Sunday, June 22, 2014

Downtown Dining Scene Gets National Recognition

Earlier in the year I wondered if downtown Framingham was poised to be recognized as a unique dining destination due to its diverse offering of various ethnic cuisines. Wonder no longer, as, a well-known web media company that focuses on metropolitan life, has named it as one of the sixteen best ethnic eating enclaves in the United States, along with major cities like Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.

The article cited south Framingham's "Little Brazil" for its concentration of Brazilian eateries and food stores, putting it in the same category as Little Havana in Miami, Persian Square in LA, and Little Ethiopia in DC. That the town of Framingham with under 70,000 residents was recognized in the same breath as major cities with populations up into the millions is amazing.

The profusion of Brazilian businesses downtown in the past couple of decades, to the consternation of some life-long residents, inarguably has played a major role in its rebirth. And remember that a rising tide lifts all boats. Alongside the Brazilian establishments downtown there are now also many other ethnic restaurants, serving Vietnamese, Colombian, Salvadoran, Mexican, Italian, and other cuisines, along with plenty of places you can get traditional American fare as well. And let's not forget our award-winning craft brewery, Jack's Abby Brewing, that with its new tap room is bringing more people downtown than ever.What may be ho-hum or of little interest to some locals can be seen as exotic and attractive to people from out of town. More than one Framingham resident has told me that when out of town family and friends visit they are delighted to try ethnic places downtown that don't exist where they live.

And to put the icing on the proverbial cake, a few days after the article was published, the Boston Globe's Cheap Eats column featured Pupusas y Tacos Dona Sofia, downtown's beloved Salvadoran/Mexican comfort food haven.

The secret is out; downtown Framingham is now on the map as a dining destination. Rather than lament what downtown used to be, let's embrace and capitalize on the strengths inherent in what it has become. With our support of its businesses and institutions we can help bring about an even more dynamic and exciting future for us all.