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Chow Finds in Arlington?

After almost 15 years on this side of the river (Brookline, Brighton, Newton, etc.) my dining partner for life and I are moving to Arlington Center. We've eaten "recreationally" in Cambridge a bunch...but it's a whole other thing when you live in a neighborhood.

What should be our 'go to' take out places? Russo's will feel too far away to drop in for cheap/excellent produce...is Whole Foods in Fresh Pond our only option? Where do we go for that Sunday cup of coffee? And what about an after work pint or drink?

So, if any CH'ers have suggestions on Arlington for eats, drinks and neighborhood hang outs...I'd appreciate them.

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  1. Hi mbasnack, welcome to the nabe! You will see linked up on the right some relevant older threads that you may find helpful.

    For produce, nothing beats Russo's but Wilson Farms off Mass Ave in east Lexington is handy and good. Their produce is better IMO than WF's and prices are better. Items other than produce (and some bakery and flowers) can be very high. In the summer they have a lot of their own produce. Also in the summer, the Arlington Farmers Market (Wednesday afternoons in the parking lot in the Center) is excellent.

    Arlington was more or less dry until fairly recently. There are still no package stores and no free-standing bars. You can only order a drink if you order food in a restaurant.

    From the Center some good takeout bets are pizza from Sabatino's, eggplant parm and homemade pasta from Francesca's Kitchen (but IMO nothing else from there), Indian from Punjab or from a new place I have not tried but a trusted poster here recommends, Punjabi Tadka. Not tried it for takeout, but Pasha (Turkish) in the Center is good. There is a new Chinese restaurant right acress the Lexington line on Mass Ave called Taipei Gourmet that I have been to maybe 6 or 7 times and liked a lot although I have stuck pretty much to the giant bowls of noodle soup. No idea what their standard American Chinese dishes might be like. It is rumored that a new dumpling place is going into Arlington Heights Village.

    Also in AHV there is the Meat House, which has good to excellent meat and will order you absolutely anything with notice. Hmm, this is turning into stream of consciousness babble, think I will stop.

    9 Replies
    1. re: GretchenS

      Great suggestions all around - I'll provide shoutouts for:

      1. Toraya - consisently great Japanese including sushi - yes, you wait for a table but never too long, and takeout can be a challenge during peak hours (up to 90 minutes or just not available), but it is that good and the prices are fair. They have beer, wine, and sake here.

      2. Blue Ribbon - about as good as BBQ will get in New England - pork ribs only, nice chickens, but brisket and cornbread (unless you prefer the cakey type) are their Achilles heels for me

      3. The bar at Tryst - nice folks work here, the menu is tasty, it has an energetic vibe and occasionally I am stunned by a really well made, really large cocktail (e.g., the Manhattan with the homemade cherry garnish) - I don't believe you have to order food with drinks any longer, either (or it just isn't strictly enforced??)

      4. Quebrada - great coffee but no place to linger comfortably, along with delicious cakes and cookies, and pretty good baked breads / croissants.

      5. Lakota - amazing cookies, unfortunately they are usually accompanied by inattentive to surly service for me

      6. Ditto on Wilson Farms - with it and Trader Joe's, our trips to other groceries are once a month or less - and FYI, Whole Foods is coming to the old Foodmaster on Mass Ave if Medford, Woburn, and Fresh Pond are too far afield.

      7. A bit upscale, but Flora has impressed me with its bar menu options, brunch, and cocktail offerings on recent visits. It does seem to be crowded in the bar - often.

      6. Za is nice and low key with many local ingredients in their pizzas and interesting wines and beer selections

      Finally, there are now at least two modest package store options in Arlington now - Menotomy on Broadway and Giles on Mass Ave (Berman's just across the line in Lexington is really nice but selection is small) - real depth in spirits selections without placing special orders means a trip to Fresh Pond for Cambridge Wine and Spirits, Waltham for Gordon's, or Brighton for Martignetti

      1. re: rlh

        Great additions and clarifications from rlh. How could I have overlooked Toraya and Za? And apparently changes in the Arlington liquor laws?

      2. re: GretchenS

        We have (or will soon have) 5 package stores - Menotomy Beer Wine, Giles (East Arlington), that place over by Scutra that's open late, the new one by Stop and Shop, and finally the Meat House.

        I see a lot of posters have given the tops in Arlington - but the location also allows you to hit:

        Il Casale - Belmont
        Rancatores (ice cream) - Belmont
        Bob's Italian Foods (Medford)
        Tenoch (Medford Sq)
        Chilli Garden (Medford Sq.)
        Ebisuya Japanese Market (Medford Sq.)
        Golden Garden (Belmont, Concord Ave)
        L'Impasto and Qingdao Garden (North Cambridge)

        Lots of nearby deliciousness.. Cya at the Steer House!

        BTW - did anyone mention the fried seafood platters at Fresh Pond Seafood?

        1. re: grant.cook

          I've been meaning to ask about Fresh Pond Seafood. Wolfs in Coolidge Corner used to me my go to for fresh fish when I lived in Brookline...I've heard FPS is great...

          1. re: mbasnack

            Its a good place for fish, although they don't seem to have a ton of variety if you were looking for something beyond the normal salmon/sword/haddock type of stuff - I think the fish counter at WF in Fresh Pond is more expansive.

            1. re: grant.cook

              Yah, but Fresh Pond Seafood is WAY Fresher. I've gotten bad fish on more then one occasion at WF and that would NEVER happen at Fresh Pond!

            2. re: mbasnack

              I would add to this that Fresh Pond Seafood has excellent and inexpensive lunch specials. Fried Clams (with bellies), fries and a cup of terrific chowder (fish, clam or lobster bisque) for 12.99 and really good fish and chips for 9.99. I find their fresh fish to be excellent but pricey and much better than what i remember from Wulfs. Also they sometimes have bags of frozen haddock pieces (3lb for $7), which are great even for non chowder use.

              1. re: gourmaniac

                WAY better than Wulf's, which also suffers from freshness issues at times.

            3. re: grant.cook

              You can park at Alewife and take the red line into Porter Square, Harvard Square, and Central Square if parking is a problem. Or you could bike in.

              You are not far from Porter Square that has a lot of interesting places including a new Ramen joint.

              Harvard Square has Rialto, Harvest, and a number of pretty good places. It is a great place to get coffee and hang out.

              Central Square has Rendezvous and Craigie and Thelonius Monk Fish.

              While it is not convenient, I love New Deal for seafood; it is located in East Cambridge.

          2. This thread on Arlington is still mostly relevant and pretty thorough: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/814654

            1. A few places that are within easy reach:

              Little Q Hot Pot (Mass Ave., Arlington)
              Menotomy Wines (Broadway, Arlington)
              Zocalo (Mexican, Broadway, Arlington)
              Iggy's Factory Store (Cambridge, close to Alewife)
              Golden Garden, Belmont (You will have to learn the roads that cross over Rt. 2 - master them and you will get access to Russo's rather quickly).

              Luckily, (north) Cambridge and Somerville are just a stone's throw.

              1. Does anyone know anything about Tango? We have some consultants here this week that are staying near Arlignton and where asking about it. I have never heard of them and the yelp reviews are pretty mixed. The searches on here seem to referance them but the only real review I found was a couple years old.

                They were heading there tonight and I wndered if if there were better off going to a few places on this thread...

                4 Replies
                1. re: foodieX2

                  I went for the first time a month ago and was pleasantly surprised. The empanadas were awesome and my steak (Churrasco) was really really good. I will definitely come back when I next feel like eating a pound of meat.

                  1. re: dfan

                    The mixed grill at Tango made me very happy - AND I took home leftovers, which I hardly ever do. (Not because I'm wasteful, but because I'm a Clean Plate Ranger from way back...)

                    As I recall, it had beef (flank or skirt steak, I think); chicken breast; a white sausage, a (phenomenonally rich, meltingly tender, still-haunts-my-dreams-tasty) black sausage, and a chorizo-ish one; perfectly cooked sweetbreads, chicken livers, and kidneys. (Next time I might try to skip the kidneys if it means I can double up on anything else - they were well prepared and everything, it's just personal taste.)

                    Friendly & knowledgeable waitstaff, pretty room.

                    1. re: Bob Geary

                      they went last night and had a great time. Loved the food (beef beef and more beef!) and said the service was very friendly.

                  2. re: foodieX2

                    I will also add that Tango has a good wine list and competent wine service (the waiter was aware of the proper serving temp for red wine and offered to chill down the too warm bottle).

                  3. I would add Kathmandu Spice to the other suggestions offered here.

                    1 Reply