Once upon a time, in a galaxy that seems very far away, the front room of the Paradise Rock Club was called M-80. There the sons and daughters of Third World dictators, Armani-clad scions of petro fortunes, and Chanel-skirted revelers with Pacific Rim bank accounts punched in around midnight and lubed their tonsils with Cristal until closing.
Today the scene couldn’t be more ifferent. The moniker is low-key: the Paradise Lounge. The scene is inviting, not exclusive — more Central Square, Somerville, or Allston than Back Bay or Beacon Hill. The food is good, plentiful, and affordable, with a price range that starts at $7 and with very few exceptions tops out at $10.
Early birds make out the best. From 5 to 8 p.m., everything on the menu is $4.95. Night owls score, too: from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., you can get a cheeseburger for $1 with the purchase of any cocktail or beer.
The spinach-and-artichoke dip ($7), which is served warm with homemade tortilla chips, is good for snacking on with a group, or could pass as a meal for a fairly serious eater.
The quesadilla ($8) with grilled vegetables, which comes with a cheese, scallion, and black-bean sauce, is a vegetarian specialty that should satisfy all but the most bloodthirsty meat-eater as well.
The pizzas suggest a gourmet touch, but have some toothsome heft. Skillfully done, but not pinkies-up food. Most nights feature dinner specials — macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, chicken pot pie — that would make grandma proud (and relieved you haven’t become a vegan).
Eat and run. Hang out for a night. Or grab a bite before or after a show. Hype-free and beyond snobbery, the Paradise Lounge serves real food for real people at prices that are in touch with reality.
The Paradise Lounge, located at 969 Comm Ave, in Boston, is open daily from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Call (617) 562-8820.