Edible Food Finds: Canal Food Tours, Worcester

The Blackstone Canal opened in 1828 as a way to connect Worcester to the ocean at Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. It grew quickly as a busy commercial route and its hub in Worcester became a diverse neighborhood, home to many of the city’s Eastern European immigrants who brought their food traditions and cultures to the area. Lori Santon’s grandparents met in 1948 at the neighborhood’s popular Broadway restaurant, and now the restaurant is one of the stops on her Canal Food Tours.

After many years of decline, the Canal District has been revitalized and is rapidly becoming Worcester’s hot new destination for retail, bars, clubs and restaurants. A Wednesday evening or Saturday morning tour with Santon might include a stop for seeded levain bread from Birchtree Bread Co., Lebanese ground beef za'atar from Bay State Grill and Middle Eastern Market or a tasty Mexican taco from mother-daughter-owned El Patron. And no visit to the Canal District would be complete without a famous four-inch pie from Table Top Pie, once a major employer in the area.

Coming soon, a fresh import from Rhode Island will arrive in Worcester (albeit not via the canal) when the Pawtucket Red Sox become the Worcester Red Sox and take up residence in a new ballpark scheduled to open in the Canal District in 2021. To celebrate, Santon is planning a new “Baseball, BBQ and Beer” tour starting in April.


This story appeared in the Spring 2019 issue.