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Lowell area recs, off of 495?

saridt Apr 22, 2010 07:19 AM

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!

  1. f
    fredid Apr 22, 2010 07:51 AM

    We did a great "crawl" of SE Asian places in Lowell: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6258...

    1 Reply
    1. re: fredid
      h
      hargau Apr 22, 2010 08:52 AM

      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. h
      hargau Apr 22, 2010 09:07 AM

      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.

      -----
      Pho 88
      1270 Westford St, Lowell, MA 01851

      Sichuan Palace
      7 Summer Street, Chelmsford, MA 01824

      1. b
        bakerboyz Apr 22, 2010 09:33 AM

        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. MC Slim JB Apr 22, 2010 10:26 AM

          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
            h
            hargau Apr 22, 2010 11:23 AM

            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
              MC Slim JB Apr 22, 2010 03:24 PM

              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
                h
                hargau Apr 22, 2010 03:29 PM

                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
                  MC Slim JB Apr 23, 2010 07:31 AM

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

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              2. re: hargau
                justbeingpolite Apr 23, 2010 06:56 AM

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

                1. re: justbeingpolite
                  l
                  lexpatti Apr 23, 2010 10:19 AM

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

                  -----
                  Sakura Restaurant
                  231 Wickenden St, Providence, RI 02903

              3. re: MC Slim JB
                l
                lexpatti Apr 23, 2010 06:10 AM

                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. a
                amljml Apr 22, 2010 10:47 AM

                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/

                1. ScubaSteve Apr 22, 2010 01:05 PM

                  Pho 88 in Lowell is probably about 5-7 minutes off of 495, it's the first exit off of the rte 3 connector.

                  -----
                  Pho 88
                  1270 Westford St, Lowell, MA 01851

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: ScubaSteve
                    h
                    hargau Apr 22, 2010 01:11 PM

                    Rt 3 and the Lowell connector are different roads. Pho 88 is the 2nd exit off rt 3 north from 495 at Drum Hill. It is then about 5 minutes off the exit. You could get there from the connector but it would be far more complex

                    -----
                    Pho 88
                    1270 Westford St, Lowell, MA 01851

                    1. re: hargau
                      ScubaSteve Apr 22, 2010 02:07 PM

                      idk about the names of a lot of those roads but when we went there this past Saturday we got there in about 5minutes off of 495S.

                      1. re: ScubaSteve
                        h
                        hargau Apr 22, 2010 02:48 PM

                        With no traffic its possible its only 3 miles, this is why i said it depends on what the OP means by easy on/off. Its not just getting off the exit and its there. Its getting on to another highway, going a few exits, thru a rotary and then driving a bit from there. No big deal if you know where your going. I just wanted to clarify that it wasnt the Lowell connector though since people mix those up all the time. Certainly no more difficult than sichuan palace or some of the others listed.

                        1. re: hargau
                          ScubaSteve Apr 22, 2010 02:57 PM

                          oh poo, we went to Pho Da Lat (the one on Chelmsford St) on Saturday.

                          sorry....

                          -----
                          Pho Da Lat Restaurant
                          1575 Middlesex St, Lowell, MA 01851

                          1. re: ScubaSteve
                            h
                            hargau Apr 22, 2010 02:58 PM

                            n/p did you like it? Im not a big fan of that one.

                            1. re: hargau
                              ScubaSteve Apr 22, 2010 03:08 PM

                              my Yelp review-

                              went here last Saturday with The Kid. we're fans of Pho 88 just down the way but we wanted to break it up a bit and check out someplace new.

                              we got our usual spring rolls, shrimp toast and two medium bowls of bun bo hue with extra tendon.

                              the spring rolls were OK, with little if any, mint and the wrappers were kinda gummy. the peanut sauce was too thick, more like a paste but we thinned it out a bit and it was serviceable. the shrimp toasts were almost identical to Pho 88 just smaller.

                              the pho was decent but the broth was a little muddy with no flavors really shining through and their noodles were like really thick spaghetti (but not udon thick) that broke kind of easy so chop-sticking was a little challenging. the tendon was spot-on delicious.

                              spring rolls, shrimp toasts, two medium bowls of pho, two beers and a jasmine lemonade came to $43 before t/t.

                              we might come back to try a few other things (like the quail) but for pho it'll be Pho 88 for us.

                              -----
                              Pho 88
                              1270 Westford St, Lowell, MA 01851

                              1. re: ScubaSteve
                                h
                                hargau Apr 22, 2010 03:21 PM

                                yep sounds like what we experienced. Im confused visually in my mind as to which one this is though. Is it a free standing small building with a very large bar inside to the right as you enter. Old school booths. DJ was setting up last time we were there! Or is this a larger place in a strip mall with a karoke area to the right when you walk in? I have been to 2 other pho places in the area other than pho 88, one i know for sure was pho da lat just cant recall which! One we went to we got some noodle bowl with sauce in beef. Problem is there was next to no broth and it wasnt all that hot. The beef they put on raw like in pho and it just sat there raw, never cooked the slightest.. Had to send it back. I just remembered the 3rd one was pho mimi

                                1. re: hargau
                                  ScubaSteve Apr 22, 2010 03:28 PM

                                  this was the one that was a former Pizza Hut.

                  2. v
                    volleydolly Apr 22, 2010 04:22 PM

                    If you are looking more for a place that has a trendy loungy look/feel for you and your gals to enjoy catching up with each other, then I definitely agree and second Moonstones!

                    Perhaps call ahead to see if you can reserve one of the curved booths in the lounge area? I've found the food to be mixed, but they have some good cocktails. They also have a raw bar, but I haven't tried that yet.

                    Pricing is similar to Boston here, but I for one greatly appreciate their efforts at bringing some city style and decor to this area!

                    Note, except for occasional holidays, they are usually closed on Sundays....just in case.

                    http://www.moonstones110.com/

                    1. saridt Apr 22, 2010 06:46 PM

                      Wow, great feedback, I'll look into all of these recs --thanks!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: saridt
                        justbeingpolite Apr 23, 2010 06:59 AM

                        I also recommend Pho 88. If you get off 495 on Rte 3 N, it's just a couple of exits to Exit 32 at Drum Hill, and the restaurant is about a quarter of a mile down the road on your right. There's also a reasonably good Indian restaurant right next door.

                        -----
                        Pho 88
                        1270 Westford St, Lowell, MA 01851

                        1. re: justbeingpolite
                          t
                          three of us Apr 23, 2010 07:23 AM

                          Depending on the time of day, this area has a lot of traffic. Lunchtime, rush hour, and Saturday late morning and in the afternoon, going from the Drum Hill exit to Pho 88 is slow going.

                          -----
                          Pho 88
                          1270 Westford St, Lowell, MA 01851

                      2. t
                        three of us Apr 23, 2010 07:26 AM

                        Cafe Madrid is off Rt 3, the 110 exit heading towards Chelmsford. I cannot find reviews on it in the archives but I remember some folks liking it.

                        Look up reviews by lexpatti, as well. She knows the 495/Lowell area very well, food-wise.

                        -----
                        Cafe Madrid
                        28 Alpine Ln, Chelmsford, MA 01824

                        1. j
                          Jeanne1116 Apr 23, 2010 03:58 PM

                          I second the recommendation for Centro - it has a nice bar. Moonstones is right off the highway if getting lost is an issue :)

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