Local Gems: Watertown

I'm thrilled to share another Local Gems post today (be sure to check out the Back Bay, Medford, Beacon Hill, and Lexington features)! Today's Watertown recommendations come from my friend Sharon, mom of two adorable boys (one who knows how to rock a runway) and writer of the parenting/food blog umommy + co-founder of KidNosh, an online restaurant review site for parents. Thanks for sharing these gems, Sharon!

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There's a lot more to Watertown besides the giant Target and the scene of the Boston Marathon bombing manhunt. In the town’s mere 4.17 square miles you will find a diverse population, beautiful riverside paths, and lots of hidden gems. Here are eight of my favorites:

1. A. Russo & Sons. Tucked away on an industrial road, you’ll find Russo’s, the family-owned produce and gourmet market beloved by foodies and chefs alike. Stroll the cramped aisles and you’ll find every imaginable produce, fresh baked bread and pastries, imported deli meats and cheeses, plus prepared foods and flowers. Plus, their prices can’t be beat. Russo’s has grown in popularity, so avoid the crowds and go during the week!

2. Fastachi. Walk into this small and bright store and the aromas from the hand-roasted gourmet nuts will confirm you’ve come to a special place. From gorgeous gift baskets to handmade chocolates, it's easy to see why Fastachi is one of the country’s top purveyors of roasted nuts.

3. Watertown’s Little Armenia & Sevan Bakery. Watertown’s large Armenian community gives way to a bustling concentration of Armenian shops and markets. You’ll feel as if you entered an Old World European market filled with spices, olives, oils, and prepared foods. Once you try the stuffed grape leaves, baklava, and beautiful mezze in any of the markets including Sevan, you will be coming back for more.

4. Central Rock Gym. In a nondescript industrial building you will find one of the largest and most advanced climbing gyms in New England. From youth climbing camps, introductory belay class, to spinning, yoga, and Pilates classes, Central Rock Gym will get you fit and scaling boulders before you know it.

5. Strip Ts. This lunch spot turned hotspot put Watertown on the map for foodies. Tim Maslow, former chef de cuisine of Momofuku Ssam Bar in NYC, took the helm of his dad’s sandwich shop and hasn’t looked back. Warning: you’ll be dreaming about the Eggplant Banh Mi once you try it.

6. Watertown Children's Theatre. Does your kid give nightly performances of scenes from Frozen in front of the mirror at home? Channel your budding performer to the range of award-winning classes and workshops at the Watertown Children’s Theatre. WCT, now in its 30th year, is guaranteed to give kids of all ages an appreciation of the performing arts.

7. Arsenal Center for the Arts. The Arsenal Center for the Arts is a community arts center that houses two theatres (including the New Rep Theatre and Watertown Children’s Theater), art classes, artists’ studios, galleries, and workshop spaces. School vacation and summer programs are especially popular with kids and parents.

8. Deluxe Town Diner. Looking for a true diner experience, minus the greasy spoon fare? Built in 1947 and listed in The National Registry of Historic Places, Deluxe Town Diner's retro vibe is as irresistible as its menu. This kid-friendly dining destination is especially popular on the weekends.

Do you have other Watertown gems you love? Feel free to share in the comments below! And if you want to pen a Local Gems guest post, contact Christine at editor@bostonmamas.com to check on availability.

Image credits: all images sourced from linked business websites and Facebook pages.