French Restaurants in Massachusetts

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One might not expect an immigrant with no formal education to name his family business after Yale University. But that's just what Steve Sheinkopf's grandfather did in 1923, and the pluckiness of the name was a harbinger of the company's ability to thrive against all odds. Over the course of almost 90 years, Yale Appliance & Lighting weathered the Great Depression and other economic crises, yet Sheinkopf's grandfather kept the business going and even made enough to help his four brothers emigrate to America. In 1984, when the landlord sold the Portland Street building that had housed Yale for 30 years, Sheinkopf helped his father measure a space on Freeport Street on the coldest day of that year. They've been there ever since.

What keeps the company going is a refusal to rest on its laurels and an almost obsessive commitment to customer satisfaction. On any given weekday, you'll find Sheinkopf blogging exhaustive side-by-side comparisons of a variety of his merchandise. The now 25,000-square-foot store houses more than 3,500 lights and thousands of appliances and plumbing products, and its delivery and service departments have grown to include 112 experienced employees and a fleet of 25 heavy-duty vehicles and industrial-size Tonka trucks.

The family legacy continues to flourish. Yale Appliance & Lighting’s kitchen appliances have made the megastore a multiyear winner of Boston magazine’s Best of Boston awards. As reported in the Boston Business Journal, Yale earned a Green Award from Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the city of Boston in 2007 for promoting energy-efficient appliances with education and in-store rebates. That same year, the Journal named Yale Appliance & Lighting one of the best places to work in Boston, which may be partly due to the frequent in-store cooking demos performed by regional chefs.

296 Freeport St.
Dorchester,
MA
US

The flat-screen televisions and long wooden bar at Freeport Tavern might mark it as just another pub, but the wood-fired grill in the kitchen tells a different story. With it, chefs bake Italian-style thin-crust pizzas or sear smoky flavor into marinated choice-certified Angus beef steak tips. They also grill burger patties, fish filets, and chunks of New England lobster, then stuff them into sandwiches served with hand-cut fries. They pair their pastiche of New England eats with a constant stream of entertainment, whether it’s the latest local NBA and NHL action on the TVs, trivia on Tuesday nights, or performances by DJs and live musicians held Wednesday through Saturday nights. As soon as the DJ packs up on Sundays, the tireless chefs begin whipping up the brunch buffet, complete with a salad and dessert bar and omelette station.

780 William T Morrissey Blvd
Dorchester,
MA
US

Drawing its name from the Roman goddess of the harvest, Ceres Bistro incorporates seasonal and locally sourced ingredients into its menu of contemporary, casual fine-dining cuisine. These local ingredients complement the slightly elevated versions of American staples—including brined pork chops and grits with aged cheddar—but the chefs also add international flair by introducing distinctive flavors such as wasabi oil or imported spaghetti. To help accommodate specialized diets, the chefs even prepare gluten-free menus and entire entrees without carbon. The wine list embraces a similar worldliness, featuring aromatic whites and robust reds from Europe, South America, and Australia, as well as a selection of domestic producers.

Echoing this commitment to tradition as well as modernity, the bistro uses antique accents to add character to its contemporary smattering of dark wooden tables and floor-to-ceiling windows. Reclaimed oak wainscoting lines the executive boardroom, original Vanity Fair prints from the 1800s adorn the bar-and-lounge-area's walls, and the 90-seat dining room lies beneath a stained-glass ceiling dome that dates back more than 100 years.

"We go to auctions, and we always walk away with enormous pieces. We’re not into collecting teacups,” co-owner Janet Birbara told Westchester Living in 2010.

363 Plantation St
Worcester,
MA
US

Life Alive

If you stumble over a few of the ingredients in Life Alive’s signature Goddess bowl, don’t worry—you’re not the only one. That’s why the restaurant’s website keeps a glossary of its menu’s potentially baffling ingredients and their health benefits. The Ginger Nama Shoyu sauce, for example, may seem outlandish to Americans but “the Champagne of Soy Sauce” shouldn’t be. It’s 100% organic and non-GMO, ages for four years in cedar kegs with less salt than traditional soy sauce, and is completely raw. Ginger adds an extra dose of healing, since it naturally eases digestive issues and nausea, as well as ulcers and inflammation. In this particular dish, the potent sauce flavors a medley of carrots, beets, broccoli, dark greens, tofu, and short-grain brown rice—a nutritional powerhouse all on its own. The Goddess bowl epitomizes Life Alive’s approach to vegan food: it should be organic, whole, and therapeutic, and use ingredients that come from local farms. And, it should meet these requirements without sacrificing flavor or convenience. In addition to nourishing the body, Life Alive believes that cuisine should also benefit the environment and the community. That’s why the restaurant sources its ingredients sustainably, recycles and composts scraps, and uses biodegradable packaging and cleaning materials formulated without chemicals or bacon.

194 Middle St
Lowell,
MA
US

No matter what country her family was living in at the time, Longteine ?Nyep? De Monteiro?the wife of a Cambodian diplomat?always heard the same thing when she served dinner at one of her lavish parties: ?This is so good! You should open a restaurant!? It wasn't until the rise of the Khmer Rouge forced Longteine and her family to relocate to America that she began to seriously entertain the idea. Longteine finally opened The Elephant Walk in 1991, where she filled the menu with a m?lange of her favorite Cambodian and French recipes.

Since then, Longteine?s daughter Nasda and her son-in-law Gerard Lopez helped her expand The Elephant Walk to three locations. All three Elephant Walks separate their kitchens into French and Cambodian preparation lines, each staffed with chefs adept at both traditional and contemporary dishes. Each dish makes meticulous use of flavorful, wholesome ingredients such as ripe plum tomatoes, fresh tuna, Vermont goat cheese, and organic tofu. The Elephant Walk also serves up a host of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free variants.

The Elephant Walk loves to feed the mind as much as the mouth. During its regularly scheduled Cafe Science series, Brandeis professors deliver compelling lectures on a variety of topics from the Large Hadron Collider to explaining why science alone cannot turn water into chocolate milk. The restaurant has since given upwards of $200,000 to local, national, and international nonprofit organizations fighting poverty.

2067 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge,
MA
US

At Fruitzzy, customers create their own icy treats using as many flavors of frozen yogurt and toppings as they can fit into a cup. The shop rotates its approximately 80 yogurt flavors on a daily basis and stocks more than 40 edible adornments, including fruits, candies, and nuts. To appease as a wide a customer base as possible, the treat haven offers only certified gluten-free flavors and a range of nonfat options. In addition to free WiFi, Fruitzzy offers complimentary valet parking on Fridays and Saturdays, bypassing the need to find a spot or replace the ejector seat before going in.

36 Hathaway Rd.
New Bedford,
MA
US