What’s your local fave place to eat?

What’s your local fave place to eat?

New York foodie Ed Levine was just waxing poetic about local faves, those places you go for authentic local food and he highlights a candidate in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, called Oxford Creamery.

Meanwhile, last night I watched the latest episode of Alton Brown’s show “Feasting on Asphalt 2: The River Run,” in which he stopped at a local roadhouse in Illinois for some ridiculously inexpensive, high quality food.

That got me to thinking about my local faves, although I think I need to define what that is. Launching from Levine’s springboard, I will advance the completely arbitrary definition of a local fave as a local place that serves good, home-style food at a low cost and where you’ll find primarily local folks being served by a (generally) happy and welcoming staff. Even better if it’s not a place that’s ever been written up in a bestselling book about food and restaurants, featured in a magazine’s “best-of”, or lauded in a TV show.

The no-chains rule eliminates the first one that comes to mind for me: Kelly’s Roast Beef. Kelly’s is a Boston tradition, starting with a single outlet on Revere Beach, selling, well, roast beef, but ironically more famous for the fried clams. But over the past decade or so, they’ve opened up several quite slick locations around Boston, so I have to eliminate them from my list.

On the other hand, the Clam Box in Ipswich would qualify, except I’m pretty sure they’ve been featured in plenty of best-of books and magazines. Likewise for Woodman’s in Essex. No, I think I have to get even more local.

And I think I need to add another qualification and this is bound to be controversial: a local fave needs to serve more than one meal, and perhaps must serve breakfast. Arbitrary, maybe, but I think that it’s a sign that the establishment is truly a part of the local fabric because it meets a variety of needs.

So who does make the list? In Salem, I think Red’s fits the bill. Yes, yes, I know, Red’s has won “Best of Boston” and similar awards on a consistent basis, but you have to go there to see why it must be included. The place opens at an ungodly hour, like 5 am or something, to serve early rising workers or outdoorsmen. It has counter service. The menu is a slice of Americana, serving all the comfort food you can imagine and nothing exotic. While tourists come in, it’s a place that locals frequent. And it’s been there forever.

Moving outside of Salem, I would also nominate Chute’s in Windham, Maine. My mom and my sister live in Windham and whenever we’re up there, we stop at Chute’s after Sunday Mass. It’s a small, local place with friendly waitresses who call you hon’ and serve fresh-baked muffins and pies and you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. And it’s not going to be featured in any travel magazines.

So am I off-base? Should the definition of “local fave” be expanded? Am I being too picky and parochial? What’s your local fave?

  • Angie D’s on road 160 at Oxford, Ks. Open all day except Sunday. Owned and operated by locals. Very great menu for all three meals. Population 1,ooo+.

  • My local faves are Carbone’s in Hopkinton and Kennedy’s in Marlborough.

    I think you are being slightly too narrow.  I agree it needs to be mostly local people who go there, but I disagree because I think that it can have been written up.  You have written up your local faves right now.

  • OK, local rural (now almost suburban) fave:  The Agawam Dinerhttp://www.roadsidefans.com/agawam.jpg & http://www.nshoremag.com/town-style/rowley-behind-the-counter.html, with its 100% stainless steel exterior, at the intersection of US1 and MA133 in Rowley.  Site of Music Videos, and a great place for frappe, burger, and fries at 1:30am. 

    Here’s the Elvis Costello “throw-back” video, you can get a little feel for the place:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esTuz55bQe0

  • Okay, I have to put in a plug for the Spot in Sidney—that’s Sidney, Ohio, right up along I-75. I’ve only eaten there a couple times, but it’s good stuff. Ohio food, you know—meat and potatoes. And they have breakfast. Definitely a local hangout. During the big ice storm a couple of years back the Spot was packed—not so much because people couldn’t eat at home—although quite a few lost power—but more because the Spot is the place where you go to discuss the weather.

    Sorry for all the em dashes, I’m writing this quick. Oh, and the Spot might have been on TV once—the president ate there in 2004, and it still serves Bushburgers and Presidential Platters. But it’s not a touristy kind of place.

  • So the place on Feasting on Asphalt 2 is Fast Eddie’s Bon Aire. It’s in Alton, Illinois, which is a suburb of St. Louis. Since I live in another St. Louis suburb, Valley Park, I’d say yessiree to Fast Eddies…along with Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, which was featured on Feasting on Asphalt 1 and maybe Hodak’s, a fried chicken place not far from Ted Drewes.

  • The Pleasant Cafe in Roslindale – it’s been there forever and the decor hasn’t changed since Day One, I think. It’s very cool and feels like a local place in the sense that the waitresses all look like someone’s mom or aunt. The Pleasant’s best stuff is the Italian dishes and pizza – it was originally an Italian family that owned the place.

    My parents first became friendly while they were out one night after work at the Pleasant with a group of co-workers, so “the Plez” played a role in my existence I guess you could say! Another reason for me to love the place smile

  • Also – it’s not a place to eat, as far as I know, but Harbor Sweets in Salem makes some pretty amazing chocolates. I know about Harbor Sweets because alot of my patients get them from visitors. Their “Sweet Sloops” are my favorite!