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Arnold Arboretum -- where to eat?

I'll be visiting the AA in August and would like to have a light lunch nearby. Is there any place close enough that I can visit the AA, have a bite, and then go back in? It doesn't have to be a chowish destination -- just a sandwich shop or diner would do. Too bad AA doesn't have a cafe -- that would be perfect. (And no food or drink is allowed on the grounds -- so forget about a picnic, or even a sandwich on a bench.)

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  1. There isn't really much to speak of right near the AA. I would suggest the Dogwood Cafe which is on Washington St. across from the Forest Hills T station. It is within walking distance (save time by walking through the station and down to Washington St.). The Dogwood is a sweet, comfortable restaurant with a nice neighborhood feel. IMHO the pizza is the only menu item really worth ordering (they use a real wood fire oven). Their specialty pizzas are named after trees in the AA which I always thought was fun. They also have a terrific beer selection on tap. If a sandwich is what you want they have those too. Enjoy the Arboretum and if you have time pay a visit to the nearby Forest Hills Cemetery (just up from the Dogwood). They have a spectacular old growth tree collection too. It is one of Boston's great hidden gems!

    3 Replies
    1. re: bakemeacake

      I don't think The Dogwood opens until 5:00 though.

      1. re: Bostonbob3

        they do brunch on weekends now, but not during the week.

        1. re: Bostonbob3

          They're open at 11 during the week for lunch until about 2 and then again at 5 for dinner.

      2. You're right in JP which offers lots of options. I'm a big fan of El Oriental de Cuba.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tomaneng

          I am too, but it's a very long hike from the Arboretum to El Oriental (or most anyplace else, for that matter). I'll echo those who say there isn't much nearby. Taking the bus from Forest Hills (39 goes to the business district of Jamaica Plain, others go to Roslindale Square) will get you to places like El Oriental.

        2. The Dogwood is the best option but it may not be open when you need to go. Java Jo's coffee shop is on the same block as the Dogwood. Nothing amazing but they have decent coffee and a good selection of sandwiches.

          1. I'd consider bringing a sandwich with you from somewhere else, since there isn't much within walking distance of the Arboretum. I guess you could always eat it just outside any of the entrance gates. Are you driving or taking the T?

            I go to the Arboretum a lot, but tend to eat before or after because of the restrictions they have there.

            5 Replies
            1. re: hiddenboston

              Not sure how their lunches are, but I had a terrific brunch at Centre St Cafe a couple weekends ago before heading to the Arboretum, and it's within reasonable walking distance.

              1. re: Kip McSkipster

                I've done that before (brunch at CSC, then the Arboretum). Great idea, as their brunches are very good! The only problem with that is, it's rather tough to climb those hills in the Arboretum after eating there (especially if you don't know when to stop eating, which is sometimes a problem for me). ;-b

                1. re: hiddenboston

                  Yup - I first discovered CSC way back when they were in the Ten Tables space, and I used to go out on Saturday or Sunday mornings and have a walk around Jamaica Pond before breakfast there. For a few years I went about once every other weekend, in spite of the 2-bus trip from Allston. I learned very quickly that I had to do it in that order - walk around the pond, THEN breakfast, or I'd never have the stamina for the walk.

                  They serve brunch till 3...if you get to the Arboretum early you could have a lovely meal around 1:30 or 2, and probably avoid the interminable line at that late hour.

                  1. re: Allstonian

                    Yeah, whatever you do, don't go to CSC on a Sunday between 10 and 1. Long, long line.

              2. re: hiddenboston

                this is a great suggestion (EDIT: I meant to post under hiddenboston - great suggestion to bring a sandwich). And there's plenty of space so you can sneak off and eat a dang sandwich somewhere. (The Arboretum is such a gift to have in the neighborhood, but some of the rules are pretty stupid.)

                Otherwise, I'm with everyone else and would suggest the Dogwood for what is closest. If it were me, I'd travel with some clif bars and then have dinner at Ten Tables.

              3. I'll second (sixth?) Dogwood...there used to a decent little deli right in that same area, but it fell victim to the spate of arson attacks last year. There's also a Chinese food place, but it looks pretty dodgy.

                That said, why not bring food and then just step out of the Arboretum when you want to eat? You could definitely picnic at the Forest Hills station, there's green space all over.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Illogical

                  Avoid that Chinese place at all costs!



                  Only suitable for after-heavy-drinking. And even then, barely passable.

                  1. re: Bostonbob3

                    Haha, yeah...it's probably no coincidence that they set up shop right next to a liquor store and a dive bar.

                  2. re: Illogical

                    The Forest Hills Pizza Shop? They are open again, and thank goodness. Nice family, decent Greek pizza house pizza with a spicy sauce.

                  3. If you approach the AA tfrom the Roslindale/W Roxbury side there's a bunch of places on Centre St at the intersection of Weld St. The best of the lot is Yucatan Taco's- "real Mexican food made by real Mexicans" to quote their sign. I have eaten there at lunch and it was quite good (however too much food for lunch for me) but they might have some apps that would hold you over. There is also the neighborhood pizza place (Dino's?) which has been there forever and a deli-sandwich shop across the street which does a brisk business but have never been in myself. You could probably get some coffee to drink with the forbidden sandwich.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ginnyhw

                      A & N Pizza. It used to be a decent place. Good subs and decent Greek pizza, if that isn't an oxymoron.
                      Haven't been there since new mgt a few yrs ago but haven't heard anything bad.

                    2. Thanks to all for your suggestions. I am travelling by the T and on a weekday, so the Dogwood is out, but thanks to you all I won't go hungry.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Walnetto

                        Dogwood is open for lunch every day except Monday -- so I'd consider it. It's my favorite neighborhood place. Their hours and menu are online at http://www.dogwoodcafe.com/

                        1. re: Walnetto

                          I live in JP and run/walk/bike through the AA all the time. No matter what the posted rules, I really can't see anyone getting grief for bringing in a sandwich. Maybe doing a full-fledged picnic, with blanket, basket, wine, etc. -- would get their attention (but even then, there's a million out-of-the-way places to 'hide'), but just relaxing on a bench and munching on a sandwich.....I really don't see how you'd get in trouble. Nobody hardly even patrols the place and those few rangers that I see there are mostly after the dogs off leashes and similarly heinous offenders -;)

                          That being said, I agree that from the Forest Hills station, the Dogwood is by far the best option for decent food. Make sure you find the new Bussey Brook entrance across Hyde Park Ave from the T station. Its a much more pleasant walk than on South St. If you started from that end, you could do a pleasant stroll through the AA and exit at the main gate, where the administration building is, then do a short walk up Centre St. to many of the central JP places already mentioned. After eating, its a short walk back to the Green St orange line stop or the #39 bus which is right there.

                          One central JP lunch place not mentioned so far is the Purple Cactus which has OK burritos and wraps. Though its inconvenient, if you wanted to buy stuff to take on your walk Canto Six can't be beat. You'd get off the orange line at Green St, walk to Washington and then either walk to the AA or get back on the subway for one more stop.

                          In any case, going into the AA, walking out to eat, and going back again, would be a long trek and not really necessary unless one was really intent on seeing everything there in one (long) day.

                        2. You can ask for a restaurant map at the Visitor Center at the Arboretum (the brick building near the Arborway Gate); it shows how to get to lots of the places mentioned so far. It's worth a trip to the Visitor Center anyway, since the folks there are very knowledgeable (about local eats as well as the Arboretum!) -- also that's your best bet for a public restroom and waterfountain. It is too bad that you can't eat on the grounds, but sadly there are enough irresponsible people in this world that the trash (and rodents) really can be a big problem. The staff have enough on their hands keeping the place so beautiful, I figure it's the least we can do to help them out.
                          The Harvest food coop hasn't been mentioned so far... that's my favorite spot closest to the Arboretum in JP -- just exit from the Arborway gate and turn right, cross the Arborway at the crosswalk, turn right, then make your first left on Custer, then walk until you hit South Street and it's there on the corner. I know the coop gets mixed reviews around here, but you can't beat it for convenience to the Arb. The Coop has everything -- deli counter, premade salads and sushi, drinks (including alchohol), bread, good cheese, etc, plus a nice vibe, and even some picnic benches outside. Also a few doors down is an excellent bakery (Fiore's?) with good soup and chili. It's less than a 10 minute walk and a more pleasant scene than walking around the Forest Hills T station.

                          1. I used to live about a block away from the Arboretum, and my favorite restaurant within walking distance (i.e., less than 15min walk) is James' Gate. This is an Irish pub, with an upscale restaurant attached, which means the "pub grub" is made by the restaurant's chef/cook staff....and it is good! It is right off of South St, about 1/2 mile from the Forest Hills T stop and about the same distance from the main entrance to the Arboretum (from James' Gate, just continue up South St until you reach the intersection where Fresh Hair and Harvest are, take a left on Custer St and walk to the end of road, where you will see a crosswalk to your right that will get you across the Arborway and the entrance to the Arboretum is just after that). I've never been there for lunch, but the website says the pub opens at 11:30. One of the best things about the place is the al fresco dining in the summer....hopefully the outdoor area will be open when you visit.

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