This is the second post in our Neighborhood Spotlight series. To start at the beginning, read Part I, A Love Song to Davis Square.
I actually live solidly between Union Square and Porter Square, so I’d like to briefly nod to Porter—it’s a great area with a convenient T stop, Christopher’s bar and restaurant (come for the nachos, stay for the fireplace, but be sure to eat a lot of nachos while you’re there), and Newtowne Grille (their PBR pitcher and cheese pizza special is basically the only affordable meal on a student budget in the greater Boston area). There’s also Café Zing, inside Porter Square Books, which is my idea of heaven: a coffee shop IN a bookstore?!
But mostly, when I want to go out, I head to Union Square. Union Square has an eclectic feel. It doesn’t have a T stop, which is part of the appeal—it has more of a neighborhood vibe because most of the people who spend time there actually live in the area. It’s about a 25 minute walk from Union Square proper to HDS, but I promise that it’s worth the trek!
In terms of restaurants and bars, Union has a mix of newer restaurants and hole-in-the-wall places. Some of my favorites are as follows:
- For German food and beer, go to Bronwyn. It’s bit pricey, but definitely worth checking out, and they have a nice outdoor patio.
- For great Thai food, check out Sweet Ginger. It’s affordable and low-key, and they also deliver!
- My favorite neighborhood bar is The Independent. Ideal ambiance, great food, solid drinks. There’s also an outdoor patio in the summer. Great for bigger groups.
- Wait, maybe Bull McCabe’s is my favorite neighborhood bar? It’s got an outdoor patio, too, and is really cozy inside. I come here to do homework on Saturday afternoons sometimes (coffee shops get crowded!). Come with a few friends or on your own—I’ve never felt weird being here by myself (again, just to clarify, doing homework. I am a diligent student, I swear).
- A4 is a small off-shoot of Kendall Square restaurant Area Four, serving amazing pizza, whiskey, and craft beer, and my personal favorite thing in the entire world (I may be exaggerating, but not by much): garlic knots with marinara sauce. It’s small, so don’t come here with a big group, but for a date or a night out with a couple friends, it’s perfect.
- Bloc 11 is an upscale coffee shop with no internet and plenty of seating, so if you really need to focus on homework without the distraction of cat memes, come here. It’s located in a former bank, so you can even sit in what used to be a bank vault, which, you know, is kind of cool.
- Back Bar has the most delicious and wonderful cocktails. Located in an unmarked alleyway, the first task is to figure out how to get inside. When you’ve made it in, tell the bartenders what your favorite spirit is and some other flavors you like, and they’ll whip up something incredibly delicious. It’s a little expensive and the wait can be kind of long, so go early in the evening. Oh, and be sure to try the fancy popcorn.
- Journeyman is a restaurant owned by the same people who own Back Bar. Journeyman is so fancy that you have to purchase tickets online for your meal. I mean, that’s serious. It’s so good, though. This is definitely a big occasion/celebration dinner spot, not an everyday place, but I recommend trying it at some point. There’s no menu; you simply show up for a tasting menu, and some evenings they also do wine pairings.
Ok, so clearly I’m a big fan of the food and drink scene in Union, not to mention a sucker for a good outdoor patio. In the summertime, there’s also a Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning, where you can pick up local produce and meet your neighbors.
Finally, I’d like to highlight the many amazing festivals that take place in Union Square. In the summer, it seems like there’s a festival happening every other weekend. There are often art festivals, although my favorite is definitely the Fluff Festival. The Fluff Festival celebrates Marshmallow Fluff, which was invented in Somerville! Restaurants in the area incorporate fluff into special menu items, and there are games and contests and all kinds of fluff-related shenanigans.
With that, I think I have made it abundantly clear that Union Square is the place to be. Move here, and you’ll find out for yourself!