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856 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA 02125
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Photo of the Avenue Grille, Dorchester, MA Dorchester Avenue, which is the main drag through the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, has so many local watering holes that some folks assume that nearly anyplace that has the name "pub," "grille," "bar," or "tavern" in it is a local townie joint that has changed little over the past several decades. While there is some truth to this, there are also a handful of restaurants that do not fit this description, including the Ashmont Grill, a slightly upscale gastropub near the southern end of Dot Ave., and the Avenue Grille, a friendly and unpretentious little dining spot near the north end of the road where Dorchester meets South Boston. And while the Ashmont Grill gets a lot of fanfare, few people seem to know about the Avenue Grille, perhaps because it is north of Columbia Road in a quieter, more residential section of Dorchester.

The clientele at the Avenue Grille is an interesting mix; everyone from construction workers to artists to young professionals frequent this charming place, perhaps reflecting the diversity of the neighborhood itself. The restaurant is tiny, with a single room consisting of perhaps 10 tables, including some with window seats. Old wooden bench seats, a tiled floor, and attractive hanging lights give the Avenue Grille an "old Boston" feel to it, and you can sense that the building that houses the restaurant has been around for a long, long time.

Few menus in Dorchester offer such a variety of dishes as that of the Avenue Grille. Where else can you choose from crab cakes, herb-crusted chops, cheese fries, barbecued shrimp, penne primavera, cheeseburgers, spinach ravioli, pork marsala, tomato caprese, hot dogs, Italian subs, and boneless fried chicken? There are plenty of other items on the menu in addition to all of these, including a delicious Caesar salad with a mild dressing and finely-powdered cheese; tasty grilled turkey tips with a moderately zesty marinade; fresh-tasting potato gnocchi and meatballs with a rich tomato sauce that has a particularly bright red color and a good amount of oil mixed in; and a number of sides that come with the entrees, such as creamy garlic mashed potatoes and fresh cooked spinach. The meatballs, by the way, are outstanding, with a mix of meats, herbs, and spices giving them a wonderfully complex flavor. The Avenue Grille also has homemade desserts (including carrot cake), and the beer and wine lists are decent here.

The Avenue Grille is a real find in a Boston neighborhood that is full of hidden gems. If you happen to be driving on or near Dorchester Avenue and feel yourself getting hungry, you certainly have a lot of places to choose from, with the Avenue Grille quite possibly being among the best of them.