Welcome to Dinner and a [Blank], a series that recommends three itineraries centered around a particular activity. Bookmark this page; new sets of options will be added periodically, with the newest recommendations appearing at the top. Each itinerary includes dinner, an activity, and bonus options, such as after-dinner drinks or dessert.
August 14, 2019: The Observatory and Planetarium Edition
In today’s installment, plan a date night around star-gazing, learning about astronomy, or even catching a unique visual and music-filled experience at one of the Boston area’s planetariums and observatories.
Mediterranean and Mars in Boston and East Cambridge
Dinner: A six-minute walk from the night’s main attraction, the Museum of Science, Bambara is located at the Kimpton Marlowe Hotel, serving Mediterranean-inspired food by No. 9 Park alum David Bazirgan. There are several pasta dishes (with half sizes available — why not try two different halves instead of one whole?); appetizers such as salmon crudo or confit octopus; entrees such as grilled salmon with cashew muhammara or a dry-aged cheeseburger with harissa aioli; and snacks such as choereg (a braided Armenian bread) with za’atar or oysters Rockefeller. 25 Edwin H. Land Blvd., East Cambridge
Activity: Take your pick of nighttime activities at the Museum of Science. In the Charles Hayden Planetarium, there are space shows (such as Destination Mars: The New Frontier) as well as the “music under the dome” series (music by Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and others, set to trippy visuals). Astronomy enthusiasts should also consider the museum’s free astronomy events on Friday nights, typically running April through September, when weather permits. Program details vary depending on weather and other factors; keep an eye on Twitter or call the museum’s hotline (617) 589-0267 the day of for information on the night’s activity (it’s updated by 5:30 p.m. that day.) Museum of Science Driveway, Boston
Bonus options: Don’t want the evening to be over? Options abound on Cambridge Street in East Cambridge, a short drive or fairly easy walk from the museum. Thursday through Sunday night between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., visit Curio Coffee — it turns into a natural wine bar (with hot dogs and sometimes lobster rolls) at night. Want late-night tacos instead? Lone Star Taco Bar serves food until 1:30 a.m. daily. And there’s always no-frills sports bar Courtside if your evening needs to end with karaoke (Thursday through Saturday) and a pitcher of PBR. 441 Cambridge St., 635 Cambridge St., and 291 Cambridge St., respectively
Swanky Seafood and Stars in Kenmore Square
Dinner: You’ll find plenty of fast-casual spots in the heart of BU East territory, but try heading farther east into Kenmore Square — under a 15-minute walk — to one of the city’s best seafood destinations, Island Creek Oyster Bar. Star with raw bar items (ideally some Island Creek and Row 34 oysters), and splurge on the lobster roe noodles for an entree if you’re feeling fancy. 500 Commonwealth Ave., Kenmore Square, Boston
Activity: Most Wednesday evenings from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (those are the spring and summer hours; it’s earlier in the fall and winter), weather permitting, Boston University opens the Coit Observatory to the public, allowing attendees to use telescopes and binoculars and learn about astronomy. The university has been offering these public nights since 1967. No earlier than two hours before the scheduled start time, call (617) 353-2630 or check Twitter to confirm that it’s on for the night. Attendance is free, but attendees are encouraged to reserve a ticket ahead of time as it usually sells out quickly. Above the astronomy department at Boston University, 725 Commonwealth Ave., Boston (no wheelchair access)
Bonus options: Grab some warm cookies at Insomnia Cookies across the street; it’s open until 3 a.m. Or head back to Kenmore for some classy post-star-gazing cocktails. The Hawthorne and Eastern Standard — siblings and neighbors to Island Creek — will satisfy. Try the Hawthorne for a quieter, more intimate experience; Eastern Standard is a bit more high-energy, especially late at night, and if you’ve got a second wind, there’s an extensive late-night food menu available, too. 708, 500A, and 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, respectively
Pizza and Planets Outside of Harvard Square
Dinner: Want something very, very casual and inexpensive for dinner? Old-school pizzeria and sub shop Armando’s is a five-minute walk from the night’s activity and boasts some of the best New York-style slices in town. Or, for a more upscale option, check out the lovely Forage, located in the old Ten Tables space and with a trio of Ten Tables alums at the helm, showcasing seasonal, local foods. Try the tasting menu (vegan and vegetarian options available). 163 Huron Ave. and 5 Craigie Cir., Cambridge, respectively
Activity: The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics hosts various free programs, such as observatory nights; those take place on the third Thursday of the month for six months during the school year. These nights include (non-technical) lectures and time with telescopes. The schedule will resume this fall; in the meantime, email the public affairs office or call (617) 495-7461 to be added to a mailing list for event details and updates. Phillips Auditorium (unless otherwise noted), 60 Garden St., Cambridge (on event nights, park for free in the lots marked for observatory staff)
Bonus options: Check the schedule for Lizard Lounge; there’s probably some good live music going on. Sip a craft beer, order some tater tots, and enjoy the subterranean venue. Under Cambridge Common, 1667 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
August 7, 2019: The Ax-Throwing Edition
In today’s installment, find out how to make an evening of ax-throwing at three different spots, with nearby dinner and drink recommendations to fill out the plan. (Note that one of this installment’s itineraries includes a one-off event, so add it to your calendar now.)
Sushi and Axes in Somerville
Dinner: Somerville’s Union Square is full of excellent restaurants, including Eater Boston’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year, Celeste, and 2016 Restaurant of the Year, Juliet. Either would be a good option, as would plenty of other spots in the neighborhood, but for this particular night out, consider Ebi Sushi — it’s outstanding, it’s reasonably priced, and it’s right next door to the ax-throwing venue. Try to grab a seat at the sushi counter, and order any of the chalkboard specials, especially if there’s torched salmon belly available. 290 Somerville Ave., Union Square, Somerville
Activity: Throw axes at Urban Axes, the first ax-throwing bar (yep, there’s booze — and some snacks, too) to open in the immediate Boston area (but not the last). Book a lane online, and note that you will likely be paired with strangers if you’re in a small group. 2 Union Sq., Union Square, Somerville
Bonus options: There are countless options in the neighborhood for post-ax drinks, such as fancy cocktail destination Backbar, the cozy and rum-focused bar at Casa B, neighborhood hangout the Independent (which has a solid beer list), and more, but try Bow Market, especially if the weather is nice. The open-air space features a ton of food, drink, and retail vendors arranged around a central courtyard, and there are boozy options aplenty: Rebel Rebel for wine; Remnant for beer; and Variety Bar, Tanám, and the brand new Create Gallery & Cocktail Lounge for cocktails. Care for dessert? Buy some beautiful, fancy chocolates — or an iced chocolate drink — at Gâté Comme des Filles, or get some macarons at Maca. 1 Bow Market Wy., Union Square, Somerville
Flaming Chouriço and Axes in Everett
Dinner: Welcome to the “Fermentation District,” where the booze is plentiful. Unfortunately restaurants are not plentiful in this particular corner of Everett, but you can start your night at the friendly Village Bar & Grill, a two-year-old sports bar. Alongside a pretty standard selection of bar comfort food, there are a number of Portuguese-inspired dishes on the menu; try the flame-grilled chouriço. 38 Norman St., Everett
Activity: It’s ax-throwing time. Head to Revolution Axe Throwing, but be sure to review the guidelines ahead of time, especially with regards to walk-ins and bookings for groups under six. Like Urban Axes, Revolution serves beer and wine. 73 Norman St., Unit 19A, Everett
Bonus options: Since this is the “Fermentation District,” your bonus activity is to drink at one or more of the local breweries/distilleries: Night Shift Brewing, Short Path Distillery, and Bone Up Brewing. They’re all fun and they all make incredible drinks, so you can’t go wrong. A few notes about each: Night Shift is family-friendly during certain hours, often hosts food trucks, and has a seasonal dog-friendly patio. Short Path’s cocktail bar showcases its spirits in a variety of mixed drinks, and there’s also a dog-friendly patio (it’s heated and open all year.) Bone Up also has a dog-friendly patio (seasonal), is family-friendly, has plenty of games, and frequently hosts pop-up food vendors. 87 Santilli Hwy., 71 Kelvin St., and 38 Norman St., Everett, respectively
One-Time-Only Doughnuts and Axes in Roxbury
This event takes place on August 11, 2019, but the rest of the itinerary could be a fun night anytime — Bully Boy is worth a visit with or without axes.
Dinner: In this case, throw axes first, and then eat dinner, given the timing of the event. Top Mix Bar & Kitchen is one of the closest dining options; the neighborhood spot leans more on the bar side of the equation, but its “traditional bar food with a twist,” as the venue describes it, has proven popular, with dishes like plantain chips with fried cheese; chicharron; mofongo; and more. Or, venture about a mile to the Dudley Square area, where numerous dining options await.
Activity: Roxbury distillery Bully Boy Distillers is launching a series of “bloody mary Sundays,” featuring mild and spicy marys. For the first installment, August 11, there will also be doughnuts and ax-throwing between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sign up ahead of time with MassAxes, or take a chance and show up; $20 includes 20 minutes of throwing and one drink. 44 Cedric St., Roxbury, Boston
Bonus options: More drinks! Backlash Beer Company and Dorchester Brewing Company are both within a mile of Bully Boy, two must-visit taprooms. (And stay tuned for Dorchester Brewing Company’s upcoming expansion, which will include the addition of M & M BBQ.) 152 Hampden St., Roxbury, Boston, and 1250 Massachusetts Ave., Dorchester, Boston, respectively