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Sep 17, 2008 12:57 PM

Arcadia Restaurant-Waltham

I recently wrote a review for Arcadia in Waltham for breakfast. Edited to be slightly less college student oriented.

Main Street Waltham offers another breakfast diner other than more well known Joseph’s Two or In a Pickle. The outside of this restaurant is completely unassuming, with a very simple bold face type sign in blue lettering. This inconspicuous front marks the location of a hidden gem known as the Arcadia Restaurant, a diner tucked between the Beijing Star Restaurant and Emmanuel Cleaners & Tailors at 837 Main Street.
Arcadia Restaurant is the type of local Greek diner where the counters are greasy and certain customers can be classified as “regulars.” This is not a tourist stop. Once past the outside doors, patrons will notice a wall covered in old, yellowed photos of what is presumably the owner’s family. Otherwise, the décor within is fairly minimal with a functional, unpretentious simplicity. Beyond the check-out counter, there is a surprising amount of space with an open griddle including counter service and almost two dozen tables for seated service. Patrons are accommodated without much fanfare and handed simple laminated, double-sided menus. Few of the other patrons, by the way, will be wearing oversized sweatshirts and sweatpants emblazoned with the local “B” lettered colleges. You’re far more likely to see families with two or three kids and locals on their way to work.
The menu offers the usual options of pancakes, omelets, and breakfast sandwiches with a couple of distinctly Greek options such as gyros ($2.75) and locanico ($3.00), a somewhat dry pork sausage. They have a number of delicious omelet combinations including a vegan option (prices range from $3.60-$6.25). Just for fun, you might notice that they spell “omelets” three different ways on the menu. Of course, they have plain stacks of pancakes and French toast, but the greatest deals are in breakfast combos at the start of the menu. “Hungry Man” is an amazing bargain at $4.75 for three eggs, two bacon, two sausages or ham slices, home fries, toast, a small juice and coffee. For less than $5, it will satisfy the hungriest of students on a college budget. The “Everyday Special” is also $4.75 and includes three pancakes, one egg, bacon or sausage and coffee.
The less hungry will appreciate two eggs, home fries, toast, and coffee for only $2.65. Additional bacon, ham, or sausage increases the price to $3.75. The health conscious can order Egg Beaters® with sausage, bacon, or ham for $4.50. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate is just $0.85. My greatest complaint at both Joseph’s Two and In a Pickle has always been their tiny glasses of juice. At Arcadia, the small is tiny ($0.80), but the large juice ($1.10) is a huge tumbler’s worth and a better deal than either of those offered by the aforementioned breakfast diners.
The overall quality of the food was very satisfying. They are certainly not advertising gourmet dining, but the home fries are large chunks of crispy, fatty joy and the eggs are cooked just as ordered. The hash looks oily and mysterious, but actually melts in the mouth. They surprisingly offer five different types of toast: white, wheat, scali, raisin and rye. The only major grievance is that the sausages are tiny, mass produced links in cheap casing. The bacon is a better option and cooked to crispy perfection. The coffee flows freely, but it is important to note that they are not looking to bow down to your every whim. If you want jam with your toast, consider asking for it while you order. Good luck getting extra accompaniments after being served.
While the typical wait for In a Pickle on a Saturday morning can exceed the average person’s patience, the tables at Arcadia Restaurant on Main Street are ready to serve hungry locals looking for cheap eats. We managed to feed four hungry college students for under $20. The next time serious debate breaks open over weekend brunch, consider Arcadia as a better bargain with a much shorter line.

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  1. That's a really nice, detailed review. But I have to say that Arcadia is one of the few places in Waltham where I would not return. It seemed to me like a throwback to some distant, awful time, like when Woolworth's had lunch counters. Pretty nasty food, like canned vegetables. Very rundown looking with serious cleanliness issues. I was kinda grossed out by the whole experience.

    Fortunately, my colleague who joined me for the first time that day ("You're always trying new places, can I tag along?") was not discouraged by this first outing, and kept doing lunch with me; he's now a semi-regular at places like Sushi Yasu, Mi Tierra, Taqueria El Amigo, and Beijing Star.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      I actually just started working in Waltham. What's Beijing Star? Any Waltham faves?

      1. re: Mr Bigglesworth

        Beijing Star is right next to Arcadia, and serves authentic Northern and Eastern Chinese cuisine; ignore the beige menu (typical dull American Chinese) and ask for the pink menu, the specials menu (not available every day), and look at the whiteboard in the foyer.

        Taqueria El Amigo is a great little Mexican storefront on Willow St, a little off the track.

        Domenic's Italian Baker has wonderful hot and cold sandwiches, also nice mini cannoli.

        Mi Tierra is an excellent, inexpensive Guatemalan/Salvadoran place.

        Sadie's is a great old-style saloon with excellent steak tips.

        For diner fare and other cheap throwback American food, I like Joseph's Too.

        Sushi Yasu is a Korean/Japanese place where I always order Korean.

        There are several decent Thai places; Tree Top is probably my favorite, though all are sort of Westernized.

        Philadephians will demur, but I like Carl's Steak Subs for oversized steak subs.

        Elephant Walk has a decent menu of Cambodian food; I tend to avoid the French dishes here.

        Evenings only: Solea (Spanish tapas, same owner and similar menu to Tapeo in Boston), Tempo (creative New American), La Campania (upscale Neapolitan fare), Il Capriccio (upmarket Central/Northern Italian with great wines), and Tuscan Grill (mid-priced Tuscan fare, but I haven't been back in quite a while).

        Mad Raven and the Skellig are both friendly Irish-style bars with passable pub fare.

      2. re: MC Slim JB

        Well, to be fair, I'm definitely comparing it to college food. Like I said, it's not gourmet, but I didn't have any specific cleanliness problems. It's a greasy diner, I expected to see grease.
        Foodwise, I actually really liked my meal. It's pretty hard to screw up eggs and toast. And unlike my cafeteria, they use real eggs. Gasp! I didn't try any of their vegetables, but I could see how they would be a problem at a place like Arcadia. In the end, you have to admit it's definitely within a college budget and for what we ordered, it was decent.

        We're also fans of Yasu, Beijing Star, and Mi Tierra, but prefer Taqueria Mexicana.