We are returning to that area for a few days October 5-7 to “walk down memory lane” for our 43rd wedding anniversary. We lived in Acton/Harvard from 1979-1999. We live on outer Cape Cod, now. We’re looking for advise for several days of lunch and dinner options. Open to almost any cuisine except fish & chips!!
Acton, Concord, Littleton, Westford, Groton, Chelmsford, Bolton… etc…we’ve been back to the area sporadically - usually to stop in Lancaster to stock up on turkey potpies at Bob’s Turkey Farm for our freezer (which we plan on doing on our way back to the Cape!). Idylewilde Farms is also on our itinerary. We started shopping there when it was a small unheated farm stand…I’m sad Joyce Chen has closed their retail store. Is there still an Asian grocery in Littleton?
A long time ago my mom was born and raised in Harvard MA and then moved to Groton where I was raised. Not much remains that i remember except Kimballs in Westford which is a very different then it was when we would have a Sunday night dinner of ice cream sundaes.
We aslo had ice cream often at Stones in Harvard and sometimes soft serve in Littleton at the little motel by San-Vel where my dad worked. And celebrated Mother’s Day and milestone birthdays at the Olde Oaken Bucket in Chelsmsford, now a 99 Restaurant I believe.
Not very helpful I know but I would recommend the Bamboo in Wesford for lunch if the buffet is still available. It has been a while but was pretty good last I was there. A Sushi bar as well.
There is a British foods mail order fulfillment center in Westford that has a store front with some very interesting items.
I can say with some certainty that Johnson’s Drive in is still open and doing well.
Gibbet HIll Grill in Groton is worth a trip and I have not been but the Groton Inn has re-opened and gets good reviews. Have a great visit!
Thank you so much! We remember the Olde Oaken Bucket. Will check out your links. When we moved from Harvard, I was working in Fitchburg and my husband near Hanscom AFB in Bedford. Harvard was dry, devoid of much of any dining options so we seldom ate out when we lived in the area. We were thrilled, however, when the Yangtze River opened a second restaurant in Littleton because we used to eat at their place in Lexington when we first moved to Acton. But they’ve devolved and I don’t even think they are in business now.
My sister’s 60th birthday luncheon in July with her in-law family and me was at Fiorella’s Cucina in Concord. Parking behind the restaurant which helps, because Concord sucks for trying to find street parking during mealtime. although a sunny Saturday afternoon is probably the worse time.
I had the goat cheese and glazed walnut mesclun salad with lemony vinaigrette and shrimp scampi. Others had Lemon Chicken, Chicken Marsala and Veal Parm, from what I remember. Generous portions, nothing overly imaginative but good Italian food. Our server was amazing, ensuring the young kids had things to do and their pizza were brought quickly.
I’m not sure the Yangtze is there, and there was a very nice french spot across from them for a long time but I believe that is gone as well.
I would like to say Harvard has come into this century but I’m not certain that is true.
Let us know what you find in your travels.
there’s an older thread here with a bunch of good recs for the Szechuan side of the menu at Spicepepper Garden in Acton from Striperguy, whose advice is always reliable. My co-worker lives there too and gives the place high marks as well.
+1 for Spicepepper Garden. Really good, authentic SiChuan flavor, though not overbearingly spicy (though I’m probably not the best person to ask in that respect). If SiChuan cookery is of any interest, this is a terrific option to have at hand.
For interesting and spicy in that area there’s the Westford location of Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Café, a local Shaanxi chain with many fans on this board. I’m especially fond of the #4 hand-pulled noodles, which feature lots of garlic as well as spice, and the #10 dumpling soup. Come cooler weather that’ll be back in our rotation for sure.
We are doing just that in September!
If you are looking for a different coast line head north to Kittery Point in Maine and have some ramen at Anju Noodle Bar.
If thats too far, Tasty Dumpling in Lowell is a great spot too, very nice hand made soup dumplings among other things.
+1 on Tasty Dumplings in Lowell, if you are in need of a dumpling fix.
Also on the dumpling theme I’ll also +1 on the Hot Sour Dumpling Soup at Gene’s Cafe in Westford. My husband and I split an order because each contains about a dozen pork dumplings. If you decide to try the hand pulled noodles at Gene’s, know that they pack a delicious garlicky punch that stays with you. (Or with me, anyway.) Note that Gene’s is open only from Weds.-Sun.
On a related note, there’s an Asian market in the buildout phase, Acton Asian Market, where Willow Books used to be (275 Great Road). Hoping this store might finally be open by the time of your visit.
Some other ideas: Rapscallion Table & Tap in Acton is a gastropub with outdoor seating. Though we haven’t been since the pandemic, I pass by and that lawn looks like an inviting place to grab a beer.
A couple places in Chelmsford that we frequent: Cafe Twelve, which is an owner-staffed breakfast and lunch place in the center. Takeout is best at the moment because the place is tiny. Any egg sandwich with an iced coffee? My day is made!
Max & Leo’s pizza in Chelmsford Center, across from the library, offers basic outdoor seating and thin-crust pizza with a pleasant char. We hit up this place for a pizza and draft beer dinner when we need to get out of the house. I pretend that I’m in a neighborhood osteria on an Italian street somewhere because, imagination. Hours limited; see website.
ETA: How could I forget ice cream? Kimball Farms in either Littleton or Carlisle. We frequent the Carlisle location nowadays because it’s less people-y. Depending on the timing of your trip you may be able to catch them before they close for the season. Their gingersnap molasses flavor is a must for me in the fall.
More ETA: Holi in Bedford Center is worth considering if you need some Indian food in your life. Not a destination-type place but very consistent. We order online for pickup. Every order has been packed with great care.
We’ve been returning to a few reliable favorites at Holi over and over. Our move is to order enough food for two meals. We’ve made our own rut, um, routine there.
We share Aloo Tikki Chaat as a starter. Our go-to main is Keema Mutter. We get two different types of naan: garlic (for now) and butter (for later). Also we get a vegetarian dish but haven’t found the one that we want to order on repeat. Yet.
Holi packs a papadum and three small condiment cups of chutneys with our takeout order too. Nice touch.