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Feeling frustrated by the Arlington-Lexington dining scene

Mr. Swank and I were lamenting today the lack of options in our area.
For Chinese, we shuttle between Golden Garden, TaiPei Gourmet, and Sichuan's Dumpling. Lately, each place has been very off. Had ma po tofu that resembled chicken noodle soup at TG, and had a truly horrific rendition of Kung Pao Shrimp at GG (should have stuck to their specials). The shrimp were tiny and tinny.

Toraya is great for sushi, if you can manage to snag a seat. Forget takeout; it's an hour wait no matter what day you call.

Would love to see a taqueria in the area. Ixtapa is dreadful. La Posada is cute and homey, but very hit or miss. Zocalo's menu hasn't changed in about eight years.

Blue Ribbon seems to have taken a dive in quality. Retro Burger is mediocre (and portions are very small -- noted in another thread). Madrona Tree is PRICY, and their burgers are miniscule as well. Plus, no seating.

Sabzi is excellent, though it's so quiet...doesn't feel like an "experience" dining there when it's just you and the wall.

Menotomy Tavern - only had lunch here, and it was the very definition of ordinary. I had a seared tuna sandwich served on a charred, blackened bun.

Used to love Tom Yum Koong III, but they suddenly shuttered. Sweet Chili is fine but nothing mind-blowing.

Acitron "Bistro" is lovely if you want to pay $25 for two enchiladas artfully drizzled with sour cream.

Punjab is our go-to for Indian; the other Indian spot across the way on Mass seems to serve everything in puree form.

Lexx is dull. Vinebrook Tavern is noisy and average. Yangtze River is oily.

Pizza? Nothing we've truly enjoyed since Nicola shuttered.

Thanks for letting me vent. If I am missing a gem, kindly steer me there, else I shall go hungry and make my own nachos.

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    1. We keep a supply of Tango's beef empanadas in the freezer ; very handy. What about that hot pot place in Arl?
      Winch. is too far? I was told the chef of A Tavola is very talented (not the owner, the chef) but haven't tried it. Stone Hearth Belmont or Winch. is too far?

      1. It is actually a very interesting problem, why Arlington does not support a good restaurant scene. I think part of it is demographics, part history...I would guess the largest reason is that Arlington is mostly families who don't go out often enough, or if the parents do, they go into Boston.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          I would respectfully disagree. I live in Arlington and enjoy trying different restaurants in town, as do others. For a town its size, Arlington actually has a decent, diverse restaurant scene - as a friend noted, in the 80s you couldn't get much more beyond pizza in Arlington. In recent years there have been more young professionals moving in, and that's helped counter the "townie" harrumphing you're politely alluding to.

          1. re: Aristonice

            I don't think anyone would say Arlington hasn't been getting better over the years. But it doesn't have quite the level of draw of some other towns surrounding Metro Boston, it seems.. love to be able to pick up Biryani Park and Muqueca and Sapporo Ramen, and a Bahn Mi place from Dot Ave and drop them in Arlington Center..

            1. re: Aristonice

              What harrumphing? :) I agree, the dining scene has improved and is somewhat diverse, but lately I've noticed standbys taking nosedives while newer places are somewhat ho-hum. A great taqueria, someplace besides Toraya for sushi, and a decent American spot would be most welcome.

              1. re: Swankalicious

                Swankalicious, I was referring to the "harrumphing" some long-time residents do on the town listserv about the way Arlington has changed. I.e., yuppies who couldn't afford Cambridge (or who wanted to flee Cambridge for the country life) moved into their once-nice town, drove up property taxes, and put in all these fancy restaurants. Sorry I wasn't clearer about that - it wasn't a dig at you :)

          2. There is a subway in Arlington, i hear they are amazingly luscious! ;)

            On another note, i used to work in lexington but it was years ago but more on the bedford side of town. For lunches we would go to Bedford House of Beef for their chicken kabob sandwiches/salads/fried seafood, Luigis, Gourmet Kitchen for their daily roast meals and turkey terrific sandwiches(usually quite a long line at lunch), Yangtzee River (nothing special but their buffet can be ok as far as buffets go, better on sundays for the dimsum buffet-doesnt hold a candle to boston or even woburn/lowell but its something), I actually preferred Peking Garden but they are long gone.. Nourish is dreadful, you couldnt drag me in to eat there again.. I tried TG once and that was enough for me.. Food made us feel ill and just seemed off, room was way too loud.

            1. So I agree with your assessments of all of your regular places. But I really feel like you are leaving out a lot of the good places! How about Little Q? The hotpot is excellent, and their other food is pretty good as well. I find Taipei Gourmet to be very hit or miss, but Formosa Taipei can be pretty darn good and they deliver as well. I like the sushi at Daikanyama. It is definitely NOT traditional nor as good as Toraya and it is expensive, but sometimes it's what I want. I actually prefer their noodle soups over Toraya. Royal India in Lexington is good and they deliver, too. For pizza, I like Andrina's. And if you are in Arlington Joe Pizza in West Medford will deliver to you and they are good. I often really enjoy Tryst, and they are even kid friendly if you go early. It's too expensive for every day, but their shrimp taco app is tasty, I like their kale salad (which you can also order salmon or chicken with), and the burger with truffle fries hits the spot when I am feeling like I want a calorie bomb. My daughter LOVES Thai Moon. I find it a little sweeter than I like my Thai to be, but it's still really tasty. I live in Lexington, and I feel like the dining scene here has improved tons in the last ten years. I also wish we could get a better Mexican place and better pizza-- agree with you there. Not even my kids will abide Ixtapa. And that's saying something.