Insider’s Food Guide

While this Guide does not profile every eatery in Concord, Massachusetts, it does contains detailed, accurate and regularly updated information on the restaurants and bakeries in Town that provide something special in their category. It may be cuisine that rivals any metropolitan area or the highest standard in baking artistry or perhaps it’s an establishment that creates an atmosphere unique to Concord. In all cases I’ve attempted to choose businesses that consistently show very good service and appropriate prices to the quality of fare they provide.

BEST CUISINE

The Concord Cheese Shop
29 Walden Street, Concord, MA. 978-369-5778
If you are visiting the area you need to drop in on this delightful Cheese Shop. Authentic to the core the owners and staff are so knowledgeable. Matching cheese to wine is an art for them. They also have a food preparation area in the back of the store where you can get some of the most scrumptious sandwiches and entrees. There is some very limited seating but you go here for the first rate food quality and the experience. Wander around, take it all in and you are sure to enjoy! Featuring: The Friday Night Gourmet Dinner Club $70 Dinner for Two Take home a three course gourmet meal, including wine, and relax in the comfort of your own home or hotel suite! Note: You have to put your order in by Wednesday each week for pick-up Friday after 4:00.

La Provence ***Winner Best of Boston 2008***
105 Thoreau St, Concord, MA 01742. (978) 371-7428
If your looking for true french cuisine this is the place. The Chef who is from France makes exceptional authentic dishes for catering but also to enjoy in their casual cafe setting. In fact, the cafe itself is so casual and the shopping area that surrounds it so unremarkable, it remains a well-kept secret of Concordians. Try the Bouillabaisse – delicious! Check Out Below Profile on La Provence:
Farfalle Italian Market, High Praise Around Town Concord Journal.
Farfalle has gotten high praise from locals all around the area, the quality and offering of wine and food receiving great marks consistently. I have not personally had an opportunity to visit yet, but suggest you give it a try. They are known for being truly authentic and well-loved because they are independently owned.

Twin Seafood
2 Church Street, Concord, MA 01742. Tel. 978-371-9030
This restaurant/market resides in West Concord taking Route 62 out of Concord Center toward Maynard. This is all about the seafood. Ambiance or an affected manner of any kind is not what you will find here. What you will find are the kindest most jovial guys you have run into in a long time and they grew up in the fish business. This is yet another family run Concord business, proud of its tradition and contribution to the community. You will not find fresher, more delicious fish and their variety I believe is hard to beat. The locals swear by this place. But if you’re visiting and looking for a delicious lunch or early, very low key dinner go here. The Grilled Salmon will not be surpassed in any of the better known Seafood spots in greater Boston. Their are maybe four small square tables and likely a Sox game on the T.V. Not fancy, but the real deal and you are guaranteed to leave in a good mood.

Vincenzo’s, West Concord, MA
Vincenzo’s is in the unassuming West Concord Plaza. When you enter the restaurant though, it is full of color and vibrancy courtesy of a Wall sized Replica of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. I mean wall sized quite literally as the mural covers every inch of the restaurant interior walls. The food is delicious italian fare, I have always found the service to be excellent and its a nice chance to come out for a casual dinner with or without children and enjoy food a cut above.

BEST ATMOSPHERE

The Colonial Inn

48 Monument Sq, Concord, MA. 978-369-2373
If you’ve come to Concord to experience the history and charm of this unique town there is no better place to go that the Colonial Inn. The character of the place sets the tone and you feel the genteel setting bring you back to a time before email, iPods and Blackberrys. I bring my girls here to commemorate special moments in their lives. If you’re traveling with a family and it’s a Tuesday night, by all means enjoy the restaurant. Kids under 12 eat free on Tuesday evenings and believe me it is a real treat for parent and child alike. Finally, don’t miss the Colonial Inn’s Sunday brunch. A wonderfully fresh selection of seasonal produce and fish are used for many of the special dishes presented along side traditional favorites.


“Diner For a Day” at the Colonial Inn on NECN

Main Streets Cafe and Market
42 Main Street, Concord, MA. Toll Free(866) 413-3981
A landmark building in the heart of Concord Center this family run business is four generations strong. Presently, they are a lovely place to go for coffee and a chat with friends, lunch or most recently a delicious dinner. Live musicians play on scheduled evenings where a full dinner in an intimate setting is served. This is one of the very few places in Concord that also has a full compliment Bar in the evening. Main Streets Cafe is in a prime location for people watching and soaking up the history of Concord all while enjoying a good meal. Side-note: If you’re in town for the day and looking for a lunch spot, try to go before noon or after 1:00 as this will be the best time to soak in the surroundings and relax.

BEST FAMILY SIT-DOWN

Helen’s Cafe

15 Main Street, Concord, MA 01742. 978-369-9885
There is one place in town that was a mainstay of my youth and now my children’s, Helen’s (formerly Brigham’s). It is a family run business, as so many still are in Concord, MA. The family has owned the building for many years operating a food shop, later to become Brigham’s. In this century, the third generation, in honor of their grandmother, reestablished the family restaurant naming it Helen’s. They continue to sell Brigham’s ice cream, but have a really nice mix on their menu of hot dog, hamburg fare as well as more inspired, creative sandwiches and other offerings. Very cool interior. Still family oriented but with a nouveau decor twist. My girls love it! A treat after a day at school is going to Helen’s. The current generation and the staff in general, are so nice. Really… just the best, neighborhood, welcoming feel to local and tourist alike. (Excerpt from June 12th blog post “Helen’s Cafe Main Street”)

Addendum 2/26/08: In keeping with the theme of more inspired offerings, a new special on Helen’s menu is the Grilled Turkey and Tortellini Salad. While the kids are having their usual fare it is refreshing to have a place where you can enjoy something different. First, this salad is a meal – grilled, marinated turkey alongside tri-colored tortellini, fresh peppers, onions, tomatoes and lettuce. It is an unusual, delicious and satisfying alternative. The turkey is a really flavorful healthy alternative to a marinated steak tip combination and so much more inviting than the standard and sometimes prepackaged grilled chicken strips you find elsewhere. Highly recommend!

99 Restaurant

18 Commonwealth Ave, Concord, MA 01742. 978-369-0300
I hesitate to write about a chain restaurant as chains and malls are two things I try to avoid. However, I’ll make an exception for the 99 Restaurant in West Concord. This place has become such a part of the West Concord landscape that you are likely to see many of the same faces week in and week out. It really is a warm, inviting atmosphere. Great for families, couples or a single diner. The food is satisfying and the renovation it recently underwent was done with care enough to keep its character a solid fit with the village feel of West Concord. Plenty of seating here but, I warn it is a popular place. If you are thinking of dinner call ahead!

Club Car Cafe
20 Commonwealth Avenue, Concord, MA. 508-371-9282
If you are looking for a traditional American breakfast, Club Car is the place to go. Housed in the West Concord Train Station it is a no frills restaurant with a few fun surprises. For young children especially it is a treat to sit down at one of the large tables and look up at the electric trains that run on a track secured near the ceiling. It circles in a broad loop above the eating area itself. If that isn’t enough the real trains pull into the station at regular intervals and can be seen right out the window. If you are in the mood for bacon and eggs, pancakes or fresh baked muffins this is a fun excursion and a great value too.

BEST HOMEMADE
Sally Ann’s Food Shop
73 Main St, Concord, MA. (978) 369-4558
It is very low key and also truly authentic. A real bakery that does its baking on premises each morning and throughout the day. Nothing is shipped in from “gourmet or specialty” bakery outlets around the area. Their breads are amazing as well as pastries. There is just a small table and two chairs inside. However, outside is a wooden bench, great people watching spot in the heart of Concord especially this time of year. Finally, the owner/baker is a very nice gentleman and his style and talent sets the tone for the place. If you’re in Town, stop in for a cup of coffee and muffin or fresh bread you won’t be sorry! My 6 year old daughter Emily says of the place “Oh mummy, it’s so cozy and happy and its smells yummy too!!!” Can’t ask for a better review than that. (Preceding is an excerpt from my May 8, 2007 Blog entry) 3/7/08 update: If you are looking for potentially the best sandwich in town you must go to Sally Ann’s. While I knew their baked goods were unmatched I did not know how deliciously inventive the sandwiches were. If you like a bit of kick, the curried tuna on cracked wheat bread will be just what you need. Absolutely delicious mix of curry, tuna and chopped celery served on “fresh from the morning’s oven” cracked wheat bread.

Country Kitchen
181 Sudbury Rd Concord MA, (978) 371-0181
Country Kitchen is one of those places you wouldn’t know about if you weren’t a local. But if you are browsing the Depot District of Concord Center I strongly suggest walking just over the train tracks for a snack at the Country Kitchen. It is housed in an adorable antique clapboard building, almost gives the impression of a lifesize dollhouse. This charming and cozy place is operated by two women who have set the welcoming tone for years. While there is not much by way of seating you will be rewarded by the absolutely delicious fresh baked goods and outstanding sandwiches available. One of my favorites is a tuna on fresh wheat bread with bits of green apple chopped in along with some other hints of flavor I can’t put my finger on but whole heartedly recommend.

Concord Tea Cakes
59 Commonwealth Avenue Concord, MA. 978.369.7644
Concord Tea Cakes of West Concord already has a national reputation through its amazing scones with clotted cream. Tea Cakes is at the heart of West Concord just prior to the railroad crossing that leads into West Concord Village. The staff is welcoming it has the instant feel of a gathering place. Excellent coffee and plenty of muffins, sandwiches and cakes to enjoy it with. A unique and always delicious place to stop for a bite if you are in town. (For further information refer to August 7th Blog entry).

TOP PICKS BEYOND CONCORD……

Gibbet Hill Grill, Groton, MA

Nashoba Valley Winery – J’s Restaurant