Hidden (And Not So Hidden) Gems of Worcester
Friday, April 11, 2014
An Urban Oasis
Worcester is successfully transforming itself into a progressive and vibrant city with a proud past and interesting mix of old and new. Merging the heart of a small town with the diversity and resources of a thriving urban center, Worcester has a lot to offer. As Worcester continues to revitalize its business district, one of my favorite hidden gems provides three good reasons to head downtown at the end of the day.
One Exchange Place on Commercial Street, adjacent to the DCU Center, boasts three notable establishments and a treat for every palate. Deliciously creative, The People’s Kitchen is known for its artisanal menu and honest-to-goodness dishes. The Citizen Wine Bar offers an extensive wine and cocktail list along with a colorful and cozy space perfect for both quiet conversations or socializing at the bar. Cigar Masters Worcester brings back the elegance and ambience of old-time men’s clubs with deep leather chairs and dark wood. This urban oasis in the heart of downtown offers a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Known for the creativity of its offerings and a constantly changing menu, The People’s Kitchen specializes in hand crafted artisanal products prepared by their chefs for the good people of Worcester. The restaurant imports the finest cheeses and meats from across the globe while locally sourcing as many items as possible. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets are accommodated with panache. Sophisticated but never stuffy, The People’s Kitchen is a foodie’s delight set in a comfortable and modern setting.
Casual al fresco dining can be found in the atrium, where a retractable roof keeps things cool in summer and hot all winter. It is a superb venue for private parties. In addition to street parking, valet parking is offered on busy nights and two parking garages and parking lots are close by. With three fantastic establishments sharing the same address, One Exchange Place is one of downtown Worcester’s true gems.
Hours of Operation
The Citizen Wine Bar
Food: Mon-Thurs 4:30 – 10:00 Fri-Sat 4:30 - Midnight Sun 4:30 – 9:00
Wine & Cocktails: Seven Days a Week 4:30pm – 2am
The People's Kitchen
Wed-Thurs 4:30 – 10:00 Fri-Sat 4:30 – 11:00
Cigar Masters Worcester
Every Day from 12:30pm – 2am
Susan D. Wagner is president of Susan Wagner PR, a boutique public relations firm invested in meeting client's goals with integrity, creativity and results. She is also executive managing partner of The Boston Ad Agency. An award-winning public relations consultant, Susan brings over 25 years of results-driven experience as a PR practitioner, writer, web specialist, and strategist for a variety of clients of all sizes. She specializes in event promotion, website and brand development, placement of client commentary and products across all media and consulting to develop signature fundraising events and non-profit initiatives.
Related Slideshow: 13 Biggest Food Stories in 2013
13. Best Pizza
Everyone loves pizza, and Massachusetts has some of the best around. Where to find the best pizza, however, depends on who you ask...
According to Zagat, Massachusetts' best pizza comes from the North End of Boston; the Giambotta at Regina Pizza.
Another publication, The Daily Meal, released a list of the 101 Best Pizzas in America for 2013. On their list, 12 pies came from New England, with 6 coming from the Bay State.
12. Best Restaurant
Worcester's EVO received three awards in 2013 for Best Chef, Albert Maykel, Best Organic & Vegan Food, and has kept its title as Worcester’s Best Overall Restaurant for the second year in a row.
The family-owned restaurant is run by siblings Albert Maykel III and Celeste Maykel Zack, and also received a Central MA Family Business Award from the Worcester Business Journal.
11. Best Burger in MA
The third week in October was Burger Week at Zagat, and in honor of the legendary sandwich, they released their list of "50 States, 50 Burgers"; naming an "official" burger for each state.
Their pick from Massachusetts came from Cambridge, at Craigie on Main. According to Zagat:
"The relatively simple grass-fed beef patties are sandwiched between a homemade bun topped with sesame seeds. But in staying true to the restaurant’s elegant aesthetic, he dresses the burger with mace ketchup in lieu of Heinz."
10. Not For Wine Drinkers
Massachusetts was one of the worst-ranked states in the country for wine lovers in 2013, according to a report from The American Wine Consumer Coalition in Washington, DC.
While Massachusetts wine drinkers may love their local vineyards and wine shops, it turns out that Massachusetts pulled a failing grade - an 'F' - and ranked #44 overall, based on how friendly its wine laws are for consumers.
9. MA State Sandwich
August was National Sandwich month, and in its honor, Zagat named Fluffernutter as the Bay State's official state sandwich.
The peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich has been a lunchtime staple in Massachusetts since the invention of "fluff" in Somerville in 1917.
8. Michael Covino
When it comes to restaurants in Worcester, one name stands out above the rest; Michael Covino, President and CEO of Niche Hospitality Group.
This hospitality entrepreneur is one of the minds behind the revitalization of the Worcester dining scene. His restaurants include: Bocado, Worcester's first authentic Spanish Tapas and Wine Bar; Mezcal, the southwestern/Mexican destination that first opened on Shrewsbury Street and has since added a new location in Leominster; The Citizen at One Exchange Place, a significant addition to Worcester's changing downtown landscape; The People's Kitchen, located above The Citizen and featuring a "home cooked meal" approach; and Rye & Thyme, an American tavern in Leominster.
7. Cupcakes for a Cause
After the tragic bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April, most of New England (and much of America) sought a way to help... and one Millbury woman found her own way to pitch in.
With a goal of raising $1,000 by selling cupcakes, Anne King of Queens Cups Bakery was able to raise $2,350 in four days; giving $1,000 to the One Fund Boston, and the other $1,350 to Technology Underwriting Greater Good (TUGG).
6. Alina Eisenhauer
To those with a sweet tooth in Worcester, they know the place to go is Sweet, the dessert bar created by Alina Eisenhauer. Alina has established herself as one of the biggest names in pastry in America after being part of several Food Network productions; Chopped, Cupcake Wars, as well as winning their Sweet Genius competition in 2011.
2013 was a big year for Alina. She expanded her business at a new location, and saw her invention, the cronut (she called them Dosants) explode, and she sat down with GoLocal's Susan Wagner in December. Read their conversation here.
5. NE Best Food Towns
In September, GoLocal created its first ever rankings of the Best Food Towns in New England.
Here was our methodology:
GoLocal's researchers sought to quantify the essences of a truly great food town by capturing several key factors about it: its top restaurants and its culinary lifestyle.
To assess its concentration of top restaurants, researchers utilized a set of awards and ratings: AAA's Diamond rating system and Mobil/Forbes' Startle Star rating system formed the basis for the pool. Restaurants that rated 4 or 5 diamonds/stars in the last 4 years were collected and filed by their location. From there, researchers logged every James Beard Foundation award winner for the last 4 years as well as the 2013 semi-finalists and applied those restaurants to the base of cities of towns.
4. #4 Ice Cream State
Bay Staters love their ice cream, in fact, more all but two other states (plus District of Columbia). The website Bundle assessed ice cream consumption per capita based on credit card transactions at ice cream and frozen yogurt vendors.
For GoLocal's list of great Central Massachusetts ice cream and froyo spots, click here.
3. Worcester's Best Pizza
The best thing about pizza places is that no two are the same. But that also makes it hard to narrow down which spots are best to grab a great pie or slice. So luckily, GoLocal's Emily Davies put out her list of the best pizza joints in Worcester this February.
Do we leave out your personal favorite? Let us know about it!
2. The Cronut War
Cronuts? Or Dosants?
Whatever you choose to call them, they are delicious. But these tasty doughnut/croissant hybrids brought Worcester into the spotlight in 2013 over who made them first -- and GoLocal was there to get the scoop.
New Yorkers were flocking to a SoHo bakery owned by Dominique Ansel to get their hands on his new creation, the Cronut. However, Worcester's Alina Eisenhauer had been making the same pastry for years, though she called them Dosants.
1. Health Code Violations
GoLocal's biggest food story in 2013 was not necessarily a positive one. GoLocal went through all of Worcester's restaurant health inspections and organized a list of the dining establishments with the most health code violations.
GoLocal created an proprietary interactive map that shows the health inspection records for all of Worcester's nearly 700 restaurants. Be sure to check this out before selecting your next spot for a meal.
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- Interactive: Every Restaurant In Worcester’s Health Inspections
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- Worcester Restaurant Week Kicks Off Feb. 25th
- 50 Restaurants with Worst Health Code Scores in Worcester
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- Central MA Up + Comer: Olga Kwasniewski, Restaurant Owner + Model
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- Newport Manners + Etiquette: Restaurant Etiquette + More