Tell me, does this sound familiar?
Jake: Let’s go out to dinner Friday night.
Me: Sounds good! Where should we go?
Jake: Wherever you want to go.
Me: I don’t care, I’m up for anything. What are you in the mood for?
Jake: Not sure. I’ll think about it.
Me: Where are we going?
Jake: I thought you were going to pick.
Me: I don’t care.
Jake: Magouns Pub.
Me: Eh. No. Highland Kitchen?
Jake: Not really feeling it. What about that place, on that street, near the school?
Me: No idea what you’re talking about. What about...
And this conversation lasts all night until I’ve literally starved to death.
I know I make Jake sound like the schmuck here, but this conversation always goes both ways. And hey, it’s my website ;).
I have to say, I consider myself lucky that the “Where Should We Eat” argument is probably the one that ruffles the most feathers in my relationship… things could be way worse. To help ease matters, I’ve decided to compile a list of my favorite spots in my neighborhood, Somerville, MA. I’ll be following up with another post with recommendations in downtown Boston and enlisting some help from fellow RDs around the country for their recommendations in cities like NY, LA, DC, Dallas, and more! Look forward to a new #WhereShouldWeEat post every Friday for the next couple of months. Here they are…
Sarma | $$
This is hands-down my absolute favorite place to eat in Somerville and the place Jake and I agree on most. We spend every birthday, minor, and major celebration here because the food is just that damn good. The menu is Turkish-inspired small plates with plethora of vegan and vegetarian options. The flavor combinations are always surprising and the mixed drinks are usually a perfect combination of boozy and sweet. The waitstaff is always super friendly and they add a fun element to their “specials” by bringing them around to your table throughout the night to see if you would want to try one or not. Spoiler: one special that always seems to be on the rotation is the Fried Chicken and it is NOT to be missed! You could have a super cheap dinner here if you have self-control, but we don’t. We usually walk away spending about $60/person and that includes drinks. It’s certainly worth every penny. Note: you do have to make a reservation pretty far in advance if you want a spot here, or you can take a chance and try to sit at the bar, it’s worked for us a few times.
Favorite Menu Items: 7-Layer Hummus, Lamb Sliders, Brussel Sprouts Bravas, Potato Wedges
Highland Kitchen | $$
If this place took reservations I’d probably show up a whole lot more. But depending on the day and time that you show up, you could be waiting about an hour for a table. The food here is southern comfort with a classic hipster spin. They make great sandwiches and burgers, but also have some Southern classics like Spicy Goat Stew, Fried Green Tomatoes (side), and Shrimp and Grits. Most burgers and sandwiches come with a side of fries or salad, but if you ask nicely, they’ll give you half-and-half because hey, it’s all about balance right?
Favorite Menu Items: Cuban Reuben, Buffalo Brussel Sprouts, Black Bean Burger
Soundbites Cafe | $$
If you're looking for a hearty diner breakfast, look no further. Soundbites has classic breakfast (and lunch) fare, no frills about it. Even the coffee and water is self-serve. The hashbrowns are more like grilled mashed potatoes (yum) and the muffins come grilled as well. And no, you're not seeing double, the place next door, Ball Square Cafe has the exact same menu. The two places are (don't quote me on this) run by two brothers (cousins? friends?) and apparently there is some sibling rivalry. Some days the line at Soundbites is around the corner, and others just the opposite. Since the menus are the same, we usually go to the spot with the shortest wait but there are definitely customers who maintain loyalty to one party!
Favorite Menu Item: Broadway Breakfast Bowl
Rosebud American Kitchen | $$$
This place was recently renovated a couple of years ago. I frequent here more for brunch than dinner, but both menus highlight comfort foods and don’t skimp on portions. This is definitely one of those places that you want to be at when it’s snowing. It’s cozy atmosphere and extensive donut and pie options will help pull you through a brutal New England winter.
Favorite Menu Items: I’ve only ever ordered off their “specials” menu, so make sure to ask when you go!
Not to be confused with Machu Picchu restaurant just down the street. This little cafe might not look like much but their chicken is off the charts. It’s one of my go-to take out places because you can get a well rounded meal for Just under $10. I’ve really never tried anything other than the chicken and the sides on the menu because there really is no point.
Favorite Menu Items: Quarter chicken with salad, plantains, and an extra side of boiled yucca.
Fasika Ethiopian | $
I found a Groupon for this place years ago, and wanted to give it a try. I’ve never seen Jake so happy in my entire life. He was thrilled to be able to eat the entire meal with just his hands. While I’ve never been to Ethiopia, this place seems pretty legit. They serve all dishes on a large (LARGE) piece of teff bread, and give you extra for picking up your food. There are as many vegetarian options as meat-based options so there really is something for everyone. The flavors are definitely not something you’re normally cooking with, and the atmosphere is cozy and definitely different from a regular dining experience (no utensils!).
Favorite Menu Items: Fasika Combo (allows choice of vegetarian and meat options).
Casa B | $$$
Anytime I have a choice between an entree-focused menu or small plates, I choose the small plates! I love being able to try a little bit of everything and Casa B is perfect for that. I walked past this place a thousand times before finally giving it a try and I’m so glad I did. The Spanish Caribbean Themed menu provides a combination of sweet and spicy flavors and plenty of vegetarian or veggie-centric options.
Favorite Menu Items: Gnocci de Yuca
Being from New York, I always knew where to find a good sub sandwich growing up. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be the case here in Boston. At least until I moved to Somerville and discovered Daves. Their sandwiches are out of this world, made to order on fresh bread. They also have (surprise) a fresh pasta and sauce section of their deli, along with a small market where they sell veggies,wine, and other pantry items.
Favorite Menu Items: Italian sub
Shiso Kitchen | $$$
Not a restaurant, but a cooking school! This teaching kitchen is run by Chef Jessica Roy (two time winner of Cutthroat Kitchen!) and is probably one of the best alternatives to dining out in the area. Her classes are hands on and she always has recipes that are both new and interesting but also easy to recreate at home. Most classes are around $89 and include an appetizer, entree, side, and dessert, plus the cooking lesson. She offers everything from Sushi making to Classic Italian. If you can’t make it to one of her classes, book her for a private event (birthday, bachelorette, or just a night out) and ask co-create the menu.
Favorite Menu Items: Lemon Rosemary Yogurt Cake (made in her Vegetarian Cooking Class).
Other Favorite Spots:
- Union Square Donuts, for the donuts of course
- Bloc 11, Forge, or Diesel Cafe for coffee
- Loui’s Ice Cream
- The Biscuit for baked goods
- Snappy Ramen for ramen
- Slumbrew or Winter Hill Brewing for a Somerville-brewed beer
- Redbones for barbecue
- Taco Loco for real tacos
- Posto for classic Italian
- Painted Burro for nachos and margs
- The Independent for a hearty brunch or dinner, plus a good beer selection
- Saloon for a swanky atmosphere and a stiff drink
- Spoke for upscale small plates and excellent wine selection
- Tu Y Yo for authentic Mexican
- Neighborhood Restaurant for a cheap breakfast
- Flatbread for delicious pizza and candlepin bowling
Are you a Somervillan? What are your favorite places to eat? Let me know in the comments below so we have more options next time we argue #WhereShouldWeEat!