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Oct 22, 2012 05:05 PM

The Area's Worst Food Towns

Keeping up with the Acton/Concord thread -- and having recently moved to that area -- has made me wonder about the towns in the Greater Boston Area that literally do not have any good restaurants.

The board is home to many extensive travelers of the region; what are some of your votes for the Greater Boston Area's worst towns to eat out in?

I'd like to nominate Littleton. It's a cute place, has a commuter rail station, and is highly accessible via both Route 2 and Route 495, but it's a restaurant wasteland. There are, I think, three sit-down places: Tre Amici, a yawny steak-and-shrimp Italian sort of place; Chip Shots, a sports bar and grill that seems to be named after their little golf simulation arcade games; and Yangtze River Restaurant, a run-of-the-mill American Chinese place, where the locals get General Gao's chicken with steamed broccoli (but they probably throw away the broccoli).

There's also the Littleton Sub Shop, a place that makes Pizza Hut look line fine dining. The town's saving grace is probably Spring Dell Farm, which has a nice market where they sell a bunch of their own produce, baked goods, etc.

The other towns around it -- Ayer, Groton, Westford, etc -- all have at least one place a diner would be happy to go to eat.

Let's get some other nominations; teach us about places on our maps that we should ignore 'til further notice!

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  1. I thought Westord was a wasteland when I worked there not long ago.

    1. What about that old timey independent doughnut shop on 2A? Thought that was in Littleton - any good?

      6 Replies
      1. re: Bob Dobalina

        I'm unfamiliar with any place matching this description, but am certainly curious as to whether or not it exists.

        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          What old time donut shop? What was it near? I would love a good donut shop in this area.

          1. re: Kat

            Sorry, the place I am thinking of must not be in Littleton - maybe further up the road on 119.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Are you thinking of Donut Shack in Lowell, maybe? That's on 3A.


              1. re: FinnFPM

                Found it - I was headed in the right direction...

                Gourmet Donuts in Townsend.

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  Hey, thanks! Great to know there is something good out that way!

        2. Probably Carlisle, because other than the sandwich place in the center, there aren't any places for food (except for seasonal ice cream). Dover is pretty bad as well. Actually, does Dover even have a place to eat?

          2 Replies
          1. re: hiddenboston

            The irony behind the discussion of Carlisle, Westford, etc.... is that while there isn't a restaurant scene to speak of, the abundance of local farms can make it a fabulous area for food from the perspective of someone who cooks at home. And it's easy enough to get to Cambridge for a night out. (In the case of Carlisle, there is talk of a buyer for the dilapidated property next to Fern's trying to put a restaurant in it's former barn space, so someday we might get an option other than weird pizza, sandwiches and ice cream.)

            1. re: hiddenboston

              Supposedly! Dover does look like a good suggestion though.



              We all love really good hole-in-the-wall joints, but I'm often just as curious about the really bad or just totally unheard of ones, and I feel like there are probably restaurants or food-service places in these towns that are barely even discoverable on the internet. These places are a big part of the region's food culture and I'm a little bit fascinated by them. They tell stories about how people around here eat: someone, after all, supports these places and keeps them in business. They're just the voices we tend never to hear from.

            2. Charlestown, which is really inexcusable given it is in the city. Unless you want to eat at the new Olives, otherwise known as Even Worse Olives, it is a wasteland. Which is strange because there are so many yuppies there who want to pay for restaurants.

              14 Replies
              1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                Everyone I know who lives in Charleston says they love it, and then say they love it subject to this substantial exception.

                1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                  My brother lived in Charlestown and I always found both the Warren Tavern and Figs solid, especially compared to some of the places in these other suburbs.

                  At the same time, with Kendall Square exploding, most of my Charlestown friends don't mind that there isn't much.

                  1. re: Klunco

                    Interesting. What do you mean by your last paragraph?

                    1. re: drbangha

                      Sorry for the confusion. I meant that with all the restaurants opening in Kendall/Area 4 my friends don't mind driving 5 minutes for a whole host of food options. Even though it's a different town it's probably a shorter drive than driving from one side of a suburb to another.

                      1. re: Klunco

                        This is precisely why no place on the subway can really qualify for this discussion. It is the great equalizer.

                        1. re: FinnFPM

                          I think it is just a different question. People who live in the city (many don't have cars) expect to be able to walk to things (let's say 10 min walk) the same way people in the suburbs expect to be able to drive to things close to them (again maybe 10 min drive is what I thought was "nearby" when living in the burbs). Most of Charlestown is not actually close to the T and cabs are not nearly as prevelant as downtown, only great option is to walk back over the bridge and into the North End.

                          1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                            Paolo's Trattoria in Charlestown is pretty good, but admittedly I haven't been there in a while. How's Tangier? Most of the places in Charlestown are clustered by down by City Square, the rest of the Town is pretty devoid of restaurants. You'd think there would be more, spread out elsewhere. One explanation -- although there are a lot of "yuppies/toonies" there, there is still a very large portion of the population living in subsidized housing and projects.

                  2. re: ScotchandSirloin

                    Navy Yard Bistro and Tavern at the End of the World both do what they do very well.

                    1. re: phatchris

                      Google does confirm that Tavern at the End of the World is Charlestown but that's a tough walk from the rest of the neighborhood.

                      I went to Tangierino for RW a few years ago, it was pretty good and has a cool hookah bar downstairs. Doesn't ever get mentioned here for some reason or other.

                      1. re: Beachowolfe

                        I found Tangierino mediocre and overpriced. Good North African food is one of the things I miss most about France. For my North African cravings, I prefer Café Baraka. That said, besides Tangierino I don't think there are any other Moroccan restaurants in Boston, so they have that going for them.

                        1. re: Klunco

                          I couldn't tell you what I ate but I remember being happy (maybe it was a rack of lamb?). Also didn't pay $35 for my main course because it was RW, that may have affected my perception.

                          However, it's the only Moroccan restaurant i've ever been to so it may be completely off-the-mark inefficient.

                          How would you feel if the price range there was $18-26 instead of $31-44. ($44! ouch)

                          1. re: Beachowolfe

                            think I was looking for "unauthentic" not sure how "inefficient" came out. Wish I could blame that on auto correct.

                            1. re: Beachowolfe

                              No worries, I get what you're saying. I just looked at the menu and it seems they have changed directions since I last went. Whereas before they were more traditional Moroccan now they are Moroccan/"Chop House" It almost seems like they're going for a sort of Moroccan Oleana by way of a steak house type deal. I can't judge the new menu since I haven't been and I wouldn't say the new menu draws me in.

                              As far as more traditional Moroccan food, I'd say that $18-26 would be more in line with what I would hope prices would be. That said, there are a lot of variables that go along with prices so it may be a bit moot to throw out those kind of arbitrary numbers. I will say this though, you can eat very well at a number of Moroccan restaurants in the Philadelphia or DC areas for that price. Personally, I think charging $28 for a classic Couscous is setting a pretty high bar.

                        2. re: Beachowolfe

                          The staff at Tavern at the end of the world told me the name is from the fact that they are just a few feet away from the somerville line on that side of the street. I think most people think it's in Somerville and that part of western Charlestown is so at the "edge" if not the "end" that it might as well not be in Charlestown at all.

                      1. re: Trumpetguy

                        I see a few places on Yelp: Anita Marie's, Little Bangkok, Bella's, Mike's Pizzeria...

                        no good?

                        1. re: FinnFPM

                          Have not been inspired to try those... Mike's doesn't look good...Bella's looks like its for blue hairs, but I know some people liked it, years back... Thai food, I love, but am picky and don't enjoy sweet, americanized Thai food.

                        2. re: Trumpetguy

                          Rockland is bar pizza country, so there are some options for those of us who like to clog our arteries and mess up our livers at the same time.

                            1. re: Trumpetguy

                              Players and Bella's are two that come to mind, and O'Hurley's, I think? These are all second-hand, as I've never been to them, but I've heard people rave about Bella's pizza.

                              1. re: hiddenboston

                                Wow--I live across the street from O'Hurleys, except it's now called Rock Vegas :0- Never tried any of those--Players? Wow! Never thought to set foot in that place :) I am skeptical :)

                                1. re: Trumpetguy

                                  Maybe we should all do a Chow crawl to these places. :-)

                                  1. re: hiddenboston

                                    Those places in Rockland are another reason I'm interested in this topic: to learn about the places that Hounds live right near and have either a) have never tried or b) eat frequently at out of quiet, shamed convenience. What's a restaurant lover do when he's not at a place he loves?

                                    We all live near more nondescript/bad places than good, because there quite simply are many more nondescript/bad places than good. It's one thing to have a certain kind of relationship with a "destination" restaurant we travel to, but our relationships with the 99%, so to speak, are much more varied and oftentimes more interesting.

                              2. re: hiddenboston

                                Westford boasts the excellent Bamboo, as well as the very luscious Westford Deli (called Metropolitan Deli also). But it's a locals-only kind of place. Also, Pauls' Diner is very good (en route to Carlisle, in fact!). Also in Westford is Kimball Farm, with yummy fried seafood and ice cream.

                                1. re: Swankalicious

                                  I've heard good things about Belle's Bistro in Westford, just haven't gotten there yet.

                                  1. re: justbeingpolite

                                    I had also heard very good things about Belle's, but was underwhelmed during our one visit. I do like Karma in Westford. Their sushi chefs turn out some pretty good stuff, especially the salmon ceviche.

                              3. re: Trumpetguy

                                It's been awhile but the bar pizzas at Bella's were always good. I do miss Not Just Seafood though. So, guess you're right. Sorry , just for clarification I meant to link this to the Rockland post.