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Lowell area recs, off of 495?

Meeting some friends in the middle for dinner --figure off of 495 in the Lowell area is about 1/2-way but no one is very familiar with the area. Any recommendations? 30-something girls looking for great food and cocktails...open to anything but faves would be Italian, Mediterranean, sushi or Asian cuisine...easy access to 495...thanks!

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    1. re: fredid

      Certainly worthy list but none easy on/off of 495. Im thinking something like Bamboo in Westford may fit the bill. Certainly not very authentic/exotic but solid americanized chinese, sushi, drinks. Nice space. Easy on/off. And you could go to Kimball's for ice cream after

    2. If you like spicy food Sichuan Palace in Chelmsford is another option. I guess it depends on what you mean by easy access to 495. Pho 88 in Fredid's post is a good choice but none of these places are going to be right off the exit and will involve a bit of driving to get to and find.

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      Pho 88
      1270 Westford St, Lowell, MA 01851

      Sichuan Palace
      7 Summer Street, Chelmsford, MA 01824

      1. China Star of Lowell @ 369 Broadway opened about 8 months ago. It has a fairly standard Asian-American menu but because they cater to a large Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodian clientele, they offer a lot of items normally found in Boston's Chinatown. Their Chinese Style Double Lobster special is outstanding. Personally, I am a big fan of the Americanized Chinese Pork Ribs and theirs are large, meaty and delicious. I also love their Crab Rangoon. Oh, no alcohol yet but I am sure you could BYOB.

        1. Most of the places recommended so far don't offer cocktails (Sichuan Palace does bad fake Tiki drinks). It's not the greatest area on that score. A couple of ideas:

          Moonstones, Chelmsford. Easy off/on I-495's exit 34 on Route 110. Small plates, eclectic menu, full bar with real cocktails.

          Casa Blanca, North Billerica. Right off Rt 3 just south of 495 on Chelmsford Rd. Mid-priced Mexican, pretty nice atmosphere, full bar with decent Margaritas.

          Westford Grill, Westford. Just off 495's exit 32. Slightly generic but solid American restaurant with a decent full bar.

          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

          7 Replies
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            uggh i have had nothing but horid food at Westford Grill (i mean really really bad) and a few times i have been there they have had an annoying "magician" strolling up to the table to do tricks..which i really have no patience for.... They must be hurting for business as last summer they were at every one of the Cruise Nights at Kimball's putting annoying flyers into everyones cars...

            I never noticed Sichuan Palace to be in a bad area? There is also a little Japanese place in the same plaza that i have never been too but heard good things about.

            There is also Feng Chui... http://www.fengshui2.com/
            On par with Bamboo id say.

            Bamboo has a full bar that seems to be quite popular.

            1. re: hargau

              I've only been to lunch at the Westford Grill and one business event in an upstairs private room and thought the food was passable, typical American casual-dining stuff -- decent burger, a passable Reuben, etc. Further, the catered food was quite respectable, though it might be a cut above what they serve in the dining room. I know it's one of very few options for cocktails in the town, though it's not the kind of place I'd order a Sazerac. A strolling magician would put me off my food, for sure.

              I'm not sure how you'd call Sichuan Palace's neighborhood dodgy: it's in a pretty busy strip mall, across from a busy upscale liquor store and adjacent to another well-patronized plaza with a supermarket, discount clothing store, bank, etc.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              -----
              Sichuan Palace
              7 Summer Street, Chelmsford, MA 01824

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                I didnt call it dodgy, i thought you were saying it was when you said "its not the greatest area"... I have no problem with it at all!

                My experiences at Westford grille have been mostly with fish/seafood which they have alot of on the dinner menu. From being not cooked well to flat out past its date..

                1. re: hargau

                  Sorry for my confusion. I meant "not the greatest area" for Chowish options.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              2. re: hargau

                The Japanese place is Sakura, and the sushi is quite good, IMO.

                1. re: justbeingpolite

                  can't believe I forgot to mention Sakura, it's one of our favs for sushi but no drinks, just beer, maybe wine.

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                  Sakura Restaurant
                  231 Wickenden St, Providence, RI 02903

              3. re: MC Slim JB

                Wait, I don't think Chelmsford has a bad area. Sichuan Palace is in a great area but I would do sichuan gourmet in Billerica (just off Rt. 3 if thats the route they are going). It's my fav restaurant these days but nothing but beer.
                http://www.laosichuan.com/

                and a great seafood place is Fishbones in Chelmsford Center, just off Rt. 495

                but agree with Moonstones, it's right off Rt. 495 and fills their requirments, and hip and trendy too.
                http://www.moonstones110.com/

                Too bad they want just off Rt. 495 because Lowell has some fantastic choices:
                pho 88 (just off Rt. 3, north of rt. 495) for excellent vietnamese
                Tepthida (awesome cambodian

                )

                http://www.tepthida.com/

                Have a blast.

                -----
                Sichuan Palace
                7 Summer Street, Chelmsford, MA 01824

              4. Though not right off 495 - Centro in Lowell might fit the bill. There's also Yella in Andover for Mediterranean (though not sure about the cocktaisl). For Asian you could try Fung Shui in Chelmsford (right off 495)
                http://www.centrolowell.com/
                http://www.yellagrille.com/
                http://www.fengshui2.com/