Dinner suggestions in/around Ayer?
Sorry for the open ended question. Coming up from Maryland in a few weeks to see family. Last time we were up there we went to the Athenian Corner in Lowell and liked it; but I'm trying to find something closer to Ayer. As for cuisine, would be open to most anything and like Indian, Greek, Italian, Thai, and seafood among others. Would like to keep entrees around/under $20. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
Ayer is changing (for the better). I grew up in that area and still live in Leominster. It used to be that Tiny's was about the only thing around. Not any more.
On Main St in Ayer itself you have J.P. O'Hanlon's, an Irish pub that has more than decent pub fare as well as various pasta and fish choices. Informal and comfortable. Good beer list. Hit or miss service, though never "I wish I'd never come here" bad.
Just down the block is a new, more upscale place, 31 Main. I've been once, the food was good, the service a little spotty (they hadn't been open long), the decor very nice. Full bar available. It's a very nice addition to the area dining options.
In Groton you should go to Fihlo's on Main St (toward the western end of town), a small order-at-the-counter place with 10 or so tables. Italian-oriented, it's terrifically fresh, flavorful food and very reasonably priced. Lots of people (myself included) tend to get food there for take out. You really can't go wrong here. SUPER good marinara sauce, delicious shrimp/linguine options, wild mushroom ravioli, yummy chicken picatta. Really outstanding in many ways. I've never had a bad meal here.
Monument Grill in Leominster, and their new establishment, the Blue Marlin (also Leominster) are good choices, though I've noticed a downturn in recent months at the Grill. They changed their menu and I suspect they have a new chef. Monument Grill used to be a certain thing for good martinis, steak, scallops, all sort of upscale American fare, but the last two meals I had there (within the last six months) have been off. The Blue Marlin, around the corner, is sort of a upscale fried fish place. Great decor, not bad fish but again, I had high hopes for this place, was thinking it might be something on the order of the East Coast Grill in Cambridge. Instead, it's more of a family oriented establishment with a nod to the middle-aged couple who want to drink fancy rum drinks with their fried clams.
Woo Jung, the Korean spot in Ayer is still excellent. Again, I usually get take out there but have eaten inside before. Decor is nothing to boast about but they are very friendly and the food is delicious.
Tiny's, the diner mentioned by others, is a 3rd generation faily owned restaurant. Nothing special food-wise but dependably good for what it portends to be. Actually, their all-you-can-eat fish night (Wednesday) is quite good - the batter the fish is fried in is always light and not greasy and the fish is tasty. It's a fine option if you're not looking for anything fancy. Tiny's has a full bar, too, so you can always have a cold beer with your fried oyster plate.
What about Monument Grill in Leominster? Entrees are $15-27, with steaks being the most expensive things on the menu. Good seafood, salads, pasta, etc. And, it's 20 minutes from Ayer.
I don't recommend Monsoon in Acton.
You may also want to search the New England board - there are more postings on that area there.
14 Monument Sq Ste 101, Leominster, MA 01453
There is not a whole lot in Ayer. A few places:
There is a Korean place that is quite good, but a bit of a hole in the wall.
Tiny's is a diner thats been around forever. You can get decent fried seafood there and diner type food.
New place called 31 main looks promising.
Mango Grill is ok for americanized chinese/thai, nothing great.
I was going to chime in about the Korean place in Ayer, Woo Jung. My (Korean) parents and I used to stop by whenever we were in the area but it's been ~10 years since I've been there. I think we'd order the gamut - noodles, chigae, etc. Pretty tasty back then and the folks were really friendly there. Sorry, can't give any specifics.