Five Must Try Ethnic Food Restaurants in the Boston Area


My wife is something of a gormet cook, though not trained as such, she has put a considerable amount of time towards making really good meals.  She has also made a habit of searching out fine eateries in the Boston area.  I really had no appreciation for ethnic foods before her but now, well, I have come to appreciate it greatly.

1.  Cafe Polonia, South Boston — Cafe Polonia is a tiny hole in the wall restaurant on Broadway in South Boston serving Polish cuisine.  At most, this restaurant seats 25 people at one time however, the dining area is immaculate and bright.  Traditional Polish food is based on pork, cabbage, and potatoes.  The center piece of Polish cooking is the pierogi.  A pierogi is basically a pasta shell filled with potato, cheese, fruit, meat, cabbage, etc.  They are first boiled before being pan fried.  In addition to the pierogi is the pork entre’, kielbasa, cabbage soup, and kishka which is also known as blood sausage.  For dessert I highly recommend nalesnik which is the Polish version of the crepe.  Also popular is babka which is a traditional cake.  Prices are extremely reasonable but parking can be difficult as only street parking is available.  Once done with the meal I recommend you cross the street to the Baltic Deli, a favorite destination for Polish people looking to buy traditional foods.  Also offered is the tradition middle-eastern treat baklava.  This is an extremely reasonably priced restaurant, but, like most small restaurants all parking is limited to what can be found on the street.

2.  Kolbeh of Kabob — This is a Persian restaurant located at 1500 Cambridge Street in Cambridge (right across the street from the Cambridge Hospital).  Middle Eastern food is known for its basics, rice, chicken, and beef.  This small restaurant is both attractive and comfortable.  The owner is also one of the servers and is dilligent in conducting her menu.  They make their own pita bread and serve it with hummas, both delicious.  Also offered as appetizers is egg plant and yogurt, each delicious in its own rite.  The main plates are usually skewers of either chicken or beef on a bed of basmati rice.  The rice is adorned with saffron, a unique middle-eastern flavor, and bay berries, raisins, and dates.  The combination is always delicious and brings a flavor to the rice that is delightful.  For dessert you must try the Persian ice cream.  It is simply a saffron based ice cream that is light and delicious.

3.  Ixtapa, Lexington — Ixtapa is a very family friendly Mexican restaurant located at 177 Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington.  This is barely 1/4 mile from Arlington Heights.  While boasting of tradional, and expected, Mexican fare, Ixtapa succeeds where others fail in its constantly excellent taste that is backed up by extremely friendly and fast service.  Any one of their meat dishes is available in a choice of chicken, beef, and pork, and sometimes a combination of all.  I almost always order one of their burritos or chimichangas.  Either of these is offered in at least a half dozen varieties so one never feel confined.  For dessert I recommend the apple burrito.  In the years I have been going to this restaurant I have never had to wait to be seated.  Furthermore, the Ixtapa has a second level that is reserved for larger parties.  The restaurant is fronted by a good size parking lot where parking is seldom a problem.  It is extremely reasonably priced, comfortable, and pleasant in atmosphere.

4.  Tango of Arlington — Tango of Arlington is an Argentinian restaurant at 464 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington center.  Traditional Argentine food is centered around a really good cut of beef.  Chorizo and churassco are two cuts of beef that Americans call steak.  But these cuts are seasoned in a traditional Argentine manner that has to be tasted to be truly understood.  It is without compare!  Either is absolutely one of the best tasting steaks I have ever had anywhere.  Also on the menu are chicken, pork and fish, each equally cooked to perfection.  Even though the restaurant welcomes very casual dress, upon entering you cannot help but wonder that you are not properly dressed.  The feeling that you are in a very classy place is obvious to all.  The owner is always present and constantly checking the quality of the food served and the satisfaction of the customers.  The restaurant is a bit pricey, base meals starting at about $25, but certainly not unreasonable.  Parking is entirely on the street and it being in Arlington center can be problematic.  This city does have, however, a good size parking lot at the rear of the Bank of America which is a very short walk from Tango.

5.  The Aegean Restaurant — The Aegean Restaurant is located at 640 Arsenal Stret in Watertown, across the street from the Arsenal Mall.  The Aegean serves traditional Greek fare.  Traditional Greek food is based in beef, pork, and lamb, and sometimes all three put together.  From the start, with its Greek salad and homemade salad dressing, the Aegean serves really delicious food.  While the kabob is always delicious you can also order cuts of beef, chicken and lamb that are perfectly seasoned.  For dessert Greek baklava is beyond compare and I highly recommend it.  The only downside to the restaurant is its extremely limited on-site parking which means when its full your only alternative is park across the street at the pay garage and recross the busy Arsenal Street to the restaurant.  The Aegean is reasonably priced and worth a visit.

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