A redeeming feature od Auburn is Ronnie's. Good fish and chips and chowder, in the drive-in mode, only May to October. Otherwise, yes, it is sadly a wasteland.
Some (perhaps) less-known delights of Woosta include Pupu Seria (Pleasant Street, Salvadoran) and Quan Yin (Hamilton Street, Chinese vegetarian takeout, enjoy the eggplant with basil sauce and the religious literature).
Worcester has GREAT middle eastern groceries, ad Ed Hyder's and at Bahnan's, both on Pleasant Street.
Some more good recs:
El Basha for middle eastern. Make a meal of mezze.
Bamboo hut another good viet.
Across and down from Wholly Cannoli is Pampas bakery. Great Italian baked goods, more savory than sweet.
One Love Cafe on lower main st.
There is a good Banh Mi place on Millbury St.,
Bay State Bakery, Widdoffs and Weintraubs on Water St. for their specialties.
ASorry, Auburn is a wasteland.
There are quite a few great locations:
Dalat on Park Ave across from the Fire Station is a wonderful Vietnamese Restaurant - service is not great but the food is worth it as the portions are big and prices are more than reasonable
Dinos Ristorante On Lord St (I believe) is a yummy italian restaurant family kind of atmosphere with great pizza and a great lunch buffet
Ciao Bella on Gold Star Blvd is more of a take out but amazing Italian Foods, grinders and Pizza/Calzones plus really yummy desserts
Cafe Dolche on Shrewsbury St for Dessert and Coffee
Anthony's on Shrewsbury St and Rovezzis in the old factory at 108 Grove St for more formal Italian
Sakura Tokoyo on Park Ave in Worc for Tepanaki and the one in White City in Shrewsbury for Sushi
Zipango on Shrewsbury st for Sushi
Wonderbar on Shrewsbury St for old School atmosphere and good greasy pizza
Basically, just wander up and down Shrewsbury Street
Of course on the higher end is the Sole Proprietor on Highland and the 111 Chop House on Shrewsbury by the same owners
and Shorahs in Downtown Worcester for Italian
Hope that helps you get started
Although it isn't excatly in Worcester there is a place is Strubridge called Bin 479 which is located at 479 Main St that gets excellent reviews from a number of sources. It is in the fine dining category but it is a small place with nice atmosphere and very good food and also not too long a trek from Worcester.