at work the next day but it won’t be the dreaded Friday morning hangover you remember from college. Ugh!

The reliable duo is Match Burgers and Martinis at Mass Ave & Newbury and the Liberty Hotel on Charles street. Match satisfies your need for solid girl time over dinner and the Liberty rounds out the night with an upscale treat. 

Although Match is known as a great date spot, I would suggest avoiding it on Thursdays as your date will likely be the only man there.  That being said, Thursday is the one and only night you should be frequenting this restaurant for dinner with the girls.  Match hosts a ladies night where entrees (normally priced $13-$23) are $5 with a cocktail purchase – which you are going to have anyway. Perfect! I recommend the pop-rocks-rimmed martini Pop Culture or the Mango Shizzle.  A good friend loves their lychee martini if that’s more your style. Go with your girlfriends and expect a wait – this place gets PACKED! To make up for a longer-than-normal wait time (I’ll be real with you: 65 minutes) the manager was kind to offer us appetizers.
Order the filet mignon because you can – but the Delmonico steak and lobster orchiette pasta are also delicious choices. For apps, the calamari is a hit and the satay is spicier than expected. Match has a New York vibe and exposed flames on one wall that can get quite toasty if you’re sitting close. And if you’re having multiple cocktails.

After all of this food and if time allows, walk it off on Newbury street.  After some lèche-vitrine to scope out future purchases, you’ll be in fine form for the Liberty.

The Liberty Hotel (formerly the Charles street jail) is one of my top picks in Boston right now.  I love it so much that it warrants a separate post and will get one. Among its other fabulous nightly events, Fashionably Late is held every Thursday evening. A local designer is featured and the fashion is modeled from up high – the former catwalks of the jail serve as the runway.

This event draws a chic crowd… young professionals, businessmen staying at the hotel, hot women in their 20s and classy men of all ages sipping to the beat of a spot-on DJ. I get the feeling that the men who live in Beacon Hill flock here for a nice drink & to be surrounded by a fantastic crowd (i.e. gorgeous women) for the night. No matter who is there – everyone is dressed well. My suggestion is to get yourself a few pieces at Forever 21 to create an adventurous & sexy outfit, and you’ll fit right in. Warning: the drinks are delicious but my Kir Royale was $15. This is a place to sip your drink, enjoy the fashion and flirt with the fine selection of men. Leave the tequila shots for Friday night =)

Match Burgers & Martinis is located on Mass Ave at the top of Newbury Street near the Hynes green line T stop. Try to park on Mass Ave or use a paystation on Newbury street if you don’t have quarters.

Liberty Hotel is located at 215 Charles street at the Charles/MGH red line T stop. Parking meters are free after 8pm on Charles, Cambridge or Blossom streets.

Liberty Hotel

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Houston’s

February 16, 2010

Faneuil Hall is not a place I would normally recommend for dinner. It’s super touristy and more perfect for a bar crawl than for a fine meal. The main things I’m eating in Faneuil are embarrassing: late-night street meat or the walk-up McDonald’s window after three too many cocktails at Hennessy’s. But thank you to Boston for having a part of town that specializes in all of these things.

Look past the sidewalk vendors to a restaurant that is nestled in the bottom of 60 State street: Houston’s.  It’s a chain, and I don’t care.  The food is DELISH.  This venue works for a night with friends, a first date, or after-work cocktails in the 360 degree bar that faces the Quincy Market plaza.

I have never been disappointed here.  There is a lovely combination of great service, cozy lighting, a makeup mirror in the ladies room and flatscreens in the men’s room. And everyone gets a cozy step-up booth to enjoy the fine-tuned menu. 

The thai steak salad is an absolute must – tender filet mignon over a bed of greens, avocado, mango, peanuts and an addicting spicy thai dressing. My friends agree – it’s perfect.

My other top picks are the ribs (when it’s not date night), chowder garnished with crispy bacon (only on Friday and Sunday) and the coconut shrimp sushi. I have found that any chances the Houston’s menu has taken have been worth it.  They totally could have bombed in the sushi arena but they have hit it out of the park.

In the summertime (or let’s face it: whenever), ask for a Ketel One lemonade.  Houston’s has a homemade concoction that is addicting.  After a few of these, it will be that much easier to cross the street for a few beers to round out the night.  Who knows… you just may end up at a sausage vendor.  But at least you started off the night right!

Menu! http://www.hillstone.com/pdf_menus/houstons/Houstons_Boston.pdf

As if it couldn’t get better? Parking is free with validation at 60 State Street after 5pm nights and weekends. Or, take the T to Gov’t Center or Haymarket.

Thai Steak Salad

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Garages are for quitters

February 7, 2010

Time for some parking tough love. You are wasting money and I am here to turn you around. One garage visit per week could run you over $750 per year! Doesn’t that make you sick? Wouldn’t you rather spend that cash on a fabulous trip, a new bag….anything else other than renting a concrete spot for a few hours?

I am so jealous of the car-less city dwellers that can walk, hop the T or cab to their destination! These people are almost always on time, while I can be delayed by parking/93/storrow woes. However, my years of hunting for street parking in the city have paid off.

So here on C&C, I present my Boston parking guide. Of course I’ll be doing this in installments – because of COURSE I want you to keep coming back, my lovely readers.

I’m starting with one of the toughest areas for parking: the North End. Can I get an amen? Parking-wise, this area (or the South End) makes me cringe! WHY must the best dining areas be surrounded by such awful parking situations? Gross. Well, instead of complaining about the problem, here are some solutions:

1. Hanover. Yes really. Do not dismiss this street just because it is the epicenter of the North End. Half of the spots are valet but the other half are meters!! $1/hour before 8pm. There are commercial spots free after 7pm. FREE. Just as long as you check your signs, your night just started off that much cheaper. If Hanover has nothing open, don’t try the side streets – they are a lost cause.

2. Find a visitor spot. My North End resident readers are probably laughing right now, as these are few & far between. If you find one, buy a lottery ticket right after. But in all seriousness, SOMEONE has to be parked there, and it may as well be you! And there is a cluster (like 5!) of them on Clark street. You’re welcome.

3. Or, do what I do – don’t even try. Park in Faneuil/Haymarket at a meter and cross the street. Sounds simple but it has saved me hundreds over the years. Try Union Street, Surface Road or beyond Haymarket on North Washington.

Yes, there are special occasions/bad weather/time crunches that totally warrant valet or a garage, but I’m talking about parking for everyday life. For 2010, save yourself some cash and invest some time & quarters in driving around a few blocks. Garages are for quitters!

Happy hunting!
Zoe

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Winthrop Square

January 31, 2010

There is a gem of a square nestled within Harvard, and that is Winthrop. I have been spending LOTS of time here recently for one reason or another, and each time this section of Cambridge has been perfect for the occasion.

What can Winthrop square do for you?

You’re low on cash and want a chic Monday night? $10 momos and martini special at Om (momos are Tibetan dumplings…they are delish)

Want to bond with your lesbian friends to the soundtrack of a great dj? Thursday night at Om. $5 cover.

Need a solid bar experience with a live band or dj? Forget Faneuil and hit up 3-floor Tommy Doyle’s. Cover charge goes to Haiti. Sometimes your donation also includes a shot of Haitian rum!

In caffeine withdrawal? I know I am! Skip Starbucks & hit up Peet’s coffee. Enjoy it while sitting in the square and watch the students walk by holding Oscar Wilde with their fingerless gloves.

Looking to pick up a Harvard student for the night? Grendel’s Den.

However – the diamond of Winthrop is Upstairs on the Square.
The decor is funky-chic…leave your jacket at the complementary coat check and get a seat near one of the cozy fireplaces under a chandelier made of forks. Yes, that sounds odd but the owners have a way of tying it all together. The Monday Club Bar menu has a more comfortable price point than the dining room menu – but of course, every occasion warrants its own celebratory locale. You may have something ultra special going on in your life, in which case – spring for the pink & zebra dining room! You’ll remember the food for months.
I highly suggest the bar for a catch-up session with a girlfriend. The encyclopedia of a wine list can be intimidating. So, ask for their best cocktail, Hits of Sunshine. It’s a raspberry puree/champagne concoction that is served by an equally delicious bartender. Go!

Transport: Red line T to Harvard, $2 off parking at the Charles Hotel with validation from Upstairs, $15 valet at Om, or find street parking on JFK/Mt. Auburn.

www.upstairsonthesquare.com

Cheers,
Zoe

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Barce-loca

January 27, 2010

I have returned!  Thank you for the requests for more posts – I have decided to publish every weekend! It’s the only 2010 resolution I am keeping – there are way too many resolutions that can threaten a fabulous lifestyle.

Barcelona was incredible, as always.  Get your beautiful backsides to Spain.  This time of year is a bit cool – but I can assure you, there is no chance of snow in Barcelona. Need I say more? I hate my ice scraper right now.  And worrying about slipping on ice on my way to work. No matter the weather in Barcelona – the culture, art, tapas, parties, shopping and beautiful people remain constant.  To recap my holiday, I went to an 80s theme party at a penthouse apartment overlooking Plaza de Palau, saw Franz Ferdinand in Badalona & power shopped on calle Pelai. By power shop I mean 8 stores in 2 hours. This street is packed with affordable fashion that will transform your wardrobe from blah to bueno!!

If you find yourself in this gorgeous international city, have tapas at Cerveceria Catalana on calle Mallorca.  It always has a long wait but have a glass of cava & take in the scene.  We were able to sit outside on the terrace – in December!

I love love love the Born neighborhood (metro: Jaume 1).  While there, have tapas at Set de Born on calle Esparteria and then go to La Fianna on calle del Banys Vells.  I say this often, but I could truly move in there.  This place is cavernous – it’s located on a narrow winding street and will be difficult to find, but you’ll feel like you were let in on a secret. No cell phone service either – we had to roam the streets to pick up a lost friend! Elevated velvet beds with large pewter trays allow you to perch up high with your date, keeping your drink safe and optimizing your crowd watching (ok… spying).  Go there and chill for the night in the dark red Moroccan décor….. but keep in mind that it’s only open until 2:30. No worries, there are plenty of clubs open until 6am. The night before my flight we partied the night away at teeny tiny club Kasbah (calle Vila i Vilà).

It was great to come home but as I told the cab driver on my way to the airport (in horribly broken Spanish), I will return.

Next post….Zoe is back to Boston!

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She makes a man want to speak Spanish

November 29, 2009

Happy post-Thanksgiving to all!  I hope that you all ate very well surrounded by family & friends.  There is nothing like the combination of loved ones and home-cooked food! Yum!

This week I am off to Barcelona.  In true fashionista way I am packing an extra bag to shop and will be dining out like crazy and partying until dawn.  Clutches & Cobblestones, although a blog for Bostonians, will get a huge kick of Spanish flair when I return and long after the jet lag has worn off.  Otherwise you would get a one liner saying “Spain was great… I am in bed”. Which will probably be the SMS that my friends receive. 

Stay tuned for tapas, jamon, cava, Mango, Gaudi, a review of my favorite restaurant and my top nightlife pick.  I already know that I will be having drinks at Hotel Omm, either in their lobby or at Moo…    http://www.hotelomm.es/lobby-en.html

In preparation for my trip I am getting a mani/pedi at VIP Spa & Nail in Porter Square.  I heard it is fabulous and the price points are comfortable.  We’ll see!

Hasta luego chicas…

Zoe