Moving to Boston Area
Hi! My wife and I are moving to the Boston area. In chosing a place to live, we have a number of criteria such as home prices and available parking. One other critera is an area with great food within a mile. We would like to be near a great breakfast place, lunch place, and wine bar. For those familiar with Phoenix and to provide some reference, we are located near La Grande Orange (great breaksfast), Postino (great wine bar), and Vincent's bistro (great lunch and breakfast place).
We have no plans to move to downtown area of Boston. More likely will be moving to one of the western suburbs (Watertown, Newton, Weston, etc.) Anyone have any recommendations? Thanks.
i can't stress enough the fact that the further out you go in the burbs, the fewer the options for good food. pretty much all the communities outside the rt 128/95 belt- are severely lacking in exc. food.
the towns that have been most mentioned to you are mostly in the lower economic spectrum. they specialize in lots of good cheaper ethnic restaurants.
the more affluent communities of cambridge,brookline and newton have many exc. ethnic places but also a number of more elegant spots. best of luck.
Hi, and welcome in advance!
As a former [reformed?] Phoenician with a bunch of family still out West, a few Phoenix-to-Boston-specific notes:
* You almost can't overestimate the dining differences caused by Boston's very different driving situation. It may sound ridiculous at first, but given the traffic congestion, small streets, occasional snow emergencies, limited street parking, and exorbitantly priced garages/valet, the prospect of driving to dinner is a generally unpleasant one to me. In Phoenix, I used to think nothing of driving 15 miles to go from the Biltmore area to Los Dos Molinos, but driving more than a few miles in Boston tends to be something of a minor Event. Even if there's a free parking pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the idea of the drive itself can feel prohibitive.
* There is some really good Mexican food here, but it bears little resemblance to most Phoenix-style eateries. My favorites are Angela's Cafe in East Boston for Poblana home-style and Tacos Lupita in Somerville and elsewhere for Southern Mexican and Salvadoran. Tu y Yo in Somerville is strikingly reminiscent of Barrio Cafe. There are no, good, flour, tortillas, anywhere, period. When I visit my parents in Phoenix, I freeze a few dozen from Carolina's and take them back with me.
* The chow here is more expensive (as are most other things), but I find the quality and variety to be significantly better overall, especially during the summer and fall harvest.
* I agree with other posters above: although there are definitely a bunch of notable restaurants in the 'burbs, the overwhelming majority of bold-letter destinations (at all price ranges) are concentrated well inside the 128, with the largest numbers in Boston and Cambridge, increasingly in Somerville and Brookline, and a bit farther out, in Waltham.
* If you'd like some specific analogues to places you enjoy in Phoenix, by all means ask. There are several regular posters here who will know what you're talking about. For example, longtime Boston board stalwart Rubee is now spending much of her time in Phoenix, and can offer some great ideas. You mentioned La Grande Orange (I'm now addicted to Chelsea's Kitchen); in the Cambridge/Somerville area where I live, Dave's Fresh Pasta has a lot of similar imports as well as homemade fresh pasta (hence the clever name) and very good panini, Formaggio has excellent cheese, imports, wine, produce, and prepared foods (but nowhere to sit), and Hi Rise Bread and Crema have menus that most remind me of LGO's.
Newton does have a lot of dining options, everything from pubs to high-end (Lumiere, Ariadne). It is expensive, but not ultra expensive like Weston (where there is really nothing.) Another bonus for Newton is that is is served by the Green line which gives you access to tons of dining options in downtown Boston and Brookline.
Your housing budget and whether you want a condo or house is going to dictate your choice. Also, although this is not the place to discuss it, if schools are a consideration that will influence your choice, too.
The above comments regarding driving are right on and in evaluating where to live you need to consider both what is near you and how you are going to get to the "chow centers" of Boston. One of the good things about Malden/Melrose is that there are some quite good, and seemingly improving, dining options right in the immediate vicinity, but you also are on the Orange line, which has abundant parking and on the weekend can put you into the North End in 12-15 min, Chinatown in 15, and BackBay/South End in 20-23. We spent a lot time thinking about this before landing in Melrose. Although people do it, driving in to those areas and fighting with traffic and parking and valet is a real drag, totally independent of how much it costs.
I'm afraid everyone else is right: what you're requesting is sort of an either/or. Zillowing the neighborhood you mention in Phoenix is showing an average home price of around a half-million dollars. That might get you Watertown, but you should put Weston and Newton out of your mind. But that's okay since there's not much Chow there anyway. Focus on Watertown, which is the part of Boston I would live in if for some reason I wasn't allowed to live in Allston. It's the best balance of burbiness and proximity to downtown, and some of my favorite food in the city is there.
I have no idea where a wine bar is in the Boston area. Here the options tend to be beer bar (serious), beer bar (fratty), cocktail bar, and hangout for serious boozehounds.
I agree-- do consider Watertown, location-wise and budget-wise. You might also consider the eastern end of Newton, which is almost the same thing. While Watertown itself does not have really high-end restaurants, it has some really good casual places. And it's really close to Boston and Cambridge.
To vastly over-generalize, the further out you are the less chow-worthy the dining options. Agree that Arlington/Somerville/Cambridge are much better bets chow-wise than the suburbs you mention. And reasonable is all relative but will be far more affordable than Weston.
This topic comes up fairly often on this board. Here are some threads that may be useful to you (last two relate to Arlington and Somerville, respectively):
Mayflour is right -- Weston has no food and is $$$$$. However, Watertown has some terrific Middle Eastern markets, the Town Diner, and Shangri-La (technically in Belmont but just over the border, I think). Wine bars, not so much.
In fact, you may have sticker shock when it comes to house prices, and the less expensive towns are further west where there are no wine bars, bistros worth mentioning, or great lunch places (I know because I live out there). I second the rec for Arlington, or Somerville especially, where you'll have lots to choose from. Parts of Cambridge may be affordable as well.
You won't find anything at all in Weston plus it's one of the most expensive towns in the state. Newton is very pricey too. Watertown is more affordable with some o.k. places to eat. One breakfast spot comes to mind...a diner whose name escapes me at the moment. Regardless, I would not move to Watertown for the food. You might want to check out Arlington/Somerville/Cambridge area. All 3 places places will have parking, reasonable home prices and lots of great food. Good luck.