Some regional foods in the Greater Boston area tend to have specific regions to go to for particularly good versions, such as roast beef sandwiches on the North Shore and bar pizza on the South Shore. The geographical lines are a bit more blurry for other food items, however, including steak tips, which are a decidedly "Boston" thing but which don't really seem to have the relatively strict boundaries of roast beef or bar pies. There is an area that some call "steak tip country" which can be found immediately north of Boston (including such communities as Malden, Everett, Chelsea, and East Boston), but you can also find some good ones west and south of the city, including in such places as Watertown, Waltham, Quincy, and Norwood, with this last town being home to a restaurant and bar called Conrad's that rivals some of the greats. So does Conrad's reach the heights of such legendary spots as Newbridge Cafe and Floramo's in Chelsea or Cronin's in Quincy? That's up for debate, which in of itself should tell you just how good the tips are here.
Conrad's resides toward the southern edge of Norwood's downtown area in a space that looks more like a movie house than a restaurant, complete with what can only be described as a grand old entrance where the sign looks like it should have listings of the latest flicks to come out. The place actually resides in an old bank building, however, and there are hints of it inside, making for what is in some ways a rather awkward but charming space for food and drink. To the left is a quiet dining room with a number of booths, while to the right is a room that can be used for functions, and off to the side is a patio that is used during the warmer months. The main section includes a host stand in the front, a walkway with some high tops beyond the stand, and a room that opens up toward the back, with that area including a bar in the middle with seating around its entirety and a spacious dining area with a mix of booths and low-top tables.
As is the case with a number of Boston-area restaurants featuring steak tips, Conrad's features a mix of American and Italian dishes, and while it is hard to not order the tips, the other food items here are certainly worth looking into. The menu includes some excellent takes on nachos, antipasto, onion rings, soups (particularly the tortilla soup, which is offered as a special), pizza, chicken parmigiana, and broiled scallops, while beer and wine options are pretty much standard and cocktails are also straightforward but downright cheap, with most mixed drinks being well south of $10. The grill section of the menu is where Conrad's really shines, with the aforementioned steak tips perhaps being at the top of the heap. Much like the best tips found in the region, the ones here are charred on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside, with the combination of the char and the marinade giving them a smoky and slightly sweet and tangy flavor. The turkey tips are nearly as good thanks in part to the same zesty marinade, and the Italian sausage and teriyaki chicken are also top choices. For those who don't really want to choose, the mixed grill is probably the way to go, as it includes steak tips and turkey tips along with a choice of teriyaki chicken or BBQ chicken, while diners can also do a combo plate where two grill items are chosen (with the steak tips and turkey tips being one of the more popular options).
To be fair, it is really difficult to pick any place over the Newbridge Cafe for steak tips, but if you live south or west of Boston, Conrad's is one of the best choices, if not the best. And like the Newbridge and other similar spots, Conrad's has plenty of other dishes for those who might want something other than steak tips, so it is a great place to go with large groups that have different tastes in food--and with easy parking, fair prices, and a friendly vibe, there are many reasons to come to this dining and drinking place that has been a neighborhood fave for a long time now. [Ed note: Two newer locations of Conrad's can be found in Walpole and Sudbury.]
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