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😬🔥 Boston’s toughest dinner reservation

Plus: 🦠 Four years of COVID

It’s Tuesday, Boston.

🥑 Think your guac rocks? The Painted Burro is asking guests to submit their best guacamole recipe for its annual guac-off next month (taste testers are welcome!). The winner gets a $400 Painted Burro gift card and a feature on the menu. Recipe submissions are due March 18!

👀 What’s on tap today:

  • COVID turns four

  • Greenway food truck lineup

  • Dinner with Cupid

Up first…


Cracking the Resy code

Image: Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff. Illustration: Emily Schario.

Want a 6:30 p.m. Saturday dinner reservation at Sarma? Ha! Good one. 

Grabbing a prime time dinner res around town can feel like the OpenTable “Hunger Games.” So we asked the folks behind some of the area's hottest restaurants to learn how to snag a coveted seat. 

Here’s what they said: 

😲 On a scale of one to 10, how hard is it to get a table at Sarma in Somerville? “To be honest, a 10,” said Sarma’s beverage director Cameron Brown, an unsurprising response given Boston Magazine’s best restaurant nod and the Globe’s five-star review. Reservations open 30 days in advance at 10 a.m., with primetime slots taken almost instantaneously. That said, walk-ins are welcome at their 20-person bar, and diners can order drinks and small bites while they wait (average weekend walk-in wait times for the bar are around 45 minutes to an hour, and 15 to 30 minutes on weekdays).

💡 Words of wisdom: There’s never really a slow night at Sarma, but if you’re looking to beat the dining rush, Sunday evenings after 7:30 p.m. at the bar are where it’s at. “It’s super mellow,” Brown said.

🔎 The bar is also your best friend at Giulia in Cambridge. Primetime slots are instantly scooped after reservations go live on OpenTable at midnight two weeks in advance. But if you’re a walk-in party of two, a seat at Giulia’s 18-person bar is your best bet. “Almost everybody who wants a seat at the bar can get one,” said co-owner Pam Ralston. “They may not get it immediately, but they almost always get a seat that evening.”

💡 Words of wisdom: The bar typically fills up around 5:30 p.m. during weekends, with the first group finishing around 7 p.m. (a shockingly sneaky time to grab a seat!).  

🥘 Size matters at Comfort Kitchen in Dorchester. Named the Globe’s 2023 restaurant of the year, the space is on the cozier side (30 seats) with walk-ins welcome at the six-person bar. And that size can make it tough to quickly accommodate walk-ins quickly. “Sometimes we’ll be like ‘we're sorry folks, it’ll probably be like an hour,’” said front of house manager Bipashyana Shrestha, while other times it only takes 20 minutes. And given the small space, walk-in parties over three are tough.

💡 Words of wisdom: Trust the online booking process. Their reservation page outlines key things to know, like your dining time, cancellation fees, reservation modifications, etc. “Be patient, spots will open up,” Shrestha said.


👀 What’re your thoughts on sitting at the bar?

Let us know below!

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Tired of listening to the same five artists?

🎸🎵 Discover new music to update your Spotify playlists at Stave Sessions, hosted by the Celebrity Series of Boston. With shows from vocalist Nathalie Joachim, acoustic and electric guitarist JIJI, Chromic Duo, and the always dynamic Mark Lettieri Group, this lineup promises tunes that’ll have you reaching for Shazam non-stop. Grab your tickets now and hit up the Crystal Ballroom in Somerville's Davis Square from March 20-23 for four nights of electrifying grooves, tasty drinks, and all-around good vibes.


Quick & dirty headlines

Image: Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

🥦 Mass. folks with a marijuana possession charge might catch a big break. The Globe reports that Gov. Maura Healey will announce plans this week to seek a blanket pardon for those convicted of simple marijuana possession in Mass., a move that could impact thousands. Who’s eligible and the pardon structure itself are unclear, but assuming it gets the green light, it has the potential to transform many lives, as old pot charges that show up on people’s background checks can still block them from getting housing or jobs.

🦠 COVID lockdowns turned four this week. And yet, we’re still figuring out how to unmute ourselves on Zoom. Four years ago Monday, the head of the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, with schools and businesses shutting down days later. The virus has taken over 23,000 Mass. lives, with excess deaths remaining stubbornly high (an indicator COVID is still killing the most vulnerable). And some worry apathy may have set in too soon, as early calls for change to healthcare systems (like expanding hospital bed capacities) have faded as the sense of crisis has ebbed.

🚚 T-minus 20 days till you’re in food truck heaven. Sweetgreen for lunch? We don’t know her. The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy is launching its 2024 food truck program on April 1, featuring 25 vendors, including newbies like Bees and Thank You (grilled cheeses with a goal of saving the bees), Tandoor and Curry on Wheels (Indian), and Zaaki (Egyptian street food). Plus, faves like Gogi on the Block (Korean) and Paisani (an Italian sub shop we won’t shut up about), will also be making a return. 

🎶 Tanglewood ain’t just for your grandma. Step aside, Beethoven! Along with its classic summer season line up, the Boston Symphony Orchestra recently dropped the set list of its popular artist series, featuring stars you’ve likely heard of (think: Jon Batiste, Brandi Carlile, Jason Mraz, En Vogue). The public sale kicks off March 19 at 10 a.m. You can grab tickets here or give 617-266-1200 a buzz.


Dinner with Cupid

Image: Handouts. Illustration: Emily Schario.

Would you let the Boston Globe set you up on a blind date? Annnnd let them write about it?

With this season of “The Bachelor” and “Love is Blind” winding down, it’s time to remind everyone of the Globe’s iconic reality dating show: Dinner with Cupid

The concept is simple: Two unmarried adults are matched by the Globe to go on a dinner date, then fill out a post-date questionnaire for the column. Bonus: They’ll cover up to $100 of your dinner check (you can apply here!).

The latest installment follows the date of a 29-year-old EMT, Bryan, and 28-year-old social worker, Adriana, both of whom claim to have “golden retriever energy.” They recently met at Petula’s in Southie and chatted the evening away. 

You can see the final grade they gave each other here. Which, quite frankly, seemed lower than how the date actually went.

— Written by Emily Schario

😭 Thanks for reading! Rooting for people I don’t even know is my toxic trait. 

💜 Special shoutout to today’s sponsor, Celebrity Series of Boston, for supporting local journalism and brightening up Boston’s live music scene. 

🍝 The results are in: 46% of readers are team North End in the outdoor dining drama saga, agreeing that there can never be too much outdoor dining and the city should lay off. One reader is clearly getting a boot out of all the drama, writing, “I'm just here for the thick Italian-Boston accents on TV.”

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