Deep Cuts Livens up Medford Square with Music, Sandwiches, and More

After several smaller incarnations, the something-for-everybody venue, brewery, and restaurant has found a location big enough for all its ambitions.

A sign board on a brick wall says Welcome to Deep Cuts.

Deep Cuts in Medford Square. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

It’s a sunny late-May afternoon after a music-packed opening weekend, and the lunch service at Deep Cuts is already bustling at its shiny new Medford Square location. Customers are relaxing at picnic-style tables in front of the stage or at bar seats with Mystic River views, snacking on hearty sandwiches and rectangular pizza slices, dripping with cheese. British post-punk band Shame plays over the sound system in the background, punctuated by the dinging of a Flintstones pinball machine. Deep Cuts’ black and bright yellow branding also gives the space a high-energy, bumblebee-buzzing vibe.

Sure, it’s opening week, but the Deep Cuts team isn’t new to this: The Main Street Medford space—most recently home to the long-tenured restaurant Carroll’s—is the fourth incarnation of Deep Cuts, the most complete version of a vision that began with Allston pop-ups, detoured into an Everett brewery, and graduated to a cozy West Medford nook.

A black-and-yellow sign at the front of a restaurant space says welcome, with picnic-style tables visible in the background.

Deep Cuts. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

The backstory, in short: When Deep Cuts cofounder, executive chef, and event director Ian McGregor moved to Boston over a decade ago, he quickly found a home in the local music scene, eventually booking shows under the name Eye Design. McGregor was behind a monthly series at the gone-but-not-forgotten Allston venue Great Scott called “Treat Yo Self: Creative Industry Night”—a mix of music, local artists, and food, specifically savory and sweet pizzas that he’d make. (Growing up in Florida, he had worked in a variety of restaurant-industry roles since 15.)

A row of three pinball machines and a change machine in front of a brick wall.

Deep Cuts’ new space features a trio of pinball machines. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

“I thought it’d be cool to do this every day,” McGregor tells Boston. And so the Deep Cuts concept was born. In mid-2018, McGregor popped up at local spots such as the now-closed Automatic in Cambridge, testing the waters with some sandwiches and launching a crowdfunding campaign for Deep Cuts Deli, what then he described as a creative arts space for food, music, and community. A year later, the first brick-and-mortar version of Deep Cuts debuted as a short-lived collaboration with BearMoose Brewing in Everett, but McGregor left a few weeks later with BearMoose cofounder and brewer Jeff Wetzel to find the next home for Deep Cuts together. (Wetzel is Deep Cuts’ “chief beverage officer” and credited as cofounder.)

A custom amp has coffee-related words on it, like aroma, jitters, and acidity.

Decor behind the Deep Cuts bar. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Next, in early 2021, Deep Cuts opened in West Medford, a small storefront that allowed for the deli side of the business to flourish—not to mention some experimentation with beer and hard seltzer production. The downside to the space? Not quite conducive to the vision’s live music aspect.

A piece of art that says Deep Cuts Eat Today, modeled after the Gorilla Biscuits Start Today album cover, is propped up on a wooden counter top against a brick wall.

Deep Cuts art, inspired by Gorilla Biscuits’ “Start Today” album. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Fast-forward another year, and the team was considering a larger space in Arlington—but then the old Carroll’s space became available in Medford Square, McGregor’s own neighborhood for roughly the past five years, and everything fit into place. Deep Cuts’ West Medford regulars wouldn’t have to travel too far the new spot, for one thing. Plus, Medford Square is flourishing these days, with upcoming openings that include the long-awaited restaurant and tequila bar from the Tenoch team, El Tacuba, along with the same group’s forthcoming café, Localito; an Irish pub from the Ford Tavern crew; and more. (Heading to Medford Square from outside the area? The 95, 96, and 101 bus lines stop right outside Deep Cuts—or you can walk just over a mile from the new Medford/Tufts MBTA station on the Green Line. Parking can be a little tricky, but it’s easier than most parts of Boston.)

An empty bar features black walls with bright yellow accents, brick walls, and pinball machines.

The bar portion of the new Deep Cuts space. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Now, as of May 2023, Deep Cuts is open in its hopeful forever-home: It’s a 240-person live music venue, first and foremost, with the goal of having music every night once things ramp up. But it’s also a restaurant, a brewery (soon), and a family-friendly community space. The stage will play host to a wide variety of musical genres, not to mention comedy shows, podcasts, and other types of performances. But you’ve found yourself in the restaurant section of Boston, so let’s dig more into the food and drink.

Fake album covers on the wall at a bar, plus a bar game called the Challenger where you avoid touching a curved metal bar.

Decor and a bar game at Deep Cuts. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

The Food

The initial Deep Cuts dream started with pizza all those years ago, but sandwiches have been the highlight since the pop-up days in 2018. Now, both are available—plus some snacks like fries loaded with bacon, beer cheese, and scallions. Other items like fried chicken, burgers, and wings might be coming down the pipeline. The pizza, says McGregor, is sort of a mix of New York and Sicilian styles. Visually, it leans more in the Sicilian direction with a thick, rectangular shape. Current topping combinations include salami with hot honey; pesto with roasted red peppers and feta; and more.

Overall, the team is leaning toward pub-style, handheld food as much as possible—the types of things you’d want to eat before or during a show. (The kitchen team includes Andrew Bonner, an Atwood’s Tavern alum and the bassist from the Boston rock band Piebald, because the food and music worlds often overlap—especially at a venue like Deep Cuts.)

Meatballs on a sub roll are covered with melted cheese and a drizzle of pesto.

The Banzo, a Deep Cuts sandwich, is a vegan option that includes garbanzo “meatballs,” pesto, marinara, and vegan mozzarella. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

“We usually try to have fun with classic-style sandwiches, but with our own spin on it,” says McGregor. There’s the Catania, for example—essentially an Italian sub, named after McGregor’s mother’s maiden name. The renaming also helps sidestep the endless “feud” over the exact definition of an Italian sub, notes McGregor. Deep Cuts’ version leans on the “pretty traditional” side, he says, with Italian meats, mayo, hots, lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Overhead view of fries topped with bacon, cheese, and scallions and a light wooden table.

Loaded fries at Deep Cuts: beer cheese, bacon, and scallions. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

McGregor is also particularly excited about one of several vegan sandwich options, the Banzo, which features garbanzo “meatballs” with marinara, pesto, and vegan mozzarella, served on a sub roll. “I like playing more with vegetables than fake meats,” says McGregor, “so it was fun to do this.” The vegan beet Reuben, featuring pastrami-spiced beets, is in a similar vein. (Check out Somerville newcomer Lehrhaus, too, for another take on a beet Reuben.)

During shows, the menu might be pared down a bit from the full lunchtime spread—the team is working to gauge what makes sense logistically, and what people actually want to eat during an event—but customers will likely find at least a few pizza slices and sandwiches available during those hours.

An Italian sandwich in a yellow basket is displayed in front of a parody of the Cars' Candy-O album cover.

The Catania, a Deep Cuts sandwich, features Italian meats, provolone, mayo, hots, and more. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

The Drinks

The Deep Cuts brewery—there’s a five-barrel system in the basement—should be up and running in a month or so, says McGregor, but for now the venue is featuring brews from other local spots, including Portico Brewing, Medford Brewing Company, and Winter Hill Brewing Company. The team will likely focus on lower-ABV styles, conducive to enjoying a few over the course of a show. In the West Medford days, Deep Cuts produced several beers and hard seltzers that’ll probably make a comeback at this location; there was a porter that was “crushable, not as heavy as a normal porter,” for example, says McGregor, and a raspberry lime rickey-inspired hard seltzer, the High St. Highball.

Overhead view of a rectangular slice of cheese pizza on a light wooden table.

A cheese slice at Deep Cuts. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Once the brewery is functional, there might be some collabs and featured taps from other local brewers, but the goal is to mostly feature Deep Cuts’ own creations. On the liquor side, there’s also a focus on all things local, including liquors from Everett-based Short Path Distillery and Salem-based Deacon Giles Distillery. (In addition to bottles of liquor, Deep Cuts is carrying Deacon Giles’ very fun canned mai tai.)

Also very fun: The short cocktail list includes a “deli-inspired” drink featuring syrup made from hots, the aforementioned classic New England condiment most commonly found on Italian subs. The drink combines the hots syrup with mezcal and lime juice, resulting in sort of a “spicy, smoky margarita,” says McGregor. There’ll typically be one or two cocktails available, plus the canned mai tai, as well as a canned wine and some hard ciders. “We’re just trying to have a little bit of everything for everybody,” says McGregor.

A glossy wooden bar with black walls with bright yellow accents.

The bar at Deep Cuts. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

And that seems to be the philosophy overall, from the soon-to-be-packed events calendar featuring wide-ranging genres of music to the family-friendly space and comfort-food menu. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s thrilling to see Deep Cuts finally put down roots in a space that can accommodate the vision. Check out the website and Instagram for updates on the events and lunch schedule as both ramp up—and be sure to swing by in the afternoon on June 3, Medford’s first-ever Porchfest, for a free lineup of bands, including Tiffy, Hey I’m Outside, and Astral Bitch.

A restaurant interior features black surfaces with yellow accents.

Deep Cuts. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

21 Main St., Medford Square,