Moving to Arlington Center - good idea food-wise?
I am likely moving to Arlington Center midwinter and I'm wondering about the food situation there. I know there are some good restaurants, but I am more interested in access to good ingredients.
Does anyone have any advice about the following:
1) source for good quality meat (hormone free, grass fed, etc.)
2) wine/beer shop
3) places to get good fruit and veg, local when possible
4) take-out pizza
5) a bakery, or at least a place to get some good quality baked stuff baked elsewhere
I know that I can always grab the 77 to Trader Joe's and in the opposite direction to Porter for big supermarket stuff, but it would be nice to know that I'll be able to find good stuff right in my neighborhood.
I can help with #4 and 5. For takeout pizza, Za on Mass. Ave. in East Arlington is good, as is Sabatino's, also on Mass. Ave. For baked goods, Iggy's in West Cambridge off of Concord Avenue is about the best in the area, IMO. (Their bagels are particularly good.)
For #1 the best option is the Farmer's Market in season, followed by Whole Foods in Medford. Busa usually carries some natural chicken as does Stop & Shop, chip-in eggs, although its future is a bit up in the air. Johnnie's is interesting for their old school butchers (although in Arlington they don't work past 6pm) and unusual cuts, but less natural meats than Stop and Shop. There are at least a couple of CSA pickups in the area, most a bit outside of the center.
#2 Wine/beer shops in Arlington are a new thing. Giles has a smaller store than their Medford/Woburn stores, but good relationships with larger wholesalers so good for ordering things (their Medford store might be just as easy and a bit more selection) they also have access to some special wines. Menotomy Wine and Beer would be better for craft and unusual beers, seems to bring in some interesting wines and do a lot of tastings but I haven't been there very much. Bermans on the Lexington line is also worth a visit, particularly for higher end Italian wines and wider geographical selection of French wines than a lot of other shops.
#3 Again the local farmers market, Busa and Wilson farms do some local produce, but also truck in a lot from the Chelsea terminal market. Its a fairly easy ride out to Concord/Bedford/... for more options.
#4 I mostly agree with Hiddenboston, but if you find Giles Medford location to be convenient also give Amici's a bit further into Medford a try.
#5 Iggy's is a decent selection, Mammadou in Winchester is worth a slight detour and come to the Farmers Market, Whole Foods has the best supermarket selection nearby or Dave's Fresh Pastry is about same distance. I am not a huge Quebrada fan, but they are the local option.
You didn't ask, but Barismo for everything coffee geek.... And Penzy's in the heights.
With the mention of the 77, things get a bit complicated if you are bus bound. The Arlington based places with the exception of the market are split between East Arlington and just west of the center. Taking the 80 bus to Rt 16, lets you do shopping at Whole Foods and Sav Mor for beer/wine in one trip. Bicycle commuting at least opens up a lot of options.
Menotomy is a nice wine shop (craft beers, too, but a bit pricey...Contan liquors right over the border in the Foodmaster plaza has a decent selection).
You gotta show up at Menotomy on some Saturday when they are having a wine/beer tasting (quite often, it's a benefit for some charity). It's a madhouse, but in a fun way. Music, nibbles, lots of smiles....It's clear that Arlington needed a wine shop...badly! :D
For #1 and #2, hop on the bus to Davis Square....Dave's Fresh Pasta! You can sign up on their website and they EMAIL you on Thursdays with what the fresh beef, veggie, and seafood (all local) deliveries are...plus Felicia, who does wines, is fun!
Downtown Wine & Spirits (next to Gargoyles is a great wine/beer shop
I live in the East.. so here's my take -
1) source for good quality meat (hormone free, grass fed, etc.) - Arlington Farmers Market has a meat vendor and a seafood vendor - good stuff. We don't have an amazing butcher in town. A couple of WF's are nearby, but for high-end meat, you probably are going to be heading into Savenors (which isn't too far)
2) wine/beer shop - 3 in town, will be 5 within a year or so.. good places, friendly... if you want larger selections, Fresh Pond has some bigger places.
3) places to get good fruit and veg, local when possible - Farmers market is one of the better ones (and the Belmont and Lex FM's are nearby and pretty good as well). Wilson Farms is just up the road in Lexington, and the Fresh Pond WF is pretty good.
4) take-out pizza - I love Sabatino's in the East.. but I live close by.. Za is nice, but a bit more contemporary in terms of their pies..
5) a bakery, or at least a place to get some good quality baked stuff baked elsewhere - Iggy's is close buy, and there is at least one really good bakery in the Heights. We have a decent bagel place near the Center, and I like getting bread from Quebrada, which is close to my home.
Other ingredient pluses - Penzey's spices in the Heights, Barismo for high-end roasted coffee, easy access to Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville, the H-Mart is not too much of a haul to get to, Arax and Sevan just over the line on Mt. Auburn St, Modern Pastry in Medford, etc... frankly, the only things Arlington sort of misses or doesn't have really close by is a good butcher and a good bahn mi joint..
Wilson has started carrying (not cheap) fish, and their chicken is very good but they only seem to sell it in large packages. Quebrada has very good chocolate and almond croissants and florentines. Right past Bermans is Busa Liquors, which doesn't have as broad a selection as Bermans but has some pretty good wine values. In the WF Medford lot, there is a Sav-Mor Liquors, too, so that could be an efficient trip.
Re: Wilson Farms, I learned recently that you can ask them to get you a smaller package of produce (you know how they package the armenian cukes in packs of about 10 or 12, you can ask for just two or whatever and they do it cheerfully) so I bet you can do the same with their excellent chicken, just haven't tried it yet.
To the OP: I know you didn't ask about restaurants but if you are interested, this thread is pretty comprehensive. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/630628
Lots of repeats here I'm sure, but my wife and I moved in about a year and a half ago (to east Arlington) and here are our faves for these:
1. There is a farmers market and some nearby farms, but it's generally easiest to hit one of the two area whole foods (Medford or Fresh Pond, Cambridge) or one of the two area trader joe's (Arlington Heights or Fresh Pond, Cambridge). Slightly farther away is Dave's Fresh Pasta in Davis Square or Savenors (both in Somerville)
2. Menotomy is pretty close to our place and definitely has a nice selection, but can be a touch pricy. I actually am a fan of going to Berman's just over the Lexington line on Mass ave.
3. I would go to one of the local farms (Wilson, Busa, Verlll) or just head to Russo's in Watertown, which is heaven.
4. Sabatino's or Joe Pizza. I come from NJ and it's hard as hell to find good pizza around here. Those two are my faves in the immediate area.
5. Quebrada in East Arlington is a wonderful and friendly local bakery, and is my sole recommendation.
Nice recs, however, I think Busa in Lexington and Verrill in Concord (which is generally great, especially in season) are tough to reach without a car (personally I would take a ZipCar to Russo's and stock up for a week or more unless localness and sourcing are big concerns)
Also, Busa has slid WAY downhill over the past couple of years - the staff is surly and the VERY limited inventory is neither inviting nor local most of the time. I heard a rumor that Lexington has bought the plot and will be adding recreational field there - anyone know if it's true? I wish it were otherwise - it's within walking distance....
Not sure about the recreational field, but my understanding is that Lexington has bought/is buying the Busa land, and that it will exist as a farm at least until next year. Hate to say it, but totally agree re: the staff. I did their CSA this summer and almost always felt unwelcome in the store.
No longer live in arlington, but I would add that MacKinnon's in Davis is a good very traditional meat shop (unlikely to find organic stuff) but they have a great selection of cuts and ability to prepare what you want.
In a pinch for fruits and veggies, Christo's isn't bad in the east. I always loved their Kalamata olives...
By the way can anyone tell me where is Barismo located?
Pretty much just across Mass Ave and down a bit from Christos.. small place..
I'll hit Christos up, but they've been a tad sporadic.. great place to get mint, cilantro, etc, but I got some potatoes last week there with a lot o'green when was peeling them.. I'd just give stuff a good look over before buying. Its a nice place for greek-focused items, like feta..