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Best Foodie Suburb for nearlyweds seeking house?

So my fiancée and I are starting to consider where we might eventually buy a house. We're serious foodies - you may have been following our quest for various morsels for our reception - and currently loving life in Cambridge/Somerville, but buying a house here is very, very tough.

So we're looking at mass-transit-accessible suburbs where we might be able to afford a small single-family house and still eat well. We tend to gravitate towards cheap eats rather than upscale - especially good international food (the kind served by immigrants for immigrants) and to some extent classic American bad-for-you food (BBQ, deep fried horrors, diner food/road food in general). We don't know most of the suburbs that well, though, and are looking for suggestions. We were thinking maybe Salem, Lowell or possibly Watertown (though the latter is tough to afford). Any suggestions? Good grocery stores nearby and a town centre with a walkable/village feel (especially with an arts community) would be great things to have as well. We're not going to have kids, so schools are not an issue, and while we're not wusses about crime, we would like to be able to walk home alone after dark and feel reasonably safe. (We considered Dorchester very seriously and spent a lot of time looking there, but the neighbourhoods we liked most, especially Fields Corner, tended to be a little on the stabby side - plus the houses tended to be so large that they were either unaffordable, falling apart, or subdivided into condos, which we don't want.)

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  1. As much as I may consider myself a foodie, I'm not sure I would go so far as to plan my housing choices around it. That said, I have lived in Quincy all my life and consider myself fortunate for choices in the area. Fat Cat in downtown Quincy is phenomenal. Marina Bay has Siros and the new Port 305 with it's marina and Boston Skyline views. The redline is close so the North End beckons most every weekend. In the Fall I may head to the Hingham/Hull area to visit the Snug, Schooners, Mezo Mare, DiNerros or Tosca's, We have a shabu place in North Quincy and great sushi in the square, fish shacks on the beach and Irish pubs in the square, not to mention close to Boston for an easy commute by car, T or commuter boat.

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    Fat Cat
    24 Chestnut St, Quincy, MA 02169

    Siros
    Marina Bay, Quincy, MA 02169

    Port 305
    305 Victory Rd, Quincy, MA 02171

    1. VERY tough challenge here. Best foodie burb is also major expensive - newton, newton newton.
      Watertown is not too burby but has LOTS of good restaurants and access to neighboring towns'.
      Needham has more going on than most burbs. Concord has one exc place. What occurs to me as the mba accessible/further out burb w/ the most good restaurants is beverly (adding in neighboring salem.) Wakefield and Melrose have a number of options but not as good quality as Bev/Salem.

      7 Replies
      1. re: opinionatedchef

        I like Pegmeister's Quincy vote - good choices w/i the city and proximity via public transpo to Boston, etc. And I also agree w/opinionatedchef - tough challenge - I thought of Belmont & Watertown right off, not necessarily b/c they have great food options w/i the towns, but b/c they're SO close to Boston and have great T access (speaking of the Watertown side of Belmont).

        GG
        http://www.semisweetonline.com

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          Newton is NOT that good for food. Arlington blows it out of the water. Name 10 places in Newton that are actually worth a trip. Heck, name 5.

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            Thanks everyone so far! Opinionatedchef, what exc place are you thinking of in Concord? I'm going to be spending a week and a half out there this summer, and so far I've found that area (Route 2 past Arlington) to be pretty much a food wasteland, except for some good ice cream.

            1. re: Displaced Hoser

              No question, concord is sad sad sad. Same w/ lincoln. So much for living in a town where a good percentage of the populace is financially very comfortable. But the very new sushi/French innovative place, AKA Bistro, is supposed to be great; it's on my list; and got exc. review in the globe . It is in Lincoln, not concord(sorry). http://www.akabistrolincoln.com/

              It seems that Concord/Lincoln area CHs don't read the Globe , or have worse memories than mine, because on this recent dense thread, no one mentions Aka Bistro except for 9lives(yay 9 !): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/689865

              but this concord place is mentioned:

              http://www.serafinaristorante.com/

              p.s. no insult intended, but downtown malden is a PIT, a place where one wishes that one's fav chinese restnt was NOT located. That's all we can think when we do our weekly trip to FuLoon. Same w/ Lynn when we go for our monthly refill at La Fe.

              McSlim has exc advice re: waltham. He has probably eaten out more than all the posting CHs combined; plus he has good taste and good sociological observation skills. Do not know W. Roxbury so if you're going further out than watertown, i suggest waltham or salem at top of list ;the latter because it's far more attractive than abutting Beverly, where are found the many more and much better restnts .Plus, if you chose salem, you'd be right next to some of the most beautiful coastal places in the whole U.S., and you'd have an excellent foodblog just for you via nsdishgal>>>http://www.northshoredish.com/

              good recent no. shore thread:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4907...

              p.p.s. i do not live in or next to any of the towns discussed

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              FuLoon
              375 Main St, Malden, MA 02148

              La Fe Restaurant
              189 Union St, Lynn, MA 01901

              AKA Bistro
              145 Lincoln Rd, Lincoln, MA 01773

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                I think it also depends on where you work. Salem is great, but getting from there to other places by car is really tough. And if you have to do it on a daily basis, it gets old really fast. That said, there are great places on the North Shore as Opinionated notes. McSlim too.

            2. re: opinionatedchef

              I would love to hear your Newton and Needham recommendations, Opinionated. . . When I visit Needham I'm always at a loss. And if there were go-to locations in Newton I'd go to it! Thanks.

              1. re: Billie Jean

                There's a good thread here on Needham: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6105...

                My current faves are Rice Barn, Center Cafe, Masala Art, and Lizzie's Ice Cream. I really like Sweet Basil too, for BYOB and a gargantuan feed.

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                Sweet Basil
                942 Great Plain Ave, Needham, MA 02492

                Masala Art
                990 Great Plain Avenue, Needham, MA 02492

                Rice Barn
                1037 Great Plain Ave, Needham, MA 02492

            3. Pick a place to live that is near where you work, or go to school. Good food is in many places. Even if you live in a town or city that has great foodie spots, you will still want to travel to great spots in other towns. So it really does not matter that much where you live, foodwise, unless you pick someplace that has NOTHING good to eat!

              4 Replies
              1. re: PinchOfSalt

                how about brookline or cambridge which are connected to boston via the T.

                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                  I guess you're right that Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville are suburbs in the most technical sense, and the eating is clearly good there, but really that's city living as far as we're concerned. We live there now in a small apartment - we're wondering about places with housing costs low enough that we could afford to buy.

                2. re: PinchOfSalt

                  Yah, but if you live in Metro West, or parts of the South Shore you are stranded in the land of lousy food... the Boston burbs can be really lacking in good chow...

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Striperguy, you are sooo right. Metrowest is seriously lacking. I grew up in Rossie and JP and miss the food scene. Please, anyone. A Viet, Shabu or Portuguese please.

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                    Shabu
                    397 Hancock St, Quincy, MA

                3. not entirely sure I understand your criteria, but in terms of housing stock (and prices), transportation, and general vibe I think you might like Roslindale or West Roxbury, though technically they're not "suburbs."

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: skordalia

                    I second Roslindale or West Rox - we moved from JP to West Rox, and there is GREAT food here, and the commuter rail is walking distance from our house. Very very safe, and reasonably affordable houses (for Boston-area). There are also some great houses in Roslindale for sale. It's hard to give too much advice though without knowing where you work and what your price range is - I agree with other posters that you should definitely consider commutes.

                    1. re: skordalia

                      Interesting ideas, skordalia - I'm not very familiar with those areas. What sort of places are there to eat there? I LOVE Viva Mi Arepa in West Roxbury, but I don't really know anything else down there.

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                      Viva Mi Arepa
                      5197 Washington St, West Roxbury, MA 02132

                      1. re: Displaced Hoser

                        You should check out Roslindale Village (Village Sushi, Sophia's Grotto, etc.) and Centre St in West Rox (Himalayan Bistro, Phuket, Thai Spice, etc.). Viva mi arepa is excellent, about 2-3 miles from "downtown" West Rox. Both Roslindale and West Rox feel kind of suburban, West Rox even more so.

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                        Sophia's Grotto
                        22 Birch St, Roslindale, MA 02131

                        Thai Spice
                        1745 Centre St, West Roxbury, MA 02132

                        1. re: Displaced Hoser

                          Neither neighborhood is a restaurant hotbed like Inman Square but both have solid options. Roslindale has a few fancy-ish sit-down restaurants like Delfino and Sophia's and a bunch of decent lower-priced places, including Romano's, Boston's best combination pizza/taco place and the awe-inspiring time capsule that is the Pleasant Cafe. Ros also is amazing for cooks- excellent bakeries, meat market, fish market, and produce- all super cheap and family run.

                          WR has more restaurants such as the ones listed in sallyt's post, as well as a great diner (Rox Diner) and an amazing Lebanese deli- Bay Sweets. I've posted elsewhere about Ros and WR places if you do a search for my posts.

                          But more importantly, both neighborhoods are super safe (with a few caveats- this is still the city), very convenient to most of the city via car, bus, or train and have many good affordable single family homes.

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                          Delfino Restaurant
                          754 South St, Roslindale, MA 02131

                      2. As much as I love food, I cannot think of too many reasons worse for choosing a place to own a home. While food may be your criteria, for most people it won't be, and you may want to think about resale if it's not your forever home.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: irishnyc

                          Belmont is convenient to Arlington, Allston Brighton and Cambridge Somerville. Near great food, and a good place to buy...

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            As a Belmontian, yes, this is a great town in which to live. House prices, however, may be out of the range of the OP.