Boston Restaurant Blog -- July, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
I have to admit, I don't know a whole lot about the restaurant scene in the Fall River/New Bedford area, other than the fact that there are a number of dining spots in both cities that get high ratings among restaurant critics and diners alike. But other than Estoril in the Flint Village section of Fall River, I'm at a bit at a loss when it comes to the area. That's why it was nice to try another spot in Fall River recently, as we went to an historic diner on Route 6 called Al Mac's that has been around for more than 100 years (including nearly 60 years in its current structure).
Located in a rather nondescript shopping center a bit north of downtown and just east of where the Taunton River opens up into Mount Hope Bay, Al Mac's Diner resides in a classic stainless steel structure that is included on the National Register of Historic Places. The interior of the diner holds few surprises, with some booths and counter stools to the left, and a few more booths and counter stools to the right, along with some tables. The interior is colorful but not in an overly garish way, and the clientele seems to be almost completely local (except when politicians visit the place), giving Al Mac's an authentic "townie" feel to it. Because it is almost a stone's throw away from Route 79 (a divided highway that goes through the city), Al Mac's is one of the easiest restaurants to get to in Fall River, though you do need to know that it's actually there, since it doesn't stand out prominently from the highway. The place is open for just breakfast and lunch Sunday through Wednesday, though it is open for dinner on Thursday nights and is continuously open day and night from Friday morning through Sunday afternoon.
Al Mac's was mostly empty when we arrived, so we had a number of seating options available to us. We decided to grab a window booth along the left side of the diner, and were promptly greeted by our server, who took our drink order of raspberry lime rickeys (highly carbonated, with just about the perfect mix of raspberry and lime flavors). We also ordered a side dish as an appetizer, and it isn't really one that you see all that often anymore, even at diners. And yet there it was on the menu--SOS on toast. And what does SOS stand for? Well, it's a term for creamed chipped beef on toast, and is an abbreviation for "s--t on a shingle." (Aren't you glad you asked?) Their version of it was all right, though there wasn't quite enough beef and perhaps just a little too much white sauce, and believe it or not, it actually needed salt, as there wasn't enough added to the dish. Once the SOS was polished off, our meals arrived, with the tuna club being excellent (loads of white-meat tuna and not an excessive amount of mayo) and the meatball sandwich being nearly as good. The latter dish featured highly spiced meatballs (almost tasting more like meat loaf) on a hamburger roll with a slice of provolone cheese and a dab of tomato sauce. The fries that came with both meals were just ok, tasting a lot like your basic Sysco brand. Service was friendly throughout, prices were very reasonable, and the clientele was a mix of old and young, families, friends, and couples, and a few solo diners at the counter.
Based on the meal we had at Al Mac's, I don't think I would include it among the best diners in New England (the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown and the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, NH, are two such places that come to mind), but it was very good for the most part, and the authentic atmosphere and sheer history of the place definitely bring it up a notch or two. I still have many restaurants to work through in Fall River (and New Bedford), so I'm not sure when I'll get back to Al Mac's, but if I happen to be in need of a quick, convenient stop on my way to Newport or Bristol, RI, Al Mac's Diner will definitely be on my short list.
For those who want the address for Al Mac's Diner, here it is: Al Mac's Diner, 135 President Avenue (Route 6), Fall River, MA, 02720. The phone number is (508) 679-5851.
Related Blog Entries: diners
We went back to Al Mac's Diner a few days ago for a quick bite to eat. The tuna club wasn't quite as good this time around, though the franks and beans plate was terrific, with a pair of greasy hot dogs served alongside a pot of piping hot beans and moist pieces of brown bread. Prices were dirt cheap, service was excellent, and it was a nice experience overall, sitting in a diner by the window and watching the rain come down. The food hasn't been perfect at Al Mac's, but I do like this place mainly for its history and its overall feel.
Posted on 8/30/11
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