Lowell: A melting pot of great tastes & diverse cultures

There's A Lot To Like about food and culture in Lowell. We have asked Timna Nwokeji, the voice behind Lowell's local lifestyle blog lifeasamaven.com to share with us where she thinks Lowell's diversity can be experienced in its culinary culture. So here is to a preview of what you can taste during Dine Out Lowell....Let's go...

Lowell, Massachusetts is a city thriving in culinary diversity. You could name a place and we more than likely would have cuisine from there. From Cambodia to Venezuela, Lowell has got it all.  Lowell prides itself on creating a rich, cultural experience that is not only shown through its food but through its vibrant artists and lively city life. Imagine being able to live in a place where you can experience the world at your fingertips, Lowell does this and it thrives in this great environment that promotes and supports local businesses.

Highlighting the different cuisines of Lowell has always been one of my favorite things to do and in reading this post I hope you will feel as drawn to this city as I do. With this article, I introduce you to five local, vibrant restaurants and their chefs/owners; showcasing their work and passion both on a culinary level but also their passion for the city.

Mill City BBQ & Brew

Lowell, Back Central – Owner: Renay Wolterding / Sit down restaurant & catering

As soon as I met Renay, I could instantly tell she had a great passion for what she did and possessed a lot of charisma. Her infectious laughter, jovial attitude, and friendliness quickly drew me in as I learned more about her restaurant. Mill City BBQ is the only one of its kind in the area and it is good, I am talking real good. They smoke all their meats including brisket for twelve hours, pork for ten hours and soon they will be smoking the bacon for their breakfast menu.

Renay’s love for good cuisine and culinary innovation is also shared by her son who is also the restaurant’s general manager. Whether it is the delicious taste of her carefully prepared mac and cheese with collard greens and ribs or the soft and tasty smoked meats available in the menu, Mill City BBQ brings the height of southern comfort food to Lowell.

Gormley’s Cafe

Lowell Belvidere – Owners/ Chef Craig Furgal & Joann Gunby / Sit down breakfast & lunch and takeout

When asked to describe what inspires him about Lowell, Craig said, ” Lowell is five small towns, everything is different within those small towns and you can make so many connections here, that is what makes it so great”.

Craig started cooking as a teenager and went on to work, teach and cook in a myriad of settings all culminating in him and Joann, his wife opening up Gormley’s; a wonderful breakfast/lunch place where everything is housemade and original.  He enjoys  eating and preparing steak for himself but loves experimenting when it comes to preparing meals for his patrons. He said, “being a chef is about learning and always experimenting, if you say there is nothing left, then you’ve given up”. He brings this passion to his cooking, making everything from sandwiches to muffins without a hint of mediocrity.

Bishop’s Legacy Restaurant

Lowell, Downtown – Owners/ Chef Chuck Saba & Joe Saba / Sit down restaurant & takeout

Bishop’s has a rich history, dating back to its early days in Lawrence, it is a family restaurant passed down from generation to generation. I have had both the opportunity and delight to eat here on several occasions and find it to be a staple of downtown of Lowell.  I sat down with Joe, the cook over at Bishop’s to learn more about his personal history and what he loves about Lowell.

Joe is a comfort food person, not only does he love to make it but he enjoys eating it with friends and family. He also loves to cook braises of all kinds and incorporates them into his dishes when he can. As he put it, “I have always been cooking, always worked with other chefs and it was always in the family.” He is inspired by the people of Lowell that own, operate or are just working in Lowell, in his words “these people show what Lowell should be.” However the chief motivator that drives Joe is one that is just about to arrive soon. Joe and his wife are expecting their first child together and this new experience has added a great deal of motivaion for Joe. “What drives me is the want to provide a life filled with wonder, happiness, and ease! She is going to be my first child and just the though of her brings so much love and happiness to my heart!”

Simply Khmer Restaurant

Lowell, Highlands – Owners/ Chef Denise & Sam / Sit down restaurant, takeout & catering

A husband and wife duo, Denise and Sam had a vision of sharing their Khmer culture through their food. Sam is inspired by the sense of community in Lowell and how welcoming the city was to him when he arrived here as a young child. In speaking with the both of them, they both had similar outlooks on what their food meant to them and how they wanted to reach people; people of all different ethnic backgrounds and of all generations.

Sam has a high bar for quality and makes sure everything in his kitchen goes out to the customer the best way possible. He enjoyes cooking food in its original form and flavor and Denise enjoys making a hearty harvest soup called “Som Lau Ka Kow Khmer” filled with pumpkin, eggplant, roasted rice and more. With the rich quality of food, they share their culture vividly to their patrons and let them experience the colors, the flavors and the atmoshere that is Simply Khmer.

Flavor Grill

Lowell, Lower Belvidere – Owners/ Chef Kelvin Peralta & Argeo Lopez / Sit down restaurant, catering & takeout

New to the scene, Flavor Grill has kicked cuisine in Lowell up a notch. Chef Argeo spent over 20 years as a chef in the Dominican Republic and has created over 300 recipes. Thanks to this much experience, your palate wil be introduced to some of the best Carribean cuisine available in Lowell . Chef Argeo and Flavor Grill’s owner, Kelvin both believe that Lowell has incredible potential to grow and want to be part of this continued growth.

Argeo spoke of wanting his customers to feel like they were coming home to eat like they were “at their Abuelita’s (grandmother) house”. He wants families to come and enjoy both traditional dishes but also try some inventive flavors he has on the menu. He loves cooking all things in all different ways and is always experimenting. With a flair for flavor and inventive plating, Flavor Grill is all about providing its patrons with comfort, great food and a great time.