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..