Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Davis Square: The Hidden Hometown Eatery

—While Harvard Square might have fast food heavyweights such as Bartley’s, Crazy Dough’s, Flat Patties and Wagamama, these establishments only hold a candle to what is offered down the M.B.T.A.’s red line; there is a finer, healthier, and cheaper selection at the underappreciated and lesser-populated Davis Square. Porter Square isn’t the only thing that separates Davis from Harvard; Harvard Square covers a much larger area, which allows for more business, and ultimately more foot traffic. However, unlike Harvard, Davis—a mere five-minute walk from Tufts University—maximizes its potential with the space given. I won’t even get into places such as the Joshua Tree, Diva, and Kickass Cupcakes—mainly because this is a cheap food piece, and these places, while great, are not as cheap as they could or should be—but nevertheless, the remainder of quality eateries is more than you’ll find in most small town squares.

Harvard Square can have its Uno’s Chicago Grill, I’d rather go to Spike’s Junkyard Dog, a hot dog fast food hole-in-the-wall based out of its Allston and Providence locations that has been recently expanding its front to cities such as Somerville and Brighton. Spike’s made-to-order hot dogs come packed on a bulky sub roll, and are topped with anything from chili and cheese to jalapenos and sauerkraut. Combine this with some of the best chicken fingers and curly fries around, and you’ve got yourself a fast food meal that’ll leave you full and satisfied. Price? No worries here, as you’re more likely to break your belt than your bank.

If you like American, but want a more cozy experience, try Redbones. This southern-style barbecue restaurant serves up delicatessen that’ll make you feel like you’re in Somerville, Alabama rather than five minutes north of Boston. The pulled-pork sandwich is one of their trademarks, and while it may be difficult to wrap your mitts around, it never disappoints. Just make sure you don’t fill up on sides like candied yams, the buttery garlic mashed potatoes, or the tangy dirty rice. Entrees aren’t that pricey comparatively, and Redbones also offers “easy-order” dinners, serving a group of four for $49.99, or a group of 6 for $79.99.

There is also a downstairs to Redbones, with a porn-shop décor pulled from a few Quentin Tarantino flicks. There you’ll find a beer wheel where you can win a free beer of your choice—think wheel of fortune, but full of brew. However, if it’s drinks you are looking for, I’d absolutely suggest Mike’s Food & Spirits, located in the heart of Davis Square. For a seemingly small restaurant, the bar is packed with nearly forty different brands of bottled beer, most of them being a mere $3.25, not to mention the rotating two-dollar “Beers of the Month.” Mike’s also serves up some strong cocktails at some respectable prices, and full bottles of wine for as low as $11. The food is basic Italian cuisine—nothing spectacular, but nonetheless this is the premier spot to grab a couple of beers and a couple of slices if you’re on the move.

If you’re looking for something a bit spicier, Davis Square offers up some Mexican powerhouses. Chipotle is a chain Mexican joint that delivers only three things—burritos, tacos, and salads—but does so exceptionally; I definitely recommend trying the spicy barbacoa. Just be sure to shed tears of joy with their extra hot salsa. Anna’s Taqueria is a more authentic Mexican restaurant, offering up nachos, quesadillas, burritos and tacos. The meat isn’t as good as Chipotle, however the beans and cheeses are far superior, and the Jarritos Mexican juice compliments the entire meal perfectly.

Finally, for dessert, you could do what most people would and head over to J.P Licks, the multi-year winner in the Phoenix’s Best of Boston awards for gourmet ice cream. But if you’d rather sit and digest with a cup of coffee and warm pastry, a more realistic option going into the winter months, then you’re dream location is Mr. Crepe. In the shadow of the town-favorite Someday Café, Mr. Crepe is in its third year at Davis, but has become a premier spot for creatively constructed crepes and sandwiches. Overall the selection is a little pricy, however the flaky pastries combined with the fillings that range from marshmallow fluff to Portobello mushroom make these crepes feel like an actual meal.

In addition to these establishments, there are several other locations such as the Diesel Café, Blue Shirt Café, Sagra, and the Burren; this essentially means that you could visit Davis every day of the week, have three meals a day, and never have the same meal twice. Davis square is truly a hidden gem. When it comes to quality and quantity, it has the best of both worlds.

Spike's Junkyard Dogs
217 Elm Street
Somerville, MA 02144
(617) 440-1010

(617) 628-2200
55 Chester St
Somerville, MA 02144

Food & Spirits
(617) 628-2379
9 Davis Sq. Somerville MA

270-276 Elm St
Somerville, MA 02144
(617) 623-1759
Anna's Taqueria
236 Elm St
Somerville, MA 02144
(617) 666-3900

Mr. Crepe
51 Davis Square
, MA 02144
(617) 623-0661

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