15 Union Street, Lawrence, MA 01840
Much progress has been made over the years on the renovating and restoring of the once-abandoned factories of Lawrence, Lowell, and Haverhill, as well as other communities located on the Merrimack River north of Boston in the Merrimack Valley. A prime example is the enormous Everett Mills complex, a building in the heart of Lawrence that spans several city blocks and has six floors of space. Much of this building has been fixed up and now houses a variety of businesses that are scattered throughout the space. And on the first floor of the Everett Mills is a friendly little cafe called Wichit (which replaced the Mill City Gourmet) that features all kinds of handcrafted sandwiches and caters to the workers in the building as well as folks who work and live in the surrounding neighborhood.
Wichit is located in the middle of the Everett Mills complex near the head of Essex Street (Lawrence's main drag). The space it resides in oozes charm and character, as it retains the historic feel of the mill with its brick floor and walls, low hanging lights, and high ceiling complete with wires and exposed pipes. The cafe is counter service only, with a mix of diners ordering takeout or grabbing one of the several tables within the room for dining in.
A varied menu greets diners at Wichit, whether they come for breakfast or lunch. The cafe features a number of options for breakfast, including burritos, bagels, frittatas, and breakfast sandwiches. The focus of the lunch menu is sandwiches, but soups and salads are also offered. Different soups are featured each day, such as Thai chicken curry, steak chili, and clam chowder, while salads include a roast turkey Cobb salad and a chevre, cramberry, and arugula salad. Sandwich options are nearly endless, as Wichit makes custom sandwiches for diners; bread choices include baguettes, brioche rolls, marble rye and more, and a variety of cheeses, sauces, fillings, and toppings are also offered. Wichit does have some specific cold and hot sandwiches as well, including a wonderfully spicy tuna maki with a tangy wasabi aioli in the former category, and a popular chicken katsu wrap with crispy chicken and sweet potatoes. In the category for hot sandwiches, Wichit serves something called the Stonemill, which is basically an upmarket steak and cheese with crunchy ciabatta bread, Swiss cheese, onions, and mushrooms, and a Cubano that also comes with their terrific ciabatta bread and has a nice mix of ham, pulled pork, cheese, pickles, and tangy mustard. Sides include crispy sweet potato fries with a smokey chipotle pepper aioli, and desserts include some rather sinful (but delicious) cookie sandwiches and a sweet-tasting carrot cake whoopie pie.
Very few people know about Wichit, probably because it is hidden in the middle of a sprawling mill building (and also because it is not open for dinner or on weekends). But for many who work or live in Lawrence, this funky dining spot is a terrific option for fresh, healthy food at reasonable prices. It may be a bit of a hike from Boston if you are looking for a quick meal, but Wichit is surely a place to seek out if you find yourself in this historic old mill city near the New Hampshire border.
Copyright © 2010, Boston's Hidden Restaurants (www.hiddenboston.com).