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Good Eats near Brandeis U?

  • d

Well, daughter was just accepted to Brandeis for Fall 2006. Will be making a trip or two prior to fall, then Parent's Weekend, etc. Should we stay in Waltham or on outskirts of Boston? Any good eats in this area? We like ethnic, family owned places, not into chains (that could be miscontrued!), love Italian, seafood. More than likely will have limited transportation as we will have to fly. Any advice, thanks!

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  1. Kabab & Tandoor, 33 Lexington Street Waltham, just off of Main Street. Search the old posts on this board... I've gushed about it a few times. Get the lunch buffet (11:30-1:30 or so).

    Carl's makes a good steak sandwich. If you'd ever eat at a chain, the Wendy's on Main Street is an excellent one. Onion rings and beer at Watch City on Moody St. are very good, but most of the food is just poor-to-OK. If you want to drop $$$, Waltham has two excellent Italian places, Il Capriccio and Campania.

    If you want to go out to eat, rent a car. You could get by using a cab to get from the hotel to Brandeis, but there isn't much within walking distance.

    7 Replies
    1. re: rxrfrx

      Oh yeah, and pretty much everything on Moody Street is overrated and not worth a special trip.

      1. re: rxrfrx

        Really? I thought the Indian places on Moody were decent.. New Mother India or whatever it's called.

        1. re: Prav

          Yeah, decent... but I'm not so excited by things that are merely decent. I mean, it's your typical boring "fine dining" Indian stuff. If you're into it, yeah, go to New Mother India.

          1. re: rxrfrx

            Haha, you're absolutely right. We're Chowhounders - we're not looking for just decent.

        2. re: rxrfrx

          I disagree that Moody st. is over rated. It may not be the culinary capital of the world but it has diversity and is better than standard fare, and some of the retaurants are considered excellent. It has the convenience of being near by to Brandies and Regis and LaSalle colleges and the western burbs, and close to a commuter rail station. It also has a very fine movie house, interesting shops and ethnic grocers, plus some fun bars and a scenic walk along the river and a boat ride in nice weather. For a little stretch of side walk it has a lot to offer.

          1. re: catspercapita

            The largest Indian grocery on moody (I forget the name) is my favorite one in the Boston area... it's great.

            The movie place is very good.

            The African grocery store/miscellany shop was really unhelpful when I wanted to buy some North African food items.

            I was referring to the restaurants when I said it was overrated.

        3. re: rxrfrx

          Actually three-- Casa Mia on Newton St is quite good.
          Franca's pizza, wood fired, is usually excellent, and Franco's (unrelated) on the upper end of Moody St makes a very fine NY style pizza.
          Jake's Dixie Roadhouse is a good BBQ choice, and the Mexcican places mentioned already are very good, as is Honduran/Guatemalan at Mi Terra.

          Assuming you are taking a cab from your hotel, you can just take a cab rom Brandeis into Waltham, then back to you hotel after dinner. Car rental is an option, but not really necessary. There is also a shuttle bus from Brandeis into Waltham, and an MBTA bus which goes through Waltham and by Brandeis.

        4. Well, Waltham is the outskirts of Boston. There's a Westin hotel on Rt 128 that my sister likes to stay at when she comes to visit. And incidentally, they have a very nice Sunday brunch there, with made to order omelettes, belgian waffles, etc.

          If you want a authentic waltham experience- go to the Chateau restaurant, just off Main St. It's a large place, with parking lots that gets big crowds for it's Italian-American food. Their 'toasted ravioli' are a specialty. They are breaded and fried and served with a tasty red sauce. It's better at the basic stuff - parmagianos, lasagna and the like. But it's been there forever and very townie fun. And cheap.

          Tempo on Moody St is pretty good and relatively new to Waltham. But it's the sort of good food you can get in CA.

          I think Ritchie's seafood kitchen on Moody has closed. There's another fish place on Main St called the Wright Catch, but I haven't been there.

          Some people like, some people hate Naked Fish, which is a small chain restaurant. I've enjoyed their tuna steaks and cocktails. It's close to the Weston. Fun atmosphere, not too expensive.

          A fun, very New England place to go is the Wayside inn, in Sudbury, just keep driving west on Rt 20 (main st in waltham)and watch for the signs on the right after you get to Sudbury. It's about a 20 min drive through the country. I don't recommend eating there, but it's a great place to walk around and have a drink in the tavern, especially if there is a fire going in the big fireplace.

          Carl's steaks are huge and good. No seats except an outdoor picnic table. People like the sandwiches at Dominics on Rt 117, just west of the split with Rt 20.

          Campania, il Capriccio are expensive and well regarded.

          1 Reply
          1. re: suzyb

            Oh yeah, I forgot Dominic's. That's another great lunch option.

          2. Others have mentioned Carls. Right next to that place is a nice Thai restaurant. Both are within walking distance. The pizza place immediately adjacent to Brandeis is very basic and only so-so.

            1 Reply
            1. re: FastEddie

              The pizza place adjacent to Brandeis (Cappy's, a/k/a Crappy's) is AWFUL. Not just Greek pizza, really terrible Greek pizza.

              For pizza, Franca's (Felton St. Just off of Moody St.) is inconsistent, ranging from mis-spiced and under-done to actually really tasty. Same goes for Anna's on Main St.

            2. c

              Go to Moody st. It has some very nice places and is close by to Brandies. Some of my faves :
              Taqueria Mexicana- off Moody - quaint atmosphere and good food reasonable prices.
              Franca's - off Moody - good pizza -cold draft beer.
              Watch city Brewery -on Moody- great brews - good bar grub
              Masao's Kitchen -on Moody- health food restaurant, very good
              Any of the Indian restaurants on Moody are good - New Mother India, Bombay Mahal
              Lizzy's Ice cream - on Moody - Yummmm

              1. Congrats. I won't tell you when I was accepted, but when I showed up the main campus activity was the student strike (Cambodia - No!) - national HQ was at Brandeis, talk about a distraction.

                Disagree with others about Moody St. - some of the newer hoity-toity places are off the wall, but the places that have been there for a long time are there because of a loyal following. In any case, it's worth the cab ride from Brandeis (although I would second renting a car - not much to do without one). Taqueria Mexico (small family owned mexican) on Charles St. off of Moody is very good (and ethnic), as are the 2-3 Indian places on Moody (Bombay Mahal, Little India, New Mother India). Erewon of Siam is one of the oldest Thai places in the area - Americanized Thai, for sure, but decent food. Bison County and Jack & Earl's both offer edible que... not the best, but good places for beer, sweet potato fries and gnawing on a bone (certainly a cut above the chains that are popping up all over, like Stickybones).

                To me Chateau was red sauce/checkered tablecloth hell when it was at its best 30 years ago... La Campania and Il Capriccio - both on Main St. are better.

                Places to avoid (other than Chateau) include Margarita's (chain) and Iguana Cantina (chain).

                2 Replies
                1. re: applehome

                  I think the Chateau is fun and has real local color. I can't afford Campania every night. Sometimes you want authentic Italian, sometimes you want red sauce, checkered-tablecloth Italian-American. You won't likely get al dente pasta there, but if you order carefully, you can have a perfectly good meal for the $$.

                  1. re: suzyb

                    The pizza at Campania is inexpensive and some of the best I've had in the area; have it at the casual bar area.

                2. Brandeis has a Domenic's on Campus. In Sachar

                  Link: http://www.google.com/u/brandeis?q=do...

                  1. Oh, and forgot about the Mexican places:

                    The ones on Moody St. are really un-fresh Tex-Mex. Don't go there.

                    Taqueria Mexico has an exciting menu but the food is so old-tasting and poorly seasoned, I've never really enjoyed anything there.

                    A little further out, towards Watertown, is Taqueria El Mariachi. Search old posts on this board for some info about it. The place to go for tacos in that area.

                    1. Congratulations to your daughter! I work at Brandeis and it's a great place.

                      For nearby food I recommend:
                      Domenic's for fabulous italian panini sandwiches made on their own fresh, chewy bread. I prefer the original location on Main Street (short drive from campus) to the on-campus mini-operation.

                      Prospect Cafe on Prospect St, also very near the campus. A wide array of inexpensive sandwiches, salads and pizzas, fresh ingredients, good bread. Not upscale, no atmosphere.

                      Tacqueria El Mariachi over on Willow St (5-10 minutes from school) - very nice tacos, freshly topped. Not amazing for anyone from California, however, but we are good-Mexican-deprived in this area.

                      Kabab & Tandoor - in Waltham center, around the corner from city hall. Hyderabadi food, great buffet, very chowish, but the place is dirty. I don't recommend any of the Indian joints on Moody St - standard Americanized Indian food.

                      Beijing Star for Chinese - be sure to order off the special (pink?) menu, not the boring Americanized Chinese menu.

                      In Weston, about 10 minutes from campus: Campo de Fiore, Roman-style pizza, other excellent real Italian food, nice casual atmosphere. More of a lunch place. No liquor license.

                      More expensive, still chowish: Carambola across from city hall (Cambodian), Tuscan Grill on Moody Street.

                      Lizzy's ice cream (Moody St.) is great. The convenience store next to Domenic's also sells Lizzy's ice cream, very handy.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: chowcat

                        where exactly is Domenic's on Main St?

                        1. Congratulations on the acceptance.

                          Don't stay in Waltham. W. is the worse part of BrandX, as my friends who used to teach there called it affectionately. As with most US urban areas, public transportation is unreliable. Rent a car.

                          Eat at the Tuscan Grill, on Moody St, the best Italian in the immediate area. I have tried Capriccio; while it has a huge wine list, the food is dull by comparison. I am a bit surprised that no one has mentioned it.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: VivreManger

                            Tuscan Grill just got posted, so my message should now be ammended. I would second the recommedation for Carambola. It would be my second choice for a upscale meal in the vicinity.

                            1. re: VivreManger

                              I'm not sure how you can say Il Capriccio is dull, have had excellent meals there. And my last time at Tuscan (granted, probably 7 or 8 years ago now), I had dried out salmon and it wasn't very good. Just need to hit these places on the right days maybe.

                            2. my 2c as a recent Brandeis Alum from Cali:

                              first of all, rent a car. B-deis is lying when they say you can get around on public. for hotels, the Westin & the Doubletree are both pretty nice. The doubletree will sometimes do shuttles to campus as well.

                              - Domenics for sandwiches. or just bread. really, they're fantastic.
                              - Moody st. has some decent places, nothing amazing. stay away from Margaritas. personally, i'm not a huge fan of Watch City, but it's decent pub food.
                              - Kabab & Tandoor (mentioned earlier) is excellent, but also the opposite of american-ized. expect no english, and no translations (but also no pork!)
                              - The Elephant Walk (prev. Carambola, also mentioned earlier)) is excellent
                              - My parents always want to make the trip to East Coast Grill, even from B-deis (search earlier posts here...). They (and I) consider it well worth the trip!

                              As far as on-campus goes.. stay away from Sherman unless you crave the Kosher (and the Kosher Kops)

                              1. d
                                Diane in Bexley

                                Thanks everyone! I am making a list for my daughter. I had to laugh when I heard about Lizzie's ice cream. She has a little sister, Lissi, whom she can't wait to escape, so that will be amusing. I wonder if it will beat Graeter's ice cream, where she used to sling scoops after school. That would have to be pretty incredible ice cream. I definitely got the impression we will need to rent a car. How far a drive to the North End for good Italian food and where would you recommend (any place to park a car?)?

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                  Haha, no, there is no place to park a car in the North End. It's about a 20-minute drive right down the Pike to Boston. If you go with a car, parking in the garage underneath the Common is probably the easiest and most cost-efficient way to go. From there, pretty much everything is within walking distance (e.g. North End).

                                  1. re: rxrfrx

                                    Well it's certainly not true that there's no place to park a car in the North End, but it's not a trip that people unfamiliar with the area should try. There are garages closer than the Common, including one on Commercial Street by the bridge to Charlestown, and the Haymarket parking garage.

                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                      Yes, closer, but the Common garage has such reasonable rates... do you know the prices for those closer places? I'd recommend Pi Alley for the cheapest garage, but it's very hard to find.

                                      1. re: rxrfrx

                                        I recommend parking by St. Mary's in Brookline for free and hopping on the T.

                                        1. re: Joanie
                                          Cheesehead in recovery

                                          No one has mentioned the wonderful indian restaruants on Moody Street! New Mother India is one of the oldest indian restaruants in the area...if not the country. Between me and my other half, we spent a few years of our lives shuffling up and down Moody street. Iguana Cantina is still good but must compete with Margarita's a mass market tex mex (with great margaritas..) Margaritas is now popular with the Brandeis kids and local professionals.

                                          There is one AMAZING mom and pop pizza place that i adore. Its further up Moody street towards newton - they have a greek style pizza that is wonderful.

                                          For BBQ Go to Bison county, hands down (or so my husband, the carnivore says)

                                          For Beer and local suds, Watch City Brewery.

                                          Top it off with some ice cream at Lizzy's

                                          We know the whole strip, including all the ethnic groceries, including latin and indian.

                                          BTW. Many of the Brandeis parents stay at the Newton Mariott or at the Westin in Waltham. For more reasonable close accomodations, try the comfort inn in Waltham.

                                          Mazel Tov on getting accepted to Brandeis! Class of 94 and MA 97!

                                  2. re: Diane in Bexley

                                    Easiest way to the North end from Waltham or Brandeis is to hop on the commuter rail (hourly trains during the week - every 2 hrs. on weekends). Stops are in Waltham or at Brandeis itself and takes you to North Station which is a short walk to the North End. Or you can park at Alewife station (end of rte 2 highway) on the redline and take the redline to park st. then pick up the green line to gov't ctr. or North Station.

                                    Check link below for schedules.

                                    Link: http://www.mbta.com/

                                  3. As a former student (yes, I was there during the student strike and Ford Hall also) and a current resident of Waltham, I'm shocked that no one has mentioned what may be the best place in Waltham - Solea on Moody St. They have wonderfully inventive Spanish tapas that my Spanish friends rave over. It's not easy to get into so reservations may be in order, but the food is excellent.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: psl

                                      I second this rec. Recently had some very good tapas here, though the collards were a bit undercooked (interesting variant on the spinach with raisins).

                                      Tempo is another nice upscale choice on Moody St. It really depends on where the OP is from -- this may be hohum for someone from the NYC area, for instance.

                                    2. Pity Saro's is still not around.
                                      Does anyone know where the chef (Victor Bono) is these days?

                                      1. Well, I can't believe she will be at school in 4 weeks. We have been planning this trip for close to 8 months. I think we will meet the roommate and her parents Saturday night at Solea. Sharing some tapas sounds like a good way to start a friendship. I will be on my own Sunday and Monday, so perhaps Chateau or Chinese food. Any suggestions for breakfast? We will be at the Doubletree in Waltham. I would like somewhere close to the hotel, as Move In Sunday Aug. 27 will be hectic enough. We are renting a car.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                          Congrats on your daughter's forthcoming attendance at Brandeis and wishing her the best of luck in her academic endeavors. Our son will be going to Brown as a freshman also in four weeks. I have gotten some great rec's from fellow hounds. Incidently, we will be visiting Brandeis with our younger son (rising junior) prior to going to Brown for parents weekend this October. I have booked the Westin Waltham and appreciate the good tips.

                                        2. Across the road from the Doubletree, in the plaza, there's a Thai place, Green Papaya, which is quite good. You'll probably need your car to get across the road, and it may not even be feasible from that location. It's a crazy highway jumble right there. Easier to get to on your way into the D-T than out.

                                          For survival food in the same plaza at the far end there's a Bertucci's pizzeria. They also serve various platters in addition to pizza. Acceptable, but nothing exciting. In between is an excellent wine shop.

                                          I had breakfast at the Doubletree's own restaurant a while back - some weekend special that was quite nice.

                                          You're best off with the copious listings on Main St and Moody St above-mentioned,

                                          1. We love to patronize good "greasy spoons/diners" in our local city. No special place to get pancakes or omelets near the Doubletree? We will need a fortified meal prior to move-in day. Even an IHOP or Perkins would be helpful.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                              Although there are Diners in Waltham, the place I frequented in Waltham along these lines is Josephs II Family Restaurant on Main St.

                                            2. There are a couple of good Greek diners in Waltham, one on Moody, one on Main, though my favorite breakfast joint when I was living in Waltham was Wilson's Diner on Main Street, right near Campania.