It doesn't look like much from the street, but the Halfway Cafe, 394 Main St. in Watertown, is quiet and pleasant, and has a surprisingly diverse menu. There's something for everyone: fish plates, vegetarian offerings, chicken and pasta, steamers and fried clams, many different kinds of sandwiches, salads and gourmet desserts for $4.99. It's one of six Halfway Cafe's in the greater Boston area.
Suggested dish: We chose the black bean burger ($8.99), which wasn't actually a burger, but a more substantial whole-wheat wrap filled with beans, hummus, arugula, a yogurt-jalapeno spread and more. It was hearty and tasty: creamy, complex and delicately seasoned. A vegetarian delight.
Almost stealing the show though was the side dish we chose. One can pick from eight different side dishes for many entrees, from cole slaw and mashed red-skin potatoes to hand-cut fries and grilled vegetables. The grilled vegetables were succulent and grilled as if over a campfire.
The vibe: Clean, friendly and laid-back, with lots of quiet booths.
Cool factor No. 1: The menus are easy to read and there are different ones for specials, desserts and drinks.
Cool factor No. 2: A monthly specials of changing fare: seven different entrees for $7 each.
Cool factor No. 3: The sound system carries classic rock (Allman Brothers, Crosby, Stills and Nash, George Thorogood) – played at a hummable yet unobtrusive level.