Tastefully New England

  • Visit North Central

You can learn a lot about a region by munching your way through its communities. A lunch here, a snack there, a fresh-drawn mug of local brew — let your taste buds help to create your picture of Johnny Appleseed Country.

Although home to a host of familiar chain restaurants known for everything from seafood to sizzling steaks, the communities along the Johnny Appleseed Trail also boast an expansive array of independent establishments that will add color to your image of the area.

So take a gustatory tour through Johnny Appleseed Country. Pick an exit off the highway, find a Main Street or a back road, and enjoy the flavors of New England.
Eggs-actly What You Want

A great starting point, of course, is breakfast. Everyone knows where to find a menu replete with pancake platters.

But do you know a spot where the not-so-lowly omelet is king? If it tickles your fancy, owner Seth Silver will be happy to put it into an omelet for you! Bacon, scallions, your favorite veggies, salsa — if he’s got it in the kitchen, he’ll put it in your omelet. Feeling brave? Try “The Challenger,” a breakfast that earns you a spot on Seth’s “Wall of Fame.” Known for its breakfasts, the Lunenburg restaurant is also open for lunch daily and while the printed menu is diverse, the Ugly Omelet also employs an “open menu” concept, suggesting, “What happens at the Ugly Omelet STAYS at the Ugly Omelet.”
The Fab Fifties

How about taking a trip back in time, to the days of poodle skirts and root beer floats? With its black-and-white checkered floor and soda-fountain stools, Cruisers Malt Shoppe in downtown Gardner is definitely retro — and it’s not unusual to see a few classic cars parked out front! Your “Cruisette” will be happy to take your order for a Big Bopper or Lone Ranger burger; Mama Mia meatball sub; or a DeSoto, Impala or Corvette melt. The daily specials will take you on a nostalgic trip, too — right back to Mom’s kitchen, for a plate of shepherd’s pie, hearty meatloaf or American chop suey.
Got a Sweet Tooth?

You may be filled after one of those meals, but don’t leave downtown Gardner without stopping by Priscilla’s Candies, a city landmark. The confections here are totally decadent, and they’re handmade on the premises. This family-owned business has been turning out scrumptious candies for 70 years: Crunchy, creamy, chewy centers coated in silky chocolate; the store’s famous French roll; caramels, toffees, nut barks, and so much more.

The region’s food tastes great — but you can stimulate your other senses, too. Stop by The 1761 Old Mill in Westminster, where you can cross a covered bridge, listen to the waterfall, and watch the ducks swimming on the millpond as you head in for your meal. The sawmill-turned-restaurant, known for its pecan rolls and corn fritters, has delighted generations of travelers — and delighted the ducks, too, who benefit from bits of bread that guests are happy to share.
Time for a Cool Dip

And when you need to take a cool, comforting rest from your travels, settle onto a picnic table bench at Kimball Farm in Lancaster, and dip into a scoop (or two) of home-made ice cream. Kimball Farm has been churning out farm-fresh ice cream since 1939, and with 50 flavors in stock on any day, they’re sure to have something to suit your fancy. Go “New England” with a cone piled high with maple nut or pumpkin ice cream. Or let the orange pineapple or Kahlua crunch launch you on a tropical trip. The flavors keep changing, so be sure to come back for a new adventure!

But wait! There’s more! In fact, there are scores of great places waiting to whet your appetite. This Guide can lead you to restaurants that will help you remember Johnny Appleseed Country. Be sure to check out members of the Independent Restaurant Group, local restaurants that offer unique dining experiences, right here in Johnny Appleseed Country … and memories that will bring you back again and again.