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Best Foodie Suburb for nearlyweds seeking house?

Displaced Hoser Jul 5, 2010 11:07 AM

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.)

  1. 1
    1717eats Apr 13, 2011 12:05 PM

    This is a little late and I am sure you have moved already, but Waltham is the answer you are looking for... reasonable housing prices, close to the city, and just take a walk down Moody St or a visit to La Campania and you will be home...

    La Campania
    504 Main St, Waltham, MA 02452

    1. holldoll Jan 18, 2011 06:32 AM

      As a foodie first (I couldn't imagine living far from the thing I love most) and a very good real estate agent, I suggest you buy in either Union Square or West Medford. Not only because of the proximity to good food all the time but because the Green Line extension is due to come in by 2014. Your real estate value will really take off and when you go to sell you can have lots more $$$ to wine and dine.

      1. typhoonfish Jul 21, 2010 08:32 AM

        Another vote for Quincy.

        Buy my house. Hopefully moving south again. (as in South Shore)

        Convenience wise (within 1 square mile NQ/Wally border)
        15 ish chinese food restaurants :)
        2 sushi restaurants
        1 hot pot
        1 thai
        5 ish irish pubs
        5 -7 sub shops
        99 restaurant
        Marina Bay (2 miles) 5 restaurants
        2 x major grocery stores
        1 x asian grocery store
        best bar pizza in universe
        Papa Ginos
        4 -7 convenience stores
        3 x Dunkin Donuts
        La Paloma
        Skinhead bar with a punch in the face. :)

        1. l
          lexpatti Jul 21, 2010 04:26 AM

          Love love love Lowell!!! and I love love love great food! and easy jump on the t to get into boston. the ethnic diversity of people and food. culture, art, history, etc. - has everything. Taxes are great but only one thing, if school system is important then maybe next door in chelmsford or a private school. I don't know that first hand though, just hear. The downtown area is really become more and more vibrant, fun and safe.

          check out this weekend - Lowell Folk Festival - OMG the best food and music for 3 days.

          I own investment prop and a biz in NH, my whole family is in the lakes region and keep asking why I don't move north - I love Lowell!

          check the Belvidere neighborhood or Fort Hills neighborhood if you don't want downtown!

          2 Replies
          1. re: lexpatti
            Highland Park Jul 21, 2010 05:53 AM

            Another vote for Arlington. Good access to Cambridge restaurants without the inconveniences of living there, not too bad to Boston. Medford would be a second choice. We live in Bedford, dangerously close to Whole Foods, but often find ourselves driving to Arlington for dining out. Of course, this also depends on where you work and play. We love the access of Bedford to Rte. 3 and 128 and don't value mass transit for our trip making.

            1. re: lexpatti
              Eatin in Woostah Jul 21, 2010 06:43 PM

              I agree - Lowell is great. My first apartment alone out of college was in the Belividere neighborhood. It was cheap and safe, and that was 20 years ago! It's even better there now, and the food scene is funky and diverse. It's not really an easy shot into Boston, but if you don't mind that it has alot going for it. Schools are not good though, which is a real consideration even if you don't have kids due to the impact on property values. If you buy now and life changes, you'll need to think about resale value...

            2. v
              Valyn Jul 20, 2010 11:01 AM

              If decent home prices are a driver, Maynard is a pretty good choice. Schools are awful so keep that in mind, but there's a vibrant walkable downtown and a thriving arts scene, and the food is getting better (although it's still not Waltham or Watertown by any stretch). There's Cast Iron Kitchen, Blue Coyote, several decent but cheap bars and a couple of cafes. Plus there are commuter stations close by - one in Concord and two in Acton.

              Ranging a bit further afield, there are a few decent places in Acton and Concord - Sprigs, Crossroads, Paparazzi, Serafina's - and now the spectacular AKA Bistro in Lincoln. Been there once, heading back again tonight and I can't wait!

              Also, as has been pointed out, Route 2 is close by and takes you right into Arlington/Belmont in 20 minutes, and you can get south to Framingham/Natick in another 20 minutes. Could be worse.

              Cast Iron Kitchen
              177 Main Street, Maynard, MA 01754

              AKA Bistro
              145 Lincoln Rd, Lincoln, MA 01773

              1. a
                acornhunt Jul 7, 2010 08:55 AM

                I would strongly suggest looking more closely at Lowell as an option. It has excellent choices for ethnic food, especially Asian, and the downtown is walkable with a wide variety of restaurants. You can find a wide range of prices and types of food within a few blocks of downtown. As far as grocery stores go, Market Basket is awesome for ethnic foods and has the best prices but you'd have to go a little further for a Whole Foods or equivalent. I think a couple small wine/cheese/specialty shops have opened up downtown though.
                I also think Lowell would beat a lot of other suburbs mentioned here as far as housing affordability.

                1. kobuta Jul 7, 2010 08:31 AM

                  I'll add another vote for Quincy, having lived there for half of my life so far (the other being in the heart of Boston). I find Quincy to be so convenient and accessible, that it's like living in the city for a far more reasonable price. In addition to some of the great places already mentioned, there are a number of strong Asian options - including Hong Kong Eatery in Quincy Center, Falafel King in Quincy Center, Pho Yuen Dong at the Kam Man shopping center, East Chinatown up by North Quincy that does good roast meats, as well as offer strong Cantonese cuisine and a really good dim sum in their sister restaurant around the corner, and then a Crown Royal outpost near Wollaston for Chinese baked goods. You have Babycakes for some delicious, reasonably priced gourmet cupcakes, pretty good handmade fusili at Basta Pasta Enoteca, Tony's for artery-clogging, but oh-so-worth-it fried clams.....

                  East Chinatown Restaurant
                  415 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02171

                  Hong Kong Eatery
                  1510 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02169

                  Basta Pasta
                  150 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02171

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kobuta
                    SeaSide Tomato Jul 7, 2010 09:02 AM

                    I agree-Quincy is fantastic. With all that's already been mentioned, there are great burgers-- and a really tasty meatball sub on a great little French roll-- at Grumpy White's; terrific dinner and atmosphere at Alba; good deli (esp. the chicken liver salad --i.e. pate) at Alba Deli; wonderful baked goods at Fratelli's and Ginger Betty's; terrific take-out sushi at Beni Cafe (and even more wonderful sit down sushi at it's sister, Fuji 1546); and a wonderful farmer's market.

                    I can't speak to the school system-but OP says that's a non-issue.

                    Given the choice I would buy here again in an instant!

                    Miles of ocean, too!

                    Grumpy White's Restaurant
                    211 Sea St, Quincy, MA 02169

                    Beni Cafe
                    405 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02171

                    Fuji 1546
                    1546 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02169

                    1. re: SeaSide Tomato
                      scratchie Jul 7, 2010 09:33 AM

                      >I can't speak to the school system-but OP says that's a non-issue.

                      Ah, I missed that. Sounds like Quincy, Medford or Waltham would be excellent choices.

                  2. f
                    fredid Jul 7, 2010 08:10 AM

                    Eastie has GREAT food (not so great markets...) and is VERY affordable!

                    1. fesenjan Jul 6, 2010 05:11 PM

                      I'll put in another vote for Salem/Beverly -- lots of smaller single family houses (my husband the Chowish real estate agent would probably get a major kick out of taking someone relocating here on Salem/Beverly neighborhood/restaurant tour) and a long list of interesting food opportunities both cheap and upscale, great CSA resources, farmers markets in both Salem and Beverly, picturesque walkable downtowns with their own character, and good commuter rail access. If you throw in the ease of driving to Lynn and Peabody you've got even more ethnic cuisines covered.

                      1. e
                        EmmaFrances Jul 6, 2010 02:32 PM

                        I'll put in another vote for Quincy, specifically North Quincy for proximity to the Red Line. It's an easy drive into Dorchester too, since you mentioned you like the Fields Corner area. We've got good international food (Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian) as well as The Fat Cat for really good but reasonably priced upscale bar food. For grocery stores, there's the Fruit Center in East Milton Square, the new Fresh Market in Hingham, and the Kam Man Market as well as the usual suspects (Stop & Shop, Hannaford, etc.) While I still miss my old haunts in Watertown (Russo's, Strip-Ts), North Quincy is affordable, convenient, and safe.

                        Fat Cat
                        24 Chestnut St, Quincy, MA 02169

                        1. c
                          CptBuck Jul 6, 2010 12:24 PM

                          Whoever said Concord I have to disagree. The MO for Concord restaurants is to get a new chef or come out with a new menu and then fire that chef and start making all of the items on that menu really badly.

                          Concord does have some pretty good "joint" type places but I really can't say that there are any restaurants that are good enough for Concord to be a "foodie" town. Some of the local produce farms and the markets might be enough to warrant the label (although the prices are off-putting for both) but restaurant wise, no.


                          That being said, you really can't go wrong with anything along either route 9 or route 2.

                          Both will give you straight line access to Boston, and both have good food even as you go out into the hinterland areas.

                          As for reccomendations that people haven't mentioned so far I'd say that the Framingham/Natick area strikes a decent balance between proximity to boston, food excellence, and price.

                          Towns like Maynard are cheap and are definitely getting better economically and food wise.

                          Anything on rt 128 would also be good, Burlington has some great food options (getting better all the time) and is decently priced. To the south of boston the Dedham area is pretty great, although pricier than some of the surrounding towns.


                          After that, the people mentioning Somerville and Waltham are right on.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: CptBuck
                            trishaluna Jul 6, 2010 01:36 PM

                            What about Medford? W. Medford is very nice, affordable and right next to Arlington/Cambridge/Somerville. The orange line is in Wellington, along w/ a bunch of nice condo buildings at Station Landing. We love it hear. We are in Cambridge in 15 minutes, Somerville in 10, Arlington in 5, Malden (Fuloon mostly) in 15-20, Waltham in 20. Great location.

                            1. re: trishaluna
                              scratchie Jul 6, 2010 05:46 PM

                              West Medford is a great idea, especially if they ever build that Green Line extension they've been talking about. Anywhere in Medford could be good if it's a nice neighborhood. Cheaper than Arlington or Somerville or Winchester although I hear the schools are not so good (if that's a consideration).

                              1. re: scratchie
                                pemma Jul 7, 2010 05:47 AM

                                Although Medford is not a hotbed of great restaurants you do have Bistro 5 right in West Medford Square and as noted by others Medford is very convenient to a lot of good restaurants. Schools are OK, if not top notch. I really don't think schools in a place like Arlington are all that much better.

                                Bistro 5
                                5 Playstead Road, Medford, MA 02155

                                1. re: pemma
                                  scratchie Jul 7, 2010 05:55 AM

                                  Medford also has Chilli Garden and Oasis, and that Korean place that people like. Also Arthur's Pastry Shop.

                                  Chilli Garden
                                  41 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA 02155

                                  1. re: scratchie
                                    brandywiner Jul 7, 2010 06:32 AM

                                    And Moulton's!

                                    1. re: brandywiner
                                      pemma Jul 7, 2010 01:08 PM

                                      There's also a Modern Pastry, Bob's Food Store, and even though it's not the original -- Regina's Pizza.

                                      Modern Pastry
                                      257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

                                2. re: scratchie
                                  StriperGuy Jul 20, 2010 02:12 PM

                                  There are lots of good places to live for chow, not so many for good schools.

                                  Might want to take a look here if schools are a concern:


                                  And here if chow is what you are after:


                            2. d
                              drewinmrblhd Jul 6, 2010 11:57 AM

                              Salem, come to the dark side, we have cookies!

                              1. jgg13 Jul 6, 2010 10:20 AM

                                I spent a week or so living in weymouth last year, and while i hated losing my 10 minute commute, I was pleasantly surprised by food options and the like.

                                1. MC Slim JB Jul 6, 2010 08:55 AM

                                  If I had to move out of town, Waltham is a place I'd consider. Good proximity to the city, more reasonable housing costs than many nearby suburbs, pretty good chow options at low, mid, and high ends of the spectrum.


                                  1. m
                                    Madrid Jul 5, 2010 08:41 PM

                                    Have you looked at East Somerville? Lots of multi family but some single family, We live really close to sullivan station and there are direct buses to Kendall Sq and Central Sq and Harvard Sq in Cambridge, Haymarket and north end are two stops away on the orange line, etc.

                                    This is the cheapest part of Somerville for housing....lots of Central American immigrant renters as well as old Italian families...two blocks from charlestown. Union Square is really up and coming in terms of cafes, a great local foods market Sherman, the farmers' market is wonderful. Reliable Market for Korean and one of the best Market Baskets around. Vinny's at Night, lots of Brazilian and Central American take out (immigrants for immigrants), also direct bus line to Davis Square.

                                    Shouldn't talk too much more about the real estate, because that's not the focus of this board, but this is a very safe area...we've left the back door open on our single family more than once at night with no incidents, and once left the front door open for four hours on a Saturday during the day with three computers in the dining room...no problem.

                                    Blackstone St, Boston, MA

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Madrid
                                      blink617 Jul 6, 2010 02:01 PM

                                      East Somerville is pretty great - in addition to the places Madrid mentioned, we have Fasika for Ethiopian food (or Bud Light if you go in on the bar side). You can catch the T at Sullivan Square and be in the North End, Chinatown or the South End pretty quickly. Lots of good restaurants in Somerville, Cambridge and Medford are a short drive or long walk away. We've been here 6 years and never had any problems. It's an urban environment, not a suburb.

                                      If you really want to do the whole white picket fence thing and still have some non-chain dining options, I'd second the recommendations for Arlington, Waltham and Roslindale. Waltham is the most mass-transity, but the others have more of a walkable/village feel to them.

                                      147 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145

                                    2. g
                                      gorboduc Jul 5, 2010 07:47 PM

                                      I live in Salem, so I can give you my read on some of the stuff up here.


                                      Salem's got an excellent bread/pastry bakery in A&J King (they also do sandwiches and coffee).

                                      For cakes, try Cassis in Beverly, about 5-10 min drive away.

                                      Restaurants and Coffee Shops:

                                      For Italian (mostly Northern-ish), 62 on Wharf is very good.

                                      Last time I went to the Grapevine--a year ago--it was also good Italian with a bit of new American thrown in.

                                      Red's, in the center of town near A&J King, is a good greasy spoon that serves breakfast and lunch.

                                      There's Coven for coffee, cupcakes and other pastries, sandwiches, and take out and eat in entrees (cupcakes are good, other baked goods I prefer A&J King), plus a selection of local and/or organic groceries--Whole Foods in nearby Swampscott has a better selection of the latter, though).

                                      Gulu Gulu Cafe is a nice place for coffee or a beer, with live music.

                                      Asahi, in the mall in the center of town, has decent sushi, Passage to India decent Northern Indian, In a Pig's Eye does a good brunch on Sundays, The Old Spot has solid pub fare.

                                      There's a burrito place that's opening soon--the owners seem like they're from New Mexico, since green chile and adobado are on the menu.

                                      Also coming soon is a second branch of Cafe Polonia, for Polish food.

                                      Pizza's not a strong suit, IMO. Upper Crust on the corner of Essex and Washington (next to Gulu Gulu and Cafe Polonia) is ultra thin crust yuppie pizza. I prefer more of a New York style pie, so I go to Cafe Vesuvius in Marblehead.

                                      For Chinese, I usually go to Su Chang's in Peabody--stick with the Cantonese stuff though.

                                      For rodizio, there's Fire Bull in Peabody Square, a Brazillian bakery nearby on Walnut, and Portuguese at O Fado (also on Walnut).


                                      The Salem Market Basket has a selection of Hispanic and Brazilian foods, with a little bit of Vietnamese/Cambodian and Russian/Polish (I assume they're catering to the Vietnamese/Cambodian and Central European populations in Lynn), while the one in Danvers has more Brazilian and Greek/Middle Eastern stuff.

                                      There's supposed to be a grocery store coming to downtown that will specialize in local produce, dairy, eggs, and meat.

                                      There's also a small Polish deli on Essex in the center of town (my Russian friend turns up her nose at it, but it works when you don't want to drive 10-15 min to the Russian stores in Lynn).

                                      There's a good CSA in the summer (though it usually has a waiting list to get in), and there's a farmer's market every Thursday evening in Derby Square until the fall.

                                      Boston Hot Dog Co has good dogs (despite the fact that they're steamed--sorry, NE natives--I grew up where hot dogs are cooked on a flat top, so that's what I prefer), and the owner makes some of his own condiments.

                                      Salem Wine Imports has a nicely curated selection of bottles, and Eric the owner is super helpful.

                                      The Old Spot
                                      121 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970

                                      Cafe Polonia
                                      611 Dorchester Ave, Boston, MA 02127

                                      Boston Hot Dog Co.
                                      60 Washington St, Salem, MA 01970

                                      Fire Bull Restaurant
                                      5 Central St, Peabody, MA 01960

                                      Cafe Vesuvius
                                      18 Bessom St, Marblehead, MA 01945

                                      168 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: gorboduc
                                        Pegmeister Jul 6, 2010 04:12 PM

                                        The almond croissants from AJ king would make the move worthwhile.

                                        1. re: Pegmeister
                                          LDoll13 Jul 7, 2010 02:46 PM

                                          SALEM 100%!!!!!!!!!!!! ALl that plus the ocean! Finz, Strega, Agean, Tavern, Grennland Cafe........

                                          910 Washington St., Dedham, MA 02026

                                          379 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113

                                          1. re: LDoll13
                                            StriperGuy Jul 7, 2010 05:19 PM

                                            MY SO lived in Salem, and while decent, it ain't even in the running compared to Waltham, Eastie, Arlington with regard to food!

                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                              StriperGuy Jul 8, 2010 07:04 AM

                                              I would probably also add Lynn and Lowell to the "Better than Salem" suburb list.

                                      2. g
                                        gimlis1mum Jul 5, 2010 07:30 PM

                                        Ummmmm, you should look at Malden. Yes, our housing stock is old (mostly turn-of-the-century and earlier), especially in the neighborhoods near the T (Orange line, Malden Center and Oak Grove station) but the prices are amazing given the proximity to Boston. We've got Fuloon, Habesha, Taste of Soul, Donut Villa, Do Wop diner, and three Vietnamese places (that are within a quarter mile of each other). Plus lots more good cheap food in Everett next door (Everett is very affordable too, but not as accessible by mass transit). The Stop & Shop on Charles street has a huge int'l foods section (plus they sell beer & wine), there's Hong Kong market (formerly Super88) on Commercial Street, two Vietnamese markets, two Haitian markets, a couple of Brazilians ones...we're quite happy here.

                                        Habesha Restaurant
                                        535 Main St, Malden, MA

                                        Donut Villa
                                        1A Highland Ave, Malden, MA 02148

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: gimlis1mum
                                          gimlis1mum Jul 6, 2010 06:10 PM

                                          Forgot to mention, there's an Indian market too that also sells injera. And start here for info on the Malden arts community:

                                          1. re: gimlis1mum
                                            fatty_mouthfeel Dec 24, 2010 04:51 PM

                                            Which Indian grocery sells injera? And do you know any further details- is it 100% teff or a mix of teff and wheat? I've been unhappy with the injera options in Boston. Thanks in advance.

                                            1. re: fatty_mouthfeel
                                              gimlis1mum Dec 24, 2010 05:05 PM

                                              The one on Pleasant Street - not the one next to Spice N Hot. I think it's called Leela. I have not tried the injera myself b/c I have not ventued into Ethiopian cookery at home, but a friend buys it there. So I don't know the answer to the teff question...if I can get there in the near future, I'll ask.

                                              Spice N Hot
                                              519 Main St, Malden, MA 02148

                                              1. re: gimlis1mum
                                                fatty_mouthfeel Dec 25, 2010 07:37 PM

                                                Thanks! Might not make it there for a while but if I get there before you I'll share what I find out.

                                                1. re: fatty_mouthfeel
                                                  gimlis1mum Jan 17, 2011 04:31 PM

                                                  I stopped in there this weekend to ask, and she told me that they've stopped carrying it. Sorry to give you outdated information.

                                                  1. re: gimlis1mum
                                                    fatty_mouthfeel Apr 3, 2011 04:08 PM

                                                    No worries, I appreciate you checking!

                                        2. d
                                          Displaced Hoser Jul 5, 2010 07:21 PM

                                          Thanks, everyone. Some good ideas. To those saying we shouldn't plan around food: sure, it shouldn't be the ONLY criterion (which is why we didn't buy in Fields Corner!), but pretty much everywhere I've lived that didn't have good food options to walk to (Nonantum, Concord, parts of Ithaca NY, rural Ontario) I have felt trapped. I can handle that in the short run, but in the long run it would be like a nature lover living in Allston or Queens - it's really not a good fit.

                                          Good ideas though, folks. Thank you. Quincy, Arlington, Malden, Watertown, Waltham all sound like good possibilities. Providence is a particularly intriguing idea - it probably depends on where we end up working. (Is there good food near the train station in Providence? I can't imagine making a drive from there to Boston every day.)

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: Displaced Hoser
                                            Bob Dobalina Jul 6, 2010 09:15 AM

                                            I am in Camberville and own - but the geographic center of my food universe is somewhere along Mt. Auburn Street and Brattle in Cambridge/Watertown - weekly trips to Russo's, CSA in Waltham, Watertown spots and all that Camberville has to offer. So that, along with ease of commute, is where I would be looking.

                                            That said, there is a big, new condo complex right across the street from Russo's. Not sure of values, etc., but I have been eyeing it with envy. :)

                                            1. re: Displaced Hoser
                                              digga Jul 6, 2010 05:54 PM

                                              Displaced - I also rank "the good food within walking/biking distance factor" very high when deciding on a place to live. I have moved from Providence to Somerville and now to Arlington, owning in all three (and still own in PVD). I love Providence to death, but the train commute became a drag for me (I own on the West Side, so I would ride my bike or take the bus to the train station). That said, the housing market is quite depressed right now and I don't see it turning around anytime soon. But, it's great for buyers and if you plan on sticking around, the housing prices are crazy-good compared to anywhere in Boston and there are some gorgeous places all over town. Food near the station? Check out the Southern NE board, but some places within easy walking/cycling distance are (some better than others, but I'll let you decide for yourself): Red Fez, Gracie's, Cuban Revolution, Local 121, AS220, Tazzo, Murphy's Deli, Union Station Brewpub, Trinity Brewhouse, Bravo Brasserie, Luxe Burger Bar, Ten Prime Sushi, Cafe Nuovo, Waterpark Place. For food- and wine-shopping, there are Farmstead and 'Eno, two of my favorite pit-stops. And then there is this opening right near my place: http://www.urbangreens.com/ There is a really vibrant local food scene in PVD!

                                              Arlington Center/E Arlington is fairly diverse food-wise (lots of pan-Asian, Little Q Hotpot, Kathmandu Spice, 'Za, prose, Flora, Indian, Argentinian, Zocalo, Italian) but we found the housing prices too high so we are in the Heights, where the food options are ok. Blue Ribbon BBQ and Toraya right down Mass Ave. Trader Joe's is within walking distance down the bike path, B's happy to have the Meat House close by for grilling meats, we are happy with the seafood at Carey's Catch, and Penzey's Spices is here, too. Berman's liquor shop is an easy walk over the line in Lexington. We've tried Tom Yum Koong only once (and only take-out) and it was good, not great, particularly a whole fish prep. We've heard that Jade Garden is decent American Chinese. If you have a sweet tooth, Lakota makes some unbelievably buttery-good cookies. La Posada was surprisingly decent Mexican the one time we tried it, but that was also take-out. (I find eating in a better measure of a restaurant.) Nicola Pizza is the best of the bunch, but we haven't tried them all yet (lots of Greek pizza going on). If you are a breakfast person (which we're not), there's a bustling little place right on Mass Ave (I don't know the name). Scutra is the higher end Italian place in town (we've not been in yet). Jimmy's Steakhouse is a trip - quite the scene on a Friday night! We do bemoan the lack of pubs (Arlington is a "dry town, meaning no pubs/taverns...you have to order food with your drink) so we find ourselves usually heading to Somerville or Cambridge to eat out. Ultimately, proximity to the bike path was a huge deciding factor for us since we both are off the Red Line. Check out local farmer's markets, too. But like Michael B, time for me to sign off before I start sounding like the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. Good luck to you!

                                              1. re: digga
                                                scratchie Jul 6, 2010 06:45 PM

                                                I'm surprised that you found prices cheaper in the Heights... that's supposed to be the "good side of town". Anyway, though, just a few notes:

                                                Jade Garden is good American Chinese; you heard correctly. Nothing to write home about but consistently good with great hot & sour soup.

                                                Villa House of Pizza has the best Greek-style pizza I've ever eaten. Try one with hamburg, salami and green pepper and thank me later.

                                                Scutra is not "Italian"... I guess it's "New American" or something. I've eaten there twice; it was great the first time and disappointing the second time.

                                                The breakfast place on Mass Ave in the Heights (Classic Cafe) is just OK. Actually, one of the downsides of Arlington is the lack of a great breakfast place.

                                                There are no pubs but there are lots of "private" clubs where you can get a drink (American Legion, Sons of Italy, etc.). I haven't tried, but I've heard that you can often walk in off the street and order even if you're not a member.

                                                Villa House of Pizza
                                                1367 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                                                1. re: scratchie
                                                  digga Jul 6, 2010 06:52 PM

                                                  LOL! I think I would get a lot of looks if I tried to walk into one of those private clubs (I've tried in RI a couple of times with Caucasian friends and I was definitely was the only Asian person in there). That would be a hoot, though! I've seen plenty of them around town.

                                                  And, yep, the Heights was slightly more affordable than Arlington Center, at least for the kinds of houses we were looking at.

                                                  1. re: digga
                                                    scratchie Jul 6, 2010 07:33 PM

                                                    Ha ha, well, I'm just repeating what I read somewhere else. Give it a try and let us know how it works out. 8-)

                                                  2. re: scratchie
                                                    Fly Jul 7, 2010 05:53 AM

                                                    If we're trading Heights tips, I'll say that I haven't been disappointed with Sun's Chinese Kitchen, either. Although I'm not really an American-Chinese expert, it's seemed a step up from standard Chinese takeout.

                                                    Sun's Chinese Kitchen
                                                    90 Lowell St, Arlington, MA 02474

                                                    1. re: Fly
                                                      digga Jul 7, 2010 08:01 PM

                                                      Oh that's great to hear about Sun's. I'm dying to try them and they are 2 minutes down the street. Hoping they might be a little gem. I fantasize about coaxing these kinds of places out of their status quo to cook up something amazing. :D

                                                    2. re: scratchie
                                                      grant.cook Jan 18, 2011 06:57 AM

                                                      There are no pubs, but that doesn't mean you can't get a drink. Go into any of the restaurants with full bars (there are like 6 or so in town) and be prepared to order an app. If you are a regular, they might give you a bit of slack on how soon you order. Arlington just doesn't want a bar scene, where someone goes and starts tipping back round after round. So by tying it to food, they tamp that down a bit..

                                                    3. re: digga
                                                      fantundo Jan 17, 2011 05:35 PM

                                                      I've been very happy with my two meals at La Posada: good food, friendly service, and amazingly inexpensive.

                                                  3. Eatin in Woostah Jul 5, 2010 06:14 PM

                                                    I would focus on either Arlington or Waltham. Housing prices in both aren't quite as high as their neighbors (Lexington/Winchester, Belmont/Newton) and they both have a great array of very good downscale ethnic spots, and walkable downtown areas. Right out of college I lived in a cheap apartment right off of Moody St. in Waltham, and it was a blast. Plus, the commuter rail station is on Moody. Arlington's restaurant choices are a bit nicer, but a little spread out. Waltham's choices are mostly less expensive (with a couple of noteworthy and excellent exceptions) but tend to be in a more concentrated area.

                                                    Just my impressions from having lived in and near both cities. (FWIW, I think it's entirely reasonable to pick a community based on restaurant options.)

                                                    Edit: Another thought - how about Malden? Fuloon, Habesha...it's up and coming.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                                                      MichaelB Jul 5, 2010 08:59 PM

                                                      I'll strongly second the Waltham suggestion - I think it meets a lot of your criteria. (that said, I don't know about the real estate market there - whether the price is right and if the housing stock there appeals to you.) I worked there for a while several years ago and I find I still go back there for shopping, etc. HIghlights: Russo's - the best grocery store around - not really walkable but only a few minutes by car; Domenic's Paninoteca - fantastic bread/sandwiches/pan pizza; several mind-expanding Indian and Pakistani markets on Moody Street; several very good Mexican restaurants (taqueria el amigo being my favorite); Gordon's Liquors; Country Desserts Bake Shop (technically I think this is just over the Newton border but regardless, those ladies make fantastic muffins which would cost twice as much in Boston); Chinese dim sum place whose name escapes me right now. \

                                                      Even apart from the above places which are GREAT and worth driving to from elsewhere, there's also a critical mass of restaurants (mostly but not all on Moody St.), not all of which are amazing but if you're settling somewhere you'd probably want to have a number of options, not just 2 or 3 places on repeat - I'm thinking of Elephant Walk (slightly toned-down but still good Cambodian food in a nice room), Solea (gets slammed here but I've actually had some decent tapas there), Jakes bbq, Tuscan Grill (never been, not sure how it is now), two high-end Italian places whose names escape me, plus several Indian places, a thai place or two, some non-chain coffee places, a few pubs, etc. There's also a nice saturday farmer's market near the intersection of Main and Moody.

                                                      Apart from food, there is the movie theater, an arts community in the lofts over the river (excellent open studios), the commuter rail, and relative proximity by car to other chow destinations in Watertown, Cambridge, etc. Most importantly (to me), it always feels like a real, lived-in city to me - diverse both in class and ethnicity - with the range of businesses that grow out of that diversity. And of course Brandeis is nearby as well, so that should provide additional cultural options for music, art, etc. I'll stop now before I sound too much like I work for the welcoming committee - but I do think it's worth a look. Good luck with your decision!

                                                      Elephant Walk
                                                      663 Main Street, Waltham, MA 02451

                                                      Tuscan Grill
                                                      361 Moody Street, Waltham, MA 02453

                                                      Country Desserts
                                                      60 Lexington St, Newton, MA

                                                      1. re: MichaelB
                                                        mcel215 Jul 7, 2010 03:13 PM

                                                        Ditto Waltham

                                                        1. re: MichaelB
                                                          LStaff Jul 20, 2010 11:24 AM

                                                          Jakes bbq is no longer.

                                                          But the good news is that real estate taxes are dirt cheap in Waltham.

                                                      2. i
                                                        irishnyc Jul 5, 2010 06:12 PM

                                                        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
                                                          StriperGuy Jul 5, 2010 07:04 PM

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

                                                          1. re: StriperGuy
                                                            PinchOfSalt Jul 5, 2010 07:18 PM

                                                            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.

                                                        2. s
                                                          skordalia Jul 5, 2010 05:41 PM

                                                          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
                                                            sallyt Jul 5, 2010 07:06 PM

                                                            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
                                                              Displaced Hoser Jul 5, 2010 07:22 PM

                                                              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.

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

                                                              1. re: Displaced Hoser
                                                                sallyt Jul 5, 2010 07:30 PM

                                                                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.

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

                                                                Thai Spice
                                                                1745 Centre St, West Roxbury, MA 02132

                                                                1. re: Displaced Hoser
                                                                  skordalia Jul 6, 2010 04:24 AM

                                                                  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.

                                                                  Delfino Restaurant
                                                                  754 South St, Roslindale, MA 02131

                                                              2. PinchOfSalt Jul 5, 2010 04:56 PM

                                                                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
                                                                  cambridgedoctpr Jul 5, 2010 04:59 PM

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

                                                                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                                    Displaced Hoser Jul 5, 2010 07:10 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                    StriperGuy Jul 5, 2010 05:59 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                      trufflehound Jul 5, 2010 06:05 PM

                                                                      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.

                                                                      397 Hancock St, Quincy, MA

                                                                  3. opinionatedchef Jul 5, 2010 03:41 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                      gansu girl Jul 5, 2010 03:44 PM

                                                                      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).


                                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                                        StriperGuy Jul 5, 2010 04:19 PM

                                                                        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
                                                                          Displaced Hoser Jul 5, 2010 07:08 PM

                                                                          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
                                                                            opinionatedchef Jul 6, 2010 01:05 PM

                                                                            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:


                                                                            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:

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

                                                                            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
                                                                              Billie Jean Jul 20, 2010 01:42 PM

                                                                              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
                                                                            Billie Jean Jul 20, 2010 01:45 PM

                                                                            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
                                                                              nsenada Jul 21, 2010 07:52 AM

                                                                              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.

                                                                              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. p
                                                                            Pegmeister Jul 5, 2010 03:11 PM

                                                                            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.

                                                                            Fat Cat
                                                                            24 Chestnut St, Quincy, MA 02169

                                                                            Marina Bay, Quincy, MA 02169

                                                                            Port 305
                                                                            305 Victory Rd, Quincy, MA 02171

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