Medford with Susan Fairchild
Words by Jennifer Wehunt / Illustration by Liz Noftle
Medford doesn’t have a boutique organic bakery or a sustainable fishmonger or a butcher shop run by a mustachioed hipster. “In terms of food offerings, Medford doesn’t compare to many communities around it,” says Susan Fairchild, president of the Medford Farmers Market, a seven-year-old endeavor that launched its first winter installment this past season. “But what I’m thrilled about is, that’s changing.”
A long-time Arlington resident, Fairchild, 52, moved to Medford three years ago and has helmed the market’s board for two, and in that time she has seen a substantial shift in the town’s priorities—and its palate. “As Arlington and Somerville have gotten more expensive, Medford has become an affordable place for people to buy or rent,” she says. “It’s a younger group coming in that has a very different expectation of how they want their community to be.”
It’s that idea of community, as much as food, that gets Fairchild’s juices flowing. A social media specialist by trade, Fairchild is equally devoted to fostering connections in the brick-and-mortar world. “With the farmers market, we wanted to create a place where people could sit down and hang out, a place to meet people,” she says.
And if it just so happens that the market is also the best bet in town for a meat pie and a head of locally grown chard, well, that’s what marketing types call added value. We just call it delicious. Below, a buffet of Fairchild’s Medford favorites.
Atlas Liquors: Dating back to the 1930s, this third-generation family-owned business is known for its regional craft beers and Scotches. 156 Mystic Avenue; 781.395.4400; atlasliquors.com
Bistro 5: Upscale Italian cooking using locally sourced produce from a chef who mentors elementary school kids. 5 Playstead Road; 781.395.7464; bistro5.com
Blue Fuji: Sushi prepared from sustainably caught fish and organic rice. “For me, their involvement with the community is a huge factor,” Fairchild says. 38 Salem Street; 781.388.2888; bluefuji.com
Bob’s Italian Foods: Medford’s home base for sausages and, for those lucky enough to snag it, the occasional top-shelf imported salami. 324 Main Street; 781.395.0400; bobsfood.com
Café Déia: “Excellent flan.” 394 B Main Street; 781.219.4929; cafedeia.net
Chung Ki Wa: Korean barbecue—and a harbinger of Medford’s expanding appetite. 27-29 Riverside Avenue; 781.391.5606; chungkiwaboston.com
Danish Pastry House: Where to head for buttery baked goods, such as the marzipan-filled thebirkes. 330 Boston Avenue; 781.396.8999; danishpastryhouse.com
Depot Square Grille: “A tiny hole in the wall and my go-to place for three things: the lobster roll; the homemade black hummus; and the sandwich with scallops, blue cheese, and olives on homemade bread,” Fairchild says. 478 High Street; 781.391.7130
Donuts with a Difference: This classic Medford joint serves a mean honey-dipped option, baked fresh throughout the day. 35 Riverside Avenue; 781.396.1021; donutswithadifference.com
Ebisuya: A jam-packed Japanese market with a killer sushi bar in back. “Medford High School is rented out for Japanese school on weekends, so there’s a large geographic circle coming into town,” Fairchild says. “If you try to go to Ebisuya on a Sunday, forget it.” 65 Riverside Avenue; 781.391.0012; ebisuyamarket.com
Medford Farmers Market: The hamlet’s one-stop shop for produce, meat, fish, bread, wine, soup, fruit and meat pies, nuts, sweets, spices, cheese, eggs, jam, honey, and food trucks. “What’s most important to me is that we’ve had the continued support of the vendors,” Fairchild says. “They could be more profitable elsewhere and yet they still come. We also love being a test market. We were one of Culinary Cruisers’ first markets. Right now he’s doing salmon burgers and locally made hot dogs.” 3 to 7 pm Thursdays beginning June 6 (the winter market ran through February); 1 City Hall Mall; medfordfarmersmarket.org
Modern Pastry: Medford is home to the only outpost of the North End original, popular for its cannoli, Sicilian pizza, and housemade taralli, “a dry biscuit that’s great with wine—or, really, with anything,” Fairchild says. 20 Salem Street; 781.498.5064; modernpastry.com
Moultons: “You would never, ever go there looking for fish. The windows are painted black, with a neon sign that says, ‘BAR.’ But it’s classic, simple cooking that lets the flavor of the fish”—picked up daily from the pier in Boston—“come through.” 178 Winthrop Street; 781.396.6466; moultons.net
Mystic Coffee Roaster: House-roasted beans, including fair-trade varieties, available by the pound or the cup. 30 Riverside Avenue; 781.391.0042; mysticcoffeeroaster.myshopify.com
Nourish Your Soul: An all-natural juice and smoothie bar. “My favorite is the Detox Lemonade, with maple syrup and cayenne,” Fairchild says. “The owner has a good story to tell—she was plunged unexpectedly into needing to fend for herself—but she has created a great little place, with a really great product.” 17 Playstead Road; 888.995.8423; nourishyoursoul.com
Tenóch: Fairchild’s pick at this authentic Mexican newcomer? “Mole! And the tortas are great, but the specials are to die for. Rumor has it they’re opening another place in the North End.” 24 Riverside Avenue; 781.395.2221; tenochmexican.com
Whole Foods: In the farmers market offseason, this chain is Medford’s best—and only—choice for local and organic produce, meat, cheese, and specialty items. Fairchild is a fan: “It’s a huge business, but you’d never know it by the way they connect with the town.” 2151 Mystic Valley Parkway; 781.395.4998; wholefoodsmarket.com
A former senior editor at Chicago magazine who recently relocated to the Boston area, Jennifer Wehunt likes to write about food almost as much as she likes to eat it. She's currently in the market for kohlrabi recipes; email her at email@example.com.