Jack's Abby Beer Hall & Kitchen
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!
Mexicali Mexican Grill
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.
The Cottage in Wellesley
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.
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.
Eli's Breakfast, Burgers, & Brews
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!
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!