While a number of restaurants featured within this site are literally "hidden," there are also a few that are, to use a cliche, hidden in plain sight. These are dining spots that may be located on a busy road or city center, yet are very easy to miss for one reason or another. And until recently, one such spot had been City Streets in Waltham, a friendly neighborhood eatery that was on the often-jammed Lexington Street yet resided in a nondescript commercial space just far enough off the road that few would suspect there was a restaurant within the complex (which includes an athletic club and a muffler/brake shop). City Streets now has a new home, however, as it moved across town in the fall of 2015 and even though it is no longer hidden in clear view, it remains an under-the-radar restaurant, and one that now resides in a larger and more modern-feeling space.
The current location of City Streets is in a strip mall on Route 60 that is also home to Mighty Squirrel Brewing Co., a short distance from both the Belmont and Watertown lines, with the place having a bit more (and a bit easier) parking than at its previous home on Lexington Street. From the outside, it looks like it could be much smaller than its original location, but it is actually much bigger than it appears, with a spacious front room that includes a bar to the left and a dining area to the right (with a partition between the two), and further back, there is a large, private-feeling dining room with high-tops, low-tops, a booth, bench seats, and round tables that are perfect for larger groups. Both the front area and the back room have TVs for those who want to catch up on sports, but while the front feels a bit like a sports bar, the back definitely feels more like a family-friendly restaurant. A spacious patio can be found to the right of the front room during the warmer months, and it is a good option for groups that might want a slightly quieter area in which to dine.
While not exactly an upscale gastropub like Highland Kitchen in Somerville or The Gallows in Boston's South End, but not quite an old-school American spot like the 99, either, City Streets tends to be somewhere between the two categories, with some inventive dishes but also a few comfort food classics as well. Starters (depending on the season and menu changes) include zingy fried pickle spears that have a non-greasy batter, a roasted chicken walnut salad with dried cranberries, sliced apples, and feta cheese, a flavorful Buffalo chicken soup that is sometimes available on special, crispy (and substantial) chicken tenders with a few different sauce options, a terrific chili with ground beef, lots of cheese, and just a touch of heat, a hummus and tabouli platter with pita triangles, twice-baked potato skins that have plenty of cheese on them, a heaping plate of nachos that are gluten-free, nicely-charred (and breaded) zucchini strips, tender arancini with seasoned bread crumbs and a hearty red sauce, and crab cakes that are seasoned, pan-seared, and served over arugula. Meals (again, depending on the season) include sandwiches such as a very good turkey club, a crispy fried chicken dinner with steak fries and BBQ sauce, and a good version of fish and chips that has a light and non-greasy breading, and one unusual option is the stuffed burgers; the burger stuffed with bacon and cheese may be one that people have heard of at other spots, but other options are quite unusual, such as the absolutely decadent burger stuffed with macaroni and cheese and the spicy Cajun burger stuffed with pepper jack cheese, onions, and jalapenos (they also have regular burgers) as well, along with a breakfast burger). A couple of other sandwiches on the menu include a rather salty (but delicious) French dip and a grilled cheese with both cheddar and gruyere, while other full meals include a marvelous firehouse sirloin with roasted peppers, feta cheese, and hot sauce, a chicken pot pie with roasted chicken and veggies, the aforementioned macaroni and cheese (this time outside of the hamburger) that can be ordered with pieces of bacon, tender steak tips with a Cuban marinade, and baked stuffed salmon with a creamy dill filling. The moderately thin crust pizza should not be overlooked at this spot, with the specialty pies (including the over-the-top bacon cheeseburger pizza) perhaps being the way to go. The beer list at City Streets includes a mix of draft and bottle options (with a few craft beers available) while the wine list is fairly limited, though the cocktail list is extensive with a number of martinis and other mixed drinks offered, including a Liberty Smash (whiskey, muddled lemon, simple syrup, mint) and a Tea Party (sweet tea vodka, Peachtree liqueur, sour mix, soda water).
The second incarnation of City Streets is an impressive one, with more room, easier parking, a slightly more upscale feel, and the same great food as before. Perhaps it no longer feels like a completely unknown place that you, and only you have discovered, but it still has a bit of a "hidden gem" feel to it, and the back room in particular seems like a secret place that is perfect for groups looking to have a long, leisurely dinner. A big thumbs-up to City Streets for the second time in its existence, and here's hoping it stays in its new space for a long time to come.
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