Its location in the center of the state has earned Worcester the nickname “Heart of Massachusetts.” The city is also home to a variety of intriguing and distinctive sites, landmarks, and restaurants.
You’d assume that being New England’s second-largest city, Worcester would offer a plethora of eating options, and you’d be on point.
But, how do you pare down the restaurant options in this metropolis in the heart of Massachusetts? Some places make it challenging to wrap all their excellent dining options, but I’ve put together the city’s best culinary offerings – and it’s a rather broad selection, from munching on tapas one day to exploring Thai the next.
Enjoy a trip around the world with your taste buds without ever leaving Massachusetts, and try these delicious eateries!
Visiting other destinations in Massachusetts? Check out our other guides:
- The 10 Best Worcester Restaurants
- Wrap Up On The 10 Best Worcester Restaurants
The 10 Best Worcester Restaurants
281 Main St, Worcester // +1 774-420-7107
Deadhorse Hill is a casual upscale dining spot and the expert on classic New England food, located in the historic Bay State House hotel in the heart of downtown Worcester.
This restaurant focuses on scratch cooking and natural ingredients, and the menu tends to vary regularly.
At the raw bar, you’ll find Massachusetts and Maine oysters alongside selected seafood favorites. Or you can choose the “horse feast” and let the chef decide what you’ll eat at the dinner table.
The pork belly with kimchi rice was my show-stopper of the night. The duck and pork entrees were excellent too. It was all washed down by a Deadhorse twist on the Old Fashioned.
82 Winter St // +1 508-797-1011
The second someone mentions Spanish cuisine, everyone has the exact same thing on their mind – tapas! With over forty different tapas, imported meats and cheeses, paella specialties, and an entirely Spanish wine selection, Bocado provides simple, refined food with rustic tables and quiet nooks.
A sangria was the perfect start to my dinner, followed by an array of charcuteries and cheeses. With such an extensive selection of tapas, I struggled before finally deciding on their Pecho de res Cocido. The beef brisket that had been braised for five hours before it arrived on my table was one of the best tapas I have ever tried.
Bocado will wrap you in a warm atmosphere with excellent food, and the kitchen is open till the wee hours of the morning, so you can take your evening slow.
300 Southbridge St // +1 508-753-5600
Miss Worcester Diner, housed in a restored 1940s Worcester diner vehicle, has been a diner symbol for decades. This iconic place is a local favorite when it comes to enjoying breakfast and brunch.
Here’s another cash-only place that provides omelets and French breakfast, as well as burgers and hot dogs, pasta meals, quesadillas, handmade soups, and more. The diner, which is open from 5 am to 2 pm, is based on the belief that breakfast is the essential meal of the day.
Their unique twist on French breakfast recipes, such as a delicious strawberry cheesecake French toast, has made people constantly return for more.
Miss Worcester Diner is probably the one place in the city with endless options for breakfast. They offer over twenty classic and specialty omelets and dozens of options for French toasts and pancakes for those who start their day on a sweet note. So if you are staying in Worcester for a prolonged period, Miss Worcester Diner has you covered for a delicious breakfast.
1160 W Boylston St // +1 508-853-0789
O’Connor’s is a cozy pub with lots of nooks and crannies and substantial dark woods throughout. The place has operated for over thirty years and will immediately charm you with its character.
All the walls inside are covered in posters and artwork that add up to the warm Irish ambiance. Besides the great food, the service I experienced during a busy Saturday night, and midweek, when I returned for the second time, was with the same quality and friendliness.
Now, speaking of the food, the menu had excellent signature salads, burgers, specials, entrees, vegetarian choices, gluten-free menu, and children’s menu. One can have a hard time choosing what not to miss; everything seemed so appealing.
If you plan to visit here during the weekend, that’s your chance to try their Roast Prime Rib Au Jus. I cannot find the words to describe how perfectly executed this piece of heaven was.
And just to make sure I’m not missing anything here, on my second visit I gave their Beef, Mushroom & Guinness Pie a shot. Come hungry for this stew; it is literally to die for. And it all went down well with a Magner’s Irish Cider.
92 Shrewsbury St // +1 508-796-5915
Nuovo, a family-owned restaurant, was recommended to me by a local friend, with an added note that it is among the best Italian places in Worcester.
So my hunt for the top Worcester restaurants got a lot more exciting. I love a simple and classic Italian experience, especially if it is prepared in an authentic restaurant that keeps its menu simple and to the point.
Nuovo disappointed neither my friend nor me. The menu has a selection of hot and cold starters, soups and salads, seafood, and of course, pasta. After the mussels with basil and tomato sauce, I chose to try a pasta option and a meat option. The entree was not heavy at all, but the exact portion to awaken my hunger.
Tortellini con funghi was perfectly nailed, al dente cooked, drizzled with truffle oil, garlic, and red wine sauce. And for the mains, we shared a medium tenderloin of beef served with mushroom risotto.
The owner had personally made sure our experience went top-notch and cared to compliment us with a Tiramisu on the house. And we all know desserts don’t go to the stomach, but to the heart. It was Perfetto!
157 Belmont St // +1 508-798-8898
Although not a vegetarian, I happen to crave non-specific vegetarian food from time to time. This led me to discover Belmont Restaurant, which had me at “Jamaican and Caribbean” with dashes of Indian. The place does not look very fancy on the outside, but that is rarely an indicator of the quality of the food, so I still had my hopes high.
Belmont Vegetarian Restaurant offers endless vegetarian and vegan options, including veggie patties, collard greens, curry sauce, veggie stew, macaroni, and cheese, with everyone here being very friendly.
Tucked in a somewhat sketchy neighborhood, the place is instead a take-out option, the closest to a hearty home-cooked meal you take away from a restaurant. I took my giant sampler meal home and peacefully munched on all the vegetarian goodies.
The Mac’n’Cheese are something I could run to Belmont for every day for the rest of my life. They really know how to make this small place stand out through all the huge and bold flavors in their food.
50 Water St // +1 508-379-3400
Located in the historic Canal District, this new American restaurant offers small, shareable plates and hefty entrees inspired by cuisines around the globe, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan choices.
Their outdoor patio looks like it has been created for spaceships, with cozy little neon igloos, ideal for autumn and winter. Keep in mind that if you happen to dine in the igloos, you need a reservation with a non-refundable $50 rental fee per hour for dinner. For lunch, they operate on a first come, first serve policy, so you can just pop in without a reservation.
The menu is carefully and creatively crafted, and all the small plates I shared were absolutely enjoyed. My highlight was the tandoori-style quail with harissa oil and a pear and almond chutney. Kudos to the chef who incorporated the sweetness of the chutney into this dish without overpowering anything.
The whole personnel group was helpful and provided a top-notch experience. At a time when every restaurant raises their prices, Lock50 offers great food for a very reasonable price in a safe environment with lovely faces ready to help.
This is your “must visit” Worcester restaurant, for literally any type of outing, a family lunch, a romantic dinner, or relaxed catch-up with friends.
278 Shrewsbury Street // +1 508 757 1450
On a hot summer day, the stylish and unique Flying Rhino Café & Watering Hole is where to meet up with friends and cheer with a refreshing drink.
The bar offers a variety of spirits and cocktails and a twelve rotating craft beers selection for all the beer lovers. Flying Rhino will easily become your favorite Worcester restaurant if you give it a try.
The menu lists delicious, unique, and innovative options, from Buffalo chicken wontons to Baja fish tacos. I had picked Flying Rhino for breakfast, and their Florentine Benedictine was exactly what I hoped my day would start with. They nailed the poached eggs with feta, Portuguese sweet muffin, and classic hollandaise with tots.
Small and cozy, with reasonable prices and generous portions, in a lively and vibrant ambiance, you will instantly fall in love with everything Flying Rhino has to offer, just like I did. The cafe operates Wednesday through Sunday, with an option for take-out, or even better, spending the week with a Sunday brunch with tons of food choices.
299 Shrewsbury St // +1 774-317-9986
Yes, one can have Thai in a Worcester restaurant and still leave impressed. Or come back twice if they happen to be curious if everything would be as great as it was the first time.
Basil n’ Spice is owned by a Thai native chef Bator Lachman, and she started cooking back in her country. Today, she plays with traditional methods and modern twists, providing her guests with a memorable and refined experience. The menu features everything from salads and soups to curry dishes, seafood, Basil n’ Spice signatures, and the inevitable Classic Thai Wok.
Two things I guarantee everyone can find delectable here are the Bangkok duck and Spicy Bamboo Wok. The Bangkok duck, one of their many signature dishes, is elevated to perfection, a crisp duck matched with a sauce of roasted chili and ginger. Culinary heaven, even for the pickiest ones.
I did not soon forget about this experience, and decided to take my friends out for dinner, amazed by my first visit. Again, Basil n’ Spice proved why it stands among the best Worcester restaurants. This time I enjoyed a spicier version of Wok. With a variety of options to build your own protein, I chose beef with bell peppers, mushrooms, scallions, and bamboo stripe.
I think I will keep on finding excuses to return to Worcester, if only for a memorable Thai experience in Basil n ‘Spice.
43 W Boylston St // +1 508-762-9797
I leave my biggest culinary surprise among Worcester restaurants for last. From American to Italian and Thai, it’s your time to have a bite of authentic East African cuisine, right in the heart of the city.
The Worcester gem is small and cozy, locally owned, and features a short menu with four types of sandwiches and salads, a traditional East African dinner special, and three dinner entrees. Smoothies, juices, and Kenyan Chai teas are also available.
What to try here? Everything, if you ask me, and that will have you coming multiple times. And it will be worth it every time. I took out a few beef samosas and a traditional East African platter, with Somali anjero bread, spicy lentil, and goat. And almost bit off my fingers; everything was wonderful.
The interior is nothing fancy, but the food and the hospitality of the owners will instantly win you over.
Wrap Up On The 10 Best Worcester Restaurants
I ended my visit in Worcester with a full heart (and full belly). Trying out amazing spots not only for eating but for a complete dining experience had me amazed by Worcester restaurants and everything they have to offer.
Each restaurant on this list elevates the dining scene in this city, unique concepts, warm ambiances, menus crafted with care and bravery, and people who will go above and beyond to make your stay remarkable.
Whether you’re a local, or just passing through Worcester, or a newbie in this city, you can take advantage of this little “black book” and jump on discovering the best dining options and restaurants in Worcester.