As dinner time approached, I looked out the window of my downtown condo and began to get both anxious and excited—oh the world of possibilities! What will it be…
African, Brazilian, Cambodian….
As I completed this column the night before our annual St Patrick’s Day traditions, my mouth salivated for the native dishes from some of our city’s earliest immigrants—The corned beef n cabbage “boiled dinner”—they joke that water is the Irish’s favorite spice, but also, we added some whiskey and secret ingredients; and the shepard’s pie and those golden beer battered fish n chips!
I was not sure if I would partake at my own restaurant—quality control doncha’ know—or venture to the many other locations around the city indulging their Irish heritage perhaps. Let the rainbow show me the way!
Irish, Greek, Mexican….
With the seemingly endless options on any given night, one might think that I still lived in New York City’s East Village. Once upon a part-time that was true but now, well; There’s a lot to like about Lowell!
American, Portuguese, Colombian….
If I consider a one-mile radius from our front door—the estimated distance I have walked to dinner on past occasions, there are no less than three dozen internationally inspired destination opportunities for which to engage my fork, spoon or chopsticks! (When I drive, the options within just 2-3 additional miles easily double).
Indian, Argentinian, Egyptian…
The decision most often comes down to whether I’m staying onsite
(while also seeking drinks, service and atmosphere)
or taking my treasures home. I calculate and ponder; Am I in the mood for spicy, or rice’y, soupy or Udupi!
Korean, Kenyan, Caribbean, or Cajun…
I could tell you my favorites, after some careful consideration, but what good would that do as tomorrow they will most assuredly be different! Adventures await! Some days are easier than others—where I clearly know in advance that this day I will be adding too much Sriracha to my Pho (and then complain to myself), “Whoa!, that’s spicy!” –while those slurping rice noodles splash-spot my shirt! Nothing that a little spot-Shout can’t handle!
Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian…
Other days, I’ll do the mental gymnastics between curry, empanadas, pernil, and bibimbad!
French, Italian, Dominican, Puerto Rican…
Coq au vin, chivo, asopao.
ramen, gyro, bhan hoi and bhan mi!
When I first moved from New York to Lowell over three decades ago—and opened our first restaurant thereafter, I embraced the ‘immigrant city’ status of my new home while secretly bemoaning the actually limited cultural and culinary representation throughout those once cobblestoned streets.
I took comfort in thinking; “It will happen someday…”
“Back in the day” Cobblestones menu included items like Chicken Satay to our mostly American ‘steak and seafood’ menu in an attempt to culturally represent, a foreshadow of what was to come—maybe in some small way we could help pave the way…
Although almost unimaginable now, we struggled back then to sell our Mid-eastern inspired Hummus Platter! (It was called “Mediterranean-ish”)
Bao, tostones, acai, pad thai, taramosolata….
Now, three daughters, three restaurants and an empty nest later, with my urbanite dwelling roots-status finally taking hold, the Lowell landscape has evolved beyond any comprehension we could have had back when a blended combination of chick peas, garlic, lemon and sesame was considered ‘exotic.’ The result is nothing short of delicious, inspirational and fulfilling.
Slainte, salud and cheers!
See below for my Top 10 ‘walk to’ options!
Tacos and a late-night show! El Jefe
Chef’s Short Rib Pho w/ an Italian option! Sizzling Kitchen
Taramosalata, Spanikopita, Baklava, Opa! The Olympia
Beers and the other best burger in town! Warp and Weft
Curry in a hurry?! Food Shines
The best frickin’ ribs and chicken! Mill City Barbecue
I get Thai w a ‘lil help from my friends Viet Thai
Kenya Dig It? Wham’s Cafe
Some eggs, pancakes and coffee Dave! Club Diner
Fish and Chips and a side of great Craic! Old Court Pub
Oh, and also:
Athenian Corner Greek, Mandarin Sushi, Ramen 1981, IV Seasons Portuguese, Holly (Cajun) Crab, The Purple Carrot for amazing fresh bread, Olympus Bakery for incredible patries and giant sandwiches, Life Alive for the original, incredible organic and vegetarian, “feel good” options, and so much more!