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Bites Nearby: Strip T's Restaurant

This small, independent restaurant has thrived on School Street in Watertown for 25 years, and now it's upgrading its offerings with a new chef from the Big Apple.

Despite its name, Strip T's, at 93 School St. in Watertown, is neither a steak house nor a sports bar (although it does serve steaks, homemade beef kielbasa and gourmet burgers). By day, it's a popular lunch spot (and light breakfast, too), with a varied menu of salads, hot and cold sandwiches, burritos, and pita roll-ups. After 5 p.m., it becomes a real restaurant, with a new menu created by a chef from New York City, and beer and wine. 

What to eat: With its new chef, the lunch menu has been "ungraded," according to owner Paul Maslow, with offerings like fresh-roasted turkey and breads now coming from the local bakery Iggy's. But it's the dinner menu that has been transformed, according Maslow, with what he calls "fine dining at affordable prices." For instance, there's poutine, a Montreal dish made of fries, fresh cheese curd and gravy ($6), a New England seafood casserole with mushrooms ($14), and buttermilk fried chicken with collard greens ($13). There are both small and large plates. The wine list includes a hand-crafted white sangria.

The vibe: Friendly and casual, with a touch of the fine dining experience at dinnertime. All sorts of people patronize the place, from locals to professionals from businesses across the river.

Cool factor No. 1: The new chef, the owner's son, came from the renowned Manhattan restaurant MoMoFuku, where he was a chef de cuisine under celebrity chef David Chang.

Cool factor No. 2: Original work by local artists is featured in the dining room.

What's in a Name?: Not sure if the restaurant's name is cool or not, but its tagline is catchy: "If you think the name is fresh, wait 'til you try the food."

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