By far, Jack's Abby Beer Hall & Kitchen in Framingham is our favorite place to go out with friends. The place is always boasting with life, which creates a perfect backdrop to our rowdy friends and their kids. In addition to phenomenal lagers, wood-fired pizza, and many delicious dishes, what makes it a true fun experience is sharing the communal table with other patrons of the 5,000-square-foot beer garden. It is loud, down-to-earth, hearty, and fun.
Our most recent visit to Jack's Abby was for my husbands birthday (pictures below). We were able to reserve a couple of tables and had lots of space for our party, while still being a part of the overall crowd. We ordered many flights of beers, wanting to try every one of the 24 lagers on the menu. We enjoyed the Wood Fired Wings ($10), the New England Charcuterie ($16), House Meatballs ($10), Four Cheese Baked Mac & Cheese ($10), Springdale Pearly Wit Mussels ($14), and of course, pizza!
I had lots of fun at the grand opening party of Mexicali Mexican Grill in Natick. What's not to love: live mariachi, a delicious Rosarita margarita, and a free sampler platter with guacamole fresco, queso dip, chips, salsa, and beans. After munching on these treats, I was too full to order an entree and opted for dessert instead. Sopapillas - warm pastries dusted with cinnamon sugar – were perfect.
I have it on good authority that the food at Mexicali it "the real deal", i.e., just like abuela's. I have also heard from friends in Natick that Mexicali serves killer margaritas. I can attest! I'm already planning my next visit!
I have finally made it to the dining room of Natick's trendiest new restaurant, Buttercup. I have been dying to go there ever since the town began buzzing about a kickstarter campaign to help the owners, Dora Tavel-Sanchez Luz and Gabriel Sanchez, realize their vision of a charming farm-to-table restaurant to Natick center.
The campaign was quite successful, with close to 300 contributors helping meet and exceed the fundraising goal. Since the restaurant opened in June 2018, it has become a destination for folks craving a top-notch culinary experience.
For three long months I've been passing the restaurant every day on the way from work (it is always jam-packed!) wishing I'd had it together to plan ahead and make a reservation. Finally the stars aligned (i.e., my husband and I finally went on a date) and I was able to experience Buttercup first-hand. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! It is a true gem not to be missed, a foodie-heaven, and an elegant yet warm and inviting place for a romantic dinner. Natick's gorgeous scarlet sky at sunset provides a perfect backdrop and a finishing touch to the outstanding experience.
We enjoyed a colorful peach and heirloom tomato appetizer (the burrata melts in your mouth), a heavenly salmon with sun-kissed local vegetables, delicious fish tacos (zesty and crunchy), and the best peach and apple crisp ice-cream pie I've ever tasted. I had a spicy Paloma and my husband enjoyed the rose cider.
Vegetables for the delicious dishes come from local farms, e.g. the Natick Community Organic Farm, as well as from Dora and Gabrielle's three-quarter acre farm in Framingham.
My friends and I had brunch at The Cottage in Wellesley recently. We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and a large menu selection. In addition to the eggs (fried, baked, poached - they have them all), there are ricotta pancakes and French toast with bourbon pecan caramel sauce. Burgers, tacos, salads and even soup are also on the menu for those not digging breakfast food for lunch.
The Cottage also has a delightful list of cocktails, bellinis and mimosas, though we were unable to enjoy them (they don't serve alcohol before noon on Sundays). We settled for a refreshing "spa drink", pictured above.
The Charles River Coffee House is a cozy cafe with great breakfast baked goods and sandwiches. It is located on Eliot Street in South Natick, across the street from Bacon Free Library and the South Natick Dam Park.
On the menu you will find bagels, muffins, scones and danishes for breakfast and sandwiches, salads, soups, and stew for lunch. Beverages include hot and iced coffee and espresso drinks, teas, smoothies, and fresh squeezed lemonade. With your coffee you could have a macaroon, a brownie or cookie, a biscotti or even a cupcakes, because why not!
I discovered a cool place to eat at the Natick Mall recently: Wasabi Modern Japanese Cuisine. They have a great concept: the food comes to you on little dishes and you pick what you want off the conveyor belt. The restaurant uses color-coded plates, which I highly recommend paying attention to. Everything looks so tasty, it may be hard to stop oneself from reaching for more and more.
The place was full of customers on a Wednesday night. We showed up at 7 p.m. and grabbed the last booth (though there was plenty of seats by the bar).
We had Baja Tuna Roll ($6), Kazuyo Roll ($6), Spider Roll ($5), Dragon Roll ($6), and a Japanese snack ($3.50). Everything was super fresh and flavorful, Wasabi did not disappoint. All in all, a lovely food oasis in the middle of the mall.
When Sheldon Strasnick, the owner of Muffin House Cafe in Medway and Mendon, announced on Facebook that he was opening a third location, fans from all over the state hoped the popular cafe will come to their town. "Come to Franklin!', "Please be Ashland!", "Come to Norton!" read some of the over 80 comments. Well, we are quite pleased that Sheldon chose Natick.
The Muffin House Cafe is a family-owned business, known for their breakfast foods, sandwiches, good coffee, and custom-made cakes. The Natick location is somewhat different, in that it only serves bakery items and coffee. It is small and cozy, and while it is able to sit a few people, it is an "on-the-go" kind of a place.
The menu features an assortment of bagels, an endless list of muffins, cookies and pastries, cakes, cake pops, challah bread, hot and iced coffee and, delightfully, a full espresso bar. Their coffee is roasted locally and includes over 30 flavors (no syrups added).
My daughter and I paid a visit on a weekend when Muffin House Cafe first opened. Bright and early, the place already had a line of customers. I enjoyed a freshly-baked blueberry scone and a lovely latte. My 3 year old enjoyed a gingerbread Winnie-the-Poo, naturally.
The Muffin House Cafe in Natick is located at 325 North Main Street and is open daily from 6 to 2. Come check it out! Let me know in the comments which muffin is your favorite.
Eli's is a beloved breakfast spot in Natick center. Since its opening in 2017, Eli's has consistently received rave reviews from the locals. If you want to see for yourself just how popular they are, show up there at 7 am on a Saturday and you will see the place already busy with customers.
I've been to Eli's with my family a handful of times and the food has always been great. Chocolate chip pancakes ($8.99), Truffle Shuffle omelet (roasted mushrooms and red peppers, $10.99), and eggs Benedict ($9.99) are our go-to comfort foods. My daughter also really enjoyed their strawberry milk ($2.75).
Here are some photos from my most recent visit to Eli's. This time I asked the staff to recommend their most popular breakfast, which turned out to be the Island Breakfast (over-easy eggs and avocado on Portuguese sweet muffin, served with Siracha, $8.99). We also ordered Chrissa Belle (smoked salmon, cream cheese, everything bagel, $10.99), and cinnamon swirl French toast ($8.99). Everything was delicious.
I have not yet been to Eli's for lunch, but have heard that the following are big hits: Patty melt (grilled cheese with caramelized onions; $9.99), crispy roasted Brussels sprouts ($5.99), loaded tots (Pico de Gallo, bacon, siracha mayo, $7.99), Miss Piggy burger (BBQ pulled pork, $11.99), Ma’s tuna melt ($8.99), and truffle fries ($5.99). Sweet potato fries that come with the burgers are also a must.
Have you eaten at Eli's? Tell me what you thought!
My daughter and I now have a favorite place to go after her swimming class: The Dapper Doughnut in Natick Mall is awesome on so many levels. First of all, mommy can get her coffee. Second, the “cake style” doughnuts are small enough to enjoy guilt-free (they are also a perfect size for a toddler). Third, the doughnuts you get are hot and fresh, because they are made right in front of you. Finally, the whole experience is fun, as you get to design your own doughnut from 24 flavorful toppings.
We went to their grand opening party and got spoiled with free doughnuts. Here are some pictures of these beauties. Scroll down for the menu with prices, if that's your thing. Enjoy!
Cai (Cayden) Zhang is the general manager at Dapper Doughnut Natick. In addition to launching a doughnut franchise, he is also about to become a dad! Way to keep yourself busy, man! Cai will soon need that coffee I mentioned.
With 24 toppings, combinations are nearly endless, people.
The Dapper Doughnut gets their green coffee beans from Africa, Central and South America, and Indonesia and roasts them in Las Vegas. According to them, because the beans are roasted in small batches, their coffee is not acidic or bitter and does not have a charred flavor often found in mass produced coffee.
Again, the size of these doughnuts is waistline-friendly.
Here's how it works and how much it will cost you.
The Dapper Doughnut is located in the food court of the mall (1245 Worcester Street Natick, MA 01760). They are open Monday - Saturday 10 am to 9 pm and Sundays 11 to 6.
Went there? Let us know if you liked it.
I am fortunate to have wonderful friends who came out to celebrate my birthday at Blue Dalia last weekend. We were lucky to have a reservation - the lobby was already packed when we showed up at 5 pm on a Saturday. We were seated at a family-style long table in the back of the restaurant - a perfect spot for a dinner filled with conversations and laughter.
Drinks arrived quickly and were amazing. My favorite was Honey & Spice Margarita (Casa Noble Crystal Tequila, Cointreau, house made spicy honey, and fresh lime juice, $12.50).
The restaurant's designer Mark Knauer created a beautiful space, contrasting dark furniture with colorful artwork and lots of natural light. Culinary director renowned Chef Roberto Santibañez developed a fabulous menu consisting of a modern take on dishes from all over Mexico.
An added benefit of coming as a large group is that we got to sample quite a few dishes and drinks. Below are some highlights - enjoy!