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Looking for great food outside of Boston

Hi, my husband and I moved to Natick last year (about 20 miles west of Boston). There are a lot of chain restaurants out by us which isn't so great. While we love going into the city, the parking situation is less than ideal in Boston. We'd love to find some more "gems" in our area (doesn't have to be in Natick but maybe nothing further than 20 minutes away/easy to get to w/ easy parking). We love American, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, tapas, etc. So far Maxwell's is the best we've found out by us but we're looking for other special spots! Casual, not too much $, just good food, ambience, and maybe even romantic. :) Thanks foodies!

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  1. Sichuan Gourmet, Uncle Cheung's, Dosa Temple

    4 Replies
    1. re: Luther

      ditto to sichuan gourmet and uncle cheung's

      1. re: galangatron

        also Red Pepper, a little further down rte. 9 is a worthy (if a little inconsistent) sichuan place. but when its on, BOOM!

      2. re: Luther

        Dosa Temple -- in Somerville? Or is there a Metrowest one?

      3. Stone'sPublic House, Oregon Club, Red Rock Grille

        1. At the high end, you're within 20 minutes of Lumiere in West Newton and Blue Ginger in Wellesley. I don't particularly love Blue Ginger, but I'm in the minority on that one. For a little less money, there's Alta Strada in Wellesley. I don't enjoy the room itself, but the food has always been good and it's a decent value.

          I'd also echo Luther's suggestions of Sichuan Gourmet

          1. In addition to the excellent recs already posted, I'd add Sel de la Terre in the mall (of all places....), and Tomasso Trattoria in Southboro (20 minutes west of you on Rt 9). Also, the little tuscan market next to Tomasso is a gem, and owned by the same folks that run the restaurant.

            1. slozier, I live a bit farther west, and I sympathize...there's really a shortage of special places in these 'burbs.

              Sichuan Gourmet is definitely a good choice. Also Red Pepper, a little farther west is good authentic szechuan. I like Uncle Cheungs too.

              Sel de la Terre in the Natick Mall is not bad. and it doesn't feel like a mall restaurant at all.

              Ditto Lumiere for high end dining, its terrific and easy to get to. You can also get to Waltham relatively quickly, which adds a lot of other choices. I like La Campania for high end Italian. and I like Solea for tapas. Il Capriccio is pretty good too, also upscale Italian.

              Some people like Viva for Mexican in Wayland. I have to admit, we went once and were unimpressed. But I did like the ambiance and the service, would give it another try.

              Tomasso's, in Southborough is another possibility.I hesitate to recommend it...for years it was a go-to place for us, but then the quality and service slipped, and the prices stayed very high. We stopped going. But they have a new chef as of last week, so maybe it gets another shot. I just wish they would train their waitstaff how to handle a good bottle of wine. The winelist is still excellent. but when the waitress shakes up the sediment in the bottle while decanting it ...pouring all the sediment in to the carafe and the glasses, well, it really spoils things.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChinaCat

                Sad to hear about Tomasso's, but hopefully the new chef will make a difference. I agree, too, that I've yet to have anything close to proper wine service west of 128!

              2. oh, I almost forgot...Oga for sushi! that's definitely a gem.

                1. Yes, second Sichuan Gourmet. Also, AKA Bistro in Lincoln, French/Japanese, like a higher end Boston restaurant but with free parking!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kat

                    We discovered Maxwell's through a WGBH auction 2 yrs ago. We have enjoyed our 2 meals there and I think his foie gras torchon is the bee's knees. Don't think I've had better.

                    The fact that AKA Bistro is almost never mentioned on this board- shows one thing to me- very few CHs from Lincoln- AKA is excellent and innovative, lovely space, comfie. Ditto on CHs from Concord>> 80 Thoreau in the old Aigo space in the train station. If you do a search, you'll find threads for both (as i rvwd both, and Maxwell's). Also, in doing a CH search for your area, try the term "metrowest".

                    Consistently positive CH comments on Natick's Sel de la Terre.

                    p.s. waltham/newton are what i consider the last real restnt outpost before 128 and the hinterlands.
                    In waltham,La Campagna and Il Capriccio for fine Northern Italian (i much prefer the former)but the rest are ethnic cheaper spots. Lots of CH waltham talk. Newton >. Varying reports lately, but 51 Lincoln in Newton is (google map) 20 min from you. Lovely spot, talented chef. In Needham there's a new BBQ place mentioned recently on CH.

                  2. Also, Fugakayu and Oishii in Sudbury for sushi.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Kat

                      Wow, such good recommendations, thank you all so much! I am out of town this weekend but hopefully next weekend my husband and I can try one of these places. My parents live in Sudbury and swear by Fugakayu but we don't like sushi. I have heard of Tomasso's, hope the new chef livens things up!

                      1. re: slozier

                        Fugakayu in Brookline has lots of other choices besides sushi. I assume the same for the one in Sudbury.

                        1. re: CookieLee

                          yes, so much great japanese food other than sushi. many simple grilled and fried dishes, some wonderful noodle and protein soups(entrees). Light, clean, healthful.

                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            Sushi is def Fugakyu's strength, but they also have good (not great) noodle dishes and very good basic teriyaki salmon, chicken, etc. I also love their shumai and gyoza - something great about that sauce. Closer to sushi, but not quite is the spicy seafood salad app. A bit heavy on the spicy mayo, but my family is addicted to that dish. I also really like the lobster tempura roll, which sounds like sushi, but is completely cooked.

                            Oishii in Sudbury is more of a pure sushi cafe. It's a little bit better / fresher fish, but not by much. By fresh, I mean I've watched them butcher a whole salmon while I ate at the sushi bar. Can't get much fresher than that!

                    2. La Carreta Restaurante Mexico serves pretty good Mexican at reasonable prices. It's next to the Framingham Post Office in a building that once might have been a Brighams (or something similar). Atmosphere leaves something to be desired but the food (what I've had) is worthwhile.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: lescaret

                        We actually don't love Japenese in general, but other recs sound great. We'll have to look into La Careeta b/c we have been on a Mexican kick lately. Last night we went to Acapulco's. While the tostada left something to be desired (soggy lettuce) and the upkeep of the place isn't that great, they do have terrific salsa, taquitos, drinks, etc.

                        1. re: slozier

                          Another Mexican suggestion is La Tapatia in Marlboro. It is on a street running parallel to the Main Street and is a mom n pop taqueria. Very homey, good food, not upscale, inexpensive.

                          1. re: Kat

                            Thank you Kat, we will definitely put that on our list!

                            1. re: slozier

                              thanks for that tip Kat...that's close to my office, and I had no idea it was there. Will definitely make a lunch trip!

                      2. Try The Cottage in Wellesley. Always good. Also Shanghai Tokyo in Natick center. For authentic Mexican try Aztec just over the Natick - Framingham line. George's Pizza is good Greek style pizza. MetroWest is generally a culinary desert, but these are a few spots. No tapas, Vietnamese or real good Italian in the area. A little further out you could try Barry's deli (a real Jewish deli) in Waban (Newton). Best potato salad on the planet, and I'm not a potato salad fan. Welcom Indian doesn't look like much on the outside, but is nice inside and very good cuisine. Best Sichuan is all the way to Brookline village - Sichuan Garden. Ate there with a Chinese girl from Sichuan, and she said it was the only authentic Sichuan- style she had in the U.S. Hope this helps.

                        1. The Crowne Plaza in Natick was just renovated and has a new concept called "Verve". It is across from the mall and tucked away a bit. Yes, it's a hotel bar, but surprisingly fun atmosphere. The craft cocktails are of city quality and priced well. I went recently and had a Sake, lychee and splash of hibiscus martini that was pretty incredible. I have had the food and in the bar area it is new American small plates. Good for sharing. Buffalo drumettes rocked my socks.

                          Oiishi in Sudbury is excellent. It's in Mill Village. Go earlier and browse Duck Soup if you like cheese and fun candy selections. Hello, chocolate covered gummy bears!

                          Bullfinches is a cute spot in the spring. That is off route 20 in Sudbury. The patio seating is
                          charming and the food is great.

                          If you want a historic browse of the Wayside Inn you could give it a shot for lunch in the afternoon. They have a new chef that's mixed up the menu a bit and they offer brunch. I had a lobster BLT that was stacked high and drank a Coow Woow which was a cocktail dating back to 1634. Sit in the old kitchen, it is where they first started the dining service at the inn. There is a nice path out back to for a walk or wood fires at night in front if the inn. The tavern is small but has a fireplace. They offer up five small bites if you want a place to go but don't want to commit to dinner.

                          Harvest cafe is another interesting place. Tucked away in a Big white house in Hudson. They have a really excellent brunch. On Sunday mornings they have acoustic solo performer and they make the best bloody mary's.

                          Call me an old lady but the Aegean in Framingham has a great lounge. Split a bunch of appetizers and ask them to grill the pita for you!

                          Welcome India off route nine looks like a dump. It is the BEST Indian food I've ever had. Whatever they do with their Ghee must be the trick. Don't bother with Bollywoood it's mediocre.

                          Westborough Korean Restaurant is authentic, incredible and rare to find out our way. Not very far from Natick at all. It's pretty large inside, great prices and piles of kimchee, pickled veggies, bibambap, I could keep going on and on. Also some more adventurous selections too.

                          If you find yourself at Tomasso then stop in Panzano. Excellent wine and cheese selection.

                          Casey's Diner is a must go. It's on South Ave. The hot dogs!!! Totally laid back. Another great diner is Chets in Northborough. It's off route 20, only open until 11:30 and closed Sundays. However if you feel like eating in an out school diner run by a bright lovely young lady...go!

                          Zaftigs just opened semi-recently in Natick right in the Sherwood plaza. It's good for Breakfast/lunch.

                          Biltmore in Newton is good as is The Local which is a great laid back crowd. Good for a night out because it's not packed with college kids or the chain atmosphere.

                          I know some of these places aren't super romantic but you never know when romance happens. Sometimes just as simple as getting an ice cream cone at Kimballs after playing mini golf can be just as romantic having a dinner in front of a fire at the inn.

                          Waltham isn't far and moody street is packed with options. The Gaff is cheap and has great pickle chips and buffalo tenders. Excellent beer selection too. Habaneros just opened recently and has a bunch of house infused tequila and offers up some killer guacamole. Solea is a hit or miss for me with the tapas but in spring the windows open up and it's a cute date spot. Tempo is also hit or miss. I'd say go for the 7 before 7, they have their appetizers for 7 bucks. Order up a salad and your should be good tomgo without having a huge dinner.

                          I hope this helps!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Lmiggedy

                            I have been curious about the Harvest Cate, so think I'll try it now; love a good BloodyMary at brunch. Appreciate the info!

                            1. re: Kat

                              YMMV at Harvest cafe....We had an hour wait after ordering for some of the most blah unappetizing food we've ever eaten. I'm always willing to give a place a second chance, but even I had to agree with TC that this was so laughably bad that I couldn't imagine giving them another penny of my money. There were so few non-meat items on the menu, despite it's folksy, womin-run vibe, that I got some quesadillas that appeared to have been made in the microwave...I makes me shudder just to remember it...

                              If you find yourself out that way, there IS a good Portuguese Restaurant, the Old Schoolhouse Pub and Restaurant, that serves great octopus...Don't expect a lot of atmosphere, tho!

                              As far as Indian, after being forced to eat there numerous times, I would consider Welcome India serviceable, but certainly not the best Indian food around...For an area that has Minerva (Xmas Tree Shop Plaza) and Pongal II, I'm surprised anyone bothers going there...

                          2. I second the Sichuan Gourmet, Uncle Cheung's, Oga, Maxwell's 148, and Viva recommendations. When we lived in Sherborn, we ate at Dah-Mee (Natick Ctr, Wash St) a lot. It's not authentic Korean, but it is better than the usual chain restaurants.

                            We also adored Cafe Mangal (Turkish place, go for dinner, BYOB) in Wellesley. Oregon Club (in Ashland, use your GPS or you'll never find it!) is a fun, romantic place. I never thought the food was that great, but we loved eating out on the patio in the summer and the service is very good.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Isolda

                              Just had to reply to Lmiggedy, thanks for all your recs. I grew up in Sudbury so well versed in the Wayside Inn, love it there, great memories of going there as a kid, didn't know that they had a new chef though so will have to go back. So funny you mentioned Kimball's b/c my husband and I LOVE to go there for mini-golf and ice cream! Definitely one of our favorite date places! (In fact, we were just there last weekend. :) I love diners so we'll have to check out Casey's. Haven't heard of the Biltmore in Newton so will look into that, and I'd forgotten about all of the selections in Waltham... Went to Solea years ago but Habernos sounds like a good bet for us! Thanks!

                              1. re: slozier

                                Waban Kitchen in Newton opened recently and actually serves up some pretty good food. The bolognese with housemade pasta and the five-spice roast chicken were both very good. Newton isn't known for good restaurants but I think that's slowly starting to change. I haven't been to Farmstead Table in Newton Center but that's also supposed to be pretty solid.


                            2. Cafe Mangal in Wellesley is wonderful - BYOB too I believe!