Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Dec 1, 2009 09:06 AM

Davis Square Suggestions

I just moved to Davis Square in Somerville from Manhattan and I'm worried about the sharp decrease in my restaurant ratio. Can anyone tell me where the best places in the Davis area to eat are? Do restaurants deliver around here? I'm currently carless, so I'm looking for places I won't need to drive to if not directly in the square.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Tu Y O is a short walk from Davis to Powderhouse Circle. I love the octopus and they made me fish tacos, which I was pining for after eating at Baby Bo's Cantina in Manhattan. Welcome to the 'hood - you watch, the recs will be coming thick and fast! Also, even tho' you're carless, you are on the T Redline, and you can get ANYWHERE from Davis Sq!

    Tu Y Yo Mexican Fonda
    858 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

    1. Some of my favorites right in the square are Redbones (bbq), Gargoyles (brunch, bar menu, date restaurant), Dave's Fresh Pasta (sandwiches, also has a selection of local produce and meats). A short walk to Mass Ave will get you to Greek Corner and Qingdao Garden.
      For delivery, has a good selection of the choices in the area.

      1. In Davis Square proper:
        -Gargoyles for interesting and moderately upscale new American with Asian influences
        -Redbones for BBQ and an excellent beer list
        -Namaskar for Indian
        -Diesel for excellent coffee and sandwiches (although I'd recommend avoiding the pastries)
        -Anna's for reasonably good burritos, tacos, etc
        -Dave's Fresh Pasta for pasta, sandwiches, cheese, wine, local produce/meat/fish, olive oil, and random other goodies. Probably my favorite store in Davis square.
        -Orleans for reasonably good "American bistro" style food, although can be a bit hit or miss. They have a nice patio in the summer. Brunch is good.
        -Martsa on Elm for good Tibetan
        -Tu y Yo for authentic regional Mexican (in Powderhouse circle, a short walk)
        -East Asia for tasty-if-Americanized Chinese (also in Powderhouse circle)

        Within a 10-15 minute walk:
        -Pescatore in Ball Square is great for Italian, especially seafood. Their homemade fusilli is wonderful, as are the arancini. Much better than the two neighborhood Italian places in Davis square (Sagra and Alfresco), and definitely worth the walk. Highly recommended.
        -Teele Square Cafe in Teele Square has good coffee, sandwiches, and soups, and is easier to get a table at than Diesel.
        -Hana Sushi on Mass Ave for sushi and other Japanese options. Much better, IMO, than any of the sushi places in Davis square itself.
        -Qingdao Garden on Mass Ave for reasonably authentic (as I understand it) northern Chinese.
        -Cafe Barada on Mass Ave for good Lebanese food
        -House of Tibet Kitchen in Teele Square for another good Tibetan option
        -Sabur in Teele Square for Mediterranean with a Greek/Balkan influence
        -Highland Kitchen for really excellent gastropub/American comfort food. A bit of a further walk (about 20 minutes), but definitely worthwhile.

        You are also right on the red line, which puts you in easy reach of Cambridge and downtown Boston for many more dining options.

        6 Replies
        1. re: greenzebra

          great list. the sandwiches at daves are very good and can be phenomenal. i really, really like their cuban. also my favorite store in davis square.

          re: gargoyles, we've never liked the dining room, somehow the dishes just seem poorly conceived--too elaborate, flavors that don't quite meld, and execution that falls a step or two short. that said, the bar is great. very fond of their burger, and with the thick waffle fries and housemade ketchup for $10, it's a bargain.

          re: diesel. given that they are using intelligentsia coffee, their drinks should be better than they are. they're good, don't get me wrong, but they could be better. stay far away from the pastries. the place is lousy with hipsters.

          re: namaskar. lunch buffet is very forgettable. i'm told that they really come into their own at dinner.

          1. re: autopi

            I'll have try the bar at Gargoyles. I wasn't blown away by the dining room, although I liked it well enough to give it another try. The main thing that it stopping me from eating at the bar is that my wife is a vegetarian and the bar menu doesn't tend to be vegetarian-friendly.

            Namaskar - I've never been there for lunch, I'll remember to avoid it. But their dinner is quite good: my go-to for Indian takeout. Guru the Caterer past Teele Square is better but much less convenient (especially given that they close at 7:30), so I'm usually perfectly satisfied with Namaskar.

            For coffee, really the place to go is Simon's on Mass ave between Porter and Harvard. Definitely better than Diesel (although I find that Diesel can be quite good if sometimes inconsistent, depending on the time of day and who is pulling the shots).

            1. re: greenzebra

              I believe you can order from the dining room menu while sitting at the bar (or at least in the bar area) at Gargoyles.

              To add to the list: Johnny D's for good brunch and bar food.

              1. re: greenzebra

                I definitely prefer the bar at Gargoyle's as well. The cocktails made by Paul (ponytail goatee) are really good.
                I like True Grounds coffee in Ball Square, but I also like Diesel.
                Avoid the Boston Burger Company right in the square at all costs.
                You can get quite a lot of semi-prepared Indian foods and ingredients at Farmer's Bounty on Elm St.
                You can also walk easily over to Mass Ave for Himalayan food at Anapurna, or Elephant Walk for French/Cambodian. There's tons of options without even getting on the red line, which as others have mentioned, can get you just about anywhere! Welcome!

              2. re: autopi

                Cuban at Dave's is definitely worth a special visit.

                Poor experiences at Namaskar for me. Lunch buffet better than dinner.

              3. Dude, that's a tough assignment for us Davis Sq. 'hounds. Moving from NYC to the 'ville!

                Here are my own preferences when we stay really local (walking only - otherwise, Highland Kitchen, Magoun's Saloon, Wang's, etc., would make the cut). Apologies for repeats, these are in no particular order, and I won't disparage places I don't like...I just won't mention them since I don't know what your taste is - everyone should discover for themselves what they do/don't like. We usually don't get take-out 'cos I despise take-out containers so I can't help you there. When we do get take-out, I try to re-use the hell out of our old (washed) containers....sorry, jumping off my soapbox now....We do get pizza take-out from Pini's on Broadway - they have some pretty good specialty pizzas (I love the Mediterranean or Bianco, B loves the buffalo chicken pizza) - ask for well-done....yeah, ya gotta ask for that in Boston.

                Davis Sq.
                -Gargoyles - Sit at bar. Eat and drink well, even if not everything works.
                -Redbones - Fun if you don't expect Texas-style authentic BBQ and love good beer. They are bicycle-loving folks, too...they sponsor fun bike-related events during the year if you are into that kind of thing. They deliver by bike, too!
                -Downtown Liquors - You have probably already found it. Pricey, but convenient and wide range of beer.
                -Namaskar - We like it for dinner (never in the area for lunch so I can't comment on the lunch buffet) but the atmosphere is weird. If you've traveled to India, you won't be put off...we've had similar service in Delhi. Gujarati specialties and wonderful naan (we love the boss naan).
                -Sagra used to be nice for pizzas. They've been on-again-off-again. Are they back on the menu? If they are, and if the kitchen is on, they are really good for noshing with a simple red. Show up before the Tufts kids do.
                -When Pigs Fly - for in-your-face breads. It might not be artisanal, but we love it and the folks working there are as nice as can be.
                -Dave's Fresh Pasta - See everyone else's posts. Plus, the guys working there are REALLY cute. It's fun to flirt over food, innit?
                -Tu Y Yo - We don't eat there often, but it's pleasant enough for Mexican. Great when you don't want yet another burrito (Boston loves its' burritos).
                -Yoshi's - We had a great experience there with friends who knew the owners. They paraded out sushi and a whole fish that were absolutely memorable. We haven't been back since (the friends moved away). No alcohol but we had imbibed beforehand.
                -Snappy Sushi - The one time we ate there, we enjoyed the brown rice flavors and combos. We had also imbibed beforehand as they don't have alcohol.
                -Mike's - Hell, no one ever posts about Mike's (maybe for a reason?!), but it's the quintessential Davis Sq experience! Try it once for cheap pizza, pasta, beer, and Red Sox (sorry if you a Yankees fan).
                -Highland Kitchen - 'nuff said. Further afield, but Boston does have buses!

                Teele Sq.
                -House of Tibet - Wonderful Himalayan cuisine in a warm setting. No alcohol.
                -PJ Ryan's - Pub within walking distance of us. Food is pub-quality fine (when the kitchen's on, it's really good - check out the fish and chips), bartenders are friendly, and the beer on tap is better than expected (Dogfish Head, Chimay, etc). Fantastic and infinitely better than Joshua Tree! I can't remember how the food compares to the Burren.
                -Rudy's - They don't get any love here, but we like sitting at the bar for HUGE (hey, sometimes, even we like big portions!) fish tacos, carne asada tacos, etc. I like the spinach quesadillas. People love the margaritas but we also drink beer and wine. They are presently closed for renovations.
                -Guru - For Indian. We like it a lot. A true mom-and-pop operation which is about a 15 min walk each way for you (depending on where you are in Davis). They offer a complete meat or veg option.
                -Tip Top Thai - I keep meaning to try them again. We had meh experiences before. I don't know why we don't.
                -Teele Sq Cafe - They cut back on their hours, but what I've had (side dishes only) were tasty.
                -Amelia's - We had an okay experience there with friends about 2 years ago. How is their pizza? I could swear that one old Boston hound (finlero) liked the pizza there but we haven't tried it.


                Gargoyles On the Square
                219 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144

                11 Replies
                1. re: digga

                  I guess I'll put in a vote for Rudy's, especially if quintessential experiences like Mike's can be listed. The combo plates are not bad, and my friends like the margaritas, though I tend to drink beer. Also, Rudy's does excellent chile con queso. It's a place that does what it says on the tin.

                  1. re: digga

                    Hey digga -- greetings from the Land of the All-Day Breakfast Burrito, and thanks for the nod.

                    Yep, can vouch for the basics at Amelia's, especially the pizza margherita, as well as many of the oven-finished items (pretty tasty gnocchi in red sauce, for example). Before Gran Gusto arrived in North Cambridge, I thought Amelia's did some of the better Neapolitan pizza in town. Gran Gusto's chow is devastatingly better (beware a decidedly long walk in the winter), but Amelia's is still good for the 'hood. People complain about the space; I have no opinion, but takeout might be a good call.

                    A few other nods/seconds/meandering thoughts:

                    * Namaskar is outstanding for Indian, including some hard-to-find regional specialties.
                    * Blue Fin in Porter is absolutely worth the 15 minute walk for sushi and other Japanese. The entire Asian food court in the Porter Exchange is terrific too. Yoshi's and Snappy in Davis are serviceable.
                    * Also in Porter is Sugar and Spice, a good spot for slightly upscale, somewhat Americanized Thai
                    * Diesel for drip coffee and espresso (mmm...Intelligentsia), I actively dislike the eats. Crema in Harvard Square is worth the T ride or walk on a nice day for all of the above.
                    * Angelina's in Teele for a basic NY-style slice.
                    * Spike's gets, IMO, a little unfairly panned here due to their massive, unbalanced hot dog buns; I actually like them (if nothing else, they're fresh and baked on premises), and enjoy their wide variety of toppings. Not a super-chowish place, but open late, and reasonably tasty.
                    * I quite like East Asia, I LOVE Qingdao's Northern-style stuff and homemade dumplings. Both deliver.
                    * People will steer you to Sound Bites and/or Ball Square Cafe for brunch. I do not agree with said people, but probably worth trying for yourself.
                    * City Slicker is a long walk, but a great delivery choice for midscale, nutritious comfort food.
                    * Long walk, but definitely worth checking out the bar (and *only* the bar) at Chez Henri between Harvard and Porter for great fancy Cuban sandwiches and cocktails. Highland Kitchen is fun, but at this price point, it's all about Chez Henri for me.
                    * Magoun Square is a schlep, but I love Panificadora Modelo for Portuguese baked goods and coffee, I like Pini's for a big, cheap slice of pizza, and quite like Wang's (again they deliver), but not as much was Qingdao.
                    * Again a schlep but Danish Pastry House on the far side of Tufts is a nice place to sit around with coffee and a marzipan-laden baked good. The pastries range from ok to very good, I think the breads and sandwiches are a really nice find.

                    1. re: finlero

                      I'm also not a big fan of either Ball Square Cafe or Sound Bites. Honestly, I think Johnny D's, Orleans, and Renee's Cafe are all better for brunch in the general area, and there's lots of substantially better options if you're willing to venture a bit further away.

                      1. re: greenzebra

                        I'll second the thumbs up on Amelia's Kitchen in Teele Square, a short walk from Davis. The Raviola Bella is fabulous, as is the Hookah sandwich on the lunch menu only, I think -- grilled Portabella, pesto, etc. Very tasty. Other great things are the gnocchi, and I like the house chianti. Altogether a very satisfying neighborhood trattoria.

                        Amelia's Kitchen
                        1137 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

                      2. re: finlero

                        I'm constantly baffled by how bad (and expensive) the baked goods at Diesel are, consistently. Doesn't matter when I go there... they're seemingly always stale and tasteless, and shockingly pricey.

                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                          A lot of Diesel's pastries are bought in, and many of them employ vegan substitutes. I do like their sandwiches quite a bit, though. Also, this is where I discovered the joys of the vietnamese coffee.

                          I don't think you can mention Diesel without at least a nod to their (rival? sister restaurant?) up the street in Ball Square, True Grounds. I like a lot of the sandwiches and wraps at True Grounds, though every time ive gotten a drink there, all the syrup/sugar/condensed milk ends up at the bottom.

                          1. re: the modern serf

                            I think ALL of Diesel's pastries are brought in. I don't think they've ever made any pretense of being a bakery.

                            1. re: the modern serf

                              I agree that their baked goods are expensive for the quality. If you use vegan subsititutes and not enough fat (butter or oil) in baked goods, they'll dry out.

                            2. re: Boston_Otter

                              Yeah, it always shocks me too. I finally gave up when I bit into a large chunk of baking powder in a scone from Diesel. The one caveat is that they get their bagels from Iggy's, and they are reasonably good.

                              1. re: Boston_Otter

                                I haven't had baked good a Diesel, except for the very good seeded (iggy's?) bagels with cream cheese. For great baked goods, I go to the Sherman Cafe on Washington Street in Union Square, which has wonderful scones, fabulous vegan muffins (and I'm not even a vegan!), great cookies, etc.

                            3. re: digga

                              The 88 Bus runs directly from Davis up Highland Street to Highland Kitchen, 10 minutes tops. Or a good long walk. Expect to wait for a table, but the cocktails will keep you busy. Kick-Ass Cupcakes for dessert on the way home. The deep fried cupcake sundae is (drool) awfully interesting.

                              Highland Kitchen
                              150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                            4. Depending on where you are, Gran Gusto in Cambridge is walkable. Greek Corner on Mass Ave is pretty basic but might fill a need. I'm a fan of the Bengal Cafe (Bangladeshi). I had a good meal from the buffet at Oasis (Brazilian) recently (chicken with okra, honeycomb tripe w/veg, a lovely chunk of some sort of meat from the grill, salad) and their caipirinhas aren't bad if you specify not too sweet. Delivery (yes, it is available) would cast a wider net but I never use it so no help there.

                              3 Replies
                                1. re: peregrine

                                  At the intersection of Main St and Harvard St in Medford. About a mile from Davis Square.

                                  1. re: greenzebra

                                    They also have a $9.99 all you can eat Mon-Thurs/Fri 5p-10p or something like that.