tommy’s three: iconic food of Concord

February 28, 2021

For a small town, Concord has a strong food scene. It wasn’t always that way, but in the past five years things have really come together. There are plenty of options for great eating today, but if you are just in town for a little while, here are the three most iconic dishes our town has to offer. I have had each of these three many times, but for your sake, I tackled each one again over the past four days. Oh the things I do for my readers!

Tuna Taco at Karma

Although this dish didn’t start out in Concord, it is one of the best things you can eat in town. Karma came to Concord at the end of 2017, a cooler upgrade on its original locations in Westford and Andover. Taking over the former location of La Provence, a small French bakery and cafe, Karma transformed the space into a modern pan-Asian restaurant with great food, cocktails, and decor. There is plenty to try at Karma but start with the tuna taco, which isn’t a taco at all!

Tuna taco starts out as diced raw tuna on top spicy mayo with thinly sliced scallion, sesame seed, and roe. Your server will mix it all together and spoon it over fresh fried wonton crisps. (Currently, they can’t work table-side, so you get to do the stirring and the spooning.) It’s more like nachos than tacos, but that’s not really important. It’s a creative twist on the spicy tuna roll and the perfect start to your meal. To really make the most of the experience, wash it down with their signature mai tai, maybe as iconic as the tuna!

Phil’s Phabulous at The Concord Cheese Shop

The Concord Cheese Shop is a food mecca, drawing visitors from everywhere because of their incredible selection of cheeses. Maybe the most exciting of those is Crucolo, celebrated annually with a parade where a giant wheel of Crucolo is pulled down the street by a horse drawn carriage then cut up and shared with the crowd. They also have a nice collection of packaged food and wine from around the world, but to try their iconic sandwich go to back and find the deli.

On Thursdays and Saturdays, if you get there in time, you can get the infinitely layered special called Phil’s Phabulous, a sandwich so famous it has its own t-shirt. The bread differs but the center remains the same. It’s just about every charcuterie meat you can think of piled high with cheese, red pepper, pickles, and balsamic vinegar. It is the undisputed king of Italian sandwiches and a can’t miss if you come to town. If it’s a beautiful day, grab some chips, a drink, and a chocolate chip cookie, and take your Phil’s over to Minute Man National Park and enjoy it picnic style!

Thoreau Burger at 80 Thoreau

Located in the Concord Depot, 80 Thoreau brought fine dining to Concord. With new American cuisine as good as you will find in Boston, they serve beautiful food in an equally beautiful setting. Their cocktail program is outstanding and their wine list is the best in Concord. Their menu changes often but if gnocchi is available, it’s always worth getting. Their soups are also delicious. Their tomato soup is the best I have ever had.

For a more casual experience grab a seat at the bar and order the Thoreau Burger. The beef is rich and decadent, averaging twenty to twenty-five percent fat. Served on a brioche bun, it comes topped with cheddar cheese and Thoreau sauce, a mayonnaise-mustard blend with a slight spicy kick. You also get a small pot of spectacular picked vegetables and their own french fries. This burger is the best way to experience 80 Thoreau without committing to a multi course dinner. The best place to enjoy the burger is at one of the two small bistro tables located in the alcove. Not only can you enjoy this iconic burger, but you get a great view of everyone coming and going!

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