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Near Davis Square...

Hi All,

I am wanting to try something new in the Davis Square area tonight. I was thinking about Cafe Barada, Marasta on Elm, or the new asian place called BeJapons (or something like that!) Any thoughts on these places or anything other interesting suggestions?


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  1. Martsa on Elm is pretty good, though I like House of Tibet in Teele Square better.

    Cafe Barada is excellent; their soups, salads, grape leaves, and hommous are all very good. And the owner is a really nice guy who seems to take a lot of pride in the place.

    3 Replies
      1. re: hiddenboston

        Just to report, all this food talk around my house was making me hungry. I stopped at Cafe Barada on the way home and got the falafel sandwich with hummus. It was huge, and delicious. My favorite falafel experience in Boston, so far. Not as good as Mamoun's in the Village, but I will surely be back to this place. Thanks foodies!

      2. Benjapon's is not that great (search board for review, more of a fast food/take-out place) ...Barada is good (ask for hot sauce on your falafel)...House of Tibet is very good...Sabur (across the street from HoT on Holland) has an outside patio (middle-eastern) is good too...

        1. Cafe Barada is actually not in Davis Square, but it is within walking distance. It's on Mass. Ave. in North Cambridge, at the traffic light where the big church is.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hiddenboston

            The address is:
            2269 Massachusetts Ave.

          2. I'm a big fan of the ting-mo and the curried pumpkin at Martsa on Elm.

            Namaskar is great too-- the Mysore Masala Dosai is huge and very spicy.

            If you want to spend a little more, Gargoyle's On the Square is always a good bet for a nice evening.

            1. Other possibilities n Mass Ave -- Qingdao Garden, Greek Corner, Bengal Cafe.

              1. And herein lies the problem with Davis. There are LOTS and LOTS of restaurants, some of which are ok as neighborhood places, but none of which are good enough to be destinations, with the possible exception of Redbones.

                The overall quality in Davis is mediocre to poor. When we're looking for a good meal, we usually head to Inman or to Mass Ave between Porter and Harvard. A shame really since Davis is crawling with restaurants.

                31 Replies
                1. re: DavisSquare

                  I'll add the Burren as a worthwhile destination. The market a couple of doors down also has incredible prices for meat (steak!).

                  1. re: steinpilz

                    Don't get me wrong, I like the Burren, and we often go there (for the veggie burger in fact) when we just want a quick bite. However, the food is, as I said, ok for a neighborhood place. It may be a destination as a bar or for the music, but certainly not for the food.

                    The food shopping options (McKinnons, Sessa's, and Dave's Fresh Pasta), are considerably better.

                  2. re: DavisSquare

                    What makes Redbones a destination? All Redbones has going for it is a cool space and the wheel of beer. Their que is mediocre.

                    How is Gargoyle's not a destination?

                    What's wrong with Namaskar, House of Tibet Kitchen or Johnny D's?

                    1. re: gini

                      What's good to get at Johnny D's?

                      1. re: Prav

                        Johnny D's has a great Brunch. Also The Burren has a great Veggie Burger. RedBones is cool for beer but the food is not that good. House of Tibet is delish. I want to try Namaskar soon!

                        1. re: David_A

                          Agreed - Johnny D's brunch is excellent. Their oatmeal (though possibly not of interest in the summer) is great.

                        2. re: Prav

                          Any special; always better than their regular menu items..

                          1. re: Prav

                            Ate at Johnny D's recently before seeing a band on a Sat nite - - VERY impressed with the extensive, well thought out menu & the food was TERRIFIC. Didn't expect it to be, but it's a new fave of mine just b/c of the food, let alone the music - - definitely a destination in Davis!

                          2. re: gini

                            Totally agree. Redbones is not my cup of tea. But Gargoyles is one of my favorite bar food destinations in any hood.

                            1. re: yumyum

                              I agree, I used to live by Davis and only go "all the way out there" for Gargoyles and the Somerville Theatre now. I think I posted about this a few months ago but they had a fruit and cheese plate with truffled honey that was perfect not sure if they've updated the menu more recently.

                            2. re: gini

                              Not sure what's wrong with Namaskar. We've been a couple of times but haven't been drawn to go back. Again it, along with Diva, are fine neighborhood places but would not draw me from afar.

                              Johnny D's is certainly a destination spot but for the music. The food, with the exception of weekend brunch, is terrible. We've regretted every time we've eaten there. The brunch is good enough to make it worth the trip, as is the breakfast at Renee's in Teele.

                              We haven't been to Gargoyles in a couple of years after having been disappointed twice there (food not better than fine and not as good as others in the same category). Perhaps it's improved and we should give it a try again.

                              My main point was to lament that of the tens of restaurants in Davis, few to none shine on the Boston dining scene, and many are just bad.

                              Has anyone been to Out of the Blue in it's new location?

                              1. re: DavisSquare

                                If you've not been to Gargoyles since Jason Santos took over, you must try it again. Sit at the bar, have a great cocktail (both bartenders are superb) and taste some delicious food.

                                1. re: yumyum

                                  Indeed - at the bar 3 weeks ago had the buttermilk fried duck legs - which they appear to have taken off the menu - my lord that was good. A big girl and two dirty martinis and I was a very happy hound indeed.

                                  1. re: yumyum

                                    Ok. Will do. It's added to our list. We'd be thrilled to have a fine dining outlet close to home but at that price range, twice bitten, twice shy or something like that.

                                    Is the bar comfortable for parties of more than two (i.e. four, not ten)? Is the bar a bar or are there tables there as well?

                                    1. re: yumyum

                                      I'm happy to report that we went to Gargoyles last night and had a very nice meal in the "lounge". Good (but not great) mojito, excellent appetizers and mains, poor desserts. Overall very very yummy. Much much better than it was last time we tried it (2-3 years ago). We'll be back. Thanks

                                    2. re: DavisSquare

                                      Re: Gargoyles. I think sitting at the bar is key. The bartenders are excellent and you can choose between the bar menu and the dining room menu. The dining room experience appears to be a bit stuffy and very, very dark.

                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                        Agree. I have only eaten in the dining room once and much prefer the bar -- you can eat right there or at one of the small tables in the front room. Oh, and your post reminds me to recommend the bourbon and the sangria. Although not together. :-)

                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                          Boy, do I love that spiced bourbon.

                                          To Davis Square - there are tables in the bar area as well as comfy seats. 4 people tops would be comfortable dining. We've sat at the bar with three people and that was fine. If you strategically place yourself at the bar (corner of the bar) you could even seat 4 comfortably.

                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                            They don't have a tv in the bar for Sox viewing, do they? I'm on a quest (see my earlier post)...

                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                              I don't know if Gargoyles has a tv or not. I never noticed one but I was always distracted by the food, drink and company. ;-)

                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                Just ate at Gargoyles last night and had a great dinner. Found out from Paul the bartender that they are going to renovate a bit in the restaurant, adding a TV in the bar. It won't be on all the time - just "special reasons" (i.e., the Pats in the Super Bowl).

                                                Dinner, BTW, was phenomenal. Shared app of giant, lighted peppered shrimp/prawns (with black pepper and ever-so-light use of cayenne pepper for a bit of heat), served with a bit of shredded red cabbage (I think) and a round of cornbread, napped with a marsala cream sauce. Incredibly good! The cornbread soaked up some of the cream sauce, and it was a perfect sweet complement to the slight heat from the cayenne.

                                                I got the seared large scallops (4 of them), served with pea tendrils, and something I'm completely blanking out on, with a sauce which, unfortunately, I can't remember the description of either - not as memorable as those scallops, obviously, but it was good, as I continually dipped the scallops in it. The scallops were done perfectly - larger than a silver dollar, the crusty pan-seared outside kept the inside tender and meltingly sweet. The best scallops I've had in a long time! My friend got the char siu kurobota pork tenderloin - very, VERY good.

                                              2. re: DavisSquare

                                                Yes - went to OOTB this winter in its new location. My answer is - eh. Underseasoned, overcooked fish is not my cup of tea.

                                                1. re: DavisSquare

                                                  You still haven't explained what makes Redbones a desitination.

                                                  1. re: gini

                                                    Mostly the lack of BBQ in Boston :-). I'm not a big fan myself but I do hear about people coming there from far and wide...

                                                2. re: gini

                                                  So, what's so bad about the food at Redbones? Serious question - I like the ribs, but haven't eaten at a lot of barbeque places so I don't know what I'm missing. The sides are great. In any case, I pretty much go for the beer.

                                                  A completely separate question, but who's had the jerk? I believe it's the spiciest dish in Davis Square.

                                                  1. re: nfo

                                                    I used to love the wheel of beer, hush puppies and fried okra at Redbones. Hell, I still love the hush puppies. Never really cared for the que - a little tasteless and overdone in my mind. Much prefer Blue Ribbon in Arlington. The last time I was there though - 6/28/06 - we waited 30 minutes for our drinks - of course we got comped the drinks - but the waitress was surly and the pulled pork sandwich was soggy and not spicey at all.

                                                    Never had the jerk - so can't compare.

                                                    1. re: nfo

                                                      I've had Redbones' jerk beef sandwich a couple times and yes, it's HOT! Luckily their drinks comes in huge glasses so I had enough lemonade to keep me cool.

                                                      1. re: Joshua B

                                                        Yeah, the jerk beef sandwich is Too Hot For Me, and that's saying a lot. I haven't compared it head-to-head with, say, a vindaloo, but I could easily believe that it's Davis's Spiciest Dish. Spicy enough to irritate my stomach, however much lemonade I drink.

                                                      2. re: nfo

                                                        I like Redbones, can't see anything to complain about with their Q, a variety of styles all well done, a nice dining room, a funky bar. I've been going there for around 15 years so sentimentality may cloud my opinion... but it's really good BBQ.

                                                        1. re: steinpilz

                                                          I find plenty of things to complain about their barbecue but will leave it at two: too-saucy pulled pork and dry ribs. With Blue Ribbon in Arlington reasonably close, don't waste your money on anything but beer and sausages at Redbones.

                                                    2. re: DavisSquare

                                                      Out of the Blue is a great place and they just moved into Davis Sq. They used ot be right around the corner. Steve and Brad opened this place up a few years ago and have done a tremendous business. THey will cater to your tastes and needs.

                                                      IMO Redbones is way over stated. I much prefer (or did until I became a veggie) Uncle Petes who is now in Revere.

                                                    3. Thanks for all the suggestions. I live in the Davis area so have tried all of the usual suspects (Red Bones, Diva, Burren, Gargoyles, etc.) So, I was most interested in the three new-to -me places listed. We ended up at Cafe Barada and it was wonderful! Hiddenboston was right, the owner is very nice and does take a lot of pride in the food! The special of the day was a lamb stew which was great! The lamb was fork tender, carrots and peas were fresh (not frozen) and perfectly cooked, the spices were delicate and flavorful! I can't believe I have been living so close and have not yet tried it. I'll have to make up for that...

                                                      1. I'm glad you liked Cafe Barada! It is definitely worth checking out. The owner of the restaurant is very involved with charity/fundraising work concerning diabetes, which is reason enough for me to give them my business.

                                                        1. I also like Bengal Cafe, on Mass Ave- plus they deliver. See bengalcafe.com

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: secretlyironic

                                                            I wonder why the value-conscious Chowhounds rarely bring up the Thai Kitchen on Mass. Ave. (next door to Bengal Cafe). Their $5.25 lunch special is a great value--hot & sour soup, a large plate of food, a couple crab rangoons or a nicely seasoned chicken satay, plus a dish of ice cream in most cases. Very friendly owners and good food, although not authentic Thai...

                                                            They will soon be adding a Chinese menu.


                                                            1. re: Joshua B

                                                              From what I remember, MaineRed really likes their lunch. I ordered dinner from Thai Kitchen once this Spring. I was very grossed out - greasy, tasteless, barely seasoned. Cheap, though, certainly.

                                                              1. re: Joshua B

                                                                Yeah, I've eaten a lot of food from Thai Kitchen (I live nearby) . There are a couple of specific things that my husband likes: tom yum gai soup, pad thai. The fresh rolls are nice enough. There might be one or two other reliable dishes. Otherwise, fairly disappointing.

                                                                1. re: maryv

                                                                  I find all the curry dishes to be great. The Pad Thai is probably their most disappointing dish but that's ok since Tip Top in Teele Square is close by.

                                                                2. re: Joshua B

                                                                  Because it's the most horrid Thai food I've ever experienced. Ick.

                                                              2. Has anybody had a decent experience at Out of the Blue in Davis Square? Been there a couple of times and the fish is always bland and overcooked--at the same prices, more or less, that you'd spend at Legal's. Maybe I'm just ordering the wrong things, but I'm completely baffled by the success of this place!

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: rufustfi

                                                                  I ate there back in early May - amazing crab cake appetizer and seafood risotto for the main. A review I had written on another message board said "Shrimp, scallops, mussels, littleneck clams and calamari in a nice light tomato sauce on top of the risotto. The shrimp and scallops - perfectly done. The mussels and clams - mussels were better. (I'm not a fan of either, but will eat them - but the mussels were superbly cooked! Littlenecks were slightly overcooked.) But the highlight? The calimari! I usually do NOT like calimari, but I figured hey - it's mixed in with the other seafood - if it's tough like I usually get, I'll push them aside. Yeah. Right. It was drop dead wonderful! Perfectly sweet, tender, and not chewy like rubber at all!"

                                                                  1. re: rufustfi

                                                                    I agree with you, rufustfi, they do not handle fish well. They deal with seafood well though. Not sure if they have it anymore, but their lobster for 2 always looked excellent. As well, horseradith crusts or any other spicey dish is much better than their more bland dishes.