I’m so hungry. Let’s go to Fall River. Say what now? Has that ever been said? Well, maybe it should. Fall River is 210 years old, holds down one end of the longest bridge in the world (it connects Somerset to Little Portugal), has the largest collection of WWII naval vessels at Battleship Cove, contains the mystery surrounding Lizzie Borden, is home to signs reading “the next time you cut through my yard, you go around” and the birthplace of Emeril Lagasse – the chef who lets the rest of Food Network watchers know that Fall River even exists.
From landmark Portuguese restaurants to classic diners and comfort food, the Fah Reeve dining scene has more than meets the eye and is worth a second glance. Here’s your guide to navigating this far off land.
Keeping It Simple
Let’s start with one of the establishments that has made Fall River what it is today. Head on down to Hartley’s Original Pork Pies. They make traditional British pork pies - the most popular being the original Pork Pie - with a recipe that is 113 years. It’s simple goodness: a flaky crust filled with 98% lean pork, salt and pepper. It proves that the simple joys in life are the ones that people come back for time and time again. 1729 S Main Street, Fall River. 508-676-8605.
Next stop is Patty’s Pierogis, one of the two remaining diners open for business in Fall River. You might remember this place when Guy Fieri featured it on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The first thing you must try is (duh) a pierogi. For those of you who aren’t quite sure what that is, think of it as Polish ravioli. The most popular pierogi – among the 40 or so varieties offered on a daily basis – is Potato and Cheese, tradition at its finest. And who doesn’t love cheese and mashed potatoes? But for a well-rounded experience, try the Polish Plate. It comes with two pierogis, one golumpki (a stuffed cabbage roll filled with hamburger, rice and onion then baked with tomato sauce), a link of kielbasa and polish rye bread with a choice of kapusta soup or house salad. The soup is a family recipe made with cabbage, sauerkraut, potatoes and onion in a chicken broth. 1019 South Main Street, Fall River. 508-679-4001.
The second of two diners left in operation is Al Mac’s Diner. Under new ownership but keeping with tradition, the 100-year-plus diner continues to bring home cooking to the masses. Their signature item is the corned beef, which you can have as a Reuben or for breakfast with eggs, home fries and toast. The beef is house-brined for four days then slow roasted for eight hours. From there it’s cooked to order. All I can say is, yes please. 135 President Avenue, Fall River. 508-567-5727.
It’s no secret. Fall River has a lot of Portuguese restaurants. Although there is no official consensus, Sagres has unofficially held the top position as best Portuguese restaurant for years. Unfortunately, it burned and is currently closed. It was where I had the best Alentejana of my life. This dish includes pork medallions, little neck clams and potatoes in a to-die-for sauce. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will reopen soon.
In the meantime, there are many other Portuguese restaurants worth their weight in chourico and eggs. And speaking of eggs, no steak at a Portuguese restaurant would be complete without an egg on top of it. At Caldeiras Restaurant, their Bifea Portuguesa (Portuguese steak) hits the mark. It’s a 10oz choice sirloin seared with garlic, hot sauce, beer and olive oil served with a fried egg on top with rice and fries. 990 Pleasant Street, Fall River. 508-673-0026.
If egg on your steak isn’t your thing, don’t worry there are options. How does Tiger Shrimp with Linguini and Little Necks sound? At Cinderella Restaurant they grill the shrimp then sautée them with linguini and a Grand Marnier sauce. With a little bit of heat, it’s the perfect way to kick up date night. 85 Columbia Street, Fall River. 508-675-0002.
And, let’s be honest, no trip to Little Portugal would be complete without a warm bowl of Portuguese Kale Soup. Now, let’s get this straight right away, every family makes kale soup differently. There are some basics - kale, red beans, beef and chourico – but to each their own. But if you eat kale soup at one place, check out St. John’s Club. It was featured in The Best Thing I Ever Ate, when Emeril Lagasse said that their recipe was indeed the best thing he ever ate. Alright Emeril, that’s good enough for me.
1365 Rodman Street, Fall River. 508-675-4914.
Hot Dog Joints
It’s becoming pretty apparent that comfort food reigns supreme in Fall River. Showcasing yet even more comfort food are the slew on hot dog joints, and they all have one thing in common – their most popular dog is the plain Coney Island hot dog with the works, which includes mustard, onions and Coney Island sauce on a steamed bun. Here are some places where to get one of these simple joys in life:
Nick’s Coney Island Hot Dogs. 534 S Main Street, Fall River. 508-677-3890.
Faneek’s Coney Island. 269 Rhode Island Avenue, Fall River. 508-678-8261.
JJ’s Coney Island Hot Dogs. 571 S Main Street, Fall River. 508-679-7944.
Pubs and Grub
So far we’ve covered some of the basic food bases Fall River offers but let’s get real. Sometimes we all just a need a good brew or cocktail at the end of a long (or short) day. Check out the newest sports bar in town Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill. Right now they have a craft cocktail menu with about eight thoughtfully created beverages. Try the Apple Press. It is a plum-infused white whiskey served with a rosemary and thyme cider. It is served cold but will definitely warm you up. Pair that with Kobe Beef Sliders topped with brie, prosciutto and red onion marmalade and you’ve got yourself one tasty meal. And if cocktails aren’t your thing, they’ve got a full bar with plenty of options. 1082 Davol Street, Fall River. 508-676-7369.
Other times you just want a burger and a pint. St. James Irish Pub has you covered. Try one of their handmade burgers such as their Juicy Lucy. It’s a pepper jack cheese stuffed creation topped with sautéed onions in a Boom Boom sauce (I’d tell you what was in it but I’ve have to kill you). Suffice it to say that it’s similar to a horseradish mayo. Pair it with a Guinness and you are good to go. Not in the mood for a burger? Try their 50-cent wings. 91 Purchase Street, Fall River. 508-672-6951.
Need a nightcap or another place to hit on your barhop? The Tipsy Toboggan will not disappoint. Try their Hot Chocolate Martini. It has chilled hot chocolate, dark creme de cacao, Godiva white chocolate and Absolut Vanilia topped with mini marshmallows. It’s the perfect end to a warm or cold night. 75 Ferry Street, Fall River. 508-567-0550.