Mar 6, 2023 - Food and Drink

A guide to spending the day in Chelsea

Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

👋 Deehan here.

Chelsea, Boston's often-overlooked neighbor to the north, has just as much going on as some of the communities further down the Mystic River.

  • After all, the city’s main drag along Broadway is just over two miles from downtown Boston, less than a 10-minute drive in light traffic over the Tobin Bridge or a 30 minute ride on the Silver Line.
  • Chelsea is the geographically smallest city in the state, but with a 40,000-person population, it's the second densest next to Somerville.

For breakfast

Chelsea's been an immigrant community for generations and has a host of options for anyone looking for authentic Central and South American cuisine.

  • The city's population is over two-thirds Hispanic or Latino, with many newcomers and first-generation Americans.

For my morning coffee, I wanted something different from the typical Dunkin's and found Café El Dorado on Broadway.

  • Their Colombian-style coffee with milk and sugar had me wired for the rest of the morning.
  • The cafe gets bonus points for playing Adam Sandler's “Grown Ups 2” in Spanish.
Appreciate the butter on the side. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

I usually have breakfast at the most classic diner I can find, and Victoria's Diner on Washington Street fits the bill.

  • It looked from the menu like pancakes are a specialty, but I went with the diner's respectable Denver omelet with chorizo.
  • Fast service, decent prices ($16,) great home fries and a no-frills dinning room gets Victoria's a B-.
  • Since that Colombian coffee had me a little jittery, I got decaf here. Bad move: I think it was instant.

For lunch

Worth the wait at Catrachos Restaurant. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

Lunchtime brought me to Catrachos Restaurant, a small Honduran spot on Broadway by the courthouse.

  • Try the El Jornalero plato: the hungry laborer's meal with two roasted beef ribs, chorizo sausage, fried pork belly, a fried egg, rice and beans, all topped with fried bananas.

Where to work

Chelsea Public Library is a gilded dream. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

Chelsea Public Library has a great setup to post up with your laptop.

  • The tables in the reading room come equipped with ample and accessible power strips.
  • The wi-fi was more than fast enough to work or have video meetings on.
  • Bonus points for the delightfully creaky stairway to the basement in this 113-year-old building.

What to do

There's nothing quite like a good shvitz and Dillons Russian Baths is as authentic as it gets in Massachusetts.

  • The 138-year-old bath business is the oldest in the country, according to Dillions' management.

What to see

Bench. Bridge. Buildings. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

Mary O'Malley State Park has sweeping views of the Mystic, Charlestown and downtown Boston across the water.

  • The riverside park was perfect for a stroll that did nothing to work off that Honduran food.

But beware: I found out that Chelsea takes parking enforcement very seriously.

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