Fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables fill the shelves of Weepin Willies, a local market that stocks produce and meats at two locations. Shoppers can find high quality cuts of beef, chicken, and pork, or opt for Boar’s Head meats and cheeses and prepared soups, salads, and sandwiches from the deli.
Although it may have fallen out of Top 40 rotation in the 70 years since it was sung by a burger-shop owner’s barbershop quartet, the song “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along)” lives on in the legacy of a Seattle-based burger joint. The Red Robin franchise has spread its wings far and wide, now serving locations throughout North America with sustainably grown, environmentally conscious burgers and sides that marry classic American flavors with savory twists such as onion straws or bruschetta. Most of the shop’s fire-grilled burgers, chicken sandwiches, and entrees come with a side of bottomless steak fries, allowing patrons to soak up the juicy Whiskey River barbecue sauce, melted blue cheese, and edible fedoras that top the menu’s varied eats. The staff are happy to help patrons pair their sandwiches with one of the full bar’s microbrews or specialty mixed drinks, keeping glasses filled while athletic superstars battle it out on the eatery's big-screen TVs.
Brick walls and wooden ceiling planks reflect a warm earthen red in the glow of old-fashioned street lamps at Northworks Bar & Grille, which is entering its 34th year of business. A carousel-style painted horse hangs from one of the exposed rafters as if in homage to the bar's offerings of free popcorn at each table. The menu catalogs such whimsical combinations as lobster mac and cheese, plus stuffed sandwiches and half-pound burgers––ordering 40 and stuffing them in a pillowcase can render 20-lb dumbbells unnecessary. The chef further demonstrates skills by preparing fresh salmon and scallop entrees, as wells as the N.Y. sirloin steak drenched in the house's classic Jack Daniels sauce. The team also curates a gluten-free menu, which offers thin-crust pizzas and Redbridge beer, or the paperless menu, which was covertly drawn on the server's forehead as he slept.
Made up of a team of culinary creatives, Niche Hospitality Group has carved out four hubs of gourmet extravagance in the greater Worcester area. Yet apart from belonging to the same parent umbrella, the restaurants show few commonalities. Each outpost champions its own distinctive vibe and cuisine, from Spanish tapas and modern Mexican dishes to classic American seafood and pizzas.
At Bocado, chefs showcase imported Spanish meats and cheeses in 40 hot and cold tapas, which favor complex flavor pairings such as bacon-wrapped scallops with white-truffle honey. Wines from an exclusively Spanish list and in-house sangria complement the small bites. While guests delve into the signature paella, they lounge amid rustic brick walls, curvy leather upholstery, and lighting as sultry and alluring as a chocolate sculpture of Marilyn Monroe.
The Citizen Wine Bar / The People's Kitchen / Still & Stir
The Citizen Wine Bar introduces newcomers to the finer things in life. There, a vast selection of wine, cheese, and chocolate combine and intermingle to awaken taste buds and deepen appreciation. In the same building, The People’s Kitchen anchors that triumvirate with a menu of house-butchered and dry-aged steaks, and Still & Stir’s mixologists invite visitors to wind down with old-fashioned cocktails served until 2 a.m.
Mezcal Tequila Cantina
Chefs at Mezcal don’t shy away from bold flavors. To wit: they whip up six globally inspired varieties of guacamole by hand, and toss southwestern shrimp scampi with tequila-butter sauce and pickled jalapeño. Dishes from Mexico and the southwestern United States combine with a checklist of aged tequilas to fuel long conversations and marathon sessions of Truth or Dare.
Rye & Thyme American Tavern
Situated in the 120-year-old historic Wood Block Building, Rye and Thyme has all the trappings of a classic American tavern. It’s a fitting locale for devouring wood-fired steaks, pizzas, and seafood, whose smoky flavors stand up to the bourbons and ryes that dominate the drinks menu.
Thin slices of tuna curl up around a prawn, while, on a neighboring plate, folded ribbons of salmon and shredded ginger resemble newly bloomed flowers. Style counts at Haiku Sushi, where the chefs turn dishes into ornate edible arrangements. Though nigiri, sashimi, and maki selections crown the menu, the chefs also apply their culinary prowess to steak, lamb, and poultry.
At the raw bar inside Canal Bar and Grille, chefs shuck fresh oysters for diners to slurp raw or devour on the half shell. Gumbo simmers in the kitchen, and filets of Mississippi River catfish crackle in the fryer. Live bands frequently play on a stage flanked by exposed brick walls while visitors sip their drinks.