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The Best Colonial Style and Traditional New England Restaurants in Massachusetts

Concord's Colonial Inn, Concord, massachusetts
Concord's Colonial Inn, Concord, Massachusetts.

by Eric J. Hurwitz. Article updated on Dec. 31, 2016.

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What better place to soak up the feeling of historic Massachusetts by eating in a traditional New England restaurant with a colonial or pre-colonial theme and historical background? Massachusetts is after all, the home of the American Revolution.

The feeling of colonial times strongly exists in Massachusetts today with a remarkable concentration of period homes, museums and attitude. Even the roadways have a colonial feel, seemingly left untouched due to state budgetary restraints!

Many fine colonial type restaurants grace this historical state. Some offer terrific Yankee cuisine to match the wonderful atmosphere, often validated by period furnishings, antiques, post and beam design, old wooden floors, and waitresses dressed up in colonial-like apparel.

Sometimes, however, colonial type restaurants cash in by taking a "tourist approach" and not offering very good food. Other times, the theme can be way overblown. One time in a colonial style restaurant, this irritating lady dressed up in colonial garb and pranced from table to table, asking anyone if they saw Ralph Waldo Emerson anywhere in town. She was truly annoying. Ralph Waldo Emerson is dead. We just wanted to eat, but she really pushed the envelope, asking us more than once the vital question of the day. This was the nadir of the "Where's Waldo" game.

We have pared down the list of colonial restaurants to only the best, so you can truly enjoy great food and atmosphere:

The Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield, Mass.
Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield, Massachusetts

Beautifully situated on 600 acres of rolling hills and woodlands, the Salem Cross serves Colonial/traditional cuisine within a remarkably-detailed restored 1700s colonial farmhouse. The painstakingly crafted wooden floors, colonial style designed walls, the post and beam and high ceilings make this a memorable dining destination. Menu highlights includes, maple jack chicken, apple raspberry roasted duck, slow roasted prime rib, New England chowders, homemade desserts, and sweet sticky rolls. Salem Cross Inn, Route 9, West Brookfield, Mass. Tel.: 508 867-8337.

Longfellow's Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Mass.
Longfellows Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Mass.

Creaky wooden floors, the glow of a candle, classic colonial architectural design (it's a rambling old red-painted wood home) wonderful food and great value makes the renowned Longfellow's Wayside Inn a perfect gathering place. The Wayside Inn, of course, is the basis for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's renowned 1862 book of poems, "Tales of a Wayside Inn." Part of this landmark inn is modernized but still quaint-colonial while other smaller post and beam dark rooms look like a place George Washington could stop by for a few drinks and Yankee Pot Roast. The Pot Roast is terrific, as well as lobster pie, homemade bread and deep dish apple pie. The Wayside Inn "American Heritage" menu offers reasonably-priced complete dinners, Monday through Friday, including appetizer, entree and dessert. Longfellow's Wayside Inn, 72 Wayside Inn Rd., Sudbury, Mass. Tel: (978) 443-1776, Toll-free: 1-800-339-1776

The 1761 Old Mill, Westminster, Mass.
1761 Old Mill restaurant, Westminster, Mass.

There's no better dining location than the 1761 Old Mill with its waterfall, covered bridge, lovely front porch, tranquil pond, hiking trail and appealing restored sawmill which is now where people love to dine in several charming dining rooms. One of the best dining choice in north central Massachusetts, the 1761 Old Mill is a virtual household name that hasn't sold out to becoming another tourist trap. Solid food, including roast duck, chicken pot pie and an amazing apple crisp just add to the feel good colonial atmosphere with good hosts and service. The Old Mill also has a gift shop downstairs, where the twists and turns in this very old basement will lead you to some familiar and unique gifts. The 1761 Old Mill , Rte. 2A, Westminster, Mass. Tel.: (978) 874-5941

The Lafayette House, Foxborough, Mass.
Lafayette House, Foxborough MA

Commercial Route 1 in Foxboro can be an eyesore -- with the exception of the Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots), the new Patriot Place shopping and entertainment complex and... the Lafayette House. Begging the question "What's a nice, old-fashioned restaurant like you doing in a place like this?" The Lafayette House looks like the last glimpse of real New England on this very busy and rapidly developing stretch of road 25 miles southwest of Boston. George Washington once stayed overnight at this large 1784 colonial house that proudly resonates with charm and character -- as evidenced by the updates that retain the post and beam, wooden floors, low ceilings and nooks and crannies leading to several dining areas. Recommended meals are the roasted prime rib, lobster and roasted duck with a dried orange cranberry glaze. Lafayette House, Route 1, Foxboro, Mass. Tel. (508) 543-5344

Concord's Colonial Inn, Concord, Mass.
Concord's Colonial Inn, Concord MA

What a great name for a colonial style restaurant!. The name says it all at this landmark, located at historic Monument Square in downtown Concord. Built in 1716 and in operation as an inn/restaurant since 1889, Concord's Colonial Inn offers a great rotation of New England seafood and traditional New England fare. This author's favorite is the incomparable chicken pot pie, bursting with flavor and a wonderful crust. The main dining room is sprawling but charming and romantic and the tavern cozy and comforting (not just a result of the drinks) -- imagine someone once having lived in a big, old beautiful home like this (Henry David Thoreau did just that until becoming an isolated misanthrope while living at Walden Pond). It's hard to imagine a more appealing New England historical setting than Concord's Colonial Inn -- in the heart of Revolutionary War country, impeccably maintained, with ambiance and great food (and lodging) to round out your visit. Concord's Colonial Inn, 48 Monument Square, Concord, Mass. Tel. (978) 369-2373

Barker Tavern, Scituate, Mass.
Barker Tavern, Scituate, Massachusetts

Just up the road from beautiful Scituate Harbor, the Barker Tavern combines a waterfront location with quaint Colonial charm. The main house in the Barker Tavern building could very well be the oldest standing house in the United States, dating back to 1634. It was once used as a garrison for defense during King Philip's War! The main dining room offers one of the most charming atmospheres of any restaurant we have been to in New England, and the food is outstanding. Go with any of the mouthwatering swordfish dishes, filet mignon, the grilled Long Island duck breast, or fresh caught local lobster. For soups, it doesn't get much better than the New England clam chowder or lobster stew. While we love the main dining room, the Barker Tavern also has a more casual, cozy little pub (Eli's is the name) and a tremendous weddings and receptions facility on the premises. Barker Tavern,  21 Barker Rd., Scituate. Tel. (781) 545-6533

Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, Mass.
Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, Mass. Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Photo credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism at

The Red Lion Inn is one of the best known historic inns and restaurants in Massachusetts going back to 1773. Featuring a famous, inviting big front porch to relax and old world lodging and dining hospitality, the Red Lion Inn is located on one of the most charming small town streets in New England. The main dining room features soft candlelight, crystal chandeliers, antique china and colonial pewter to validate the authenticity of this historic New England treasure. A tremendous wine list and local favorites like prime rib, baked New England haddock, roasted native turkey, New England clam chowder with Applewood smoked bacon, warm Indian pudding and homemade apple pie help make the Red Lion dining experience truly wonderful. The Red Lion Inn is also open for breakfast and offers separate dining areas from the main dining room -- the Widow Bingham's Tavern, Lion's Den, and Courtyard. Red Lion Inn, 30 Main St., Stockbridge. Tel. (413) 298-5545

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