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5 Classic American Roadside Food Stands and Drive-Ins Not to Be Missed in Massachusetts

by Eric Hurwitz. Page created on 3/22/17. All photos by Eric unless otherwise noted.

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Some are only seasonal and others require a brave soul to order at the window in the frozen tundra of Massachusetts winter weather, but outdoor roadside food stands have a warm place in a local's heart 12 months a year.  Unpretentious, cheap and usually serving heaping amounts of delicious comfort foods, the following outdoor-only food stands and drive-ins in Massachusetts have achieved local, legendary status and should be on every travelers A list -- especially on a warm spring, summer or fall day...

Sullivan's at Castle Island, South Boston
Sullivan's, South Boston MA

On Februrary 23, 2017, Sullivan's in South Boston reopened for the season to, at times, quarter-of a-mile lines. File that one under "Profiles of New England Food Stand Dynasties." Located at scenic, coastal Castle Island, Sullivan's has been in business since 1951 by serving excellent comfort foods at extremely low prices. Known as a hot dog joint, Sullivan's is much more than that with tasty fried seafood, mouthwatering burgers, a good selection of sandwiches, salads, fantastic New England clam chowder, ice cream amd even breakfast (served 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.). Sullivan's always seems to have a crowd, especially in the summer when the joys of eating comfort foods, the refreshing seabreeze, spending a day at Carson Beach, and the chance to walk off the calories at 22-acre Castle Island make for one of the best Boston travel experiences.

Sullivan's is located at 2080 William J. Day Blvd., South Boston. Tel. 617-268-5685.
Web site:

Fish and Chips from Sullivan's in South Boston MA
Fish and chips with fries from Sullivan's.

Commonwealth BBQ, Wrentham
Commonwealth BBQ, Wrentham , Massachusetts
Open-year-round in a quaint southwest suburb of Boston
, Commonwealth BBQ might not be south enough to be located below the Mason-Dixon line, but this colorful roadside shack clearly follows the authentic homestyle barbecue cooking of the southern regions. The barbecue meats -- BBQ’s meats are pit-smoked over hard woods for several hours -- along with burritos and flavorful Cowboy beans are the standouts , never failing to take on mouthwatering status. With picnic tables to dine and quick, efficient service, Commonwealth BBQ makes for a classic outdoor roadside dining experience with some of the best barbecue foods in the Boston region -- better than the ones that seem to get all the press.

Commonwealth BBQ is located at 659 South St. (Route 1A) Wrentham. Tel. 508-384-9676. Web site:

BBQ meal from Commonwealth BBQ in Wrentham MA
Barbecue pulled pork, summer squash and beans from Commonwealth BBQ in Wrentham.

Kelly's Roast Beef, Revere Beach
Kelly's Roast Beef, Revere Beach, Massachusetts
Kelly's Roast Beef at Revere Beach dates back to 1951 and stands as a Boston area landmark located right across from Revere Beach with its long stretch of sandy beach. This unassuming little, year-round roadside food stand has been featured on the Food Network’s show $40 a Day with Rachael Ray, the PBS Special  Sandwiches You Will Like, Saturday Night Live, and in the movie classic Good Will Hunting starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Why has Kelly's gained so much attention? It comes down to doing the simple things right: lobster rolls are huge and jam-packed with lobster meat, the fried clams cooked to golden perfection, and the roast beef especially tender and abundant. Sit on the wall, a bench or one of the few outdoor tables at Kelly's to enjoy your meal but before that, expect significant lines on a hot summer night!

Kelly's Roast Beef is located at 410 Revere Beach Blvd., Revere. Tel. 617-284-9129. Web site:

Lobster roll from Kelly's Roast Beef, Revere Beach, Massachusetts
Lobster roll from Kelly's Roast Beef at Revere Beach.

Howard's Drive-In, West Brookfield
Howard's Drive-in, West Brookfield, Massachusetts
Howard's has been in business since 1947, and truly evokes the classic American food roadstand. Howard's has everything a comfort foods fan could ever want: fried seafood and chicken, lobster rolls, barbecue chicken, baby back ribs, rib eye steak plate, hot dogs, burgers, onions rings, New England clam chowder, and rock-bottom prices for huge servings of excellent hard and soft serve ice cream. Seasonal in nature with a great picnic grove dining area, Howard's Drive-in goes far beyond basic classic American fare with some of the freshest tasting food we have tasted at places of this restaurant genre. -- what a great place to be on a summer day in beautiful, rural central Massachusetts!

Howard's Drive-In is located at 121 East Main St., West Brookfield. Tel. 508-867-6504. Facebook fan page:

Barbecue chicken from Howard's Drive-In, West Brookfield, Massachusetts
Barbecue chicken from Howard's Drive-In, West Brookfield.

George's Surf 'N Turf, Mendon

George's Surf and Turf, Mendon, Massachusetts

George's Surf 'N Turf holds the retro distinction as being one of the last roadside food stands in Massachusetts to offer carhop service. You can opt to order at the window, but either way, the results will be the same including delicious fried seafood, chicken tenders, burgers, hot dogs, New England clam chowder, fries, onion rings, root beer floats, frappes, old-fashioned Rickeys, and hard and soft-serve ice cream. George's -- with a nice picnic grove perfect for a warm weather day -- typically opens in early March, but the carhop services starts in early May.

George's Surf 'N Turf is located at 116 Uxbridge Rd., Mendon. Tel. 508-473-2125. Facebook fan page:

Fried seafood combo plate from George's Surf and Turf in Mendon MA
Combo fried seafood plate from George's Surf 'N Turf in Mendon. Photo source: George's Surf 'N Turf Facebook fan page:

Editor's note: Always called ahead to find out business hours of these great roadside stands!

Related article:
The best ice cream stands in New England

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5 classic American roadside food stands with outdoor dining not to be missed in Massachusetts

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