January 2010: Where to Eat Now 2010

Great for: A secret rendezvous.
Though its tasty Senegalese cuisine has garnered raves since this South End spot opened last spring, Teranga still tends to fly under the radar of local diners. So while you’re guaranteed an intimate setting and great food (try the whole grilled tilapia or the thin-cut spiced lamb chops called dibi), there’s only a sliver of a chance that you’ll run into your boss, your mother, or whoever you should be taking out to dinner. 1746 Washington St., Boston, 617-266-0003, terangaboston.com.

Post 390
Great for: Afterwork drinks that turn into dinner.
Look around at happy hour, and you’d think the entire Hancock Building had decamped to this two-story bar and restaurant. Something about Post 390 just lends itself to post-work imbibing—whether it’s the prime Back Bay location, the fact that it has two bars, or simply the superior cocktails (we like the Chartreuse-spiked Green Line, which is how you’ll be getting home if you have more than one). And, oh yeah, there’s food. Post 390’s comfort classics—burgers, beer-and-bacon mac and cheese—are sure bets for sating martini-induced hunger pangs. 406 Stuart St., Boston, 617-399-0015, post390restaurant.com.

Trina’s Starlite Lounge
Great for: Drinking and dining.
Sober, you might not go for something as injurious to your arterial health as a double-bacon-chili-cheeseburger or a pile of gravy fries. But after four beers? Seems like a perfectly reasonable idea. Trina’s, which debuted last fall in Inman Square, is also well equipped to help you reach your tippling point, as the affable bartenders expertly shake up cocktails like the Popeye (Old Monk rum, tamarind syrup, lime, ginger beer) and the Fallen Angel (a mango margarita with a barbecue-spiced rim). 3 Beacon St., Somerville, 617-576-0006, trinastarlitelounge.com.

Great for: A belly-busting bargain.
Given the reasonable prices (appetizers are $10 or less, entrées average $16) and huge portions here, you’d never guess that chef Charlie Redd once cooked at high-end eateries like Harvest and Radius. That is, until you take a bite and realize that big and cheap can also be very, very good. Redd is obsessed with local produce, and piles it high on plates like wild mushroom fricassée with potato, butternut squash, and herb salsa. 329 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-536-2632, codaboston.com.

Ten Tables–Cambridge
Great for: Popping the question.
Tell her you’ve booked a table at L’Espalier, and your cover is blown. For a stealthier approach, try this romantic nook near Harvard Square. Chef David Punch’s seasonally influenced offerings are appropriately elegant, but the vibe is so relaxed that she might not get the hint until you reach across the table and hand her that sparkly solitaire. (To increase your chance of getting a yes, order the $65-per-person tasting menu with wine or, at the very least, the chocolate terrine with Thai basil ice cream.) 5 Craigie Cir., Cambridge, 617-576-5444, tentables.net.