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NYC 'Hounds Moving to Boston/Somerville

Two NYC 'Hounds are moving to the Somerville area in August. We're looking for restaurant recommendations. High-end places are interesting, but we're really looking for suggestions of more casual places (the neighborhood bistro, the hole in the wall Thai place, etc.) We eat pretty much anything, but are particularly interested in Asian food (Thai, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Indian). We're willing to travel a bit but also want to know of places in and around Davis Square/Tufts. As well, suggestions for good grocery stores (beyond Whole Foods) in the area would be helpful. We know about Ebisu-ya but other suggestions would be very much appreciated.

Thank you.

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  1. Welcome to the neighborhood! I don't think this is the best area for Asian foods (although I'm sure you'll get plenty of suggestions). The best Asian food close by is probably Rod Dee (Thai) in Porter. I love their Pad See Ew, which is made with actual Chinese broccoli instead of American broccoli like at many Thai places. Their Tom Yum soup is also delicious.

    Qingdao Garden a bit north of Porter on Mass Ave has lots of fans on the board. A lot of people like Guru the Caterer in Teele Square, although I wasn't super-impressed. If you go a bit further, Kebab Factory in Inman is good Indian food.

    Qingdao Garden Restaurant
    2382 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

    The Kebab Factory
    414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

    Teele Square Cafe
    Somerville, MA, Somerville, MA

    Guru the Caterer
    1297 Broadway, Somerville, MA

    1 Reply
    1. re: jacquesf

      Kebab factory is great for lunch. A number of good Indian choices in Davis. Petsie's Pies for good scones, pies, etc. East Coast Grill in Inman for good seafood, barbecue, brunch. Lot's more in the area. Welcome.

      East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
      1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

    2. All of these have been discussed in depth previously so search to get information.
      Grocery: Market Basket (hectic)
      Japanese authentic quick service/yoshoku: Cafe Mami
      Thai: Rod Dee
      Burrito: Anna's (Porter and Davis, not the best in the US but basically the best around)
      Tacos and tortas: used to be Tacos Lupita but I think they changed ownership and are less good now; I haven't been since
      Northern Chinese: Wang's (decent but aside from the boiled dumplings, not great technical quality). Qingdao is abysmal, not sure why people like them.
      Sushi: Head up Mass Av into Arlington and go to Toraya
      Indian: Kabab Factory (especially for the buffet); Guru the Caterer. Note that neither of these is a really intense tour de force of desi mastery, just pretty good.
      Good deal on a variety of US factory meats: McKinnon's

      You'll find significantly better options for many Chinese cuisines if you hop on the red line and go to Chinatown, or drive over to Allston. Korean is a general weakness in the Boston area and Japanese outside of sushi (and the above-mentioned Mami) is scarce. Good Thai food is having something of a renaissance with great options in Allston and the Back Bay but locally to you Rod Dee is a good option. Indian is scattered but I'd say Allston/Brighton have several very good options especially if you are looking for Pakistan food. Decent South Indian food is pretty much limited to the suburbs.

      Toraya Restaurant
      890 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

      Guru the Caterer
      1297 Broadway, Somerville, MA

      Cafe Mami
      1815 Massachusetts Ave Ste M4, Cambridge, MA 02140

      3 Replies
      1. re: Luther

        all good suggestions, also at the intersection where Kebab Factory is, there is Bergamot (New American) and (for gourmet shopping) Savenor's and Wine & Cheese Cask

        1. re: barleywino

          Formaggio Kitchen is a good high end market in north cambridge an easy bike ride from Davis, and there is a new japanese grocery going in just north of Porter on Mass ave, also Mckinnons Meat market in the square itself. Johnny';s food market on rte16 for general groceries. Belmont a couple of towns away has two good chinese place, Shangri-la, and Golden Garden.

          Formaggio Kitchen
          244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

          Golden Garden
          63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

          1. re: barleywino

            agree with the wine and cheese cask; i wonder what a cheese cask is.

            Harvard Square has a number of interesting restaurants:

            Om Chinese fusion from an adherent of Barbara Tropp
            Rialto high end Italian
            pizza Otto's
            Indian: Tamarind Bay - something special

            Central Square:

            new American: Criagie on Main, Rendevous
            Sichuanese: Thailand Cafe - the Thai food has a bad reputation
            Floating Rock: Cambodian, I have not tried it yet.

            Belmont: Golden Garden, excellent northern Chinese fare. I prefer it to Quing Dao, but i am not definite about that.

            Floating Rock
            485 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

            Tamarind Bay
            75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

            Golden Garden
            63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

        2. Dave's Fresh Pasta in Davis has great sandwiches and can serve as a small grocery store in a pinch. They have a small, but nice selection of local veggies and eggs and such (and of course house-made pasta).

          Diesel Cafe has quite great coffee and espresso beverages, and if you're down near Porter, Simon's is even better.

          Flatbread Pizza is really great, though nothing like NYC pizza, so keep that in mind. They have a nice beer/wine selection and bowling if you're into that. They also do charity nights on a frequent basis, which gives them points in my book.

          There's a nice little farmer's market in Davis from 12-6 on Wednesday that will run until late fall. Like everything around here, things can get pricey, but the quality is often great and worth it.

          If you're willing to try some vegan food, True Bistro in Teele Square has gotten a lot of love, from carnivores and vegetarians alike. It's a little pricier than your everyday meal, but not quite high-end.

          We're in Davis as well, but actual rent a Zipcar to get to Watertown for Russo's, which is bar none the best place for produce in the city. It's cheap, high-quality, and the variety is astounding. I'd recommend at least one trip to understand its splendor. It's also a source for some of the more esoteric ingredients you might need if you do any ethnic cooking.

          Ice cream: JP Lick's in Davis is quite good.

          Dave's Fresh Pasta
          81 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

          Teele Square Cafe
          Somerville, MA, Somerville, MA

          1. Not Asian, but if Highland Kitchen were convenient to my NYC apartment, I would eat there all the time. (As it is, it's moderately convenient to my Cambridge apartment, and I eat there semi-regularly.)

            Highland Kitchen
            150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

            1. You are so lucky! Somerville has some great eating options ... and it's a super fun area to live in. In addition to the other suggestions (you'll love Dave's in Davis) I will add a few more for your consideration:
              - Ball Square wine and spirits -- lovely little well edited store with good beer, wine, and tastings
              - Soundbites -- also in Ball Square and home of the best eggs benedict I've had in town
              - Gargoyles in Davis -- great bar food, fun place to linger
              - Redbones -- controversial pick for BBQ. Some people love, some people don't. Go and make your own decision. Great beer selection downstairs in the bar.
              - Machu Picchu charcoal chicken -- Union Square, just fantastic chicken rubbed with Peruvian spices and ready to take away with a side of rice and beans or fries or whatever
              - Olde Magoun's -- Magoun Square, great friendly Irish pub with better than average pub grub, good beer list, and super friendly publicans and regulars.
              - Vinny's at night -- fantastic, old school red sauce Italian in the back of a convenience store. Get the home made mafalde and check out the antipasti table. Chicken parm is my favorite.

              And there's so much more! Welcome to the Ville and post as other questions come up!

              1. Some good suggestions in this thread. I'd add Pescatore, just off Broadway in Ball Square for good seafood in a cozy neighborhood space. Also in Ball Square, there's Yak & Yeti (Nepali & Indian). In Davis Square, check out Martsa on Elm for yummy Tibetan food.

                158 Boston Ave, Somerville, MA 02144

                Ball Square Cafe
                708 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

                Yak & Yeti
                719 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02155

                1. Other stuff I'd point out around Davis Square:
                  - The Burren (Irish pub, surprisingly good sandwiches and chowder, live music)
                  - Foundry on Elm (fairly new, hectic upscale bistro, try the poutine and banh mi)
                  - Flatbread Co. (local beer/spirits, stone-fired pizzas, candlepin bowling)
                  - Rosebud Diner (historic diner. Not personally a fan but some folks love their brunch)
                  - Spike's (hot dog joint with all kinds of wacky toppings)
                  - Out of the Blue (good fried seafood)
                  - Posto (really good artisan pizzas, small plates, wines)
                  - Greek Corner (gyros, lamb, "greek fries" -- some of the best Greek in Boston)

                  1. tj, you have plenty of specific and helpful replies;
                    Here are some links that may be of interest- that address the bigger boston picture, in case they might be helpful. Welcome in advance.

                    Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:

                    Also, some extra Boston food profile info for you:


                    shopping for Boston food souvenirs:

                    1. Thanks to everyone who responded. I'm sure all these suggestions with us busy for a while to come. We can hardly wait to try them all out.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: HellsKitchenTJ

                        I'm an ardent Inmanite, so some other places I'd throw your way would include City Girl Cafe and the Druid (in the hole-in-the-wall category), East by Northeast for small plate modern Asian, and Tupelo for comforting and solid Southern/Cajun. Mulan is near MIT and has always made my Taiwanese food cravings more than satiated. Welcome to the neighborhood.

                      2. Lots of good suggestions in this thread, here are a few more:

                        For Sichuan food, check out Chili Garden in Medford Square.

                        For Ethiopian food, Fasika in East Somerville is worth a visit.

                        In Teele Square, Sabur (Bosnian) and Istanbulu (Turkish) are great options. Sabur is a little more upscale at night, but does a good casual brunch.

                        147 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145

                        Sabur Restaurant
                        212 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

                        Teele Square Cafe
                        Somerville, MA, Somerville, MA

                        1. You'll read this from me elsewhere, but I love City Slicker's pizza. The crust is an unusual preparation and very oily/crisp - not everyone's cup of tea - but my favorite in the city.

                          Meta: there are many controversial or not-well-loved restaurants mentioned in this thread. Nice to see such a wide range of preferences, though if you read CH for a month after you arrive, you'll see trends (Highland Kitchen, Vinny's at Night, Qingdao Garden seem to get majority love; Anna's Taqueria & Out of the Blue, not so much). I hope discovering your own opinions of these places heightens your enjoyment of exploring, even if you have a few dud meals.

                          If you like restaurant drama, google "Breakfast Wars" with Sound Bites and Ball Square Cafe. Things have been quiet on that front for a while, thankfully, but it's an interesting story.

                          City Slicker Cafe
                          588 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                          Qingdao Garden Restaurant
                          2382 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

                          Sound Bites
                          704 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

                          Ball Square Cafe
                          708 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

                          Out of the Blue Restaurant
                          215 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: enhF94

                            I couldn't eat it all the time, but I also recommend City Slicker's pizza, especially the surf 'n' turf (shrimp and bacon) and buffalo chicken pizzas. Both very rich but a real indulgence.

                            For Chinese: I never liked what I got from Qingdao Garden or Wang's (apart from dumplings of course!) but I like Zoe's a lot.

                            Rod Dee++

                            City Slicker Cafe
                            588 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                          2. Gargoyles is a MUST also like Vinny's at Night and while it doesn't get a lot of love here, Out of the Blue has always been reliable for me.
                            Johhny D's if you are looking for great rootsy music and decent food

                            Out of the Blue Restaurant
                            215 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

                            1. This is an overall strategy, not a specific place, but the faster you adjust to the fact that everywhere stops serving a lot earlier than NYC, the happier you will probably be!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: djd

                                Correct me if i'm wrong, but huge plus about Johnny D's in Davis is even though the kitchen stops at a certain time - they allow you to order delivery right to their door. Makes for a great night.

                                1. re: meeps2002

                                  yikes; i have never had food at JD's that I would order if i didn't have to- in order to get a good seat for music.

                              2. Hi folks. We removed a digression that was all over the map in terms of food and location. Please respond on this board about good eats in the Boston area, specifically around Somerville, but the opening post mentions Davis Square/Tufts, too. Thanks, very much!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                  FYI, Davis Square and Tufts are in Somerville.